Social Media Slice for Tuesday, July 17, 2018


The most expensive states to run ads and better ways to manage your ads covered today. SLICE is a M-F news digest targeted to assist Social Media Managers and Small Business Owners doing their own marketing.



Survey says… the most expensive states to advertise in are… depends on the industry. SEM Rush has all the data. And I have it for you. More


Irritating as it is to click a link and get hit with broken link message 404, ever wondered why you got it and even more so why it is called a 404? More




Facebook Ad Manager’s “Import Ads” and “Split Audiences” features can provide you tools to better manage your ad campaigns. More


Do you travel so much that your accountant or VA requests expense reports? And you bring in crumpled receipts and scribbled figures on lunch napkins? There is an app for that. Actually I have info on 5! More

And… if you are looking for a marketing promotion for your small business: World Emoji Day and in 1902 the first air conditioner was created by Willis Carrier in Buffalo, New York on this day. Cool!


Social Media Slice for Monday, July 9, 2018


In today’s issue, we look at work arounds for negative reviews, as well as the variations of “opt in” and “not opt out” in Dark Pattern Design. SLICE is a M-F news digest targeted to assist Social Media Managers and Small Business Owners doing their own marketing.



Reviews can significantly affect your client’s revenue flow. Trying to remove biased negative ones from review sites like Yelp are a tough sell as evidenced by an unsuccessful court case where an “aggrieved law firm tried to force it to remove negative posts.” If a law firm lost its case, what can you do? More


Hopefully none of your clients have been engaging in Dark Pattern Design. If so, take note that consumers are beginning to fight back against deceptive practices. More




Plain text websites not needing hosting (nor a SMM to create them) are in the news. As this TechRepublic article explains they “are portable and private, existing only as a URL, and could be an inexpensive option for SMB website creation.” More


Sweatlag is here. Bound to happen. A jet lag recovery workout. Created by Delta Airlines and Equinox. Four workout videos are available on Delta’s YouTube Channel. More

And… if you are looking for a timely marketing promotion for your small business: July is National Independent Retailer Month and today is National Sugar Cookie Day. 

Dark Pattern Design Gets You Every Time — And That’s Not a Good Thing


Pre-selected checkboxes. Need I say more? That is Dark Pattern Design. There is a perception vs reality chasm between what’s being offered on any given on-line option box and what the customer believes she/he is receiving.

If UX Design can be described as the process by which a designer tries to determine what a customer experience will be, then Dark Pattern Design can be defined as the creation of misleading conditions which will drive the customer to unknowingly act favorably towards a pre-determined experience.

Take a closer look at the featured graphic (from TechCrunch):

  • Opt in. Means you want to sign up for something
  • Don’t opt out. Means you also want to sign up for something
  • Don’t not opt in. Means… you… still… want to sign up for something.
  • Opt out all (grey scale, small type) Means you DO NOT want to sign up for something

Potential customers are in a hurry. They are irritated with all these questions. They just want some info. And so, they click one of the top three given options quickly. Dark Pattern Design just got them to sign up for a subscription or worse, opening the door to personal data being raided.

Manipulative timing is a key element of dark pattern design

Natasha Loma, writing in a July 1, 2018 piece in TechCrunch provides a rather extensive walk-through of the dangers to consumers of Dark Pattern Design, as well as the negative fallout to the reputations of business that are caught employing these deceptive practices. She slaps Facebook around quit often, and deservedly so, but by no means is FB the only internet company out there running a mis-direction shell game on customers.

She writes, “The technique, as it’s deployed online today, often feeds off and exploits the fact that content-overloaded consumers skim-read stuff they’re presented with, especially if it looks dull and they’re in the midst of trying to do something else — like sign up to a service, complete a purchase, get to something they actually want to look at, or find out what their friends have sent them.”

For example, let’s consider the ‘agree and continue’ button that pops up. Brightly colored. Can’t miss it. Click it to get to the next step and you have bypassed a service’s terms and conditions, and therefore signed off understanding what you’ve agreed to. Complain later? It was brightly colored. You could not miss it.

Same applies for those infamous pre-selected checkboxes. Right there, in plain sight. How did you miss it?

Contrast that with the rather lengthy Terms of Service options. On the surface, ToS appear to require being checked off one at a time, when there is instead one easily locatable opt out option buried at the end. That is called “friction.”

Deception is the long game that almost always fails in the end

With the massive negative publicity from the lack of clear opt outs during the Cambridge Analytica mess and the arrival of new stringent European watchdog legislation  (GDPR, anyone?), things may finally be changing.

