Category Archives: Social Media

Target With Digital Then Lick a Stamp

After a MapMyRun jog last week, a Houlihan’s ad pop up promoting their Inspiralized Menu. I follow the trend toward healthier menus and food labeling transparency, so I tweeted about the ad from a marketing angle, not intending to promote the restaurant. The Houlihan’s social team picked up my post, took it as a compliment (which it really was), and mailed me a $25 gift card.

Screenshot of tweet about Houlihan's Inspiralized Menu
Tweet with screenshot of Houlihan’s MapMyRun ad for Inspiralized Menu
By 2016, 89% of brands expect to compete solely on customer experience (Gartner, 2014). This gift card is a great example of G.L.U.E. (Giving Little Unexpected Extras, as Stan Phelps calls it). I’ve been a fan of Stan’s marketing lagniappe concept for years. It refers to a little something extra thrown in for good measure.
It appears that Houlihan’s personally @ messages anyone who tweets about their brand with positive sentiment. Perhaps they utilize a more in-depth analysis resulting in only offering this reward to users with a certain amount of influence or likelihood to dine. ​ ​Because any egghead can tweet about a brand; only certain tweets are really worth anything as far as advertising.
Personalized gift card and letter from Houlihan's
Personalized gift card and note from Houlihan’s
This begs the question: as marketers, should we invest time in harnessing social data and finding a formula for which users to reward, or just produce thousands of gift cards and offer them to anyone who tweets about our brand?
Even at the cost of the latter, what may seem like spaghetti on the wall is fine with me; marketing dollars are often squandered on mediums like TV, billboards, and display advertising that can’t be reliably measured. Some digital ad platforms have numerous deliverability issues and often abysmal conversion rates. Even on the more targeted and trackable side of cookies, drip campaigns, and big data-based social targeting, digital has become so personalized that nothing feels personal.
old mailbox
Photo credit: Xaiver Massa
The Houlihan’s tactic of using social and snail mail is one-to-one marketing. What has become a throwback can stand out. Haven’t you noticed how popular TBT is? Digital is saturated, but is a great way to initially target. Identify customers there, then try reaching out via the postal service, or another method that will catch them a little off guard. Another promoted post might not cut it.
Better geo-targeting would be beneficial, however; only serve this ad to users who live near a Houlihan’s (the nearest location is 107 miles from me). Whether this acquisition pans out or not, I couldn’t help but feel more affinity toward the brand. And here I am writing about them. That is certainly worth their ~10 minutes of labor and $25 plus production and postage.

Houlihan’s Marketing – HQ, HouliFans, and PR

Houlihan’s has a successful history of using social media and WOM techniques to identify brand ambassadors and derive valuable information from them. SVP Marketing and Creative Director Jen Gulvik worked on the 2008 idea for HQ, an invite-only social network of engaged customers with insider news and one-on-one dialogue, resulting in a ready made focus group. It encouraged customer loyalty and resulted in revenue growth based on menu feedback.
Their marketing team continues to handle the brand with poise, recently diffusing a potential PR crisis on Facebook involving a veteran with a service dog being refused service in Algonquin, IL in May 2015. A mix of intuition and good data in digital plus differentiating lagniappes in the physical world will help keep their tables full.

How to Manage LinkedIn Privacy Settings – Remove Imported Contacts

You may have unknowingly granted LinkedIn access to hundreds of your contacts and emails. The confusing privacy policy and comforting UI make it difficult to tell how much data you’re sharing.

crowd of people walking down busy city street
LinkedIn’s methods for gathering data from its over 380 million registered users are shrouded. Usually, they don’t ask permission, they just uncheck new Privacy Controls for you. It’s no wonder they’ve faced numerous lawsuits.

LinkedIn seems to know everyone you’ve ever emailed: The People You May Know feature seems to make predictions based on information you’ve never knowingly transmitted. Before I explain how this works, here’s a quick fix:

How to remove your imported contacts from LinkedIn:

Go to Connections -> Add Connections -> Manage imported contacts (top right of page) -> click “select all” and delete all

Linkedin how to manage imported contacts(This is easiest to do on desktop: forget performing half the functions you want to on the iPhone app.)

