But there are a few things I wish I would have been more prepared for when I started my business. I am listing them here, along with a counterpoint – the ‘silver lining’.

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Nike AdIn the hustle to get our social media messages out to the world, we sometimes forget branding and advertising fundamentals. I wanted to share a concept from the traditional advertising world that will help you with your social media marketing and branding. It was traditionally called the Thumb Test.

Thumb Test
In the ‘old days’ once an ad was finished and before it was printed, the ‘final check’ was done by an editor. That editor would cover up the logo on the ad with their thumb. If the ad still contained all of the proper branding and could easily be associated with the brand (without the logo) the editor would allow printing to commence.

Mind’s Eye
An easy way to visualize this would be to think of a McDonalds print ad. If you close your eyes, you KNOW what the ad looks like without the logo… The images are crystal clear with lots of yellow and red. Now think Nike – dark colors, lots of black and white – action shots – perhaps a splash of a neon color…

Practical Application

I met with a nonprofit recently who wanted to improve their Facebook page. They are the largest thrift store in the area and they have an amazing selection of used clothing and household goods for great prices. Their regular customers enjoy shopping there – the store has a ‘hip’ factor, it’s clean and they have lots of sales (different things on sale every day). These sales and the ‘hip’ factor were discussed regularly on their Facebook page, but what they were missing is the fact that they donate $10,000 a month between 4 charities. This is a big draw among their existing customers but needed to be discussed with new potential customers. We began sharing more content about the supported charities – that is truly their ‘secret sauce.’ Now when we do a thumb test on their Facebook page, we are looking at THEIR unique organization with their unique offering. The overall benefit is that their current customers are reminded why it’s such a special place to shop AND they are attracting new customers.

Utilizing this “thumb test” will help you reach your goals and stay ‘on brand.’

What do you think? If you cover up your name on your personal or business Facebook page, would your audience KNOW it was your page and what makes you unique?

Jason Elkins

Here’s a little dose of reality. Running a business isn’t 2 times as hard as you thought it would be, it’s 200 times as hard! I’m not complaining, I love building an empire – even a small empire – it’s a blast, the most fun I’ve ever had ‘working’ and some days it doesn’t feel like work, but some days it does. HARD work.

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Killing The Time Vampires

October 17, 2012 — 2 Comments

Time Vampires = People that want your help, but only have the intention or authority to kick tires and not buy from you.

We love people.  We love helping people achieve their goals.  You probably do as well.  As a business owner / entrepreneur / sales professional – this is key to your happiness, success and the success of those around you.
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I recently saw a review of a presentation where I spoke about Facebook Marketing. One of the places that has me speak regularly shared the reviews with me and they read like a top performance appraisal:

“Jason spoke on this topic in a way I had never heard.”

“The presenter is knowledgeable and I learned more in one hour than I have in the last year on digital marketing.”

“Great delivery, funny and knowledgable”.

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Have you been invited to sit on a panel discussion? It can be an intimidating request, with a myriad of factors effecting the experience. How organized is it? Who’s facilitating? What is the topic and do you have an opportunity to research the questions beforehand?

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A young man walked into the kitchenette, noticed I was washing mugs and said smugly, “wow, how did you get THAT job? Did you lose a bet or something?”

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I had the blessing of co-teaching a 10 week course on Social Media at Belmont University this fall.  I was an adjunct faculty professor for the Massey School of Business  and taught nineteen, 400 level marketing students how to best utilize social media to market to connect and market to businesses and consumers.  – I didn’t buy a sport jacket with patches on the elbow, but I did wear a sweater vest!

It was some of the most fun I’ve had in my career and I learned as much as I taught.  I’m forever grateful to destination marketing mad scientist Steve Chandler for the introduction and co-instruction.  He’s big-fun to watch live!  His Twitter handle is @sschandler, (connect with him there.)


One of the topics we covered was how to deal with negative comments on your Facebook page.  There are many reasons you could receive negative comments.  Someone may not agree with your direction, platform, or ministry.  You might have a product that some people don’t like or understand…  Sometimes, even when you are trying to benefit your Facebook group with a contest, you can generate frustration.  In class we utilized an example where someone was publicly complaining about not winning a prize they felt they deserved.  The short story is that they entered a picture into a contest that was intended to solicit original pictures, and made it to the final selection before the client realized that the picture was copyrighted.  I give a detailed overview of this example below.


There’s a scene in the classic movie “Roadhouse” where Patrick Swayze’s character is brought into a rough ‘biker bar’ to help stop fights.  He’s referred to as a “Cooler” and stops altercations before they go haywire.  (The fact that there are 30 fight scenes after he’s introduced is another topic!).  One of his comments is “Be nice, and take it outside”.  I’ve adapted that a bit to fit our purposes, but it’s a good lesson.  (I would have linked the video but the swearing may make you blush).

