UCLA Lecture: Social Marketing


Last night I had the honor of speaking to a class at UCLA about how to bring marketing to their online communities.

A special thanks to Beverly Macy for inviting me, and to everyone in attendance. Some related links can be found on Delicious.

Pink Taco and it’s Shaved Pink Ass (Safe for Work)


Let me begin this with one simple statement. I have never been to Pink Taco.

Pink Taco is a local restaurant that presumably serves Mexican Food. As the proud owner of a vagina I haven’t darkened their doorstep but my husband sometimes lunches there. He says the food is good. I don’t often mistrust my husband, but I’m thinking the food’s gotta suck.

For Cinco de Mayo the brain trust at Pink Taco decided to take a donkey, spray paint it pink and leash it to the front of it’s restaurant. Presumably this would benefit the drunken revelers. Apparently it was an 80 degree day (in the shade) and the patrons of Pink Taco took offense that an ass was tied up in front of a restaurant that was named after the slang for women’s labia and serves meat that doesn’t pretend to be free range, organic, humanely treated or even grass fed.

Apparently the would be patrons of Pink Taco care more about a spray painted ass than anything else.

In keeping with the Pink Taco-ness of Pink Taco they have decided to honor PETA (a vile organization if ever there was one) with a night of vegan fare and donations to PETA.


There has been a lot of media speculation regarding Eeke, the donkey. We encourage you to “Like” our new facebook page:[redacted I’m not in the mood] and follow us on our new Twitter: twitter.com/PinkTacoCC for up-to-date information!

Team Eeke!
In support of the fight against animal cruelty from May 9th – May 15th, Pink Taco Century City will be featuring a special margarita. The “PETA-rita” is available to all guests who would like to come in and support #TeamEeke, as 100% of the proceeds from the PETA-rita will go to PETA in support of the ethical treatment of animals.

We are also encouraging ALL of our guests to join us this Friday, May 13th for our happy hour and a “bring your pet to the patio day” from 3-7pm. This is a great opportunity to come in, enjoy some great food and beverages with your pets – and drink for a great cause! We look forward to seeing you there!

The following is our official statement:

“We’d like to clear up some misperceptions regarding the donkey, who made an appearance at the Cinco de Mayo event at Pink Taco in Century City on May 5th. We obtained a permit from the city to have the animal on site and the pink coloring used on the donkey was a safe, water-based and commonly used on animals in the entertainment industry. Additionally, the donkey’s trainer escorted him the entire appearance, he was on a leash, not a chain as reported in the media, and we provided plenty of water and care to him throughout. The employees of Pink Taco love and respect animals and would never do anything to harm or cause discomfort to an animal.”

We have since been in contact with PETA and Pink Taco has agreed to not use animals at our events and promotions and we are looking forward to meeting with them and discussing how we can work together in the future. We are a socially aware brand and we appreciate our customers concerns regarding these matters.”

-Pink Taco Corporate


If there was ever a moment where I thought that Pink Taco cared about people (women specifically) or animals (a few hundred a day on plates) I’d ignore this, as it’s largely a non issue.

I think that motherhood has turned me into a feminist and although I love a dirty double entendre I love it even more when I can walk through the mall without trying to explain to my kids what a Pink Taco is, why men would want to eat one, and why women would have low enough self esteem to work at or patronize the store.

I’d be outraged, but the Yelpers have taken care of that with hundreds of one star reviews.

What’s your take? It’s clearly a business that takes risks. They’ve named the store in such a manner that many women don’t want to be there, most families won’t, they clearly don’t care about animals and then they engage with PETA. Is it just a big mess that’s going for young men or are they hungry for any old kind of publicity?


Why Your Small Business Should NOT Engage Bloggers


Today I had not one, but three, three emails from friends and relatives who were all asking the same questions.

Which bloggers should I approach?
How should I approach them?

My answer to them in short form is, “You shouldn’t.” Bloggers are wonderful, small business owners are fabulous, but if you’re in the business of making sweet potato fries, my suggestion to you is that you make the best sweet potato fries you know how to make, and talk about it on your own site. In the first person. The folks at Label Daddy have done a great job of this, and you could certainly use them as an example of “how to”.

