Archives for : Social Media

What Keeps You From Becoming A Commodity?

I saw a tiny red “20” over one of the apps on my phone this morning. So, to try to catch up just a little on channels I follow, I tapped the YouTube icon. I caught Gary (@garyvee) Vaynerchuk’s Daily Vee #356 today. (Yep, my phone took me to yesterday’s today. Thank you, phone.)

About 12 minutes in, he said, “There is ONE THING that will keep you from being a commodity: your brand. (Emphasis: his)

Commodity vs. Differentiation
…and it really got me thinking about my Gulf Coast Virtual Tours business. I realized that some of the things I do, brand-wise, push it toward “commodity” instead of toward distinction & differentiation. So let’s do an exercise today…

Take out a piece of paper, or create a note on your device. List 3 things you do that tilt you product or service toward becoming a commodity. Then, list 3 things you can do to “un-commoditize” it with your branding. THEN, circle the most important one, and get started on it before the end of the week. BONUS POINTS: share 1 thing on your un-commoditizing list in the comments below.

Covfefe drove the world insane, but…

The social media world went insane again today, thanks to a typo tweeted by the #president: covfefe

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of new domains were registered before Noon today. was still available.

Some companies moved swiftly to capitalize on the phenomenon in other ways, such as Teespring.

You can get the non-word printed on just about anything. Order yours today.
It will be forgotten by most folks by the time yours arrives.

But, it will be fun to explain at parties a couple of years from now. Trust me!


Covfefe T-shirts

No more clicking “Like” or…NOT clicking “Like”

Today (02-24-2016), Facebook is rolling out an expanded set of emoticons called “Reactions”. The intent is to convey a broader range of emotions, beyond clicking LIKE or… just not clicking anything.

Facebook’s new “Reactions” buttons: Like – Love – Haha – Wow – Sad – Angry


I’m not going to pass judgement yet on whether it’s a good idea/bad idea. I’m curious how having five new “Reactions” will play out in conversations on topics that are important to people. For example, will this be the improvement that Facebook believes folks want? Or, will it just be another way to mire discussions in negativity?

“Why did you click “Haha” on this story about animal abuse? #disgusting”
“I didn’t, you tool! I was laughing at comments from my friend who shared it!”

Did Facebook go far enough? What do you think is missing? My immediate reaction is that Facebook should have also included a “Seriously?” face. Many folks would describe this as the “Eye Roll”, but I would prefer more of a scowl, personally.

(COMING SOON: Body language “Reactions” such as “shrug”, “facepalm”, and “turns to leave”. I’m just kidding. That’s not really happening, as far as I kow. However “facepalm” would be a big help. But I digress…)

I think the emoji for “Seriously?” could use some improvement, and perhaps Facebook can do better. The folks at  believe that the “dissatisfied face” is the way to convey the reaction, “Seriously?”


“Dissatisfied Face” Emoji from

In order to post a “Seriously?” in a text or comment field, use these symbols: ಠ_ಠ

You’re welcome.

What “Reaction” do you think Facebook should have included? Which one of the new “Reactions” makes you think, “Wow, FINALLY, I can express my feelings!”

Instagram Adds Emoji to Hashtags – Internet Dead-Ends?

Instagram Adds Emoji to Hashtags – #SocialMedia Dead-Ends?

I really enjoy the progress of tech and the Internet most of the time. However, Instagram announced today that they will include emoji within hashtags on their picture-posting platform.

I can’t wrap my mind around that. I understand the expressive aspect of emoji, for the person adding those characters to their post. However, a benefit of the hashtag is using them to find similar content to that which you’re interested. In other words, clicking on a hashtag is like asking “What else is being said today about the topic of my choice?”

How likely are you to enter #sonsofanarchy<3 instead of #sonsofanarcy, for example? Seems to me that this new development will result mainly in dead-end hashtags. In other words, they look clever or will perhaps illicit a smile when posted, but no one will search for it to reveal more widespread use on that platform. A dead end.

I’m also fairly certain that inclusion of emoji will make #somethingthatsalreaydhardtoread even worse.

Instagram did not bother to explain why they had created this solution-in-search-of-a-problem. Upon searching the webz, I found an article on that strongly implies Instagram is just keeping up with the Twitter Joneses:

Twitter, of course, has recently started letting users add Star Wars emojis via hashtags.

(Yikes. Perusing my Twitter stream for about 45 minutes today, I saw no such hashtags.)

Thanks for nothing, Instagram. #futurefail

Open Now – Enrollment for FUELTANK(13)

My excitement in starting this program may only be matched by my gratitude for the people who have helped and are helping make this possible: my coaching program, called FUELTANK(13).

Rather than explaining it here, it would save us both time if you would just click over to the FUELTANK(13) page, read about it, GET EXCITED, and then enroll, of course! I understand, it may be the kind of excitement you feel when you finally get a deep splinter out of your hand, but that’s a WIN too, right?

