How to set up Facebook Ads for Restaurant Private Events ... Part 2 (of hundreds):


How to set up Facebook Ads for Restaurant Private Events ... Part 2 (of hundreds):

How to use Facebook ads to create thousands of dollars per month in private party sales for your restaurant..png

(Revisit Part 1 if you need to: How I built $6800 private events by using Facebook ads for a restaurant with a measly $180 in ad spend)

In the last post, I discussed creating a simple landing page that would help you generate leads for private parties for your restaurant. Today, I’m going to take it a step further to teach you how to set up your Facebook ads. I’m not going to go into detail on what your ads should say as of yet. We’ll get to that in another post. This is just some of the prepwork you’ll need to do before you set up your ads.

This probably deserves a video, but I’m just going to break it down assuming you’re already familiar with the Facebook Ads platform. If you’re not, well then maybe I’ll just save that for another video and blast you with the basics in a post another time. I’ll update this post with a video or something in the near future if I hear from you all on how to make it happen. Just bear with me now and pretend you know what you're doing. ;)

How to set up Your Facebook Ads for Restaurant Private Events

So let’s break down the research that it takes to get a decent Facebook ad for restaurant private events up and running.

  1. Determine the targets. Go back to the information gathering phase and use audience insights and client surveys to set up the relevant insights and demographic info. For example, if your campaign and restaurant’s landing page is aimed at restaurant catering and private parties for baby showers, you’ll build your audience interests in a way that is reflective of your targets.

  2. Gather your photo and video assets. Normally what I would do is take a bunch of photos at the restaurant itself, or ask the venue for photos that would be relevant to the campaign I’m running. In this instance, ask them for a few dozen photos of the venue that may have been taken back in the day. Then search out for mentions of them on Instagram and save those photos related to private events at the space. Example: This particular venue had a photo of a bridal shower. I reached out to the woman who posted the photo and asked for her permission to re-post the photo. Then I used that photo for this particular campaign.

  3. Install The Facebook Pixel. I’m making the assumption that you’ve installed the Facebook pixel. If you haven’t, it’s super easy to do and necessary if you want to do any sort of retargeting with ads to people who visit your website. Install the Facebook Pixel from your ads account to the header of your landing page. You’re going to use this to re-target your ads to your chosen audience, so gathering this info is critical to the success of your campaign.

  4. Create your custom audiences. Again, this might cause me to do another series of blog posts on this subject just to refresh you all on how this is done. But basically in your ads manager there is a way to create custom audiences of people you want to see your ads. That’s done in a bunch of different ways, but the most basic of which is these: engagement audiences, pixel (web traffic) audience and emails audience.

  • Emails audience. Take your email list and create a custom audience. Again, this is in the audiences section of the Facebook Ads manager. If you have separate email lists for private events and that sort of thing, even better. Basically you’re asking Facebook to match up it’s users with your email list. For me that usually means

  • Pixel (web) audience. If you’ve just recently created a pixel and added it to your site, it will take some time to create an audience large enough to create a custom audience. But do it anyway. What this means is that Facebook will take anyone who has visited your website in a certain time period and put them in a pool of people you can target your ads to.

  • Engagement audience. An engagement is defined as anyone who has liked, shared or commented on your posts. In the the audiences tab of the ads manager once again, create an engagement audience by selecting the Facebook page engagement option. I usually set that time of up to 365 days, but depending on what you’re trying to do and the level of traffic that your site gets, you’ll want to create a list that fits your needs.

Using your custom audiences, create a Facebook lookalike audience for your restaurant's private events Facebook ads to increase the likelihood of success.  

In the audiences tab, you’re able to create lookalike audiences of people who look similar to the custom audiences that you just created. (Again, this is going to have be be an entirely new blog post because there are so many exciting things that you can do here. But for the time being, just bear with me). Facebook ads are so incredibly awesome that they can actually match you up with an audience that looks and acts similarly to the data that you’ve just created in your custom audience. For example, the Engagement audience that you created will be populated with a certain number of people that are more likely to engage with your content because they look and behave similarly to those who are in the engagement audience. I don’t know what sort of voodoo that the Facebook algorithm uses, just know that by creating lookalike audiences, you’re going to reduce the cost of your ads and give yourself a much higher likelihood of success.

In the next post, I’ll discuss what your posts should look like to ensure the best possible outcome for the Facebook ads for your restaurant private events. Remember that I’m largely a Facebook ads guy who specializes in restaurants, so that’s why I’m writing it from that perspective. Keep in mind that these tactics can work for almost any industry, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how to make these work for your industry.


Maybe you should try boxing? Using the lesson of Teddy Roosevelt to overcome obstacles.


Maybe you should try boxing? Using the lesson of Teddy Roosevelt to overcome obstacles.

Teddy Roosevelt.jpg

Young Theodore Roosevelt was a fairly sickly child. Stricken with asthma, even menial tasks would spark serious reactions in his lungs that were life threatening. Yet he became one of the most successful presidents this country has ever seen.

How did he overcome such a hardship?

In his book, "The Obstacle is the Way," author Ryan Holiday describes a turning point in young Roosevelt's life.

By age twelve, Theodore Roosevelt had spent almost every day of his short life struggling with horrible asthma. Despite his privileged birth, his life hung in a precarious balance—the attacks were an almost nightly near-death experience. Tall, gangly, and frail, the slightest exertion would upset the entire balance and leave him bedridden for weeks. 

One day his father came into his room and delivered a message that would change the young boy’s life: "Theodore, you have the mind but haven’t got the body. I’m giving you the tools to make your body. It’s going to be hard drudgery and I think you have the determination to go through with it." 

You’d think that would be lost on a child, especially a fragile one born into great wealth and status. But according to Roosevelt’s younger sister, who witnessed the conversation, it wasn’t. 

His response, using what would become his trademark cheerful grit, was to look at his father and say with determination: "I’ll make my body."

So with this physical exertion and painful work devoted to improve the working of his lungs, he didn't complain. He just knew what he needed to do and got to work. Clearly he had an advantage over most boys without access to the wealth the Roosevelts had. Regardless, it took a special kind of mental fortitude to achieve the physical vitality to match that of his brain. 

So what I'm saying here isn't that you don't necessarily need to devote your life to boxing and strenuous physical activity. Maybe you just need to find that one moment in your life that you can recall being on top of it all. In my case, I've recalled a few of those moments of struggle and made a serious attempt to meditate on what those moments meant to me and how I was able to take a difficult situation and rise to the occasion.

So here's what I do to start my day.

After I wake up, I meditate for five minutes on how these moments of triumph made me feel and reflect on why they made me so proud. Often, my body fills with memories of the work that it took to accomplish and what I needed to change the next time in case I failed. AND most importantly, I exercise gratitude, but I'm never satisfied. 

