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Posted by Karl Taylor on

#TheWorldIsYourDiner Was An Expensive Waste Of Money: But You Can Learn From It.

All too often, overeager brands decide that they can “handle” a campaign on their own. The trouble is, this seldom works out. Details fall through the cracks.

The reasons are varied. A CMO might be looking for a reason to warm up a connection with an old employer. The “young social media kid” might not have the internal capital to get taken seriously when they point out something is wrong. A naive management layer might decide that they are more interested in doing things that “feel comfortable,” than things that “push the boundaries.” Confused stakeholders might decide that staying quiet is easier than confronting the unknown.

The trouble is that the reason why it happens, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that getting a campaign right means getting the details locked. Inconsistent details lead to waste. Waste reduces the efficiency of your spend. That can mean leaving money on the table, but it can also mean needlessly antagonizing would be customers.

Which is a lesson Denny’s will likely learn in a few hours.

When you buy Twitter campaigns in sufficient volume, you’re presented with an opportunity to promote a trend. “Sufficient,” is a matter of debate, but by one metric you’re looking at spending 200k/day for the privilege.

As is true of many of the other ad products, you can draw your audience in such a way to draw attention to your product in a desired segment of the userbase.

Sometimes, it makes sense not to limit the audience when you’re planning a big roll out.

In situations like that, you might find buying using a fairly broad location filter (such as DMA groups) fairly attractive.

The trouble is, a national rollout is expensive. If you don’t need it: don’t pay for it.

For many advertisers, users are just points on a spreadsheet. That’s trouble.

Imagine for a moment, you were as I was, opening Twitter around the noon hour to take a look at what was going on in the world whilst deciding what to have for lunch.

You notice that Denny’s is now delivering, you get excited.

You click, with every intention of purchasing.

“Strange,” you think to yourself.

They’re advertising in the metro area, surely they’re rolling out delivery somewhere nearby.

One location.

In the suburbs.

So, Denny’s is running ads to the whole of the Denver Metro with the explicit intention of driving delivery sales — when only one location in an outlying burb can service the demand.

Out of curiosity, I fired up the ads manager to see how many users Twitter might have in the 80033 area.

That’s a grand slam, alright.

#TheWorldIsYourDiner Was An Expensive Waste Of Money: But You Can Learn From It. was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

The Next Big PR Play

I normally really really try to resist sharing images that put individual people on trial for things that aren’t their fault, but I just saw something that really does need to be addressed.

One of the curious things about this line of work is that you often get to watch reactions to events unfold in real time. One of the best ways to do that, of course, are the “firehose” networks (like Twitter!)

The trouble is that when you’re working a content production beat, it can be really really really really tempting to ping a primary source observer for updates.

The result is that once a video of an event gets discovered, a perfectly average person with next to no interest in dealing with the public relations machine is suddenly sucked into the middle of it.

This is particularly curious if you consider that as time advances, the value of the documentary footage should decrease — it becomes less rare. Being “second,” to a story is less valuable than being “first,” etc.,

When a non-communications professional run-of-the-mill-civilian actual human does this, it’s called trolling.

I’m not really sure this constitutes a photo release, either — but the behavior is far too prevalent to be accidental.

Here’s the thing though, this kind of stuff is why everyone hates us.

There’s got to be a better way.

The Next Big PR Play was originally published in Fits About Prints.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

There Is A Much Easier Way To Advocate For Net Neutrality Than Calling Congress.

I don’t know if I can believe that the public really cares about net neutrality anymore.

I want to, but the truth is, when you look beyond the voices and at what people actually use the public is making a fairly convincing argument to the contrary.

If you give me a minute, I’ll explain what I think a lot of advertisers are afraid to tell you.


They have pretty good reason to be, there’s not a lot of money in tipping over this particular apple cart.

I started writing because I felt like there isn’t enough content out there that struggles to hit the high bar of “not making people feel bad for the sake of feeling bad.” I got into advertising because it was a chance to develop those skills in a way that got things done.


The user experience of advertising is lousy.

All day people got peppered with content that made them feel bad, and there’s really one reason why.

Advertisers don’t have the marketshare to get into fights with platforms.


They’d have had it if they weren’t asleep at the switch and spent some capital buying startups. They’d have had it if they bothered to recognize that mass culture can’t just be willed into existence: it exists because there are masses.

The nature of our work (particularly our recent Learn Communications project) means I get to work with a lot more “0–1” startups than a number of my colleagues in the industry do.

In so doing, I can’t tell you just how many people I’ve seen with a good idea that didn’t take because they couldn’t get the user base over the line.

The number one reason why was that they didn’t build for a world where mobile app acquisition was only viable in an ever shrinking number of media sandboxes.


Truth is, that’s the world we live in.

