Category Archives: social media

9 Internet Marketing Books That Are Free On Amazon Right Now

One of my favorite sources of internet marketing books are Kindle books on Amazon. Since internet marketing changes so fast and there’s always more to learn, I dedicate time each week to learning more so I can improve my business.

Lately, I’ve spent more on blogging and internet marketing books or products than physical products. 2016 is the year I’m going to focus on building my blog. That means SEO, content marketing, guest posting, social media contests and Facebook marketing.

If you want to buy a book for a gift or a physical book, Amazon has 30% off a book right now (most but not all books qualify). This is my favorite book deal of the year. Up to a $10 max discount. Go to  Use code HOLIDAY30
The LAST DAY to use it is Sunday, Nov. 29th!

I don’t know how long these books will be free, so download them right away. Together the total value of these books is $92.97! I only chose books that were very highly rated in their Amazon reviews (4 or more stars).

9 internet marketing books that are free right now on Amazon:

Marketing books free on Amazon

  1. Finding a Niche – Beginner’s Guide to Market Research (Niche, Marketing, Start a Business, Business Plan, Online Business, Market Research, Selling, Getting Customers): BONUS MATERIAL INCLUDED.
    Regular price $4.99 (affiliate link – as are all of the rest)
    Finding a Nice A Beginner's Guide to Market Research 
  2. Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing (2nd Edition).
    Regular price: $21.99

    Digital Minds 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing
  3. Time Management: Screw Self Discipline with this Uncommon Guide – Procrastination, Productivity & Get Organized (BONUS: 10 Productivity Hacks) (Willpower, Getting Things Done, Achieve Your Goals)
    Regular price: $9.99

    Time Management: Screw Self Discipline with this Uncommon Guide
  4. Mass Influence: The Habits of the Highly Influential
    Regular price $23.87
    Mass Influence The Habits of the Highly Influential
  5. How to Write Great Blog Posts that Engage Readers (Better Blog Booklets Book 1)
    Regular price: .99
    How to Write Great Blog Posts That Engage Readers
  6. Facebook: Facebook Marketing: 25 Best Strategies on Using Facebook for Advertising, Business and Making Money Online: *FREE BONUS: ‘SEO 2016’ Included!* … Marketing Strategies, Passive Income)
    Regular price $9.99
    Facebook Marketing 25 Best Strategies on Using Facebook for Advertising Business and Making Money Online
  7. Social Media: Social Media Marketing Strategies with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instragram & LinkedIn: *FREE BONUS: SEO 2016: Complete Guide to Search … Marketing, Online Business, Passive Income)
    Regular price: $9.99

    Social Media: Social Media Marketing Strategies with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instragram & LinkedIn
  8. Internet Marketing: Beginner’s Guide: 17 Proven Online Marketing Strategies to Make Money Online: FREE BONUS ‘SEO 2016: A Complete Guide on Search Engine Optimization’ (Passive Income)
    Regular price: $9.99

  9. Marketing In Less Than 1000 Words (a 15 minute read)
    Regular price .99
    Marketing In Less Than 1000 Words

Related links:
How much money can one Kindle book make? (1 year case study)
BIG List of Black Friday Deals for Products Created by Bloggers


How To Turn Off Your Location on Facebook (From a Computer)

It seems like every few years I post something on Facebook and it shows the location I posted from. Each time I go through my privacy settings and I can’t find how to turn it off. Then I Google it, read through a bunch of answers and then remember. It’s actually very simple (but not intuitive) to turn off the location on your Facebook posts.

How to Turn Off Your Location on Facebook Posts

Go to the post that shows the location, here’s an example of one of mine:
How to delete your location from a Facebook post

Continue reading

How to Get Publicity For your Kickstarter Campaign

As part owner of a press release distribution site for Utah news, I see a lot of press releases about Kickstarter or other crowdsourcing campaigns. I’m actually rooting for each one to get funded. Even though some campaigns I’ve backed have either taken forever or been canceled. Still, I can’t help it. Kickstarter brings out my idealistic side and I find myself rooting for them to get funding.


Start by Getting Backers from your Own Network
The first thing I always check is where they’re campaign is at and how long it has been running. There’s probably some prediction model, but I want to see some money being raised.