So... what is that moment for you?

  • Finishing a gruelingly hot half-marathon?
  • Acing an exam?
  • Leaving an abusive relationship and starting a new life?
  • Overcoming physical and mental hardships?

What is that moment for you? Take a few minutes per day to pause and reflect on those moments of personal triumph, pride and accomplishment.

Upon self reflection, you'll find that you've probably accomplished more in your life than you realized. And although your triumphs aren't necessarily something as debilitating as childhood asthma, your self-confidence will thank you.

Jolly Teddy Roosevelt



For further reading on T. Roosevelt, I highly recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin's fantastic book, "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism."

For a nice modern take on Stoic thinkers, I'm a big fan of Ryan Holiday's "The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs."



How I used Facebook ads to earn 7 private events for a restaurant in a month (for just $179) .

Okay, so Facebook ads! Hooray! You love them, am I right?

Wait. No? You don’t love them?

That’s a crying shame, sir or madam.

How to Score Seven Private Events worth $6800 at your restaurant per month for a measly $180 in Facebook Ads.png

Facebook ads are the most underappreciated and undervalued pieces of marketing out there. Doesn’t matter what you’ve heard about them. I know this about you, because you still check Facebook more than you check any other website. Facebook ads are undervalued, because after passing 2 billion users this year, they’ve gone ahead invested more and more money into their ads platform to ensure that it runs efficiently for its advertisers. Even if you decide to hire someone else to do your ads on your behalf, you should take a few hours to learn the basics and maybe teach your Facebook ads rep a thing or two.

What if I told you that you could advertise private events for your restaurant with Facebook Ads by only spending $3 per ad per day? And similar $3 per day ads have yielded one restaurant I work with on average of $6,800 per month Yes, now I have your attention, don’t I Mr./Ms. Facebook ads doubter?

Before you learned about advertising with Facebook Ads for your restaurant catering and private events, you were all…

skeptical about facebook ads for private parties for restaurants.gif

And now that you know there exists a way to get ridiculous returns on Facebook ads for not much money at all, you’re all…

curious about facebook ads for private parties for restaurants.gif

So let's break it down. Here’s my secret to winning more private events for your restaurant. Like the whole enchilada. (Do people really still say that? Just me? Hmm...) Ready?

Edit: I decided I didn't want to write a book tonight, so instead, I'm going to break this monster of a topic up into about 4 or 18 different posts. I'll just make a new one every day until I decide that I don't want to write anymore. 


Step 1. Create a simple landing page. Luckily, there are literally dozens of great tools out there to create landing pages for your restaurant’s website. I’m assuming you already have a website. And I’m assuming that because you’re reading this, you probably have a couple skills at setting up a website. (If you don’t, don’t sweat it. We’ll cover that at another time.)

Why is a landing page important instead of just having people click over to your website and fill out a contact form? Because you want to track those visits as you go. You’ll be able to prove that people are coming from your Facebook ads to your landing page. You want to track your marketing dollars, right?

1a. RESEARCH. What I like to do is figure out from the restaurant owner which private events are easiest to book and manage and which ones create the best return. From my experience, these are usually company holiday parties, baby showers, wedding bridal showers and wedding rehearsal dinners. Once I determine which private events are the ones that they’re looking to promote, I do a few things:

  • Gather photos: Grab as many relevant photos related to the specific event as possible. Go through the restaurant’s instagram account, Facebook page, and have them zip you over as many as you can get your hands on.
  • Demographic Information. Get information on the demographics of the people requesting the party. I have a questionaire that I use for this purpose. I try to get as many relevant audience insights as I can from the Facebook Page if I have access to it. This will help you build your page around the audience you are using for this purpose.

1b. Build your landing page. Once you have this information gathered, you can grab a couple ways to make sure your landing pages and ads convert at a higher than average clip.

  • Clear headline: Make sure it’s exactly what you said people were clicking over to in your ad. If your ad says “Host your next baby shower at Flo’s Restaurant and Grill” then make sure you have the same title in the landing page.
  • Consistent images: Images that match the images in the ads. If your ad has a pregnant lady at a baby shower, make sure the same image is in the landing page. Aim for 4-6
  • Easy Contact Form: Make sure people know what they’re signing up for. Try not to give them more than 4 or 5 fields to fill out. Make it as easy as possible so they don’t bounce.
  • Testimonials: Put as many testimonials as possible on your page. I don’t know why this is, but for whatever reason, the more testimonials I put up on the landing page, the higher. Just like the other stuff, make sure you’re being consistent. You can put a testimonial about a tasty dinner, but if you’re trying to push private parties for baby showers with Facebook ads, make sure to get a testimonial or two from people who had a good experience at a private party for a baby shower.

You can still rock a pretty decent landing page for your restaurant private events without breaking the bank. I’m going to let Miles Beckler do the honors of discussing how to save thousands of dollars versus ClickFunnels by building a decent page on WordPress. I personally use Squarespace for my restaurant landing page, so if you decide to go with a site like that or Wix, the same principles still apply. However, if you’re working on a budget, wordpress could be your jam. Here’s the formula that Miles uses to determine how much people could save by using Wordpress + Thrive over ClickFunnels:

WordPress + Hosting + Thrive (200,000+ visits/mo) = $328 per year. Clickfunnels up to 20,000 visits/mo = $1164 per year

Step 2: Build Your Facebook Ad for Restaurant Private Events

So let’s break down the research that it takes to get a decent Facebook ad for restaurant private events up and running. Tomorrow we'll actually get into building your ads. 

  • Determine the targets. Go back to the information gathering phase and use audience insights and client surveys to set up the relevant insights and demographic info. For example, if your campaign and restaurant’s landing page is aimed at restaurant catering and private parties for baby showers, you’ll build your audience interests in a way that
  • Facebook Pixel. Install the Facebook Pixel from your ads account to the header of your landing page. You’re going to use this to retarget your ads to your chosen audience, so gathering this info is critical to the success of your campaign.

This is going to be a 4 or 27 part series that will probably be a novel of some sort where I get to play the hero or something similar to stroke my ego. Anyway, stay tuned for tomorrow's segment, which has to do with the whole rest of the enchilada. 

(Oh and you could substitute pretty much any industry in there instead of just restaurants... more tomorrow... )



Creating Digital Content at Scale: Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of Progress.

I picked this photo of my son and me at a baseball game because I didn't have any perfect photo to use. I just wanted to make sure to get this out there. 

I picked this photo of my son and me at a baseball game because I didn't have any perfect photo to use. I just wanted to make sure to get this out there. 

People are so fancy about their online content. It's gotta be the most frustrating part of my business.

