Saturday, April 27, 2013

UNICEF Doesn't Understand Social Media Interactions

I've been managing social media marketing for clients for many years now, having started my own blog in 2005. I've seen just about every type of bizarre social activity you can think of, but this one shocked even me.

This statement by UNICEF is rude, ignorant, and disrespectful:

"Like us on Facebook and we will vaccinate zero children against polio. We have nothing against likes, but vaccine costs money. Please buy polio vaccines at It will only cost you 4 € but will save the lives of 12 children."

Here's why I consider this to be a terrible use of social media:

(1) It's wrong to imply that liking a Facebook non-profit page does nothing financially for the organization. I am a trustee of a non-profit, and our grant writer has stated that likes, shares, and comments on Facebook help the organization to acquire grant funding. Social media interactions indicate that the non-profit is reaching out to the community and the community is responding and engaging with the organization.

(2) Getting more likes, shares and comments on Facebook will increase a Facebook page's Edgerank, which means Facebook will distribute that organization's status updates to more people. Thus, clicking Like helps the organization reach more people with their messages and appeals.

(3) It has been proven that a person who engages with a website in any way is more likely to buy something or donate money, than someone who does not, and is just a lurker. Clicking on Like is one step toward more participation and should not be disparaged.

(4) Many people support a non-profit by other means than donating money. Some people are barely surviving financially, but have time to volunteer. This UNICEF message is an insult to those who contribute time and work to the organization.

(5) Many people don't trust charities, in terms of how donation funds are handled. They see huge salaries for the administrators and only a tiny percentage of funds going to the needy people.

(6) Attempting to scold, shame, and guilt trip people into donating money to your organization is a rather unimaginative and desperate methodology. It can make you look greedy and putting too much value on money. If the administrators are receiving incredibly high salaries and perks, this is going to look really bad for the organization.

(7) "Give us more money, dammit" is not an effective fundraising approach. Donors are more willing to give money when they are told exactly what is being done with donations, with photos and financial audit reports to prove it.

(8) It almost sounds like UNICEF is being gleeful about how liking them on Facebook will not help them give medical treatments (vaccines in this case) to children who need them. This odd mixture of stern gloating, a blend of scowling and chortling, can be easily misinterpreted as misanthropic.

(9) A negative message may be effective in some cases, but people in general respond better to positive appeals. When you explain how funds are used, and how even a little bit of money goes a long way, people will typically feel good about donating.

(10) When a person clicks Like or Share, or posts a comment, at a non-profit page on Facebook, that person is far closer to donating money, or volunteering, than a person who does not interact with the non-profit organization. So we should not dismiss social media interactions as being of no value.

Some Facebook users have stated that they like this UNICEF message. I get the impression that the fans are a bit hostile to social media and want to see it debunked. Others seem to potentially be jealous of how some Facebook pages get a lot of likes, but they do not, so they want to see likes as trivial and worthless. 

Still others may be the types who really trust what charities do with the donated money, and think that money is the only thing that helps a non-profit. Thus, they don't really know how non-profits operate, nor how much they depend on PR, volunteers, and good will.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why Aliens Will NOT Visit Planet Earth

(5) There are far more fascinating places to visit in the universe.

(4) Our technology is focused on war and entertainment, two things they've evolved beyond any need for.

(3) We've ruined our planet with toxins, radiation, and political parties.

(2) We don't live long enough to really learn anything and be interesting to them.

(1) We don't taste good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Technology Articles on The Peorian

I am honored to announce that I've been invited, by fellow Peoria Historical Society trustee Kevin Kizer, to be a contributing author for The Peorian online magazine.

A section for Technology has been created for my articles that will deal with social media, web content development, and SEO (search engine optimization -- driving qualified customer traffic to websites). Other Peorian authors are also invited to fill up this Tech category with their own articles.

Here are the articles I have written for The Peorian so far:

Creating Web Content Related to Breaking News

Use Social Media for Urgent Announcements About Flooding

Like Farming: Gaming Facebook for Fans

Facebook's Secret Benefit: Psychic Relief for Criminals

How to Identify and Defeat an Internet Troll

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Worst Mistake You Can Make in Web Design PODCAST

Listen to internet radio with Vaspers SEO and Web Usability Show on BlogTalkRadio

The "We-oriented" website is probably the most horrible type of corporate website.

Company-centric websites are full of news, events, and fluff, but fail to explain how any of it benefits the customer. Often there is no guidance on selecting the best product for a specific customer situation.