Loma foresees “Rising mistrust, rising anger, more scandals, and — ultimately — consumers abandoning brands and services that creep them out and make them feel used. Because no one likes feeling exploited. And even if people don’t delete an account entirely they will likely modify how they interact, sharing less, being less trusting, less engaged, seeking out alternatives that they do feel good about using.”

As a Social Media Manager or Small Business Owner doing your own marketing, do you employee any of these Dark Pattern Design practices to mislead your customers? Whether you do or don’t, this TechCrunch article deserves your attention.

In dealing with moving your customer down the sales funnel what’s more important to you?

  • Opt in to make the sale
  • Opt out to build brand trust

{Your thoughts are ALWAYS welcome. Turn this into a conversation either here or on my Twitter account @amssvs}


Net Neutrality Debate Now Tainted by Scandal


Net Neutrality is an important concept that internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon should not be awarded stranglehold power over what we see and post online. The internet belongs to all of us, social media managers, virtual assistants, content writers, everyone who posts or consumes content. In 2015, internet freedom groups and 3.7 million commenters won strong net neutrality rules from the Obama-era US Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

Now, the Trump-era FCC has surprisingly decided to let those same cable companies decide which websites and apps you use, where you get your news, how you listen to music and watch videos — pretty much everything you do on the internet.

Last week, Reuters news service reported, “Landmark U.S. ‘net neutrality’ rules will expire on June 11, and new regulations handing providers broad new power over how consumers can access the Internet will take effect, the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday in setting the date.”

(This Reuters article and video will give you background details and bring you up to speed on all the ramifications of the issue.)

At face value, the change does not seem fair. It sounds as if someone is attempting to take away your freedom of speech!  

There will be protests nationwide on Monday, May 14th. Open air speech is still free. As is assembling in a public place. Here is how you can join one near you.

Again, from Reuters: “A group of 22 states led by New York and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect, and the U.S. Senate may vote as early as next week to reject the December repeal.”

In a free society, everyone is allowed to have an opinion. You can be for or against net neutrality. Fair is fair. But…

Essential Consultants Scandal

Along comes the scandal.

Michael Cohen. Essential Consultants. And possible influence peddling. What if money and not freedom of information is driving the FCC’s controversial decision?

Let me give you a little timeline on Cohen & Essential Consultants.

  1. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen created a shell company, Essential Consultants, on October 2016, just after the Access Hollywood video broke. (It is the tape released a month before the presidential election, that caught future President Donald J. Trump on a hot microphone in 2005, bragging about using his celebrity status to force himself on women to whom he was not married.)
  2. Cohen allegedly used Essential Consultants to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money. (Conducted either with or without Trump’s knowledge and approval. The “jury” is still out on that.)
  3. A few weeks later, AT&T reportedly began issuing $50,000 monthly payments – $600,000 total – to Essential Consultants for Cohen’s insight on Trump’s thinking about net neutrality.

Last week, AT&T released a message to employees — obtained & published by POLITICO. It reads in part:

“Companies often hire consultants for these purposes, especially at the beginning of a new presidential administration, and we have done so in previous administrations, as well.”

Problem is, Cohen was not an independent consultant. He was Trump’s personal lawyer at the time. His fixer. His man of action.

Blatant influence-peddling? You decide. The Trump-era FCC did vote in a manner favoring AT&T.

We talk a lot about ROI in social media.

According to this article published in The Atlantic last week:

“If AT&T paid a monthly fee of $50,000, Essential Consultants would have received more money in the year than AT&T’s highest-paid lobbying firms, Mayer Brown and Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld, which were paid $420,000 and $400,000 respectively. In 2017, AT&T paid 14 firms at least $200,000 to work Washington for the telecommunications giant.”

What if money and not freedom of information is driving the ultimate net neutrality decision?

The Senate is scheduled to vote this coming week on whether to overrule the FCC and save net neutrality.

Pro-net neutrality forces believe they are just one vote away from the 51 required to overrule the FCC; this new scandal could allow for a grassroots pressure movement to be mounted for a win.”

But time is short.

A website has been established to help you contact your US Senators and make your opinion known.

If an overwhelming voice of the people just saved a cancelled TV show (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which will move from Fox to NBC this fall), who knows what is possible? Even in the fantasyland of Washington D.C.

{Normally I would end with the above one/two punch of optimism and sarcasm. But, now I would ask: if net neutrality did not exist, would all those Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans have had the free and unfettered access to the internet to exercise their constitutionally mandated freedom of speech? To take advantage of their unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as provided in the U.S. Declaration of Independence? Contact your US Senator, now!}

(And, thanks to Ira Andelman for research on the timeline and his devotion to this issue that motivated me to do this blog today)