Pelland Blog

It’s Okay to Be Antisocial

March 11th, 2021

Let me be the first to admit that I am guilty. It was not that long ago that I was presenting seminars and writing how social media advertising – Facebook, in particular – was the greatest new development since the Internet itself. As recently as four years ago, I was offering suggestions on how to beat Facebook at its own game, using guerilla marketing techniques on the platform. Sure, we all recognized that the intrusions into our personal privacy were a bit creepy, but the ability to reach targeted marketing prospects seemed to be worth the compromise. After all, when I was a child watching television in the 1950’s, Captain Kangaroo would seamlessly segue from visiting with Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose to selling Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and Schwinn Bicycles, and what was wrong with that? Actually, there was plenty wrong with it, prior to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling in 1969 that prohibited children’s show hosts from directly promoting commercial products.

In the beginning, Facebook (originally called Facemash) seemed to represent little more than an awkward attempt by nerdy Harvard undergrads with a lack of actual social skills to meet young women at neighboring colleges. When you think about it, even that original concept (an extension of the sexist freshman photo books that had been sold on college campuses for decades) violated the personal privacy of the young women whose photos were being used. From that start, it did not take long for Facebook to reinvent itself into a money making machine that would be built upon ever-increasing exploitations of personal privacy.

On a personal level, I stopped using Facebook in its entirety in early September of 2020. I actually experienced what I would describe as a 7 to 10 day period of withdrawal, missing the ability to stay in daily touch with countless friends both old and new, but my sense of newly discovered freedom afterward was absolutely refreshing. Over the course of the 10 years or so when I remained active on the platform, I would often joke about how Facebook would “coincidentally” show me advertising that was related to one of my recent posts or comments. When I, along with millions of other people, started using ad blockers, Facebook started showing paid posts in lieu of paid advertising. These paid posts represent advertising content that is being disguised as editorial comment, even when that advertising is originating with foreign governments or other unscrupulous characters. The only way this can happen is by Facebook’s algorithms monitoring every word that you type, just as craftily as the National Security Agency (NSA) monitors the telephone conversations of known terrorists.

What made me see the light was when I realized that Facebook’s business model was designed to amass huge profits by intentionally sowing discord among its subscribers. Regardless of where a person falls within an increasingly polarized political spectrum, Facebook will show that person paid content that pours fuel on the fire while demonizing those with opposing viewpoints. By being fed a one-sided diet that is often based upon disinformation, subscribers’ opinions and beliefs are reinforced in a manner that continually enhances the polarization. It should not require an insurrectionist attack upon the U.S. Capitol for reasonable people to understand that this represents a rapidly accelerating downward spiral.

Let us be clear that Facebook advertising is not a bargain. In the early days, businesses would pay to advertise on the platform in order to get users to “like” their page and then see their posts. Soon afterward, advertisers needed to pay Facebook so that even people who had already “liked” their page could actually see their posts. Think about it. This means that you are paying Facebook so you can reach your existing customers. Why would anybody pay to do that when there are countless alternate means of reaching your existing customer base at a far lesser cost? In the campground industry, some of the same people who willingly pour money into Facebook advertising question the rationale for offering Good Sam and similar discounts that they feel cut into thin profit margins. I would rather offer a customer incentive than to take that same money and pour it into Facebook’s coffers.

Yes, Facebook and the other social media may be capable of sending you customers, but at what price and in what environment? If a drug dealer approached you and said, “Yes, my main business is selling heroin, but I can also send you customers”, would you do business with that person? I doubt that many of us would enter into that sort of deal with the devil.

