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?

Bad TV Spots: State Farm “Road Trip”

She dropped everything to go help her asshole son.

She dropped everything to go help her asshole son.

You’ve all seen the State Farm commercials, where a state farm customer needs something from their insurance agency, and simply by singing the song, a representative appears in a puff of smoke to help them.  It’s a bit silly, but cute.

In every commercial, another person who doesn’t have State Farm sings a similar magic jingle and somebody shows up who can’t help much.

In “Road Trip,” some guy named Jimmy rear-ends a family of four and both guys sing their magic jingles.  The first guy, who Jimmy hit, has State Farm and is fine.  When Jimmy sings his song, his mother shows up.  They’re in the middle of the desert, and his mother magically appears to help him, sitting on the phone, on hold, to assist her son.  When his mother says there are six callers ahead of them, Jimmy tells her that she’s not helping rather petulantly.

Wait, what?

Jimmy can’t fucking drive and hits a family of four from behind, and then when his mother travels to the desert to help him out, he gets flip with her?  How much an asshole do you have to be to ask your magic mother to drop what she’s doing to cover your stupid ass, and then insult her in front of strangers?

The commercial should have ended with his mother shooting a bolt of lightning up Jimmy’s ass.  No, mistreating your generous mother is  never funny.  This commercial failed.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the TV spot below:

Guinness: Empty Chair

Obviously being an Irish-American man living in Boston, I consider a pint of Guinness my birthright, and that Guinness is a brand that can do no wrong.  I’ve grown up learning from my Irish-American doctor that Guinness is good for me.

This TV spot is tremendous.  With all the wasted airtime out there spent on ads, it’s so refreshing to see simple, meaningful spots like this one.

Why Facebook is Dying

Alarmists love to shout that the sky is falling, and religious alarmists love to claim that the world is about to end.  Regardless of where you rate on the alarmism scale, Facebook is indeed dying.

The main problem with Facebook continues to be a lack of smart monetization.  Facebook provides a valuable service – connecting friends and families, as well as fans to brands – but it has never properly aligned these groups in a way that provides valuable, never mind useful, advertising room.  I don’t say “space” because modern advertising is so much more than room on a billboard or column inches in a newspaper.

If you haven’t seen the video on how Facebook is failing to properly capitalize due to its business model, check out this video by Derek Muller of Veritasium.

As a small business owner, I only stand to lose with Facebook’s new revenue model.  Let me explain.

When I first created pages for my small businesses on Facebook, I got people to Like my page by providing content they found valuable, and by offering contests and give-aways with prizes they wanted.  As I got more page followers, I slowly recouped my expenses as people bought my goods and services online.

This is true with direct mail – what most people call junk mail, or spam email.  I don’t want to send you something in which you aren’t interested, because the cost of printing materials and mailing them to you, or even emailing you, is simply lost money.  If you don’t like my merchandise about killing vampires, I don’t want to send you a glossy catalog of my vampire-killing clothing.  To keep expenses down, I use targeted marketing, meaning I select a key group of people (men who like video games ages 21-29, women who love horror movies ages 45-54, etc.) and send my direct mail to them.  In order to get updated lists of these people, I buy these lists from companies that generate them.  It cuts down on my financial losses, and potentially increases the response rate to my mailings.

Facebook, unfortunately, has moved away from this model.  When I first started, most people who Liked my pages saw my posts.  If I had a one-day sale, or simply a funny post, I saw hundreds and sometimes thousands of people at least looking at my post.  Then Facebook announced they were changing the algorithm that controlled who saw my posts.  Immediately the page views began to plummet.  A post that normally would be viewed by 500 people was viewed only by 100.  Recently Facebook did that again.  Now a 500-person post might get 20.

Facebook allows you to “promote” a post, which costs money.  But it doesn’t mean that everybody who Likes your page will see your next post – it only means more people will see that one post.  In order to reach more people, you have to pay for every post!  That means you’re sending out valueless spam mail to Facebook users every time you want to promote something on your page.  It’s exactly the opposite of modern direct marketing, and bad for brands.

That’s why small businesses are jumping on to other social media options.  It doesn’t make sense to continue putting more time and effort into Facebook when the return on the investment continues to plummet.  I’d much rather start making fun and interesting YouTube videos – which will PAY ME, mind you – than spend the same amount promoting that video on Facebook.

Besides, I can still share that video on Facebook… or whatever company replaces Facebook when it finally dies out.