I almost always respond to these emails with, “I would caution you from reaching out directly to bloggers, but I would recommend ___, ____ or ____ to help you reach your goals. I like to recommend three different people (or agencies), in part because if things go south I’ve recommended a FEW, not just one. I also like to recommend three because I’ve worked so many amazing teams that I really do think my friends and family can benefit from more than just one of them.

If you absolutely insist on DIY blogger outreach do NOT blame me when it explodes in your lap.

Who to contact: Bloggers who want to be contacted probably have an “about me” page. If you hear a blogger’s name crop up over and over again in multiple circles you might want to think about contacting them, however, nothing is guaranteed. Once you have identified a blogger that is of interest to you, it’s time to make sure they are relevant to the discussion you want to have. Quantcast, Alexa and Compete will give you some data about bloggers. Recently I heard that larger firms are using comscore only, very few bloggers are currently found on comscore.

When you plugin the bloggers URL to any of these services you may or may not get results. If a blogger is hosted on a wordpress.com or blogspot.com site, it is virtually impossible more difficult to get data regarding their readership. You may have to ask the blogger to self report, or you can ask them to give you access to their stats.

For a blogger like myself, who is self hosted, it’s relatively simple to get demographics and data. If you go to Quantcast you’ll see that my audience likes politics, science, parenting, fashion, home & gardening, auto news & info, science and technology, babies and books quite a bit more than your typical internet user.

For example my readers are 1.7 times more likely than the typical internet user to visit categories and sites that relate to science, nature, parenting, fashion and cosmetics. If you were looking to buy advertising here I’m pretty sure a line of organic skincare would be a good match, right?

Further, check out my demographics. Y’all are old, educated and rich. Blogger outreach should take the audience into consideration, not just the writer. I’m writing to men and to women, I’m also writing to people who have been college and to grad school. There’s no need to dumb down a message here.

Similar information can be found at Alexa and Compete. Most of it is somewhat reliable, but I must stress the somewhat. Quantcast counts approximately a third of my traffic, as does Compete, Alexa has been more reliable at times, but everything seems to be an approximation.

With the amorphous nature of web reporting how would a sweet potato fry maker know who to target? Without being a part of this wacky little word, it’s very complicated for a small business to dive in.

I always suggest using twitter as a place to listen. If you are listening to what people are saying about you, and about your industry, you just might be able to have a conversation with them that is meaningful.

Understand that bloggers are not marketers. Few bloggers will have passion for your sweet potato fries, and of the three that do, only one will have reach that is relevant to your market.

Do you have a plan to deal with a blogger who does not like your product? Do you have a plan for the blogger who sees your pitch as spam? What is it that you expect to get from your relationship with a blogger? If you think that blog posts can directly translate into sales, forget it.

My question for you, small business owner, is: do you want to spend your days trying to find the blogger who cares about sweet potato fries, or do you want to spend some time making great fries?

I’ll continue my practice of connecting great people.

#UnRefreshing How Pepsi’s Cause Marketing Annoys Me


When Pepsi made the very public decision to skip Superbowl Advertising in favor of Social Media, a lot of folks felt like Social Media would be legitimized. Since the Refresh campaign would live mostly online, it could prove to everyone, for once and for all, that Social Media is better investment than Mainstream Media.

I’m sure at a corporate level, the Pepsi Refresh project is a smashing success. At a social level, I find it unpleasant.

Pepsi launched their Refresh campaign during SXSW (South by Southwest), and my friend Mark was the recipient of the first grant they offered. I was happy to campaign for him. I spammed twitter for two days straight, and, even though I don’t feel good about it, I did it. Mark was able to secure $50,000 so that he could continue his work at Invisible People. Since I’ve seen firsthand the impact of the videos, it was easy for me to feel passionate, and to spread the message. What was not easy for me, was to involuntarily be promoting Pepsi.

I don’t like Pepsi. I don’t make it a habit to drink soda, but if you’ve ever eaten a hamburger with me, you’d know that I do order a Diet Coke to go with it. I also take a weekly run to a taco truck and sometimes drink a Coca Cola. Does that mean that I’m primed to promote Coca Cola? No. This is my vice, not my passion. Pepsi and Coke contribute to obesity, pollution, and bone loss. I could go on and on, about useless plastic bottles, and the many ways that Pepsi makes itself a bad global citizen, but I won’t.

I’ll just ask you, my readers, to be a bit more thoughtful. How much of our lives are we willing to give to gross polluters? Is social media for sale? At what price?