If you can find people willing to subscribe, you capture them.

The trouble is, while many people are willing up to say “hey I want an open internet,” very few people stop to think about what that means, if they’re willing to pay for it or put in the real work it takes to support it.

Think for a few moments about what you do with your life online right now.

What percentage of your time are you actually spending on a site created, let alone hosted, by an individual?


How much are you paying them?

That argument feel familiar. yet? Mark Cuban got it.

We’re headed to a world where we all use a handful of networks. Each one operating with its own rules. Each one holding data in its own way. Each one used for a different purpose.

If you spend some time watching early-adopter user groups you can actually see this happening now.

Some of our lives online live on places like Facebook that we don’t check very often and instagram that we only visit when we do something cool and then get bored and decide to curate. Some of our lives live online on places like Facebook that we check very often and instagram that we always visit when we do anything and want to see what our favorite people are up to.

some of us do the same thing in a totally different way inside of chat apps. on message boards. on image boards. with handles. whatever.

the truth is, none of it has ever been anonymous. even when it told you it was — and while that may be news to some folks, it really shouldn’t be. the platforms were transparent about what they were doing and how they were paying for it.


if you want to change it tomorrow, all you have to do is switch up your consumption patterns.

so, if you have strong feelings about advocating for an open internet, I have to be honest with you. the time for talking about it is far spent. the time for acting, is now.

next time you’re considering a community project. ask yourself, should this really be a facebook group or can I host a diaspora? you could stand up a trello board in just a few clicks, or you could click a little further and roll your own Taiga.

the world will change overnight.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

The Viral Lever.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that isn’t very well kept.

When you meet a communications professional who tells you “there is no viral lever,” you need to start looking around more.

The trouble is that all too often the people who make the changes that change the world aren’t particularly adept at the art of communicating them.

You can actually make yourself quite potent if you can learn to walk between the cultures a little. Sometimes this means you’re an arts kid who sits down and learns calculus. Other times it can mean taking a break from questioning the futility of memorized reference values to enjoy an obscure text. Walking down the middle of the path can take you to some truly fascinating places.

When you are the sort of person who sets out to make a thing, it is rather easy to fall into the trap of believing that the world is an infinite sea of possibilities.

The trouble is that just because something is bigger than you can perceive doesn’t mean that it isn’t also finite.

One of the greatest advancements in this sort of work has come of the world of network engineering, and while I could bore you with specious detail, it would be far more interesting to think of the ways in which you encounter media throughout your life.

Before you decide on something, you’re likely to send it to one or perhaps a few different people.

Your relationships exist across contexts. Each from a different life you have lead. When a message propagates across those spheres, you pay attention to it.

You aren’t the only person who does this — we all seem to.

It isn’t magical, it’s just math.

The Viral Lever. was originally published in Thoughts On Best Practices.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

“Quality Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of that idea.

Growing up, I remember keeping a list of each time I ran into it. I don’t know that I kept it up, but I do know I first heard it as a shoddy explanation from a caricature of a public school art teacher.

I normally write slightly longer posts, but I just wanted to take a moment to share one thought.

I think this sentence was meaningless. It was code for “I don’t like your thing and you should feel bad.”

It is important to remember that in today’s communications landscape it is possible to know precisely who you are communicating with and how they feel about it.

Today, millions of people across the world post their lives, waiting for someone to listen.

As a communications professional, it’s your job to be that person.

That’s all.


“Quality Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.” was originally published in Thoughts On Best Practices.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

You Only Really Need One Metric To Evaluate The Health Of A Facebook Page

and that’s “Talking About This.” (PTAT)

If you’ve been working with Facebook longer than, oh, maybe 2011 or so, you probably already know this, and you can go ahead and skip this one.

If you don’t, you’re in for a treat.

I don’t know that anyone has taken the time to take a step back and write a little about Graph (Theory) By Zuck, but if you’ve spent any amount of time around the Facebook platform you’re likely familiar with all of the different ways a user may engage with a piece of content.

You might react (like, or sad or angry a post,) or you might comment. You could share a page with a friend in a message or by tagging them on a post. You could click through a stack of images and download a few. I’m not sure I’ve seen a complete list of the inputs in the current calculation, but AdWeek featured a look back in 2012.

The weighting of each of these activities takes place behind the scenes and is probably more nuanced than one could reasonably expect to cover in a blog article.

But the sum total of these interactions are quite insightful.

If you’re running a page with 30,000 likes but you only have a Talking About This score of 300? You’re in trouble.

If you’re running a page with 100 likes and 250 PTAT? You’re growing at a remarkable clip.

In an effort to encourage Advertisers to discover how changing each element of the total could affect performance, the fine folks at Facebook have made this number a little less visible, but you can still access the number for any page with a simple Google search.