Be Nice and Take it Offline

If someone makes a negative comment, you could simply respond on Facebook with “sorry you feel that way, if you want to talk, please e-mail me so we can make it right at Jason@thecustomerisalwaysright.com.”

Offensive to the Group? Remove the Post

Only remove a post if it’s offensive to the community. We make the mistake of thinking that our Facebook pages are ours. The truth is that they belong to the user community. Our Facebook pages are made up of others, and therefore all we can do is help control the voice and the flavor of the community. If someone posts something like “this product is not helpful”. That would perhaps be offensive to me as a business owner, but perhaps not to the community, and I wouldn’t recommend removing that post. If however, someone wrote “Anyone who likes this product is a total moron!!!” That would be something worth removing, because it’s offensive to the community.

Policed by Community

Allow the community to ‘self-police.’ One of my ministry clients has a product that is distributed in public settings. Someone posted on the Facebook wall and said “You should be banned from the place where you give away your materials”. A person responded and said “I’ll be praying for you”. That was not a response from the ministry; it was a response from the Facebook community. If you treat your community well, they will come to your defense.

Post ‘Big’ Content

The day the ministry received a negative comment, they posted a long update about “loving your neighbor” from Matthew 5… then a little while later, they posted a video, with a positive message.  Later yet in the afternoon, they posted a picture with a large caption.  All of this new content pushed the negative comment off the page.  Not everyone reads Facebook on a computer screen, or goes to your wall page for that matter… but this process helps those that do.





First Post From Facebook Fan

 The client tried to connect with the user and compliment him and sent this response via e-mail.

First Response Via E-Mail to Fan – “Be Nice”



Fan’s Facebook Response to E-Mail


Community Policing


Track Apology and Offer “Be Nice and Take it Offline”




Fan Final Response Via E-Mail

Consumer is Happy – Actually Went Back and Deleted His Own Negative Comments


Negative comments can usually be quieted with good customer service, and truly listening to your audience.  This is true in business as much as it is in social media.  There will always be a percentage of ‘crazy’ posters and sometimes they need to be banned from a page, but in our experience, people will ‘Like’ a page because they WANT to be connected to that business, brand or cause.

The B.O.P.P. technique is something that can be utilized effectively as a guideline on how to deal with negative postings on your Facebook page.  Have you had experiences with negative comments in the past?  What have you done to address them?

Want more Facebook for Business Training? Download our free Facebook Marketing Training Videos here. 

I LOVE helping people. Truly. Thinking of ways to help my customers can keep me up at night… when someone asks for something, my servant’s heart kicks in and I want to jump on that task. Since starting Transparent Social Media earlier this year, I’ve been analyzing the positives and negatives of this natural tendency, and lately as it relates to time management and people asking me to do things for free.

As a business owner or decision maker, have you ever received this question?

“Hey, can you donate some time and help me with this project? If you can work for free on this project, there will be much more work later!” (My initial thought—”How about you pay me to do it right, and I’ll cut you a deal on the second project”).

Or how about this one?

“I’ve just spent my entire budget of $3,000 and I only have a $1,000 left. I am not happy with the outcome after spending $3,000, so I want you to do something better for me, for $1,000.” (My initial thought—”Really? So, you dislike the full product at $3,000, and now you want to get a better product for a third of the price… This is not going to end well”).

Or what about…

“My church/youth group/non-profit/feed-the-hungry/give-to-the-poor/missionary could really use your services. They don’t have any money, but you would be giving back to universe if you took on this project.” (My initial thought – “Oh man. Pulling at my heartstrings. Writing them a check might be a better idea.”)

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I’ve found that when a customer wants something done well, and they truly can’t afford it, your efforts to cut corners and ‘help them anyway’ can be disastrous.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend needed some help advertising a new product. I knew what she wanted would take about 15 hours. I also knew that she sunk every dime she had in her new product. I told her I would do what I could and spent about 18 hours on her site over a week’s time, and invoiced her for 5 hours. She paid it quickly and after multiple edit suggestions and changes, she became anxious and changed her site back to the original design. The original design was not beautiful (we both agreed) but it had some features that she didn’t know she liked until they were gone. If we would have done a proper assessment, we would have been able to flesh out every aspect of her site, figured out what was working and not, and present some mock-ups for her review… because of her lack of budget we took shortcuts.

She hasn’t talked to me in a few weeks, and it’s the only project I’ve worked on that makes me anxious. It wasn’t her fault… I was the one that agreed to help. The problem was that she didn’t get the best of me. I didn’t want to engage the rest of my team, and take away from their billable work to help out a friend of mine, and the people that were paying me full price at the time of that project came ahead of her. If I would have referred her to someone else or simply said ‘no’, she may have found the right person to help her, and may have had an excellent outcome.