Unless you truly have a killer idea or product that is newsworthy, the first phase of your Kickstarter is all about getting your network to support you. If you send your story to reporters and it looks like no one is backing your Kickstarter, it’s a tough sell. What if they cover your campaign and the project isn’t funded? They’ve just led their readers/viewers down a dead end road. The exception is if your project is truly exceptional, capitalizes on a trend, or you’ve had past success. That gives you a better chance of being covered in the news.

There is hope with a roundup post though. Especially if you give the reporter ideas on what other crowdsourced campaigns to feature (noncompeting but in the same category).

Example of the type of article I’m talking about: 17 smart crowdfunding campaigns you may want to back this week:

Create a Media List
Google “name of publication” + Kickstarter to see what projects got press and by what reporter. If they’re a possible fit, add them in your media list to pitch. Example from a search of the Salt Lake Tribune. I can see about how often they’ve written about Kickstarter campaigns and what sort of angles they’ve used.

One of my clients sent out a press release but the TV station held the story until the Kickstarter campaign successfully funded. Then the station covered the story (and it was a long feature story). The story is often after – that you raised thousands of dollars – and not a story about you launching a Kickstarter campaign.

My advice is if your campaign is new, lead with the story of your product and your team and last talk about how you’re on Kickstarter. Be sure to note if you’re creating the product regardless of if it gets funded or if you have past success on Kickstarter. That builds trust.

Use Graphics To Tell and Sell on Your Kickstarter Page
Next I look at their actual page and watch their video. The page has to look attractive and that means using a lot of graphics. One of my favorite examples of excellent work is Signing Times. Their Kickstarter campaigns are amazing. Look at that campaign – you don’t really even need to read to get the major points. The points are made in the graphics. Continue reading

The Ultimate List of Facebook Groups for Bloggers in Every State

I love Facebook Groups for how easy they are to use and how much you can learn from them. The networking and sharing in a well-run group has made my job and career easier. I find them more powerful than LinkedIn groups, especially for bloggers and local groups.

facebook groups for bloggersI started Utah Bloggers Facebook group in 2010 and it has grown to over 850 members. Over the years I’ve hosted many blogger events for local businesses, restaurants and conferences. It’s one of my passions. I’m also the admin of several other groups and belong to many. I guess I’m somewhat of an addict. Since I started working for a blogger ad network I have gotten to know bloggers from all over and I recognize many faces in these groups.

If you’re a blogger, I highly recommend that you join a Facebook group for the state you live in. Then you can attend live events and collaborate with people in your area. To help out, I’ve assembled a list of Facebook groups in every state.

Before you join, make sure you read the rules because every group is different. Some are very strict, others let almost anything go. There are groups that share posts, groups that allow businesses to post and everything in between.

One more thing. I’m surprised by how many groups haven’t customized their URL. To do that you need to go into your group settings and set up an email. Whatever you use for the email will also be your URL. Instead of numbers it will be

My only complaint about Facebook Groups is how hard it is to search for and find them! Use this URL but replace the search. I put blog in because I was looking for blogging related Facebook groups.
To search more than one term, blog%20Massachusetts put a % between each, like a space.

Also, if you search and click enter you will see tabs and can select groups. So here it is:

The Ultimate List of Facebook Groups for Bloggers in Every State

Alabama Bloggers Facebook Group

“This will be a place for us to ask blogging related questions, cross promote our blogs and help build a community of both local readerships and global. We also encourage everyone to share information about local happenings and fun things going on around Alabama.” I noticed that many of the posts were sharing blog posts.

Membership: When I checked there were almost 400 members.
URL to join:

Alaska Bloggers Facebook Group

Alaska Bloggers is a place for online writers who live in Alaska to gather together to network and share region-specific opportunities.
Membership: 84
URL to join:

Arizona Bloggers Facebook Groups

“This is a fun place to connect and network with bloggers all over the state of Arizona!”
Membership: about 650
URL to join:

Arizona Bloggers Meetup
“A place for AZ bloggers to connect and gather info on networking events and meetups.”
Membership: 360
URL to join:

Continue reading

This San Diego Donut Shop Gets Social Media!

I’ve eaten at restaurants all over the country and this one is the best example of social media marketing that I’ve ever seen. I almost didn’t see it. We were on a family vacation in San Diego, California. As we were walking back from breakfast, my husband suggested we take a different road back to the hotel.

It was probably about 10am when we walked by San Diego’s Donut Bar:


I wondered what is going on, there was such a long line. I immediately stopped and we got in line.

