Archive for February, 2012

On FB, “like” doesn’t guarantee followup

Don’t feel so bad about the limited engagement your brand is getting from FaceBook.

“Likes” are nice but they don’t automatically translate to engagement, which is where the real bucks are.

Ad Age says even Nike, Harley-Davidson and Porsche struggle for engagement, raising the question of whether this is something worth pursuing.

Check out Matthew Creamer’s article on brand engagement at

‘Class warfare,’ lame media, dead Democrats

Here’s a column I wrote for today’s, a new website that focuses on editorial commentary.

Let me get these O’pinions about politics off my mind and onto yours.

* It’s the sport today to bash unemployed people and welfare recipients for not holding jobs.

No doubt some are gaming the system, but many are trying to better themselves. Anyone checked the help-wanted ads lately? Let’s see if you qualify for a job that pays a livable salary.

Instead of stomping on folks on the bottom, maybe we should look at all the tax deductions granted to business. They can write off their telephone costs, computer costs, rent and travel. Maybe the unemployed folks should start hollering about all these gifts from Uncle Sam.

Then there’s the tax write-off for home mortgage interest. Hardly fair to renters, but great for  home-buyers — the bigger the loan, the bigger the deduction.

Yet no one mentions these goodies, even as they denounce unemployed people living like royalty on their whopping $275 -a-week check.

Oh, right, criticism of such subsidies would be denounced as “class warfare.”

* The political “experts” complain that the Republican presidential candidates were foolish to hold so many debates — 20, 30 or 112? — but they should remember the race is a marathon, not a sprint.

Without debates, the lesser-financed candidates are at an even greater disadvantage against the wealthy candidates. And while there’s nothing wrong with money, the debates show that multimillionaire Mitt Romney can’t buy respect, let alone love, from many Republicans.

* At the same time, I must confess that I watched only one debate, and that for a grand total of two minutes. What did I see? Romney bashing Barack Obama. Hey, first show us why you’re better than the other Republicans, and then you can challenge the Democrat.

* Some political types are so out of touch with their political correctness that they are estranged from the real world.

Case in point: National media types raised a major brouhaha because one of Rick Santorum’s supporters, Foster Friess, had this joking view of contraception: “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

Hello! In the 1960s, when “the pill” was new, I swear I read Ann Lander’s advice to this effect: The only pill that works all the time is an aspirin if the woman holds it between her knees.

So people get up in high dudgeon because a guy recirculates an old joke and they take him seriously. It’s a bit like the Fox News commentators who went nuts in 2008 when they saw Barack and Michelle Obama bump fists. “A terrorist gesture,” the commentators clucked.

Old ladies in bowling alleys have been bumping fists and slapping high-fives for decades. Get out of the studio, TV people, and let down your gelled hair.

* Finally, tell me this was an early April Fool’s joke: Democrat Alex Sink is quoted as saying she may run again for governor of Florida in 2014.

Only a candidate of Sink’s ineptitude and dreariness could have gotten Republican Rick Scott elected in 2010. Sink was so uninspiring that voters preferred a guy whose sole claim to fame was that he used to run a healthcare empire shot full of legal issues.

If Florida Democrats can’t find a candidate more appealing than Alex Sink Part Deux, they will look as lame as the Republican candidates for president.

On-line regrets: They’ve got a few

A new survey shows that 11 percent of respondents now regret something they posted in social media.

That works out  to 15 percent of males and 8 percent of females.

The more impressive finding is that young people are taking more steps to shape their on-line image, deleting friends and comments and eliminating photos. No more pix of red Solo cups?

It’s a good sign that people realize how on-line activity can affect their lives.

This and a whole lot more data can be found in the Pew Center study:


A good starter kit for social media

If you’re new to social media, this article will give you the basics and get you off to a good start dealing with FaceBook, Twitter and other major players.

It’s quick, clear and on point.

Readers prefer quality over quantity

We all know some people who talk too much and say too little (present company excluded, of course).

Some businesses and people do this on e-mail and social media, too — the main reason they lose their audience.

The top reason people unfriend others or block e-mail: Too much volume, often with nothing new.

So focus on quality, not quantity, in your posts and e-mails.

Pinterest stuck with copyright challenge?


Pinterest is a remarkably popular new site on-line, but so many images posted on it aren’t self-generated, meaning it could run afoul of copyright laws.

Political wars need some flaming moderates

Here’s a colum I wrote for today’s, a new website that focuses on political commentary around the state.


More and more Americans are becoming conservative — 40 percent identify themselves in a recent survey as conservative, 21 percent as liberal and the remainder as moderates.

But what is a conservative? Look at all the people who consider themselves conservatives and how their definitions are causing an identity crisis for Republicans, the traditional party of conservatives.
While evangelical Christians call themselves conservative, their attitudes towards gay people, abortion and other cultural issues certainly put them at odds with libertarians and sectarian conservatives who want few if any rules fettering them.

The evangelicals may be able to work well with the Tea Party people, who used to be nuts for Newt Gingrich but now are lining up behind Rick Santorum. Many Wall Streeters support Mitt Romney — after all, he’s one of them — but low-income Republicans favor other candidates, a Wall Street Journal analysis showed.