How LinkedIn is seemingly psychic about people you may know

  1. Other users’ actions: This algorithm is their secret sauce. LinkedIn analyzes other users’ searches and viewing histories to make assumptions about people you may know. I.e., if Sheryl and Dean searched for both you and Tony, then you and Tony may know each other. Multiply this across many users. The result is an algorithm that predicts your likely contacts without ever accessing your actual contacts. You may see recommendations to connect with someone who has the same name as someone you know, but is a totally different person.
  2. Your contacts: You may have granted LinkedIn access to your contacts, which often happens inadvertently by using the app. “Inadvertent” is the keyword for most privacy issues with LinkedIn, because its strategy hinges upon 1) the fact that most users don’t read fine print and 2) that its UI, especially on mobile, effectively shuffles users along a permission-granting bender.

    LinkedIn app import contacts screen UI
    Strategically designed buttons and CTAs usher users along a permission-granting path
  3. Your login: When logged in, even if you close the tab, LinkedIn has access to any activity you take on a site with a LinkedIn plugin or authentication that you’ve granted. To avoid this tracking, log out of LinkedIn whenever you’re done with your business.

I began researching this because I noticed that LinkedIn seemed to have access to hundreds of my old email contacts. Continue reading How to Manage LinkedIn Privacy Settings – Remove Imported Contacts

Why a 1960s Ad Man Understood Social Better Than You

Howard Gossage believed that most of the advertising of his time was manure. The Socrates of San Francisco died more than forty years ago, but his radical approach is as important now as ever.

Howard Gossage in front of repurposed firehouse where he housed his ad agency
HQ of Freeman, Mander & Gossage: a restored Barbary Coast, San Francisco firehouse which attracted counterculture and influential thinkers

Gossage was irreverant, inquisitive, and creative. At a time when agencies encouraged increasing media buys for their own profit, Gossage worked on quality over quantity, and even instructed some clients to reduce their ad budgets. He eschewed TV. He helped launch the environmental movement. David Ogilvy called him “the most articulate rebel in the advertising business.” Gossage was an iconoclast and proponent of using advertising to effect social change. He cared more about ideas than media.

When Gossage was in the ad business in the late 1950s and sixties, you could reach 85% of the U.S. with three TV networks and four publications. The options for sharing information and stories were a tiny fraction of modern media, but HLG was a prescient proponent of interactivity. His most important principle will outlast this month’s shiny new marketing toys:

Respect Your Audience

Howard Gossage black and white photo with advertising quote
Howard Gossage on advertising

Gossage was talking about conversation long before Twitter. Our age is one of digital marketing buzzwords that mean little beyond having secured standing room on a crowded bandwagon, of an obsession with social media too often devoid of strategy and technique. Now we have tools that make the conversation more convenient and immediate, but this has made us lazy.

Tired of reading articles about how to “measure the ROI of social media”? Quit reading them. Turn off your phone, sit down (better yet, stand up) and take the time to write interesting copy, inform, incite. Spell check.

Client: Petrofina Oil

Gossage transformed a pedestrian category, gasoline, with a campaign that directly acknowledged that most service stations were identical, while satirizing “advertisingese”:

1960s Fina ad - pink motto by Howard Gossage
Gossage’s Fina motto ad satirized the pounding slogans and culture of consumption in most “advertisingese”

Fina didn’t pretend to be your friend or solve your problems. Fina acknowledged reality in a conversational way. Fina sold petrol.

Ask customers about their pain points then speak to those negatives in a new or helpful light. Brands aren’t people: brand messages that seem personal simply because they begin with an @ still must offer some value, honesty, or fun if you want the audience to care, participate, or purchase.

Fizrin Instant Seltzer - Headache? Why wait for slow dissolving tablets
Fizrin – 1958: not a Gossage ad

1967 Diet Imperial Margarine Ad from McCall's
Diet Imperial Margarine – 1967: not a Gossage ad

Unlike the above ads typical of his time, Gossage based his work on the belief that the consumer deserved to be treated with some modicum of respect. Ogilvy agreed: “The consumer isn’t a moron, she is your wife” (1955). Gossage went a step further with campaigns like the one that saved the Grand Canyon from being flooded:

Gossage ad to save Grand Canyon
Gossage Sierra Club Grand Canyon ad – 1966

His point, recalled by then partner Jerry Mander, was this: “You can’t just make people feel bad, you have to give them an opportunity to do something.”