Line at Donut Bar

I’m not sure why my daughter covered her face!

Social proof was everywhere. In the line of people, on their signs, the walls and the stairs. Everything was telling me to eat the world’s best donuts and telling my friends about it. I love how they had all their awards right on the storefront! And #bestdonutsintheworld

San Diego Donut Shop Storefront

On the street sign alone you knew that these donuts were ranked among the best in the nation.

San Diego Donut Bar

There were hashtags everywhere.

On the walls.

Hashtags-stairs On the stairs.

hashtag stairs The donut box had a stamp inviting me to like them on Facebook.

Donut Bar Box

Of course I had to capture everything about it.


Even the grocerybike for donut delivery:

Donut delivery bike

Is it working? Well San Diego Donut Bar has 17.5k followers on Instagram. Almost 19k on Facebook. If you search Twitter there are lots and lots of tweets.

Sorry I can’t share a donut with you! You will have to go there yourself. I took a bite but honestly, I’m a cruller woman all the way and they didn’t have them the day we visited. Still, I wasn’t there for the food. I was there for the story.

doughnuts from Donut Bar

If you have a restaurant what are you doing to encourage your customers to share pictures with their friends? San Diego’s Donut Bar is my hero and a great example of incredible marketing that everyone can learn from. Do you have a hair salon, a food truck, an ice cream shop, or any other type of business that has a lot of visual interest? Get hashtags, get stamps, get Instagram. Enter to win awards, when you win them, share the news with your customers every day!

These same principles work on your blog or website. If you’ve won awards or been featured on major media, be sure to let your readers know. What is fascinating to me is that this donut shop is not an establishment, it’s only been around since 2013.

Thanks for the great marketing example, San Diego’s Donut Bar!

Examining Slacktivism on the Anniversary of #BringBackOurGirls

This post was written by Dr. Brian Kinghorn, who teaches the Psychology of Social Media at BYU Hawaii. He examines digital activism and traditional outreach.  Unfortunately, the hashtag and social media campaign he references has not brought back the girls. 

#bringbackourgirls facts

This week, (April 14, 2015), is the one year anniversary of 273 school girls being kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. Today approximately 230 of them are still missing. Sadly, in a moment of self-reflection, I have to admit that I hadn’t really been thinking about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign until I sat down to write this article about slacktivism (a pejorative term for digital activism). I hurriedly searched Google because I honestly wasn’t sure if they’d been found or not. In a way I guess that makes me guilty of many of the inherent shortcomings of slacktivism. Perhaps guilty is too strong of a word. I guess that makes me complicit in many of the inherent shortcomings of slacktivism.

As an educated and concerned world citizen, it somewhat distresses me that I could be sucked into the false senses of security, purpose, and benefit to society that many people suggest slacktivism engenders. On the other hand, though, without social media and the slacktivism of others I may never have been made aware of the plight of these girls and their families halfway across the planet. And what I don’t know I can’t really care about or support, right? Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon with my index finger last spring (along with Michelle Obama and countless others) and rallied to the cause of these young girls and those desperate to bring them home. But even though my involvement was minimal and short-lived, was it at least better than doing nothing? Is slacktivism (in all its potential lacktivism) just a panacea for the masses so we can all feel better about not getting off our butts and doing something that is actually useful or helpful? Or can slacktivism be beneficial in its own right? Can slacktivism potentially lead people to engage in traditional activism? To take it a step further, can slacktivism actually improve traditional activism?

I must immediately concede that many of the perceived shortcomings of slacktivism can’t really be refuted at face value. But we must also recognize that perceptions are in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, slacktivism can be limited, short-term, and relatively effortless with a sometimes false sense of warm fuzzies at making a difference in the world with a mouse click or tap of a screen. But it can and should be so much more than that. In fact, in many instances it has become so much more than that.

In the wake of the Nigerian girls’ abductions and the subsequent #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Kay Solo defended slacktivism and #BringBackOurGirls in an article published by Allvoices. Although she acknowledged some “valid points” in the criticisms of slacktivism, she also pointed out that this particular digital campaign raised awareness that led to organized real-world protests in Nigeria and other locations. Although she acknowledged that “raising awareness of an issue doesn’t do much good if everyone is aware but no one is doing anything,” she also highlighted the positive power of slacktivism when that widespread awareness does lead to additional action. As she put it, “Viral campaigns and share-heavy activism… [are] far from useless. At the very least, it is often a better option than doing nothing…” She added, “The first step towards accomplishing something big is to spread the news and gain support. However little you feel clicking a share button may accomplish, the fact is that this issue has gained world-wide attention.”