Whenever I hear a story from someone about how they can't do this or that online because it would "hurt their brand," I get a bit squeamish. To me, what they're really saying is a couple things:

  • You're insecure about your brand. Now, when I hear you openly mock social content that isn't perfect or up to your standards of quality, it makes me wonder if you actually believe in what you're selling. The fact that you probably don't want to do the work necessary to scale your business or communicate properly online with social media is telling. 
  • You're making excuses about time. Yes, doing real storytelling of your brand is hard, but it's also something that can and should be done in 60 minutes per week without fail. If you're having trouble with time excuses, then that usually means trouble with some of the other work you're doing. You lack discipline, not time. 
  • You're afraid that trying something new might actually work. This is the most arrogant of all excuses, because it means that some company higher up doesn't want to admit that what they're doing to acquire new business is actually outdated. It might have something to do with company culture, but it says a lot about you. Get over yourself.
  • You have a romantic vision of your work. Someone hired your company because you exhibited a pretty good vision, a product or service that stood out, or because the price was just right. You're excellent at your craft and your brand logo is sexy. Great. But the customer probably doesn't know that or care. So treating your marketing the same way is foolish. Yes, your social and online content stuff should reflect your brand, but in forcing yourself to be so perfect, you're just leaving the door open a new startup to walk all over you. 

How to create content for your business at scale. An example plan for you.

Now what if you were to, say, outline your social media posts once a week. Take a 10 minute meeting on Monday with a couple key people in your organization. Here's an example of what I'd do regardless of industry:

  1. FACEBOOK LIVE. Start with a live streaming video from your company page to Facebook on Monday morning. This means pull out your phone and record a live video for 2-3 minutes. Use a microphone, or don't. Who cares. Create an outline for it and stick to the bullet points. Say what you're going to say, say it and then say it again... Some people use a blog, higher performing vlog, or podcast as a piece of "GOLDEN CONTENT," to use as an anchor, but I like using Facebook Live because of the ease of use and automatic upload it provides. 
  2. CREATE A BLOG POST BASED ON THE VIDEO. Use your blog to take the video you created and write 300-450 words. Use key SEO terms that you can get from a service like or a simple SEO tool to build some keywords. Send out the blog posts to your newsletter subscribers. Post the blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn using a service like Buffer or Hootsuite. If possible, create two blog posts based on the live video you create. Post these on Tuesday and Friday. Share the post on LinkedIn as a long-form post (just like the one you're reading, or a shorter one in the timeline) and to as a full article. 
  3. RE-PURPOSE THE VIDEO. CUT IT IN TWO OR THREE. Take that video and quickly edit it into 2 or more other videos to repost later in the week. Link back to the blog post in each video you post. 
  4. CHOP UP THE BEST POINTS. Take the best points of that live video and chop it up into manageable soundbites. Take your best lines and use those as tweets and LinkedIn nuggets. Link out to the blog post after your quotes or nuggets that way as well. 
  5. CREATE IMAGES. Create an image, meme or quote that fits the purpose of the video and post that to Instagram. Use one of the images I use for free to create quick Instagram-ready images and usually one of the templates they have there. Use appropriate hashtags to spread the message to a wider audience. 
  6. USE THE LIVE VIDEO AND CREATE A PODCAST FOR BONUS POINTS: This takes a bit more coordination, but don't poo-pooh it. Create a 3 minute podcast using the same Live video you created above. Share it to Anchor, Soundcloud, Sticher, iTunes, etc. If one person listens to each, you've done your job. 
  7. FACEBOOK ADS. Take the best performing post of the week and boost it to your Voltron List. What's a Voltron List you ask? So glad you asked. Visit my post on this subject for a more advanced look at how to maximize efficiency with your ads.

All of the above takes 3 people about 55 minutes per week if you're efficient about it. 10 minutes to prep/outline the video. 5 minutes to shoot the live video. 10 minutes to create images. 25 minutes to write a blog post based on the video. 5 minutes to schedule all the posts on 

So you have this romantic vision of your business and brand. Great. But instead of just creating and getting feedback from customers on it and engaging with your audience in real time, you're living in the past.

You're forgetting that in the social space, creating content on the fly and improving on that the next time is so important to staying top of mind. I don't care how huge your organization is or how important you think your brand is.

Regardless of if you want to pretend you're a huge agency or a two person shop.

The time that you're wasting on making it perfect or being too fancy is distancing yourself from creating the type of scale you need to make social content actually work. 

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of progress.



How Facebook Live Can Increase Revenue for Your Bar, Restaurant or Retail Business as much as $36,600

Facebook Live can drive business to your restaurant or bar.

Facebook Live can drive business to your restaurant or bar.

Want to add $36,600 in revenue to your business per year in 5 minutes per day?

Of course you do. How?

Do Facebook Live videos.

Okay, bear with me here. 

Let's assume a live video video gets you on average about 1,000 or so views. So doing 5 of these per week will earn you 260,000 views per year. If 0.3% of these people come in once per year, we’re talking 780-800 people. Let's say you're a restaurant or bar. Assuming you average $25 per customer, we’re talking $19,500 in annual revenue. Boosting these posts with a targeted ad to your fans to double the audience costs $200 per month or $2400 per year. If you double the audience, you see a net revenue return of $36,600.

It's just a numbers game. If you can drive up the amount of people who are seeing your posts, then you'll drive more customers on average to your business.

(This is based on surveys that were done in June and July 2017 from Good Milkshake clients. Out of 210 surveyed, 4.7% of paying customers noted that they saw a Facebook Live video from the client in the past 6 months)

Facebook Live of me talking about how to increase revenue for your business using...Facebook Live. How meta, I know.

**This is a conservative estimate.** The nature of these videos is that if you're decent in them and they're of ok quality that provides VALUE to the person watching, you're going to get even more views. And then what if you also uploaded them to YouTube, your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram stories? How much wider could you spread them? See where I'm going with this? Facebook wants to PRINT MONEY FOR YOU and you're complaining about it being too hard. But it's incredibly easy. You HAVE a smartphone, so it's the best thing you can do to consistently bring in more customers.

There's a whole strategy for how to make this work for a bar or restaurant. Which types of Facebook Live Videos work the best for restaurants or bars, for example? We'll explore that in a future post. 

In the meantime, just get started. Do live videos and do them consistently.


Welcome to Digital Media Analytics 101: The only metric that truly matters


Welcome to Digital Media Analytics 101: The only metric that truly matters

👨‍🏫 Welcome to Digital Media Analytics 101

First lesson: ‪
👎 Likes don't matter. ‬ ‪👎 Engagement or shares matter very little. ‬ 👎 Comments? Meh. ‪👎 Video views? Nope. ‬ ‪

The only metric that matters?‬ ‪ 👍 Customers. 👨🏼‍🍳👩‍🌾💃🏽‬

Don't let some smart digital media person convince you otherwise.