Direct, honest, creative messaging that acknowledges the realities of the transactional relationship beats a feigned or forced friendship and unrealistic promises. It was true in the sixties and it’s true today, especially on social.

We relish our digital two-way street, opine about the “conversation” until its terminology has become hackneyed, yet many brands still turn off customers with their attempts at tone. Before you hit “send,” ask yourself if the message is interesting and real, or simply, WWGD?

This article originally appeared at

Source for Mander quote

Texting During Dinner: Multitasking, FOMO, and Smartphone Etiquette

Emily PostSocial etiquette is becoming murkier everyday. Half of all adult Americans now own either a smartphone or tablet, and one-third use their mobile devices to view news stories and video clips at least weekly. –Half of U.S. adults own a smartphone or tablet, Pew survey says  Everybody’s on the phone. Yes Jimmy, but they’re not just talking on the phone.

Instead of reiterating the obvious, I will dive into the implications for IRL interactions.

Cultural mores dictate certain things you shouldn’t do because they’re rude. And usually there are exceptions to these rules. Common sense used to suffice in this realm. Mobile technology has introduced a host of new implicit rules and exceptions, not to mention the generational divide over what’s considered rude. The key is whether the other person knows you have an exception (assuming they care or loosely adhere to the following). Common scenarios:

Bad Tech Behavior Exception Caveat/Details
Texting during a meal/date/outing Texting a friend who is on the way/lost/running late. Instagram can be fine if the other person gets it or joins in Instagramming the fire hydrant or heart-shaped coffee froth. Mention to present company that the other party is the person you’re texting. Generally, just give your undivided attention to the other person.
Using your phone while watching/listening to a presentation or speech Taking notes; taking a non-flash photo of the speaker/event; tweeting about the presentation Even if you’re just notetaking on your phone (and do use Evernote), it would look better to use a tablet, seemingly more public and when so, associated with single tasks like notetaking, whereas a phone screen is smaller, thus less conducive to notetaking and more private. Phone is better at hiding your potential bad tech behaviors. Ongoing tweeting is acceptable if the presentation is meant to be live tweeted- definitely if the event has a hashtag. But try and look up.
Texting, web search, or checking Facebook while on a date Showing something on Facebook that is relevant to the conversation. Googling/texting a mutual burning question to an authority. If you want to get away with any of these behaviors undetected, do not post anything. The person may now be or may end up your Facebook friend. A simple calendar check would let them put two and two together: you were multitasking them, as in digitally double-booking them.
Forgetting to turn your phone on silent or vibrate in the movies or at a meeting Movie theatre: no exception. Meeting: Vibrate is acceptable if expecting an important call or email but only if the phone is in your lap, pocket, or purse — not on the table. In a meeting where others are aware (and better yet, mutually affected by the outcome) of your expected call or email or text, vibrate mode on the table is fine.

This Instagram video is one of my favorite social media parodies. This is us. You know who you are.

I don’t want to be always on. I want to be in the moment even when the moment is paused for a bathroom break. It’s part of the bigger picture: we need to silence our FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Multitasking is addictive because it produces dopamine. We instinctually want to multitask because the big DA is a powerful reward-based neurotransmitter. It’s what makes cocaine and methamphetamines such fun. We bathe in dopamine for that neurological reward and in order to supposedly maximize our experience of all the available technology. But digital stress on the brain from multitasking makes us perform worse. We really can’t handle more than two tasks at once. We really should focus on the main task at hand: each other.

Dying of Loneliness on Facebook

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman star died at 82 completely alone: Mummified body of former Playboy playmate Yvette Vickers found in her Benedict Canyon home:

With no children, no religious group, and no immediate social circle of any kind, she had begun, as an elderly woman, to look elsewhere for companionship. Savage later told Los Angeles magazine that she had searched Vickers’s phone bills for clues about the life that led to such an end. In the months before her grotesque death, Vickers had made calls not to friends or family but to distant fans who had found her through fan conventions and Internet sites.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman movie posterA great book about the breakdown of American community is Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. The author provides an interesting analysis about U.S. society during the last century and last 50 years. Of course this has implications for marketing. Putnam examines the causes and effects of the fact that in the 1950s, bowling leagues, PTAs, church groups, and general neighborly interaction was very popular, while nowadays we spend a fraction of the time we used to spend socializing (and voting or participating in community).