The other way that this hurt my company is that I wasn’t the one that should have been working on the project to begin with. What she needed was something I COULD do, but not something I SHOULD do. By me doing the work, we applied the wrong resource to the problem.

This isn’t a new issue, I’ve seen same thing happen with multiple companies and it’s typically rooted in the desire to give back, and typically executed poorly because of how it is prioritized.

The Solution

My business partner and I have decided we need to eliminate this issue. We are both cause/servant minded and figured out a strategy that will not only allow us to give back without regret and treat these free projects properly, but also contribute to our pull marketing philosophy, lead generation and our brand.

In January 2011 we are implementing our Four for Free Initiative. Every year, we are going to develop four custom fan pages and corresponding social media plans. We will implement one of these projects every quarter, and allow our customers and Facebook friends to vote for the finalists. The recipients will fall into four categories:  for-profit company, musician/band, author, and a non-profit.

Each of these programs will have a street value (I just wanted to write ‘street value’) of $1700-$2000. I will use these projects as case studies, and will engage our Facebook Fans with suggestions and voting. I’m hopeful that this will attract (pull) other business customers, develop exposure and leads and also create a grass-roots buzz about my business. Obviously this isn’t THE reason we are doing this, but I’m not going to apologize for the exposure either. If the NFL Football players can wear pink to bring awareness to breast cancer to strengthen their brand, I can give away fan pages and social media plans to strengthen mine!

These projects will get our full attention. The customers receiving this fan page and plan will walk through our entire production process just like a paying customer. This should ensure a good experience, and a great product.

By implementing Four-For-Free, we will be able to answer the question “hey can you give me this for free” differently. I will ask people to go to our website and nominate themselves or someone else and we will review these entries.  At the beginning of every quarter, the handful of potential winners will be presented to our Facebook Friends, to be voted on.

I would love to be a catalyst for your version of Four-For-Free. The customers that would have received half of your attention will thank you for it!

Jason Elkins
Transparent Social Media

-Last article:  7 Cool Ways to Engage Your Customers on Facebook

I was asked to guest blog for Bill Seaver, one of my social media mentors this week!  You can read Part 1 of Thinking Inside the Box – 7 Cool Features for Your Custom Facebook Fan Page, here.

Part II of “Thinking Inside the Box” deals with engagement.  I believe that simply having a great fan page isn’t enough to truly engage your fans, much like simply having a website is not a great internet marketing strategy.  A social media plan can be very helpful.  It acts as a road-map, providing direction and creative ideas for engagement.  I have been enjoying developing social media plans for my clients, and here are some ideas that they are implementing.


When you go to a party, are you selling all the time? Please don’t use your fan page as a megaphone to tell the world every facet of your business. Develop some creative ideas, and use your page to build relationships and engage with people.

  1. Testimonial Tuesdays: Ask for or post testimonials on a specific day of the week. How has your service impacted a customer? Tell other customers about it on your Facebook Fan Page.
  2. What is it Wednesdays: We helped a pest control company develop a free service called “What is it Wednesdays.” Anyone can post pictures of pests on the company fan page for identification. These conversations have lead to sales.
  3. No Fry Fridays: A propane company wants to promote propane grilling and will be asking the question “What are you grilling this weekend, post your pictures here.” They are developing an environment where people can share their recipes.
  4. First Date Questions: Ask questions to get your fans talking. You would be surprised what kind of feedback you receive by asking people what music/tv/sports/hobbies they enjoy.
  5. Contests: One of our clients is a bus company that makes long trips with lots of different types of riders. They will be offering a free meal/gift card to a specific seat number on specific trips. They are only announcing this on Facebook and you have to be their friend to participate.
  6. Places: Are you a business that relies on foot traffic? Create a ‘Place’ using the Places application on Facebook and reward your regular attendees with a % off for the most ‘check-ins’ in a month. You could offer a ‘bring a friend’ promotion so you are not losing money, but gaining another potential fan. Bill Seaver mentioned his appreciation for “Foursquare” in an earlier post, and the Places application has similar functionality.
  7. Donate Money for Likes/Fans: The pest control company rolled out a plan this week where they are offering $1 for every Like/Fan they get between now and the end of November. They are passionate about child literacy and heard that “Robertson County Reads” (a program that gives children age 1-5 a book every month) was in danger of losing funding. They wanted to engage their fans in a unique way and also help bring awareness to this cause.

If you are wondering how often to post contest/idea information vs. company details, I would suggest using a modified version of Bill Seaver’s “Twitter Balance Score” for Facebook Engagement.   Ask questions, offer value and once a week mention a promotion, service or special.

I mentioned in the first article that just having a fan page isn’t enough to keep your fans coming back… You really need to engage with them. Try some or all of these ideas and keep me posted on your progress!

Jason Elkins