This photo has nothing to do with this at all, I was just always told that you should have an image in your blog post. So there. 

This photo has nothing to do with this at all, I was just always told that you should have an image in your blog post. So there. 



Target those ads. Quit advertising like it's 2009.

As we've established on this page, Facebook ads are currently the single greatest dollar that you can spend on marketing if you're a restaurant. Well, I'd argue that there's nothing better that you can spend your money on almost anywhere. 

So why are you still advertising like it's 2009?

They're ads that don't show up on the page timeline, but only in the timelines of those you target with the ads. So they're "dark" to the public. Pretty easy to do, just spend a few minutes on YouTube to research them. 

"Cohorts" are fancy names for groups. For example, I have a client who has a cigar smoking room in their bar. For those ads, I have a few different cohorts. First are cigar smoking men age 25-35, different ad for 35-55, etc. Then golf playing women who drink alcohol age 25-35, 35-55, etc. Then single men who drink Guinness/single malt scotch, single women on Snapchat, African American men who drive fancy cars within 5 miles, etc. For each, I use a similar image adjusted for demographics, but the ad copy is aimed at the different cohorts. 

Test, then retest and retest until you have a solid 8,000 person list that you can hammer for a month or so to go along with your 5-10,000 person "Voltron List." Then repeat the cycle the next month, and the next eliminating the worst performing ads and testing out new groups. And so on...

Doing this will make your clients happy and will allow you to charge more once they feel the difference. 



The Facebook Pixel: One reason you should fire your digital marketing company.

As a digital marketer, this makes me want to scream.

If you are a big time local web and digital company with big time clients going around charging people ridiculous amounts of money for your services, please the the decency to place the Facebook pixel on the website you're designing.

Facebook Pixel and Firing Your Digital Company

It's so incredibly basic, but I see it over and over.

Overpriced, well designed website without the Facebook pixel code included in the header of the page. It's complete and utter incompetence. It's the difference between someone who is just another digital company and someone who understands how to get you customers.

** A little background: the Facebook pixel is a little piece of code that allows Facebook to know when someone visits your website. It then allows the advertiser to keep a list (anonymous, of course) of people who visited the site. You can then target ads to people who visited your site. These are warm leads. **

Without retargeting by using the pixel, Facebook advertising can be effective, but not nearly as laser focused as it should and could be. So do me a quick favor right now. Email or call your digital company. Ask them if they know about retargeting with pixels. If they don't know what you're talking about, you can always fire them and hire someone who knows what they're doing.



SOCIAL PR CLASS IS IN SESSION: Put out those fires quickly.

Social PR

Tonight I had a client face a potentially fatal public relations crisis. Without going into too much detail, we solved it by figuring out that it was all a big misunderstanding. But the point is this. This company was saved a lifetime of humiliation all because we were able to address the concern immediately and stop it before it went semi-viral -- which could have severely damaged their good reputation overnight. 

In the end, the customers with the misunderstanding apologized publicly and the client was able to put an even better face on it by addressing the issue, showing genuine empathy for their plight. 

The moral: PAY ATTENTION to your little campfires. Take your eye off them and they can set the whole forest ablaze.



Your Facebook ads are underperforming. What's up with that? Here are 5 things you can do today to increase engagement.

Hi you guys. 

So as you know, I like to talk about Facebook Ads. I also run dozens of ad campaigns for clients per week. I don't share all the results of the campaigns I do, but I like to pick and choose a couple of them and brag about them.

Why do I show my work? Because I keep seeing restaurants advertising on billboards, on huge radio buys and *gasp* cable TV ads. And that makes me want to cry. Not really, but it does make me cringe at how much money is wasted. I'm not saying these other methods don't work, but they are 10x less effective than a good ol' targeted digital campaign. 

So here are a couple notes from me today on Facebook ads:

  1. Get your creative right. This means spend a few minutes to set up the photo that you're trying to take. If you want an ad to pop, it needs to be a pretty picture that someone will want to see, interact with, eat, etc.
  2. Be a hipster copywriter. This includes not being so sales-y in your copy. People can smell an ad pitch. Just show the product and don't waste people's time with trying too hard to sell them on the product. For example, notice the difference between the following copy. "Come and sit on our patio!!!" or... "Hey, it sure is pretty on our patio." Maybe I'll need to make another post/manifesto on this. People can sniff out an ad so fast, so you need to lay off the sales talk and just let the post speak for itself. 
  3. Use your best performing posts as ads. This is more for people with limited budgets, but what I usually do is post 2-3 different types of posts per day for a client and boost the ones who get the best performance. Don't think too much into this. 
  4. Use the Voltron List. What's the Voltron List? I wrote about it and how you can create one here. Basically, create a list of low hanging fruit, which is people who've engaged with you, your email contacts and people who visit your physical website. It's FREE MONEY. So go do it. 
  5. Video over photos. Video ads get 5-10x more engagement than photos. I don't know why this is. I guess I don't care, but the numbers don't lie. If given the option, use video, even if it's only a couple seconds long. Boomerang posts tend to get lots of engagement, so start with those and then graduate to longer form videos. 

I'm sure I have more thoughts, but I got busy, so I'll share those for another post. 

Go spend your pennies on ads, or spend your thousands on billboards. I don't really care what you do with your hard earned money, people. Just know that some methods are better than others. 




Jiro Dreams of Sushi. On Discipline and Refining Your Skills

“Even at my age, after decades of work, I don’t think I have achieved perfection. But I feel ecstatic all day––I love making sushi. That’s the spirit of the shokunin.” --Jiro Dreams of Sushi

90 year old Jiro Ono is widely regarded as the world’s greatest sushi chef. Hidden in the subway terminal in a nondescript and modest subway station in Tokyo, you’ll still find Jiro perfecting his craft. Every day, he searches for the best and freshest ingredients and with a monastic fervor, cultivates the best sushi in the world. Every day getting inches from a mountain top that he himself says that he’ll never even see. I can’t recommend the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” enough.

“I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There’s always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”

Here we have a guy who is 90 years old, who has spent the last seven decades of his life into his craft. Here’s a guy who after decades of practice and three Michelin Stars, could just retire and walk away from his craft. Three Michelin Stars. THREE. That’s the cooking world’s equivalent of hitting a walk off homerun to win the world series three times. But he goes back every day, because he can and should strive to improve.

“The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning.  The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.  This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Orate.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we all decide to become Trappist Monks and lock away in our tower of solitude to achieve some sort of shokunin higher being. But what else are we doing here? What’s the point of all of this if not to become the absolute best at what we do? If we’re not sharpening our tools and executing, we’re just running out the clock on the rest of our lives.