You've seen websites that were so busy strutting around, bragging about their company that you couldn't figure out which of their products was best suited to your situation.

You've see websites that were cold, aloof, dismal, with no photos of people smiling as they used a product to solve a problem, enhance a lifestyle, or satisfy a need.

Here's why you should not focus on your company or even your products, but on customer needs.

Make your website more prductive in achieving business goals. Communicate how your products solve customer problems -- and how your company is differentiated from competitors.

SHOW NOTE: A web designer calls in to my show and adds some great remarks about incorporating a blog into the website, using Facebook, obtaining web content, and related issues.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Ate the Bones - a "feel bad" ad campaign

I really like this KFC ad campaign "I Ate the Bones" promoting their boneless chicken. Funny and memorable way to get their point across.

Sort of a "feel bad" strategy. I really can't stand most of those dumbed down "feel good" commercials, with no good reasons to choose a brand, just balloons and music and jumping around ecstatically.

If all a product does is make you feel good emotionally, or it enhances your lifestyle which makes you feel good, I can see using a "feel good" ad campaign.

But when you offer no solid logic as to why your brand is better, using a "feel good" ad campaign is a cop-out. You can't tell us why your brand is better than the competition? Why don't you try asking satisfied customers?

I'm going to spend a huge amount of money on your product, and all you can communicate to me is the "good feeling" I'll have as an owner? I'll feel good, based on what?

Do your homework. Talk to your customers. Find out what differentiates your brand from your competitors. If you're offering something new, but your competitors also offer the same thing, use some imagination to dramatize your new product.

This "I Ate the Bones" campaign is a great example of creativity that focuses squarely on the product, in a light-hearted, humorous manner.

Monday, April 8, 2013

JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson is Out, Good Riddance

Terrific news. JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson (formerly of Apple and Target) has been fired. Former CEO Mike Ullman is back in.

Ron Johnson clearly had no clue how to run JC Penney.

His incredibly stupid management of the retail giant nearly killed it. Whenever you see a business change from discount coupons to "everyday low prices," it means "no sales anymore." Johnson got rid of popular, high-quality brands and replaced them with cheap, sub-Walmart merchandise.

What's really bizarre is Johnson had no online marketing strategy. For a supposedly "hip" innovator, this is a very strange blind spot for Johnson.

The JC Penney website is a terribly inept, unappealing, dull. When you visit it, you have no idea what it is. It looks like some spammy link farm. The central slide show is annoying and boring. There is nothing happy, glamorous, or exciting about the website. It might as well be selling auto parts. I did notice that there is suddenly a discount coupon on it.

That faint grey text on white background, the commonly encountered curse of modern web design, makes their website a pain to read, but at least they do use dark black text in several spots.

Sales staff at JC Penney went from friendly to hard to find, prices escalated as quality nose-dived, and Johnson's plan to serve ice cream and free haircuts for kids was a completely idiotic idea, especially for people shopping for clothes.

"Does this XL shirt make me look fat?" I asked. "No, but the ice cream you're eating is making you be fat," my sidekick replied.

It's good to see Ron Johnson go. Maybe now JC Penney can regain its position as a leader in mid-range merchandise, great discounts, and cheerful customer service.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How to Identify and Defeat an Internet Troll

My first article for The Peoria online magazine: "How to Identify and Defeat an Internet Troll."

Have you ever met an internet troll? A troll is a special class of sociopath.

These nasty individuals are the sadistic ne'er-do-wells of the digital realm, the misanthropic misfits of information age.

Unlike a normal person, when a troll enters an online discussion, he is not seeking truth or clarification. He usually doesn't even know how to debate in an intelligent manner. All he wants to do is inflict pain, ridicule, and humiliation on a targeted person.

Encountering an internet troll can be a disturbing, even frightening, experience for someone who has not had to deal with one. It can be an unexpected event, a strange twist that takes the discussion to a whole other level. You are taken off guard and find yourself struggling to defend yourself, instead of exploring a topic.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Google Getting Rid of Search

Google has announced that it's getting rid of Search. 

Google seems to be in a Grim Reaper mode lately, abandoning Google Reader and other beloved tools. Search is yet another Google product that just didn't cut it. They plan to start erecting giant "G-libraries" with Dewey decimal card catalogs and microfiche.

Press release: "Retro is the way forward. Old tech has proven to be more reliable than new tech. Internet search was a great idea, but has proven to be very glitchy. People just never got the hang of using key words. Plus, most people can't spell very well, so we used up a lot of resources with Suggest and other crutches."

SEO will be replaced with CCO (card catalog optimization).