This is why we have party primaries; voters must sort out their priorities and pick their candidate to run against Barack Obama.

But there’s another question yet to be answered, and that’s what this conservative trend means for the United States.

Conservatives have many virtues, but bold vision and forward thinking aren’t among them.

Look through history and you see that few conservatives were champions of progress. If fate were left to the conservatives, women, blacks and other minorities wouldn’t be as well off as they are now. Consumers would have far fewer protections. Ditto for the environment: Conservatives would have paved more paradises and put up more parking lots.

Fear is behind a lot of this rush to conservatism; we want to protect our share of the pie, whether it’s an entitlement, a tax loophole or a pet project.

Both parties do their share of fear-mongering, and both parties are split. Look at the liberals unhappy with Obama. The Republicans are just getting more attention now because their party is in the spotlight; the Democrats already have their nominee.

Here’s a reason for my disenchantment: Gingrich denounces Romney as “a Massachusetts moderate.”

OK, I’m from Boston myself, so I understand the dig at the only state where liberals still outnumber conservatives.

But “moderate” as a bad word?

I usually tend to favor the moderate position because I think moderates are more efficient than liberals or conservatives.

Think about it: One extreme gets hold of an issue and the opposition digs in. Eventually the development evolves until it is sensible for the majority — that’s the moderate position — until the opposition succeeds in making it even more extreme, at which time we need to start the pendulum moving in the other direction.

Examples are all around us: A little deregulation was good for Wall Street, but then we went overboard and let the inmates run the asylum. Unions were good for workers until they got extreme. Social Security and Medicare were good — and then the politicians and special interests fattened them beyond effectiveness.

Now we’re trying to find the right degree of rule-making to prevent abuse, we’re trying to encourage unions and management to work together, and we’re trying to make Social Security and Medicare stronger — and encourage people to take more responsibility for themselves.

What this nation needs is more moderates to take the best from the conservatives and the best from the liberals and make effective changes.

Mark O’Brien is a writer in Pensacola, his home since 1978. He also is the author of “Pensacola On My Mind” and “Sand In My Shoes.”

© Florida Voices

How to find a true social media expert

Beware the number of self-proclaimed “experts” who want you to hire them for social media.

It’s not as easy as some make it sound, so follow these tips from Steve Birkett on how to tell the true authorities from the poseurs.


10 ways to maximize your blog’s reach


Writing your blog is only part of the battle. Then you have to get people to read it.

Unless you have a staff to promote your blog, check out these 10 tips from Liz Borod Wright on expanding your audience.

Complainers stuck in a rut on Memory Lane

When I was a little kid, I listened reverently as my father told me often about the long distances he had to walk as a child to get to school.

As a young man, I went to his hometown and saw that dad’s long trek was largely in his mind. It was far less than a mile, and it certainly was not uphill both ways.
To be fair, he may have etched it in his brain as a gigantic slog from when he was 7 or 8 and his legs were short. In any event, it wasn’t the Mount Kilimanjaro he had described to me and my siblings.
I think of this disparity when I hear my fellow 60-somethings ranting about today’s high unemployment rate and grumbling that poor people are wasting their food stamps on junk food when they should be buying organic fruit or maybe Chilean sea bass.
Do the math, folks. Unfortunately, junk food often is a lot cheaper than healthy food, especially in low-income neighborhoods that don’t cater to the Groupon crowd.
And the allegedly self-made folks are always talking about their own heroic struggles.
“I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps,” they invariably say.
Bootstraps? Hey, I may be a geezer, but I wouldn’t know a bootstrap if I saw one.
But I do know people often romanticize their own successes and many of these same people would be lost if they were plunked down in today’s workplace with the limited experience and credentials they had in those legendary good old days.
It’s a lot harder to get ahead today than it used to be when the Baby Boomers first went to work.
A high school diploma — even a GED — was all you needed to get a good factory or office job with a promise of promotions, pay raises and benefits if you just showed up every day and did your work. Sure, your pay might be low, but cars and homes were within reach, and there usually was a pension at the end of your working life.
And if you had a college degree or a skill you could do much better.
Now, however, a college degree is the minimum you need, and that’s just to get you a low-level job where you might linger for years while the economy lurches along, far from the booms that powered the United States through the last half of the 1900s.
I recently heard a retired federal civil service worker moan that she couldn’t afford to go to college after she graduated from high school in 1965.
No, but she did have a brand-new car!
And she had an intact family and a dad who worked for Civil Service and showed her how to get one of those jobs for life. To her credit, she worked hard and prospered, although her career might have been more lucrative and more satisfying if she had chosen college tuition over car payments.
If that woman were graduating from high school today, she wouldn’t begin to qualify for the job she retired from several years ago, with a guaranteed pension and insurance premiums far cheaper than most people pay today.
My point is this: A lot of the people complaining today had a lot of breaks along the way, and life was a lot different then.
They were more likely to come from intact families, always a good indicator of success.
They didn’t have to look over their shoulder at folks from India or China who will do their jobs for a fraction of the pay, or worry that corporate raiders may swoop in and dismantle their employer.
And they didn’t have to fund the huge government entitlements that will keep the Boomers in relative comfort even as the next generation struggles to fund them, often while being unemployed or underemployed.
Memory Lane is nice, but it’s not reality.