Some lessons and money quotes from Jiro Dreams of Sushi:

  • "Once you decide on your profession, you must immerse yourself in your work."

  • "You have to fall in love with your work."

  • "You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honourably."

  • “Ultimate simplicity leads to purity.”

  • “It’s just about making an effort and repeating the same thing everyday.”

  • “It has to be better than last time.”

  • “Seen many chefs who are self critical. Never seen anyone who is so hard on himself as Jiro.”

  • “He sets the standard for self-discipline.”

  • “He is always looking ahead.”

  • “He is never satisfied with his work.”

  • “He is always trying to find ways to make the sushi better or to improve his skills.”

  • “Even at this age now, he thinks about it every day.”

So what about you? What will you do today to inch closer to being the best in the world? And then once you get there, will you continue to climb?

Quit moaning about the state of the world or your favorite sports team and focus on a skill that will set you apart from your peers. Aim to leave a legacy of skill and a life of worth.

In the meantime, check out this documentary. Humble yourself.




Dive In: Just Tell Your Story

Restaurant Marketing Dive In

Wanna know how to get customers for your restaurant?

Dive in.

1) Tell your story. 
2) Make it pretty. 
3) Tell it again.

Your kitchen, your front of the house, your ingredients, etc... ALL of them have a story. Whatever medium you fee most comfortable in: audio, photo, video, etc., just document it.

We live in a time in which there's so much ridiculous information and crap content. Here's an idea. Just be real in front of the camera or on a blog or in a photo. You all have fun. You all have a story. And there's always somebody who wants to hear what you have to say.

Not everything has to be Disneyland. Hire a 17 year old kid to follow you around the kitchen and front of the house this summer. You don't need to be a supermodel or a professional photographer. You just need to be real and tell people what time it is.

The water's fine.

Dive in.



THE VOLTRON LIST! Five Steps to Create a Hyper-Targeted Facebook Ad to Make You Dozens of Dollars and Help You Become More Handsome and Charming

GO VOLTRON FORCE! Don't get the reference? That's okay, not everyone is as cool as me. 

GO VOLTRON FORCE! Don't get the reference? That's okay, not everyone is as cool as me. 

(Alternate TItle: Five Steps to Create a Hyper-Targeted Facebook Ads by a Facebook Ad Nerd, Make Dozens of Dollars, Buy an Island and Increase Your IQ by 7 Points)

I am an ad nerd. Well, I’m more than that, but for now let's just talk about my obsession with Facebook ads. I was the first person in Iowa to purchase a Facebook ad in 2006. No joke. It was a dumb ad that cost me $2 aimed at Drake University students to get them to buy coffee at a coffee shop I owned at the time. It worked when three kids came in for coffee an hour later and told me they saw the ad. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’m also a Cubs fan. If you're not, I feel sorry for you. Not everyone can be a reigning World Series Champion.

So as we’ve already established, I’m an ad nerd. This means I like getting into the weeds of Facebook ads. So when my friend Becky Mollenkamp asked me a few weeks ago to prove that Facebook ads could pay off big time for her and her business, I thought challenge accepted. Let’s do this. (As an aside, do yourself a favor and read Becky's amazing blog on writing and online marketing. SIGN UP for her newsletter. She's doing smart things over there). 

So I’m assuming that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a smart and extremely handsome person. But for some reason, you haven’t had much success with Facebook ads. Or maybe you have and you’re just reading this to confirm how smart and handsome you are. Either way, I’m here to help! Or maybe you're just average amounts of handsome. I highly doubt that, but okay! I'm here for you, too!

This is a big topic that I should probably use to kickstart my best book that will sell dozens of copies, so I’m going to unpack it a bit. But promise me that you'll read the whole thing, because if you do these steps, you’ll make dozens of dollars. It might read like a VCR training manual, but follow these steps with me and we’ll get you there, smarty. 

(I’m going to assume that all of you have a Facebook Ad account. If you haven’t I’m not going to spend any time telling you how to do it. It’s easy. Here’s a link that explains to you how to do it.)

GO VOLTRON FORCE! 5 Steps to Creating Hyper-Targeted Facebook Ads

1.    USE A FREAKING PIXEL. DO IT NOW. IT’S FREE MONEY. Put a Facebook Ad Pixel on your blog or site.  Don’t have a webiste? What’s wrong with you? Probably nothing, but you just don’t have a website. Get a website. I’ll wait. Okay, have a site now? Good. Now put a Facebook pixel up on there. Wait a second, Phil. What's a pixel? So glad you asked random italicized voice... How do you do it, what is it, where to find it, etc.:

  • A Pixel is the tiny bit of code that Facebook gives you that's unique to your ad account that allows them to tell you when someone visited your website. What this does is that it will track the people who come to your site and will tell Facebook when people visit your page. This means that when they browse through Facebook after visiting your page and you have an ad running, they’ll see your ad.
  • Create a list of people who see your pixel. It might take a few weeks or so to get enough traffic on your site to earn quality retargeting, but don’t worry about that. Just get the thing running and worry about the other stuff later. What Facebook is doing is building a list on your behalf of people who visit your site. Creepy, yes, but when your ads appear in their timeline, they are much more likely to engage with you. 


2.   USE YOUR ENGAGEMENT LIST. Target people who’ve engaged with your Facebook stuff. Facebook has a nifty thing where they allow you to track people who have liked, shared or comment on your Facebook page up to 365 days ago. You’ll see it in my example below. That’s so great, because these are people who already like to click on things. Oh my, how awesome is that!? I just made you like five more bucks today and I didn’t even charge you for it. Wait, (and I feel like the Shamwow guy here), but there’s MORE!

3.    USE YOUR EMAIL LIST. Use your email list like a champ to create a Facebook targeting list. Upload your emails and create an ads list that allows you to target your ads to people who already like you enough to give you permission to send them things in their email inbox.

4.    GO VOLTRON FORCE! VOLTRON ASSEMBLE! Now is the time to assemble these three lists to make your all powerful Voltron list! The great thing about this is that the numbers adjust as more people visit your webpage, which fires your pixel and as increases as more people engage with your page. 

    5.    LOOK AT THE RESULTS. IMPROVE ON THEM. RINSE. REPEAT. Look at your best performing ad and put a huge buy into it. Did you spend $2 for a one day ad last time? Spend $20 for two days this time on the one that performed the best. Use this data when you create posts in the future. You'll notice that the best performing ads usually make the best performing organic posts. 

    Notice that I didn’t even get into the world of targeting by people's interests, their demographics, income and all that (yep, Facebook knows everything about you). I’ll save that for a whole other post or maybe even an e-book, because there are some pretty good nuggets there. What I tried to do here is to focus on the low hanging fruit. These are people who are already familiar with what you do for the most part and have at least come across your blog in one form or another.