When you sign up, you’ll get an e-mail soon, welcoming you to the program. It will include payment information and more complete details. You know, the ~real~ exciting stuff. Fasten your seatbelt – it will be a challenging but fun ride, I promise.


Getting Over the “Hiccups”


Due to some unusually large orders in the month of April, I have shot, reviewed, edited, and delivered about FOUR TIMES the photos in the last month than ever before!

Just having a little fun with one of the "outtakes".

Just having a little fun with one of the “outtakes”.

This wore me out physically, and I got sick this first week of May. Just a bad cold – fortunately nothing too serious.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for some new opportunities that came my way.

Here’s the catch. May and June are traditionally my busiest months. And I started the month of May “under the weather.” Not only did I struggle for most of April to keep up with the workload, I got way behind on my home lawn care responsibilities. This time of year, that means that, among other things, my grass got REEEEALLY long. I had to hire a pro to come and “mow me out”! Not that big of a deal for some of us, but I actually enjoy mowing. It takes about 3 hours or so. I listen to music in my big earmuff headphones, and think, and sometimes pray. And, I get some much-needed exercise.

What’s worse is that, during this rough patch, I’ve neglected the platform I use to keep in contact with you – my blog, my Facebook fan page, Twitter (@mmercenary), and even some networking opportunities. When you don’t stay in contact with your audience or customer base, people will look elsewhere for the resources you provide.

What did I learn from this hiccup in the generally smooth Marketing Mercenary process? Two main things:

Continue Reading >>

Grab That Testimonial – Part 2

Capture that testimonial! (See Part 1)
Yes, I’m a professional videographer/director/editor (I could add some more slashes, but that’s enough for now). Why would I suggest that you capture it yourself? Well, you might have a customer standing at your counter, telling you how much your great products and service make their life better.

Get out your phone camera, or Flip Cam, or laptop webcam. Record it yourself, right then, to capture two things:

1) The words and ideas that convey the true emotion your customer is feeling.

2) The ~willingness~ of that customer to share their feelings with you at that moment.
This video clip can be edited to remove the stumbles, or to enhance the audio and visuals. I can add a logo and title at the beginning, your customer’s name where appropriate, and your contact information at the close.
“But what if it’s really noisy and shaky, or the customer had an embarassingly awful time getting their words out?”
Let’s use that “outtake” to write a script (or at least an outline) for a reshoot, where the customer can prepare, and we can set up lighting, a microphone, control the background noise, and get a much more professional-looking and great-sounding recording. Once it’s edited, you’ll have a great story to let potential customers hear from one of your happiest clients!
This social proof helps change a person’s mind, from “will they buy from you?”, to “when will they buy from you?” Happy shooting!

For more unbelievable helpful advice, feel free to shoot me an e-mail: jr (at) Or, call (7650 997-8687.

Grab That Testimonial – Part 1

You may have heard that the personal testimonial is the most powerful way to influence would-be customers to patronize your business. The second-most-powerful marketing tool is a similar testimonial, captured on video. A testimonial is a great example of “social proof”.
You can use the video (or a link to the video) in the following:
  • Social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, CraigsList, Yelp, or almost any other)
  • E-mail
  • Printed link in your brochure or business card
  • QR code link for mobile consumption
Because of this flexibility, video is a perfect tool for all businesses.
I’m not going to be one of those “marketing experts” that tells you what a great idea something is, without telling you how to accomplish it. Tomorrow: Grab That Testimonial – Part 2 (How and Why)

The “Likes” You Like – Clean-Up Time?

(Post updated on 9/29/2016 to reflect changes Facebook has made since originally posted. Thanks for reading!)

Do you use a Facebook Fan Page to promote your business or organization? On your page, there’s a panel on the right that shows the Fan Pages where you have clicked LIKE. Coincidentally, it’s called “Likes.”

Have you clicked LIKE on the Weird Al Yankovic fan page? Are you personally interested in beekeeping or origami?  Are you a fan of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders?thumbs up

I’m not judging. I’m simply here to ask you if these pages reflect the professionalism and personality of your business? Does that include everyone at your business?

I’m also not saying that you should take a vote among your co-workers. I’m suggesting that the LIKES that your Fan Page displays be focused on pages that would be appealing to the largest number of your customers. Visitors to your fan page should only see items that are consistent with YOUR brand image.

So, if your brand image is all about fun, you might actually click LIKE on Weird Al’s fan page, and show that goofy mug on your page. But if your brand image is about helping homeowners save money, you might restrain your LIKES to DIY fan pages, big box stores like Lowes and Menards, and financial services.

What if you’ve already clicked LIKE on the “horrorcore” hip-hop group, Insane Clown Posse? Again, I’m not judging….

Continue Reading >>