The problem is that saying you don’t like these contests is going to hurt someone’s feelings, and it won’t be Pepsi. When I click over to the Refresh Everything page I see this:

An exercise class to fund raise for Lupus Research is a wonderful idea. Who wouldn’t want to exercise? Who doesn’t want to see Lupus end? I’ll be Esther Nuevas is a fantastic lady, and I’ll also bet that most conversations she’s having today include Pepsi.

All for $5,000.

Pepsi has used such incredibly manipulative marketing practices (I’m not willing to pretend that this is charity), that if I tell you how totally unrefreshing I find this, I’m the enemy. Obviously I want people to have lupus, right? Wrong.


Currently children are creating campaigns so that they can get gym equipment into their high schools. I want kids to have weight rooms. I want kids to have a great PE curricula, but I don’t want Pepsi in our schools, and you shouldn’t either. A quick search at Pepsi’s site shows that they have wiggled their way into at least 1,121 schools. Let’s just pretend that it’s only 200 kids at every school, that means that at an uber conservative minimum Pepsi has successfully branded itself to 224,200 highly impressionable teens. Nothing about this is okay.

Our children will be the first generation ever to have shorter lifespans than their parents.

Our children will die young from the food they are putting in their bodies.

Michael Hoffman, the CEO of See 3 Communications had a lot to say about cause marketing. The folks at See 3 work exclusively with nonprofits, foundations, associations, and social causes. Michael lives and breathes this stuff.  I asked him what he would say to someone before they entered one of these grant contests (Chase had one recently and I’m pretty sure we’ll see a lot more of them).

He said:

I was just with someone from Invisible Children that won the Chase $1 million. They spent 5 years building a grassroots network through offline events – film screenings, tours, lobby days. It was this network that won the $1 million, not some online magic. Maybe there were 5 orgs, from the 100 finalists in that contest that had anything close to that kind of network. The others COULDN’T win. So what I would say is… You have to access your ability to mobilize people for these contests and if you don’t have a large and dedicated existing network you are probably wasting your time.

Sometimes, this kind of contest can get orgs that have done little online to begin building their networks. America’s Giving Challenge, from the Case Foundation, included a lot of education about social media with their contest (some of which we helped develop), and so many orgs became adept at using the web, even if they didn’t win the money at that time.

I wonder, how can we create something that brings incentives for organizations to work together, rather than competition with each other.

Locally The Roxy, The Viper Room and the Comedy Store have worked together to grow all their businesses. Can you imagine if charities worked this well together?

Michael adds:

Overall, I think corporate brands are realizing that no one really cares about their checking account or their brown sugar water. These products lack meaning. They are commodities. And so in many ways the brands need our causes more than our causes need the brands. They need to infuse their commodity products with meaning. They need to give me some reason to care.

At what point are we saturated with these events, and the vacuous corporate greed begins to impact our causes? This isn’t just about contests, it is about cause marketing. For example, Susan B. Komen sold out to KFC in a cynical move to brand cancer-causing food as something that will help in the fight against breast cancer. Komen’s brand now means more about greed than cancer.

Pepsi has another agenda, which is they don’t want us to really think about what we have been pouring into our kids and how it impacts their health. If they sponsor healthy things, a weight room, for example, then they can associate their product with healthy living and they can bribe schools to keep their soda machines and not join the fight against childhood obesity by going after the sugar-water peddlers.

We’ve asked for authenticity within social media. We’ve prized it, we’ve rewarded it. What do we ask of our charities?

It was wonderful and novel when the first few charities secured money, but it’s tiresome now, and everyone wants money for something.

Can I ask, at a bare minimum, that each and every one of you work to keep Pepsi from branding our school children?

Promoting Your Product in Three Easy Steps: Email, Send, Pimp


It starts like this. There’s an email that includes, “I noticed you write at Celsias and Green Options (interesting National Lampoon does nothing for them). My client has a new product that is going to save us from ourselves. Can I send it to you/you the press release.”

With some regularity the answer is yes, I write a review, and send the PR person a link to the review.

They say, “Thank you.” and I never hear from them again.

Bad. Business.

Like any other part of our lives, social media (yes, when you read my blog you are engaged in social media) is about relationships. Facebook, Linked In, Blogs and web pages are all about building relationships.

Make me like you. Here’s how. Use E.S.P. Email, Send, Pimp: