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!