The Federal Trade Commission (yes, the same people who ruled that Captain Kangaroo should not be hawking breakfast cereal) is currently proposing the breakup of Facebook, a process that is long overdue. Facebook has steadily grown – with the acquisition of Instagram, WhatsApp and related platforms – and a breakup of its monopoly would be the first such action since the breakup of AT&T four decades ago. Many of my peers in the advertising industry will disagree with me, and I welcome that debate. I remember the days when tobacco products were extensively advertised on television, a practice that contributed to countless deaths. Today, I believe that many other types of advertising should be banned because they either mislead consumers or actually prey upon vulnerable segments of our population, typically the elderly. These include the advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals, advertising by class-action attorneys (think “mesothelioma”), advertising directed at children (think about Saturday mornings), and advertising directed at senior citizens (think about Medicare supplements and the aforementioned pharmaceuticals). In the meantime, it is your decision as a small business owner to decide whether or not to continue financing a business model that you may agree is inherently wrong.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

It’s Never Too Late to Start Guarding Your Privacy

May 10th, 2017

I logged onto Facebook this morning, and I was immediately presented with a sponsored display ad hawking a t-shirt design that read, “Never underestimate an Old Man who listens to Neil Young and was born in September.” If I was naïve, I would see that ad and think, “Wow! This is my perfect t-shirt”, then order one. In the short time in which this ad has been displayed, it has been “liked” by 480 people, shared by 182 people (multiplying its reach at no charge to the advertiser), and has received 61 comments. Every one of those comments is from a man who confirms that he was born in September (usually adding a year from the 1950’s or 1960’s) and wants one of the shirts.


Is the fact that I was shown this advertising a coincidence? No way! It is custom-tailored to my identity. If I went to the order page and modified the URL, I could display any of a number of t-shirt designs based upon:

  • The name of the performer.
  • The birth month.
  • Whether I was a man or a woman.

Here is an example:


To make the ad even more effective, the ordering page includes a countdown clock to create a false sense of urgency:


Depending upon how you view it, being presented these ads is either a brilliant use of Facebook’s marketing potential or an egregious violation of the personal privacy of Facebook users. In this case, I was being shown advertising that was based upon the disclosure of my gender, age, month of birth, and taste in music … all information that I had either voluntarily or unwittingly published on Facebook for either my friends or the world to see.

Yesterday, I was presented with another variation of the ad, based upon the fact that I drive a Jaguar … another fact that I had disclosed on Facebook. Now, I can also order a coffee mug! I am sure that I could modify the URL on the ordering page to change the design to show the name and logo of just about any car company. (On a side note, I have to wonder if these performers and companies are being paid royalties by the t-shirt company for use of their trademarks.)


You may think that this is all innocent, fun, and the price we pay for the otherwise free use of social media apps like Facebook, but there is more involved. I don’t know how many times I have seen friends on Facebook post a complete set of answers to 50 personal questions such as the name of their elementary school, their first phone number, name of their eldest sibling, and so forth. Whenever I see this being treated as a harmless and fun exercise, I cannot help but ask myself, “Are you insane?” If any of these questions and answers seems familiar, it is because they are among the same ones that are used as security tests on your online banking or an e-commerce site when you reset a password. Yes, the name of your first pet can lead to the theft of your identity!

You may have seen the recent news about the “Google Docs” phishing scam that proliferated in e-mails on May 4, 2017, said to be the most effective e-mail worm since the “I Love You” virus that caused havoc back in 2000. The scam was effective because it looked legitimate (it is so easy to copy the appearance of a legitimate website!), came from somebody you knew (rather than some random name chosen by a hacker in Belarus), and was spread through the type of shared online document that we have come to accept as routine. Even cautious recipients who would never open an e-mail attachment from a stranger thought that it was safe to download the same sort of document that appeared to have been shared via a cloud service by a known sender. All of these scams, whether relatively harmless or downright nefarious, play upon the human willingness to trust those with access to our personal information.

At the moment, leading into Mother’s Day 2017, there are several gift card scams that are proliferating on Facebook almost faster than they can be identified and taken down. One purports to offer a $50.00 coupon for use at Lowe’s home improvement stores in exchange for taking a short survey, in which you will be disclosing a wealth of personal information. Another purports to offer a $75.00 coupon to Bed Bath & Beyond, the same sort of scam that attempts to gather your personal information for exploitation later.