I echo her sentiments. Digital activism (slacktivism) has immense power for getting the word out and organizing calls to action.  Although people in other parts of the world couldn’t join their Nigerians brothers and sisters on the streets of Abuja, they could show their support and solidarity through their online activism. The campaign also informed world leaders (especially the Nigerian government) that millions of people would not stand by and watch this atrocity swept under the rug. The world had come together in a call to action, even if the required action could only be carried out by a select few individuals in the world. In the coming weeks, that call to action will gain revitalized momentum as we approach the anniversary of the abductions. Even if it has not yet (and may never) yield all of the desired results, there is no doubt that the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was not a waste of time or energy. There is great power in people organized in support of a worthy cause.

But the question still remains: When is slacktivism good and when is it just plain lazy? I suggest that the scale of potential effectiveness for online activism is different for each individual and situation and correlates with that person’s realistic ability to facilitate change beyond their index finger. As Kay Solo put it “Not everyone can afford to have a direct impact such as volunteering or contributing financially, in which case sharing information is still valuable.” Additionally, not every situation lends itself to massive on-the-ground support. Not everyone can or should be on location to help after a natural disaster. If they did, chaos would most certainly increase rather than being alleviated. Instead, the general masses can show their support through providing information and motivation to established organizations that are in a position to provide effective relief. They may also donate money to support and facilitate those relief efforts.

#BringBackOurGirls has similar limitations. As noted above, there are only a select handful of individuals on the planet with the power and influence to negotiate with the Boko Haram terrorists or attempt to retrieve the girls by force, but there is a world full of concerned individuals who can continue to pressure them to keep trying until they succeed. Sometimes simply sharing on social media is enough to accomplish the purposes of the cause.

In contrast, if you live down the street from a homeless shelter and you are physically and/or financially able to provide assistance through participation in grassroots humanitarian activism, but choose instead to post a meme about fighting homelessness and call it good, you probably fall into the lacking part of slacktivism. Digital activism shouldn’t make you feel better about yourself for taking the altruistic path of least resistance when you could (and should) have done much more. Digital activism also shouldn’t be our excuse (like Bill Waterson’s Calvin) to make our lives easier by lowering everyone’s expectations of us. When the most we can do is promote a legitimate cause through sharing via social media, doing so is sufficient digital activism. At other times, when you are in a position to be a part of the change you are promoting, clicking the share button and collaborating online is only a first good step which then has great potential to facilitate traditional activism.

A classic example of this is chronicled in Wael Ghonim’s memoir Revolution 2.0  which highlights the role of digital activism via social media as an influencer, catalyzer, and facilitator of positive social change building up to and during Egypt’s 2011 revolution against “injustice, unemployment, corruption and torture.” In like manner, altruistic digital activism (or digital altruism) in the forms of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and cyberheroism can have similar (albeit less dramatic) influential, catalyzing, positive effects on social change.  For example, crowdsourcing via Twitter was influential in bringing the Boston Marathon bombers to justice; scores of adoptees have been reunited with their birth families as a result of photos shared on social media sites; and crowdfunding sites like allow people to donate money to causes they deem worthy. One of my favorite examples of what Dana Klisanin calls cyberheroism was the combined efforts of social media users (including President Obama) to help the Make-a-Wish Foundation grant young cancer survivor Miles Scott’s wish to become #Batkid for a day and “save” the city of San Francisco. Like Egypt’s revolution, this story is a classic example of the confluence of digital and traditional activism for the greater good.

In my Psychology of Social Media Course I emphasize that social media is a tool that can significantly magnify already existing prosocial or antisocial behaviors like altruism or the bystander effect, but the platform doesn’t cause these social behaviors. When used effectively and efficiently as a tool rather than a destination, slacktivism has great power and potential to magnify the prosocial behavior of altruism. If nothing else, we no longer have to waste precious time and resources “pounding the pavement” to rally support for social causes. Additionally, although there is evidence that an initial public show of token support for a cause is less likely to lead to additional meaningful support to a cause than an initial private show of token support, sometimes an initial public show of support is all a person can really do to promote a cause like #BringBackOurGirls. Plus, in most cases, doing something is usually better than doing nothing, even if that something is simply caring enough about an issue to forward a photo, tweet, post, article, or hashtag to our friends.