Vickers is not the first elderly person to pass away unnoticed.

But a less dramatic form of loneliness pervades people of all ages; it is disguised as complete connectedness.

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? New research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.

Continue reading Dying of Loneliness on Facebook

Instagram Tips: Liking and Unliking

So you accidentally liked a picture on Instagram.

If I like then unlike a photo, will the user who posted the photo know?

iPhone home screen floating appsThis is a follow-up to my Instagram Privacy Tips and FAQ, which has received over 500 comments. The answer to this like/unlike mystery is worthy of its own post because it deals with the concepts of push (notification outside of the app) versus pull (user activity/refreshes within the app).

First, understand this: iPhone apps that you open then leave to use another app are still running in the background. To fully close an iPhone app, on the home screen, double click the home button. You’ll see a horizontal array of apps that are running (updated as of iOS 9.1). Swipe upward on each app to fully close it. (Battery life hint: close apps that you’re not using often, especially ones with location services turned on.)

Question: Can someone tell I liked their Instagram post if I unlike right it afterward?

Answer: Maybe.

  • Recipient has push notifications on (regardless of IG app running or not): like notification received
  • Recipient has push notifications off and IG app actively in use: like notification received
  • Recipient has push notifications off and IG app open but not actively in use: like notification not received
  • Recipient has push notifications off and IG app not open: like notification not received

Continue reading Instagram Tips: Liking and Unliking

How to Use Instagram iPhone App

After testing several photo apps on iPhone, for sharing my pictures I prefer the free app Instagram. It allows you to take a new photo or use one from your photo album, then apply a filter or keep the original photo’s appearance, and email or share it with any or all of your social networks. When you create an account, you have the option to allow Instagram access to your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr,  Posterous, Foursquare, and/or Flickr account. You don’t have to configure any of these services if you just want to post on Instagram alone. Instagram only works with iPhone.


From iPhone’s home screen, you can enable geotagging on Instagram from Settings –> General –> Location Services. When you post a photo, you will have the location option. My demo – please excuse the quality:

It’s a nice way to keep your photos organized and reference them later. Normally, if you post some photos on Facebook or Flickr or Tumblr, you don’t have one aggregate home space where you can view all your posted photos, no matter where you posted them. There’s always your computer or iPhone camera library, but these lack 1) built-in social sharing capabilities; 2) a record of where a photo was posted.

Joseph Jaffe announced he would use a few apps to communicate from a Flip the Funnel session in March:

I’ll be using the following apps to connect, communicate, collaborate, create and other things that start with “c”: (I’m typically there under my real name or jaffejuice)

Continue reading How to Use Instagram iPhone App

Get Mavericky and “Join the Conversation”


crowd people mall emilybinder.comBrand conversation listening is important (obviously).

But simple, vague advice like “Listen to the conversation around your brand” and “Join the conversation” is inadequately qualified. I can find eggheads on Twitter who’ve tweeted these very platitudes. Without explanation, they’re worthless.

“Join the conversation” has become my cringe phrase of choice, replacing my favorite Sarah Palin gems “maverick” and “reign in spending” and “shore up.” Well, maybe those are worse.

Listening vs. Eavesdropping

I heard something poignant; may it guide our mavericky marketing ears: We should listen but not eavesdrop. (Idea from Steven van Belleghem, The Conversation Manager on Jaffe Juice podcast #145.)

A brand that eavesdrops and replies to the most insignificant mentions interrupts the consumers’ conversation, instead of politely jumping in where it is useful. This is where social media becomes a time suck. Plus, actions speak louder than words. Imagine a nasty tweet about your brand from a Twitter complainer who has a major sense of entitlement post-this crazy time of brand democratization. You must be able to differentiate the bitching from the truly problematic:

Properly handled tweet worth a reply:

ComcastWill :
@everysandwich can you send us an email so we can have this resolved for you
2010-11-25 00:46:00
everysandwich :
@comcast Folks I’ve been trying for nearly a year to have you fix the siding you damaged on my house. Please *function.*
2010-11-25 00:24:47

Waste of everyone’s time, please unjoin the conversation even though you’re amusing: Continue reading Get Mavericky and “Join the Conversation”