As I have said in the title of this article, it is never too late to start guarding your privacy. In fact, today is the best day to begin!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Highly Effective Facebook Posts

March 8th, 2016

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is an age-old philosophical question. While pondering the answer to that question, let me present a very similar question: If you post to your Facebook Page, but Facebook only allows for a small percentage of your followers to see the post, are you totally wasting your time? Almost anybody can quickly answer that question with a resounding ‘yes!’

Most people know that, unless you promote (in other words, pay for) your posts, only a small percentage of the people who have “liked” your page and want to see your posts will actually get to do so. Facebook claims that, “Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. To make sure your fans see your stories, sponsor your posts to increase the reach of your content.” That claimed statistic (which everybody suspects is steadily falling, but that Facebook has not updated in nearly 4 years) is called into question by third-party analytics that actually calculate a far lower percentage in many if not most instances. We also know that engagement with the chosen few who will actually get to see your posts will be increased if your posts contain video or photos.

How to Beat Facebook at its Own Game

I would not advise businesses to cave in to Facebook’s financial demands. What I will advise is that businesses think smarter in order to gain the greatest benefit from this social media giant. Let’s presume that posts from your page are seen by 16% of the people who have liked your page, as Facebook suggests. Metric studies have also shown that, on average, about 35% of Facebook users see posts from their friends (as opposed to your page.) The actual percentage will vary, following a complex algorithm called EdgeRank that determines to what extent Facebook will filter any specific posted content that users will get to see. The bottom line is that, if over twice as many people are likely to see posts from their friends as they are from your page, you can substantially increase your reach if you offer people incentives to share your posts.

A Case Example

My family was recently involved with hiring the services of one of the leading wedding photographers in the local area. Toward the end of the year, the photographer ran a very clever yet inexpensive promotion on Facebook that was certain to generate a remarkable amount of traffic, exposing many new prospective customers to her services. Here is how it worked:

  1. The photographer confirms in advance that couples are willing to allow their photos to be used for appropriate promotional purposes.
  2. She then created a Facebook album that consisted of 35 photos, one from each of 35 weddings that she had photographed during the recent nuptial season.
  3. She then shared that album with each of the 35 couples, encouraging them to, in turn, share the album on Facebook with their network of friends, asking their friends to vote (with a “like”) for their photo.
  4. The couple whose photo garnered the most “likes” would win a dinner for two (valued at $60.00) at an area restaurant that is located within a frequent wedding venue.
  5. In order to “vote”, each person is also supposed to “like” the photographer’s page and the page of the wedding venue (although this would appear to be an unenforceable rule.)
  6. The dinner certificate was almost certainly provided by the wedding venue at no charge, in exchange for the promotional value.

The total cost to the photographer: Zero. By the end of the contest, there had been a total of 865 “likes” of the various photos in the album, each an indication of a person who most likely viewed what is essentially a portfolio of the photographer’s work. The photographer’s Facebook page currently has about 4,400 “likes”. Based upon the 16% average that Facebook claims, about 700 people would have at least seen the link to this album when it was posted. Adding in the 865 people who interacted with the album in response to the links that were shared by the 35 wedding couples, you can clearly see that this was a very effective promotion.

Using a similar degree of imagination and creativity, there are certainly opportunities for your park to benefit from a similar promotion. An idea that immediately comes to mind would be a contest to choose your campground’s three nicest seasonal sites, with the winners getting $200.00, $150.00, and $100.00 discounts toward their seasonal site renewals fees for the following year. Every person visiting the album will be impressed by the quality of the sites that they see and may be a likely prospect to become a seasonal camper themselves. Another shorter-term promotional idea (and with smaller prizes) might determine the best decorated site (or the best individual costumes) from your Halloween weekend. Get the idea?