    Okay, now for the questions. If you have any, feel free to drop them in the comments. I’ll come back to answer them. You can also tweet at me at @goodmilkshake

    P.S. I wrote this entire post with Daye Jack's new LP in my ears on repeat. Listen to it here. So good. You’re welcome.


    Phil K. James helps people who sell food and drink to sell more food and drink. He does it through hyper-targeted digital media storytelling. You can find him at or on any of his social channels. He is the father of four future Chicago Cubs statisticians.


    1 Comment

    Zen and the future of beer flights: How FliteBrite changes the beer flight game

    “Nobody cares about your great idea. They care how you make ideas happen.” -- Ben McDougal


    When I was in college, I never really liked beer much. I sort of nibbled around the Natty Ice when I needed to at parties, and yes, I might have indulged in a sip of a 40oz of Mickey’s a time or two. But it wasn’t until I spent a semester abroad in France that my host mother talked to me about actually getting to really know beer and wine.

    “You don’t need to be a snob,” Marianne Seigot said to me as she poured me my first glass of French wine. “You just need to learn to appreciate it as it is. Let it rest in your mouth and think about what you’re drinking. Your let your mouth listen to the flavors.  You see? It’s better when you just let it happen.”

    This is about as Zen as the French get.

    Ben McDougal of FliteBrite

    Ben McDougal of FliteBrite

    So when I heard that Ben McDougal had built something called FliteBrite, I was reminded of my experience drinking wine with Marianne. I knew I had to talk with him.

    Talking with Ben reminded me of how much a disconnect Americans can have with what we eat and drink. I think Ben and his team have created something that at least bridges some of that divide between beer drinking and real beer knowledge and understanding.

    Last week, Ben and I did a Facebook Live together. Here’s that chat in its entirety:

    Inspiration from necessity

    So let’s break their story down for a second. About three years ago, a group of friends including Ben were sitting around at 515 Brewing in Clive, Iowa drinking a beer flight. And it hit them. Wouldn’t it be great to have up to date tasting notes on the beers you’re drinking as you drink them? Like some sort of an app for beer drinkers? They did what imaginative people do in that situation. They took a napkin out and sketched.

    Thus began a three year exploration of building a physical product that would eventually become FliteBrite.

    And I stress the three year part, because the FliteBrite team didn’t just have an idea before they went to market. They actually did the research and built the product before they launched it to the world. Ben sums up the process:

    “That’s a good lesson for entrepreneurs. Nobody cares about your great idea. They care how you make ideas happen. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of value in evolving an idea into reality and in this situation it required a lot of work, a lot of effort and patience.”

    Solving the problem

    When someone orders a beer flight at a normal bar, samples come to you, you take a sip and then end up forgetting what you’re drinking. FliteBrite solves that problem for both beer drinkers and for the bar/brewery establishments.

    So then they went to work solving this problem. They built a beer paddle with a touch screen on it and the software to go with it that allows a customer to have the knowledge of what they’re drinking as they drink it. It uses a color touch screen connected to wi-fi all fueled by an online dashboard for the establishment to manage their menus, set up social media campaigns and to track all the paddles that are in operation. They tested, created, tested some more, researched and tested again until they finally had a product that was ready for the world.

    This is really a game changer for bars and restaurants. I know they’re talking about beer here, but just imagine where they could go with this. They could use this for cheese flights, charcuterie, wine, tequila, etc. It’s a truly remarkable product that is sleek in its design, easy to use and setup. Here's a fun video with a taste of what they do from the company itself:

    So if you’re a beer drinker, get on this. Even if you're not, follow along, because I could see this having broader applications to VR, Smart Home things like Alexa, and even diving into the smart menu space. In the meantime, learn more about FliteBrite and how they are about to turn the experience of drinking beer flights on its head. Here are some links to learn more about what they’re doing:


    For the disclosure purposes, Good Milkshake Digital has no business affiliation with FliteBrite. I just like what they’re doing and want to support it with my words and enthusiasm.

    1 Comment


    Pepsi played us all. The brilliant manipulation of the dumb soda pop ad.

    Pepsi Ad and Marketing Manipulation

    I’ve dealt with and managed brand identities. Okay, so none of them are multinational. Hell most of them aren’t even multi-county. But the PR rules for activism are generally the same for everyone.

    1) Don’t do dumb political things with your marketing. 
    2) If you’re political, be super safe and own it. 
    3) If you do dumb political things, apologize and then try and make it right. 
    4) Make it look like you’re taking a stand, but don’t stand on your head. 
    5) Don’t feed trolls. 
    6) Generally avoid jokes involving flatulence.

    So when Pepsi dropped a silly semi-political (read: fake-political) ad this week, it had people scratching their heads. Then it brought outrage. Then people watched it again. Then there was more real and faux outrage. Then social piling happened. People started writing silly things like this. Then the attention went beyond business front pages, to headlining TMZ and trending on Twitter for a week.

    “What were you thinking?!”
    “How could you do this, my beloved bubbly sugary beverage?”
    “Pepsi, you USED to be my girl!”
    “Hey girl, U up?”


    But there’s one thing that I can promise you about this whole saga. I WOULD LOVE to be on the receiving end of this Trump™ type brand attention.

    *rubs hands together*

    Oh I can’t wait to see the next page in this saga. They’ll let it play out for a minute. 500 million will watch the video. We’ll continue to talk about it with faux outrage and bewilderment. Then the waters will cool. People won’t even know what they’re doing and they’ll be drinking Pepsi by the 4th of July.

    “Oh remember when Pepsi did that dumb ad?”


    “Nope… Ooh fireworks!”


    There were 100 dumb suits and skinny jeans wearing creatives who signed off on the dumb ad. They knew the backlash was coming. They knew it would be swift. They knew the ad had the emotional impact of watching the corn grow. And they KNEW we’d fall for it and even had the whole “play dumb” response ready.

    This campaign is so damn manipulative. Here is every influencer on YouTube, Instagram, Snap, mainstream press, etc giving their opinion. It makes me want to both a) hate marketers and b) give them a hug.

    Good Lord! This ad wasn’t aimed at young people or peace activists, or even cops! It was aimed at white women in the suburbs who are on Snapchat! It was aimed at people who love law enforcement, but still want to feel like drinking Pepsi makes them feel WOKE.

    Are you joking?? They knew exactly what they were doing! The political backlash and piling on was/is perfect!


    So keep talking about it.

    Enjoy the show.

    And drink up, buttercup.

    Pepsi and Marketing Manipulation


    I help people who sell food and drink to sell more food and drink. If you liked this, please do me a solid and LIKE this post and/or share it.