Relying on this number isn’t authoritative. I happen to know that for this week, we’ll trend a little off from the screenshot.

I’m not guessing that or feeling it, I know it to be the case.


Because I took the time to look at each of the metrics and how they influenced the score.

You can do this too.

There isn’t any great insight or single trick or magic widget you need to buy that’ll help you sort out how to manage the winds of which feature is weighted how by the platform. But by paying attention to the metrics that the platform pays attention to when it decides which posts should be prioritized in a feed, is the only way to really know what you’re doing.

You might be making work that you think is really cool. You might be making work that you think that the audience you read about in a report will enjoy, but one of the best things about buying media on Facebook is that you get to talk to the people directly.

When they like a post, they’ll like it.

When they have something to say, they’ll say it.

If they see something you’ve read and want to know more about you, they’re going to Google.

You can see these things happen in real time, and by taking the extra bit of effort to be humble enough to accept that dynamic feedback you can accomplish remarkable things.

Running your digital presence this way isn’t always easy because it requires you to check your preconceived notions about what makes something “good,” at the door.

Content made by a kid with an iPhone gets consumed at just about the same clip as the stuff we painstakingly antagonize over. With more and more people looking to networks for “authentic experiences,” you can bet that’s code for content consumed by real people.

The best way to do that is to listen to some.

You Only Really Need One Metric To Evaluate The Health Of A Facebook Page was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

What I Think Content Shock Really Means For Advertisers And Marketers Alike

I’ve written a lot of articles over the course of the past year. Only of a fraction of them have made it here, and I’m not sure that I even know where I’d start trying to make an accurate accounting.


It’s easy to forget just how often the answer to the growing troubles of content shock is “better” which really isn’t that far off from “more.” That work doesn’t come out of thin air. It means better ideas. It means making things faster.

One of the first few days after we had reached the level of monthly billings where we felt like the sky wasn’t falling, I had a terrifying thought. It occurred to me that over the months prior we had planned every aspect of our business. We looked at the customer interactions, we looked at the experience we looked at the targets and objectives. We had looked at everything but the cost of actually doing the work.

I don’t mean that we had just made numbers up, we knew well enough to solve for each client’s unique needs. What we hadn’t done was take the time to step back and look at the demands that meeting each of those needs in aggregate would place on our organization.

To give you some idea of the volume, if one small business is active on two social platforms where they’d like post daily, that’s 10 pieces of content a week. Each of those pieces of content needs to be promoted if it has a chance of being seen — which takes about fifteen minutes a post to set up and should be checked once an hour for at least five minutes, each hour the ad is live. Higher volume ads should be checked more frequently.

Let’s say you’re servicing 10 accounts. That’s a pretty healthy start for a boutique, and while you can’t stay there very long, it’s a really good example and that’s all I’m using it for.

That’s 10 accounts, each on 2 channels a piece, for 20 properties, each getting five posts a week. Each of those 100 posts will require around a half hour of ad operations. This is assuming everything goes according to plan, and that very tight timelines are maintained. It assumes 0 meetings. There are never 0 meetings.

It would be very tempting to react by planning accordingly, but one of the things I’ve found most curious as we worked through that problem is the ease with which a creative task can expand to fill the time provided.

When I was working to find a way out of that mess, I had to take a serious look at the way we did everything. One thing I noticed was that when we were monitoring an account in real time (say, the comments on a post) we were losing a ton of time.

I was surprised by this.

Social media moves quickly, and you would expect that it would be managed in the same way.

As i examined our process, what I found was that while conversations on the network evolve rapidly, the high visibility means that any change tends to pass through a number of high-profile gatekeepers.

These gatekeepers serve an important role. They’re tasked with making sure that certain key objectives are satisfied. They’re tasked with making sure that things are done the right way. They’re in place to increase the odds of a “better” outcome.

But often times, they aren’t getting the right information because they don’t know they should be asking for it.

When I stepped back and looked at our post times and our obligations, it became obvious that what we had to do was streamline the way we kept things on message.

We haven’t found one solution that fixes this forever, what we’ve found instead is that many small things make for a functional approval flow. When we’re working real time, we make sure the people making the content are in the same room as the people who are engaging with the network — and that the person responsible for giving the go-ahead is right there in the mix.

There isn’t anything remarkable about that. It’s having a little bit better routine, and taking advantage of it to make more. But while I’ve been shocked that the mechanism is so simple, the outcomes have been remarkable.

A better process doesn’t mean you can make the challenges of standing out in a crowded landscape go away. A process that makes it easier to respond to what’s actually going on means that you’re going to be engaging with the world the way it is. I think that will always work. It works because that’s where the people who you’re trying to reach, live.