With a bit of ingenuity, you can easily multiply the impact of social media like Facebook upon your business, at little or no cost and without paying for the privilege of promoting your posts.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Facebook: Three Important Insider Secrets

October 14th, 2015

You probably know that, taken collectively, the social media can represent a double-edged sword. If not handled carefully, it is very easy to inflict self-injury. Facebook, by far the biggest force within the social media, presents several opportunities where customers may either positively interact with a business or where a business might allow itself to be publicly humiliated by disgruntled customers. Be aware of how to tip the scales your favor by adjusting three settings for your Facebook Page.

Facebook Messaging

Allow visitors to your page to send you private messages, and then respond to those messages in a timely and professional manner. Of course, if you run a campground, you might prefer that people initiate their reservations by using the online reservation page on your website; however, you do not want to turn away business because potential customers might prefer to contact you in another manner that they may consider to be more intuitive in their instance. If you are heading into a slow weekend and somebody messages you on Facebook, asking if you have two adjoining sites available for the upcoming weekend, you can immediately reply (answering in the affirmative and providing them with both your telephone number and a direct link to your online reservations) or you can kiss that business goodbye (and look at those two empty campsites all weekend long). To ignore this opportunity to allow customers to engage with your business is like telling people that you will only allow them to pay with a credit card, and that you do not accept cash. That would be pretty foolhardy, wouldn’t it?

Here is how to do it: Logged into Facebook as admin for your Page, go to Settings > General > Messages. Enable private messages by checking the box that says, “Allow people to contact my Page privately by showing the Message button.” That is the first step. For the next step, go to Settings > Notifications > Messages, and choose the option that says, “Get a notification each time your Page receives a message.”

The most important part is to respond to your private messages as quickly as possible. Your Response Time is the key measurement. Your response time is visible to the public in the “About” section of your Facebook Page. Your goal should be for that to show as “Typically replies in minutes”. By setting up notifications in the previous step, you should have no excuse for not responding in a timely manner. There are tools that will help you to respond to messages, particularly when you are away or when your office is closed. Go to Settings > Messaging and consider adding a personalized “Away Message” or an “Instant Reply”.

Visitor Posts

Part of the beauty of the social media is the ability for businesses to interact with their customers, particularly in instances where the customers are the ones to initiate that interaction. On Facebook, be sure that you have enabled visitor posts.

Here is how to do it: Go to Settings > General > Visitor Posts. Choose “Allow visitors to the Page to publish posts”, but check the box that says “Review posts by other people before they are published to the Page.” That last step is critically important. If you have somebody who was unhappy with their experience with your business, has an axe to grind or simply would like to humiliate your business in public, this is one of the first places they will turn. In fact, some people specifically “like” a Page so that they can post negative comments. By moderating those posts, and determining which ones you allow to be publicly visible, you are protecting your business for being harmed in this manner. Even if a negative post is only online for a few minutes (until you have been notified that it exists), hundreds of people may be exposed to that post and its potentially harmful content.


Reviews on Facebook are consistently the source for the greatest potential harm to a business. If your reviews are all positive, congratulations! You need to read no further. However, if your business has ever been the target of even a single negative review, you have probably been frustrated with the inability to delete any such reviews that appear on your Page. By default, all you can do is “like” or comment on a review; however, comments with a negative reviewer tend to lead to nothing but a shouting match on your own turf. People who see the negative review generally do not know the author, but your responses can make you look defensive, argumentative, or dismissive … none of which are good business characteristics.

I have worked with several clients whose businesses have been the targets of negative reviews. In the instance of campgrounds, these 1 star reviews are generally written by a camper or group of campers who had been evicted or reprimanded for misbehavior during their stay. They typically recruit their friends to write their own negative reviews or to comment on their reviews in order to ensure that the snowball keeps growing. Of course, they will usually first try to post to your Page; however, if you are moderating posts by others or have banned a user from posting to your page, they will often turn to the review process.