Whether you want to alleviate hunger, help the homeless, clean up a local park, or tackle a bigger issue like World peace, don’t limit yourself to either digital or traditional outlets for your altruistic yearnings. Find ways to use them both! If you are trying to increase awareness of social injustices, gather support for social change,  or persuade World leaders and policy makers to champion and facilitate your cause, millions shares and signatures from millions of people via sites like SumOfUs or can potentially accomplish that goal quite effectively.

If you’re trying to organize a community service project (or want to know what kinds of service opportunities are already available in your community) you can gather support and establish a plan of action via sites like GetInvolved or JustServe. You could even join the Cyberhero League and work with others to tackle real global challenges with digital technology and your social networks.  And when it comes to opportunities to engage in what many would call pure slacktivism, click away! But also be open to the new opportunities for altruism that may be illuminated along the way. 

Austin Craig’s Tips for Going Viral on YouTube

Sometimes there’s a myth that if you produce incredible content (including video), it will spread naturally, on it’s own. I wish, because that would be easier. The reality is a video won’t go viral by itself. It takes work:

I did a ton of marketing, and it started long before the video was released. Going viral was not an accident—it was work. -Karen Chen

I asked my friend Austin Craig for a few tips. Austin is an expert in YouTube marketing and is super-connected in the YouTube world. It started with a tongue scraper called Orabrush (links to video about the story).

Here’s what Austin shared:
Austin Craig
If the question is about getting content to “go viral” specifically, there are a few pointers I’d pass along.

Get an Emotional Response

If people are going to share a video, they need to feel something. They can be amazed, brought to tears, humbled, or maybe the most commonly used, bowled over with laughter. If they feel nothing, then they aren’t likely to share it.

If you and your friends watch it, and nobody says “Wow”, you probably don’t have something people will share.

Be Original

If it’s an old trick, people won’t be impressed. Show me something new. Maybe this is just repeating my first point, but it’s important to note that one of the surest ways to get a “WOW!” out of somebody is to show them something they’ve never seen before.

Janet: You can do something that’s been done before but find a new angle or story line for it to make it unique. Example: Karen Cheng’s dance video. It show her incredible dance moves. That’s not all it is though. That’s been done before. Instead, she shows herself learning to dance in a year. She wasn’t very good at it at first. She let’s people see that it’s ok to be bad at something when you’re a beginner. Today the video has almost 6 million view and has inspired so many people to learn what they want to get better at.

Make a SHORT Video

People don’t often share things that are very long, simply because it takes a bigger investment (time) to consume it. Maybe 150 years ago, with a more literate society, longer media would go viral. It doesn’t happen much these days. From a few seconds to just a few minutes, keep content short. You’ll see in the link below from Karen, she kept shaving off seconds to get her video under 2 minutes.

Make Something People Can Identify With

When people are posting, pinning, or tweeting, they’re making a statement about themselves. Is this something that people want to personally identify with? Is this a banner they’re proud to wave? Just like walls in our homes or offices, we post things on our “wall” that tell people about us, who we are, where we’re from, what’s valuable to us, what we care about.

To be perfectly honest, a lot of my thinking has been around making videos anti-viral, or in other words, trying to make content that does well over a long period of time, and builds a sustained audience. 

One last tip: be sure to tell people what to do, include a call-to-action:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
  • Go to my website
  • Buy
  • Share
  • Like
  • Comment

This advice honestly applies across social media, not just video.

Note: more recently Austin produced, directed, and co-wrote a video for this Kickstarter, which in just 2.5 hours raised $140K. At last count it rasied over $500,000. Yes, video can sell!

Thank you Austin for sharing your pointers with us!

If you want to learn more about promoting your video on blogs and Reddit, including the title and other insider secrets, check out this post about making a viral video by Karen Chen. Her method for writing a title for your video also applies across social media.

If you have more examples or tips for producing or marketing a YouTube video, please share them in the comments.

How Utah Car Dealership Ken Garff Excels at Content Marketing

Utah’s Ken Garff Auto Group is showing how content marketing can work in any niche. The premise of their campaign called #ProjectListen is the ways that listening helps you win. That extends to listening to your customer and providing excellent customer service. Both content marketing and customer service are trendy and it looks like Ken Garff is driving both trends home effectively.