    #pepsi #marketing #advertising #kendalljenner#restaurantmarketing



    Use Snapchat Filters to Sell More Food and Drink Things

    I'm only sharing this because I love you. And because I care. And because you're handsome and kind.

    These graphs are from this past Sunday night. Three different Des Moines-area restaurants. $15 total spend on Snapchat Geofilters. That's #hot, right? No? Okay, bear with me.

    41 people used the filter & it reached ~1800 people. This rivals Facebook ad reach for a similarly priced ad, but I'd argue the value here is 3x as great for Snapchat as long as the majority on the receiving end of the snap are local.

    For one, people are engaging with the brand while they're in the establishment. Next, they're telling their friends you're cool with them. The value of getting a snap from a good friend endorsing a restaurant is tough to measure, though all things being equal, I'd wager that 9 out of 10 business owners would prefer this to even the prettiest Facebook ad.

    The main difference here is that in your analytics/insights, Facebook can break down demographics (age, gender, location, etc). With Snap, you're at the mercy of a user's social reach. The Snapchat user could be reaching people all across the world for all we know depending on the user. From what I've read, Snapchat doesn't have plans to add demographics info to its metrics, though I'll promise you that if Snapchat were able to somehow direct those filters to more local users, I'd probably marry the app.

    Oh and I'd share the filter, but the client asked me not to share it. Anyway, get yourself some good creative person to make you a Geofilter and get moving. 



    We are all #BradsWife: How Cracker Barrel Can Still Win the #JusticeForBradsWife Game

    Bradley Reid Byrd was just minding his own damn business.

    His wife Nanette was just fired after 11 years of service to Cracker Barrel Country Store without much explanation as to why. Brad just had a question:


    Poor Brad just wants an answer.

    No response.

    Now I’m not saying that every time a fired employee lashes out online that a corporate office has to respond, but this isn’t your typical fired employee situation.

    Enter our hero. We’ll call him/her “The Internet.”

    This “Internet,” which is really just a series of tubes, did what the Internet does. One guy goes to the aid of Brad’s wife demanding answers. Then another one demands an explanation.



    Egged on by their non-response, the joksters and pissed off people come to the aid.



    There may have been some angry people out there who were legitimately pissed off about the company’s non-response to poor old Brad and Nanette, but this is “The Internet.” The Internet, for those of you paying attention, is where everyone’s inner smart-ass comes to sow the seeds of smart-assery.

    Image courtesy of Internet Hero @FrankieP614_

    Image courtesy of Internet Hero @FrankieP614_

    It’s also a place where bad and rigid social media earns the company dozens instead of millions of dollars.

    So this Internet demanded answers about Brad and his dear wife. The company said nothing.


    Ok, I get it. They decided last year after some nudging by a smart agency to enter the influencer and deep in the social game. Credit where it’s due. They’re speaking to their fans by connecting with what they like. They’re curating country music concerts and using the influencer thing to give value to their audience. Credit where it’s due, right?

    Cool. Great work there. But this #BradsWife thing is beyond just social. is a HUGE missed opportunity to connect and underlines what’s wrong when big time brands forget why they’re on social media in the first place. Hell, it’s a missed opportunity to communicate why they’re in business in the first place!

    It should be like shooting fish in a, umm, cracker barrel.

    This is what happens when big companies get bogged down in agency thug life. Some brilliant young strategist at a top five agency leads the corporate office the path of social media bliss with cute campaigns, hot influencer endorsements and tasty product shots.

    All of this is wonderful. Except for when it’s not.

    In their haste to cover all the channels with shareable interactive stuff, these agencies and the companies they represent lose the speed and agility that it takes to respond without toeing the company line. So on one hand, they understand that social can be a good tool for communicating to younger audiences, which is why some cute and hip digital agency has their business. On the other, they’re completely forgetting that this needs to be a conversation. And that conversation doesn’t always get to be on the company’s terms.

    Every misstep is an opportunity to show the customer that you know who they are. A company with a nimble CMO would take this and stroke it for all it’s worth, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. I’ll get to that later. In the meantime, here’s the point of the article:

    My completely unsolicited advice for how Cracker Barrel Country Store can win the #BradsWife game.

    1. Approach Brad and his dear wife and apologize. Offer them an apology for not responding in a more timely manner and that they were probably wrong for firing her. Really work on this part, because the rest of the plan relies on them being cool with you again.
    2. Hire Brad and Nanette back. Put your best 24 year-old Snapchat hero on the case. Hire the pair to talk about why the Cracker Barrel is such a wonderful company to work for and how her eleven years in the company was such a wonderful family experience. Don’t filter it out much. Have them be brutally honest with the camera. Bruises and all. I don’t really care what the platform for this is, just that the story is good enough that the attention will come back. 100% authentic Brad and Nanette.
    3. Have the camera follow Nanette through her job almost 24/7 without disrupting service. Pin a camera on her and have her go through her service through the eyes of a dedicated server. This might take some coordination because of privacy reasons, but doing a Facebook Live of Nanette doing her thing could be enormous.
    4. Print all sorts of stuff that you can sell at your store and online.#WeAreAllBradsWife and all that. Co-opt all the hashtags and put your digital team on the case, responding to as many of those as you possibly can. Let your fans wear the meme. Own it.
    5. Create Snapchat Geofilters at all your locations with some sort of variation of Brad and Nanette’s photos in the filter. Not sure exactly how best to do it, but you’re a big smart expensive agency with smart people.
    6. Put Brad and Nanette on tour for the good of the company. Pay them both handsomely for this. Put him on Snapchat Stories and Instagram Live and ask people to stop by where he and his wife can sign autographs and take selfies.

    Can you imagine the heights they could take this? Brad and his wife could become their spokespeople. They could take their profits to new heights. The Snaps alone could be worth millions by earning the trust of thousands of newer customers.

    But that’s not why I’d do it.


    I’d do it because chivalry is the best kind of viral. There’s a reason Brad and his wife loved the company. It’s because it was a part of their family. A real extended family. They looked forward to their Christmas parties with the line cooks and 4th of July celebrations with the managers and bus boys. And yes, the money that she made helped support their family, but anyone who’s worked in a restaurant for a long period of time knows that these people fight the battles alongside you.

    You learn to put up with their bullshit and hug them if they need it.

    Do the right thing, Cracker Barrel. Give Brad and Nanette a hug.

    We are all #BradsWife.

    (For those of you out of the loop, here’s the full backstory: →>…/brads-wife-fired-cracker-barrel-11-y…)




    I was cool once: Girl Talk and the courage to be an artist

    Occasionally, I like to pretend I'm cool. I used to be cool, at least that's what I tell myself.