The problem with reviews is that you cannot get individual reviews removed, unless the reviewer has resorted to the use of profanity, character assassination, or another narrowly-defined violation of Facebook review policy. Reviews will appear on your Page whether you like them or not, and they seem to linger forever. For example, Normandy Farms Campground is one of the leading campgrounds in the United States by anybody’s definition. Their Facebook Page shows 778 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Of these, 92.5% of their reviews include either 5 or 4 star ratings, with fewer than 2% being 1 star reviews. The problem is that the review summary that is visible to anyone who visits the Page shows two reviews: an example of a 5 star review and an example of a 1 star review. Clearly, this summary is not an accurate representation of the reviews for the park by any stretch of the imagination. Hopefully, anybody visiting the Page will quickly recognize that negative reviews are the exception to the rule and are written by people who lack the credibility of the majority of the reviews.

Nonetheless, that review summary is a problem for many businesses on Facebook, particularly if the negative review is compounded by comments and copycat reviews by the reviewer’s friends. What can you do in this instance? Follow these instructions to prevent reviews from appearing on your Page. Just remember that this is an “all or nothing” solution; however, if you have a bad review that is giving you migraines, you are better off having no reviews appear on your Page.


Here is how to do it: This tip is slightly trickier to implement because it will not be found in the Facebook settings. Go to your Page’s “About” tab, and then choose the “Page Info” option on the left. Hover over your business’s address in order to make the “edit” link appear. Click on that edit link. This will bring up information where you are able to correct your address, and it also shows a map of your location. UNCHECK the box that says “Show map, check-ins and star ratings on the Page.” Click “Save Changes” and the reviews that have been haunting you will have now disappeared from your Page!

As I have said, Facebook and the social media in general can work for or against your business. Implement these tips to give your business the upper hand on what might otherwise be an off-level playing field.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Is Facebook Today’s Milton Berle?

May 1st, 2014

Like a TV star at the peak of his prime, with ratings going through the roof, only to face cancellation two seasons later, the popularity of Facebook may very well be in decline. Think of Facebook in terms of Milton Berle’s career in the early days of television.

The Texaco Star Theatre was a popular radio show that transitioned to television in 1948, featuring a rotating series of hosts until settling upon comedian Milton Berle for the 1948-49 TV season. The show was an immediate hit with Uncle Miltie at the helm, commanding as much as 80% of the viewing audience, keeping people home on Tuesday nights, and driving the sale of televisions. Wanting to latch onto something new and extremely popular, NBC signed an unprecedented (and soon to be regretted) 30-year contract with Berle, culminating with the premier of the Milton Berle Show in 1955-56 (cancelled after that single season). The comedy shtick of “Mr. Television” had outworn the public’s patience with recycled material and failed to meet its demand for things that are “new and improved”.

Not long ago, Facebook was also at the top of its game, but I think that it is fair to say that the game is changing. According to Facebook’s own statistics from January 1, 2014, there were 1,310,000,000 active users, including 680,000,000 mobile users. They also admit to 81,000,000 fake Facebook profiles. Also according to Facebook’s own statistics, the total number of users between the ages of 13-17 has declined by 25.3% in the 3 years from January of 2011 to January of 2014. During this same period, users between the ages of 18-24 declined by 7.5%. As grandma and grandpa have opened accounts in droves, in an attempt to stay in touch with their children’s children, the same people with whom they want to connect are disconnecting at a record pace. Users currently enrolled in high school have declined by 58.9%, and users currently in college have declined by 59.1%.

According to a Pew Research Center report released in late 2013, the popularity of Facebook in the hierarchy of social media site usage by teens is in freefall, being surpassed by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and smartphone apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Beyond that, social media applications in general are being put aside in favor of instant messaging.

As a business, does Facebook still fit into your marketing strategy?

