Social Media Tip: Talk About Other Brands

I find too often that brands don’t want to mention other brands on their social media channels. They feel they shouldn’t be “diluting” their message, and often feel they’re providing a service for free.

I say this is silly.


His first name ain’t baby, it’s Captain. Captain Morgan if you’re nasty.

The first rule about writing a good ad is to write like  you’re speaking with someone. If you write like you talk, you’ll notice you talk about real world things, using brand names more often than you think. Heck, just think to anytime you were out at a bar. You didn’t ask for a “spiced rum and soda,” you asked for a “Captain and Coke.”  That’s what makes the show  Chopped so odd at times – they won’t use common brand names when referring to food items, so you’re often sitting there trying to figure out just what the hell the ingredients are.

In our day to day lives we refer to brands all the time, and that’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to say them on your social media channels. It’s better for communication, and besides, you may accidentally back into a cross-promotion.

Most importantly, however, it allows you to have fun, and fun means interesting to your followers.

Here’s an example:

Your client is AMC, and they want you to write a social media post for their hit show “The Walking Dead” to get people excited about the upcoming new season about the zombie apocalypse. Which of these two posts do you think is going to get the most traffic, shares, and participation?

Option 1:
“Hey folks, The Walking Dead returns February 14th! To celebrate, tell us who is your favorite character and why.”

Which Craypocalypse color do you like most?

Which Craypocalypse color do you like most?

Option 2:
“Hey folks, The Walking Dead returns February 14th! If Crayola were to make a box of colors celebrating the apocalypse, what new colors do you think would be added? Nuclear orange? Ebolavender? Add your own!”

Not talking about other brands is a handcuff that makes no sense for social media. Besides, only talking about your brand is boring, and bores your audience.

After all, the last time you ordered that Captain and Coke at the bar, did you really want to hang around with the guy who only talked about himself all night?

The Biggest Lottery Ever – Explained

This Wednesday’s Powerball drawing is for the largest jackpot in US history. The Powerball website lists the jackpot at $1.5 BILLION dollars – but will you really receive $1.5 billion if you win?

Probably not.

There are a few things you should know when expecting to become an overnight billionaire through the lottery.

maxresdefaultFirst, you have to be the only person to win the jackpot in order to get the whole thing. If anybody else has the same numbers as you, you split the jackpot evenly.

Second, the jackpot isn’t for $1.5 billion, it’s actually for $930 million – the jackpot’s “cash value.” You see, the big number the lottery people tell you is the jackpot is actually an estimated return based off an annuity, or an investment (or series of investments) that pay you dividends over a number of years. In the case of Powerball the annuity is 30 years.  That means the lottery people will take the $930 you won, give you some of it, and then invest the rest for 30 years.

Here’s the kicker – if those investments don’t do well, you could be paid less than promised. What if the annuity does better than planned? You get no more than promised.

So with the annuity you’re giving your money to a non-profit organization overseen by members of the government, and hoping that they invest it wisely for you – instead of taking the money yourself and investing it privately. Because you know how the government is known for being financially so wise.

Third, you’re paying taxes every time you get a check, whether you choose the annuity or not. The federal government is going to take $119,996.25 of your first $413,200, then they’re going to take 39.6% of everything you make after that. Then your state is going to tax you if they have income or lottery tax, and then your local county, city, or town may tax you if they have a similar tax.

If you take the cash option when you win, you’re only taxed for that first year.

If you take the annuity, you get taxed EVERY year for 30 years. If your state or local government raises their tax rates, you’ll pay MORE taxes on those years. So with the annuity, you’re already gambling the government will invest your money wisely, and then you’re gambling the government won’t raise taxes – which, you know, they are historically famous for doing.

Lastly, inflation is going to kill the value of your prize if you take the annuity. Inflation is when the cost of goods goes up over time. The cumulative rate of inflation for the last 30 years was about 120%, meaning you’re now paying over twice as much as you were paying for things 30 years ago. Check out this inflation calculator to see what things cost over the last 100 years, and what they cost now.

In summary – if you take the cash value of your jackpot immediately, you’d give up almost half of it in taxes, but still could be worth over half a billion dollars right away! Here in Massachusetts, you’ll get a one-time check for $514,290,000.

If you take the annuity you’re gambling the government gambles well with your money. Even if they gamble well and pay you $50 million every year for 30 years, you’re going to lose 39.6% of that every year, at a minimum, but that will probably increase. Likewise, your dollars become worth less every year, so it effectively becomes a smaller payment.

Your first annuity payment, if you lived in Massachusetts, would come to about $27,650,000, but the 30th payment would feel more like $10,000,000.

The moral to the story here is yeah, the annuity is a piss-poor deal for people who are too lazy to win half a billion dollars and learn how to invest it wisely. But then again, hey, you’re still a freaking multi-millionaire until 2046! Just go buy a ticket!!