Ken Garff Content Marketing Campaign

I’ve seen their TV commercials and billboards, now they’re moving into online PR by going digital. They created a series of videos related to listening, and posted them on YouTube and on a microsite at In addition, they’re working with bloggers like me (this post is sponsored by them) and other bloggers who promoted their videos on Facebook.

It’s working. In just two weeks, they’ve reached over 2 million views across different platforms. In a story in Utah Pulse, the numbers were broken down: “The grassroots effort, which featured real stories about how listening can improve the quality of life, resulted in close to 1 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter combined, and nearly 1 million impressions on YouTube.”

Website traffic is trending up since last year too:


On a personal note, buying a car is not usually a pleasant experience so this industry, along with homebuilders really need to focus on customer service. I don’t mean a nice show room with free popcorn either. The process of buying a car takes forever and you get the full court press the whole time. I bought my first new car last year from a competitor to Ken Garff. Let me tell you, I didn’t feel like I was listened to. I felt like, ok I was, talked at.

The salesman essentially started by saying I fit the typically customer profile for someone who would buy a Honda CR-V. It was sort of like, hello, you are our ideal customer, buy a car. The next few hours were a bit overwhelming. I’m happy with my new car but I especially appreciate when I feel like someone listens and responds to my needs rather than focusing on selling me. As he figured out, I was sold on the actual car, this was just a confirmation of that and talk about the numbers. Today’s customer is usually like me, visiting a dealership only after doing considerable research online.

I like Ken Garffs unique take on listening in their campaign – like in this video about snowboarding. I never thought about how much listening matters if you’re racing, but it makes sense:

on .

All this would be impressive but I’m a marketer and that means I’m skeptical. I remember what my sister says: the more a business touts something, the worse they probably are at it. In this case, Ken Garff appears to be walking their talk. I just saw a press release today that the Salt Lake dealership won the Honda President’s Award (for the 8th time).

They also won the Five Star Dealer Award from

“The dealership is one of 10 in Utah to be recognized by for earning an average customer review rating of five stars on the site, with a minimum of 20 reviews, for the past two years.”

And on their Facebook page (I can especially appreciate that they washed and vacuumed the car):

Big SHOUT OUT to Ken Garff Honda in Orem, and their service manager, Scott. They drove all the way out to Mapleton this morning to deliver a loaner car to me–a very nice new Honda SUV–while they took care of some recall issue. My part was on back-order for quite awhile, and you know what they did? They took it out of another car, and put it into mine, so I could be done faster. Have you ever even heard of such a thing? Then they had a guy DELIVER my car to my house, and drive back the loaner SUV. Not only that–they washed and vacuumed MY car!!! Who DOES that these days? Ken Garff. They really DO listen to customers.
-Kjirstin Youngberg
This testimonial reminds me of Discount Tires’ TV commercials about how they impact their customer’s lives. I love them. Both Discount Tires and Ken Garff get that telling stories across media is the best way to be heard by your potential customers and that this kind of word of mouth isn’t bought, it’s earned.

April Fools: 5 Social Media Campaigns That Failed

For my April’s Fools post I’m not going to play a joke on you. I won’t tell you the name of my business has been changed or make up new products for a laugh. Instead I’m going to point out the real fools who thought it would be a good idea to launch a social media campaign.

My favorite is when someone responds to a misguided social media campaign in a way that overtakes the original purpose of the campaign.

Here are my top 5 Fools of 2015. These are the social media campaigns that backfired this year so far:

1. Starbucks: for the #RaceTogether campaign.
The one-week campaign asked employees to write “Race Together” on coffee cups and try to engage people in a dialogue about race. I’m not sure why they didn’t try to hold dialogue between customers by bringing leaders to stores for informal discussion groups about local issues.

Why were they fools? For thinking their customers would be interested in launching into politically loaded conversations while getting a cup of coffee.

2. Hamas: for their #AskHamas campaign 
This was also a week long campaign and it was international (but in English). Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist groups. It has a PR problem and decided to encourage people to ask questions on social media. Just news of the campaign invited mockery.

Why were they fools? For blowing people up to reach ideological and religious differences then ask the world what they think (and expect it to turn out well).

3. Mall of America: for the#itsmymall campaign

If you have something that you’d rather not be exposed, go ahead and trumpet something that others criticize. The Mall of America asked people to share stories about the mall on Twitter for a chance to win $500 gift cards. I don’t think the tweets about racism won the cash. The hashtag #itsmymall trended on Twitter and there wasn’t a lot of brand love.