A few years ago, Facebook usage was growing across the board, demographically speaking, and businesses were creating Pages and content in an effort to capitalize upon a new and growingly receptive market. Before the conversion of business Pages to the Timeline format, “unliked” Pages could designate custom landing page that could be designed to more actively engage visitors. The introduction of the Timeline format ended that capability. Since the introduction of the Timeline format, far more emphasis has been put on Facebook Advertising, which is now the only way to designate a custom landing page.

In the beginning, if a Facebook user “liked” your Page, they would be shown posts from your Page; however, since the introduction of the Timeline format, fewer and fewer people have been seeing a business’s organic posts. In fact, every time you post anything to your Page, you will see a link to the right of the Timeline that says “See Your Ad Here” with a link that says “Boost Post”. In addition, every post is now followed by a “Boost Post” link directly alongside of the small number of people who have already seen your post. Whereas it used to be that Facebook Advertising was an effective way to reach new people, now Facebook is using it as a means to get businesses to pay to reach even their existing followers!

With the latest version of the Timeline format, more space is being devoted to advertising and slightly less is devoted to content. For users, the updates that they want to see – including posts from your business – are far less likely to appear, having been largely replaced by advertising (with a small “Sponsored” disclaimer) disguised as real content. Although Google and other search engines have always showed clearly identified sponsored search content, the display of that advertising has not come at the expense of the organic search results that are the foundation behind usage. Facebook – a company that touts so-called “transparency” – is violating the trust of its end users and further insuring its ultimate decline. The official explanation is that their objective is to “improve the quality and relevancy of news feed content.”

The truth can be found in a recent Valleywag report quoting an anonymous source from within Facebook, disclosing that Facebook’s current strategy is to reduce the reach of organic posts to somewhere between 1% and 2%.

Creating and maintaining Facebook content for your business made infinite sense as little as a year or two ago. Today, the impact and return on the time and expense invested is questionable at best. Although my company has built well over 100 Facebook Pages, including custom content, for all types of small business clients in years past, we are no longer recommending that our clients expect a Facebook presence to create an impact that will be a significant component of their overall marketing strategy. Yes, you still want to be found on Facebook, but we can no longer recommend anything beyond the bare basics of content. Quite simply, there are far more cost-efficient ways to generate new business.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Make the Most of Online Review Sites

July 28th, 2013

Years ago, as a business owner you were pretty much in control of how people perceived your business. You advertised to influence opinions, you went out of your way to please your customers, and you provided a quality product or service. Everybody was happy. In the rare instances where a customer was displeased, he told his friends and never returned. Things could have been worse.

Today, things are worse. Conventional advertising has lost much of its credibility and clout, and most people turn to their network of friends (including virtual friends online) for trusted opinions and recommendations. That dissatisfied customer from years past now has the means to amplify his displeasure before an audience of thousands. On the other hand, the same tools are available for your happiest of customers to share their experience and influence equally vast numbers of potential guests.

Most campground owners seem to fear review sites more than an attack of locusts. Those fears are unfounded. P.T. Barnum is often credited with coining the statement, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” and that concept is truer today, in the age of the Internet, than ever before in history.

First of all, a successful campground will be operated in a customer-friendly manner, and reviews of that campground are likely to be overwhelmingly positive. My advice is to proactively promote those reviews and the sites that contain the reviews, rather than simply reacting in a state of panic when a negative review appears, typically written by someone with an axe to grind.

Rather than hiding from reviews, I encourage campground owners to provide links to the major review sites – and to individual reviews – on their own websites and within the social media. Quote great reviews on your Facebook page and in Tweets, and encourage your guests to post their own reviews, particularly if a review site has a less than stellar recent review of your park. Some review sites allow you to respond to reviews, while others do not. Either way, the most recent reviews and the most intelligently written reviews (and responses) carry the greatest credibility. Older reviews or those written by somebody who is obviously on a rant are generally dismissed by readers.