    Back in my senior year of college, in perhaps my greatest feat of salesmanship, I was able to sucker a local nightclub into hiring me as a DJ. It was minimum wage and I didn't really have any skills as a DJ at all, but I learned quick, it was fun, and for a minute I got to pretend like spinning top 40 hits was my life's calling. It wasn't, but it made me feel like I was doing something cool and interesting beyond my days of historical research and writing. If anything, it allowed me to connect with people with a couple beats. 

    Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn't matter. The intent does. Art is a personal act of courage; something one human does that creates change in another. ~Seth Godin

    So fast forward to July of 2011. Gregg Gillis, the DJ known as Girl Talk, was set to headline Friday night of the annual 80/35 Music festival in Downtown Des Moines. Gillis is known as a hefty mashup artist, that is to say someone who takes a few tracks of hip hop and mixes them in with classic rock and modern pop hits. It's not uncommon to hear him spin some Elton John's Tiny Dancer with the Notorious B.I.G.'s Juicyand pushing the envelope with bits of humor and unexpected pop tunes mixed with metal. The whole experience of listening to his albums is like a big fruit salad topped with marshmallow fluff and a dollop of Nutella for your ears. 

    I'd been a fan of Girl Talk for a few years, even catching a show of his at a club in Des Moines, so I was psyched for his performance at 80/35. I met up with a good friend who was in the middle of a conversation with a friend of his. This friend of my friend was in the middle of some serious Girl Talk smack talk. 

    "Oh man, I could totally do what he does! He's a hack! Man give me $35,000 and an afternoon and I'll mashup some junk. Come on, I'm skipping this show."

    Rather than sit there and argue, we just said our goodbyes and went in venue and took our spots near the stage.  The show was fantastic. 90 minutes of high-energy fun. I left the show sweaty and happy at what was a strong piece of unconventional art.

    (Here's a video from part of his performance at 80/35. Warning there's some NSFW language in the music):


    Beyond the aftereffects of the loud music, the words of the friend of my friend still rang in my ears.

    Could someone just sit in their mom's basement and create something just like that to move that many people? Could they do something personal and connects with thousands of people? Can't anyone just do that? 

    You know those times where you're thinking about a conversation an hour after the fact? You always seem to think of a great comeback and you sit there kicking yourself for not saying it? That was me right after the concert. The conversation with my friend's friend reminded me of the person on the basketball court who talks trash about how he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, or the painter at the community recreation center who, after painting a pretty good flower, is convinced that Rothko wasn't a real artist because he only painted rectangles. 

    Sure Girl Talk isn't the greatest DJ in the world, and who knows if the friend of my friend could create something better. The point is, he hasn't. So if you're so sure of yourself, you should be at home, trying to make yourself better. The same is true of almost ANYTHING. The fact is, it might not be your style, but (insert name of random artist/DJ/musician/top co-worker here) is actually delivering on creating great art that moves people.

    Be the person who moves people.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that so many of us are so quick to criticize someone else for going out on a limb and creating something interesting and unique. Very few of us are willing to take the risk necessary to create real and lasting art. I believe it's possible to create art in everything -- from the CEO leading someone to make an employee feel special and empowered -- to the customer service rep who time and again makes the person on the other end of the line feel human.

    (For an example of the greatest customer service experience in the world, watch this story about "TAXI TERRY.")

    So... Take a stand. Make your work mean something. Who cares if someone is there to hate and disagree with you. Your art is a part of you and you should create it because it's important to create something unique and meaningful without any expectation of return. 

    Because your art is a gift to the world. And occasionally, it makes you look cool. 



    You're either rocking Facebook dark posts, or you're doing it wrong.


    You're either rocking Facebook dark posts, or you're doing it wrong.


    (NOTE: This post was originally published on July 15, 2015. The information here is still relevant, though Facebook has made it easier to do basic dark posts.) 


    Those of us who live on social media for a living can tell you with utter despair that trying to get traction with organic Facebook posts is a serious chore. Facebook's algorithm EdgeRank decides which stories appear in each user's newsfeed. The idea is that it's better for the user in that it hides boring stories, so if your story doesn't score well, no one will see it. Great for users. A nightmare for some marketers.

    For savvy ones, it's only a minor inconvenience. 

    For a couple years months, I've been experimenting with Facebook "Dark Posts" to help a client who has a national audience do some specific targeting for their product. Dark Posts, for those of you who are unaware, are posts that don't show up in your timeline, but are targeted to allow you to showcase your brand to a specific ad set. The idea here is that you can create a few dozen posts in one day without completely annoying your fans and still seek to expand your circle of fans in a targeted way.

    (Keep in mind that if you are one of those people who are clueless when it comes to Facebook Ads, then this post probably isn't for you. You might want to open an ads account and try a few for the pages you serve just to get the hang of it.)

    Anyway, just because you're awesome and not enough people actually do this, I thought I'd share a little step-by-step process for a fictional download that I would be offering to a target audience of restaurant owners in Iowa. Here goes...

    1. Go to Power Editor. Go to the "Manage Ads" section from the right dropdown arrow on the main page of Facebook. Once you get there, click on "Power Editor."


    2. Click on "Create Post." 


    3. Create your unpublished page post, aka "Dark Post." When the window pops up, fill in the necessary information. Go for a catchy headline aimed at the audience you're trying to reach. Be specific and exciting, but keeping in mind your audience. When you add an image to this post, and this is very important, make sure the image has 20% or less of text. Facebook denies ads that have more than 20%. To be on the safe side, I never use more than 5-10% of the space for text. Make sure the radio button is highlighted that says "this post will only be used as an ad."


    4. Cut and paste the ad ID. From here, you'll want to cut and paste the little number that shows up next to your ad. 


    5. Create your ad. Go back to the ads manager and click "Create Ad." 


    6. Click on "Boost Your Post." 


    7. Enter your post URL number. Here's where you'll be able to take the number that you cut and pasted from the Power Editor and plug it into the line where it says "Choose page or enter its URL." You can see that the number I entered here is the same from the dark post I just created.


    8. Target your ads. Try to be as specific as possible and play around with this until your audience is a manageable size. You'll notice that for my purposes here, my audiences were too small, so I went ahead and added two additional states. Notice how I was able to filter down to state, industry, interests and job title.

    When testing these ads out, I make sure to get the most bang for my buck by focusing on "Clicks" and a relatively small budget (for me, that's $1-3). After I create about two dozen or so of these ads, I'm able to get a pretty good feel for which ad types and demographics work the best, but you'll have to find this out through trial and error. 


    9. Place your order and evaluate. From there, Click "Place Order" and then wait for Facebook to approve it. Let these ads run for 4-5 days and then go back and evaluate their effectiveness. You might run variations on the most effective ones until you figure out the best possible formula. 


    Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message, or write a suggestion or question in the comments here. Happy dark posting!