Why were they fools? For acting “confused” about the backlash that happened and being out of touch with how their customers are treated.

4. SeaWorld: for their#AskSeaWorld Twitter campaign

SeaWorld has been criticized about their treatment of killer whales after a documentary criticizing them came out in 2013. Feeling maligned, they hoped to educate the public about they are doing to protect whales. They touted some good and then asked people to join in by asking questions using the hashtage #AskSeaWorld. That’s like asking environmentalists what they think about fracking (don’t expect to get any love).

PETA took the bait, asking:


Why they were fools: For thinking you can reverse years of bad PR by putting out some positive messages and asking what everyone thinks.

#5 Budweiser: for not thinking through their #UpForWhatever campaign.

Bud Light tweeted a picture of five smiling young women on St. Patrick’s Day. It said: “On #StPatricksDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.”

Why were they fools? The tweet was taken as giving an OK to sexual assault and was later deleted.

Lessons learned: when your brand is in trouble it’s probably a bad time to have public dialogue with the public. It’s too little too late. You can successfully address politically-loaded topics with advertising, but it’s more along the lines of rallying the troops than convincing naysayers.  One reason it’s probably a bad idea is because they expose just how out of touch the company is with public opinion.

Next up: a social media strategy (rather than a campaign) that is paying off well for a California doughnut shop I recently visited.

How to Retain Customers through Building Community

Every Sunday I read the newspaper I learn about the community and something I want to blog about. I rarely actually blog though. Life moves on and I forget with all of the other things I do.

Today I read in the Salt Lake Tribune, about a project that is headed by a Utah woman I know, Crystal Young-Otterstrom. Her job is an audience development specialist (which is kind of like what I do with social media, right?) with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera and she is amazing at it. I’ve seen her work mostly from a distance for many years.

I don’t usually write about the arts, but I love them. My husband and I volunteer at the Symphony at Deer Valley every summer since we’ve been married, with me taking time off to watch our daughter. It’s a highlight of our summer.

First, Crystal started Vivace, a group for professionals that meets at local restaurants after concerts.  She is continually educating the group about music and developing loyal fans. Today I learned that she also founded Cadenza , a group for older men and women to go to dinner and attend the symphony together. They also get a discount on tickets. Both support local businesses and are building community.

If you’re new in town and don’t have a date or someone to go to the symphony or opera with, you might decide not to go. Same if you’re older and live alone or just don’t have friends who can go to these events with you. Crystal noticed that “every year we lose some subscribers because their partner or spouse died and they have no one to go with.” With these two groups they’re reaching two key audiences: people who have money for the arts, (professionals) and those who are retired. Vivace will be the future Candeza.

If your business mainly reaches an older crowd, think about how you can replace and retain your most devoted customers. You must continue to find ways to engage with your best customers or you risk becoming forgotten or shrinking. Religions must do this. Businesses must too.

Are you Building (2)

Building community is also brilliant marketing.  One of the most rewarding things I’ve done for my career is to build a Facebook group of Utah bloggers. With just over 800 members, we teach and learn from each other. We see each other at events. The loyalty and community have have been hugely beneficial and enabled me to do so much more than I could’ve without them.

Facebook groups of all types have really made my life better, sometimes acting as my newspaper and connecting me with people. I don’t complain about Facebook, because of all that Facebook does for my business and for me personally, without charging. It makes buying ads or working harder for reach worth it.

My friend Mariel at Or So She Says told me she recently started to reward community by randomly sending gift certificates to her readers who leave comments and who respond to her content. It has greatly increased the loyalty of her fans, who comment and otherwise participate enthusiastically even after winning.

Sometimes I miss the comments and community I used to have on this blog when I blogged regularly. After my blog got deleted and I lost so many comments and I lost momentum. At around that time I switched more from writing about business to learning and applying it.

Encouraging or facilitating a community around your product or service can pay off. Sharpie has done it so well. Who would guess that a pen company would be so sharp at community building? They are long-time favorites.

When people find a sense of belonging with you they are less likely to look elsewhere. It makes being a part of something meaningful. As marketers I feel we do our job best when we appeal to people’s emotions, or heart. Community brings that into a business. You should look for ways to bring it into yours.

What other examples have you seen of brands building a loyal community?

How can you add more community into your business or cause?