If you are going to encourage your happy campers to submit reviews, you need to know the review sites that count. You also need to know whenever a review of your park appears online. Use Google Alerts to stay on top of what is being posted about your business online. When guests are checking out, commenting how much they enjoyed their stays, ask them if they would like to submit a review that puts that satisfaction into words. If they agree, send them a follow-up e-mail with a direct link to the review page for your park on the review site of your choice. (Don’t ask them to submit a review on more than one site, since that would be a bit of an imposition.) The following is a list of some of the review sites that need to be on your radar.

RV Park Reviews – This site has been online since 2000 and includes nearly 200,000 reviews of every campground in North America, including yours. If you are not aware of this site and have not read its reviews of your park, you have only yourself to blame. Use this site to your advantage. If you have the highest rated park in your city or town (based upon the average of your 10 most recent reviews, rated on a 1-10 scale), promote that fact by providing a link to the reviews for your park and its competitors. Use transparency to your advantage!

Yelp – This site was started in 2004, gets over 100 million unique visitors per month, and hosts over 39 million reviews. Originally designed to rate local business service providers (like mechanics, electricians, and plumbers), it now includes reviews to lodging services, including campgrounds. As a business, you can setup a free business account that allows you to post photos and additional information that will enhance your listing on the site, as well as generating free widgets that you can use to promote your Yelp reviews on your website. Follow this link to get started:

TripAdvisor – This is the world’s largest travel-related website. It gets more than 200 million unique visitors per month and contains over 100 million trusted reviews covering more than 2.5 million businesses around the world. Although the site originally concentrated on hotels and similar lodging, it now includes campgrounds under the Specialty Lodging category. If your campground is not yet listed on TripAdvisor, you can submit a listing by following this link:

Because of the volume of traffic, reviews on TripAdvisor carry plenty of clout. As a business owner, you can (and should!) create a free business account, allowing you to update your business details, add photos, receive e-mail notifications of new reviews, and – most importantly – respond to reviews. You can also generate free widgets that can link your website to your reviews. Follow this link to get started:

GuestRated – Campground owners are probably also familiar with the GuestRated program that was founded by industry consultant Bob MacKinnon in 2008 as the first ongoing guest satisfaction rating program relating to the private campground industry in the United States. Run in conjunction with National ARVC, this online survey program provides very useful consumer information and statistical analytics to campground owners, as well as providing an opportunity to respond to guest reviews. There are also widgets that allow campgrounds to feature reviews and ratings on their websites and that encourage visitors to initiate their own review process. Learn more about the program at:

This is far from a conclusive list of review sites. There are many other campground review sites that generate less traffic and less impact upon public opinion. I would recommend not fretting over any of the more obscure review sites, particularly if any investment of your time would come at the expense of the attention that you should be devoting to these review sites that count.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

How to Avoid Turning “Likes” Into “Unlikes”

June 22nd, 2011

In the social networking world, whether your business is keeping in touch with its customer base using Facebook, Twitter or e-mail marketing, your message is only as effective as the number of people who read it. One of your primary objectives, therefore, must be to build your base of likers, followers and subscribers. Concentrating on Facebook business pages, although it should not be looked upon as Armageddon, you should do your utmost to avoid forcing those folks who have “liked” your page from changing their minds and “unliking” the page, effectively cutting themselves off from your marketing messages. The best way to maintain your base of fans and followers is to understand the type of content that they want and expect to see, and to understand the predominant reasons that people choose to leave.

Let’s start by looking at what people want to see in your Facebook posts.

• First of all, they want to see information that either directly or indirectly relates to your business AND ties in to their interest in your business. Try to be the first to present this information. If the information that you post is exclusively presented to your Facebook fans, that is even better. If it includes a special offer, incentive or coupon, that is best yet. Do not post irrelevant information about Lady Gaga, just because you think that she is of popular interest (for some reason that I could never possibly understand). Stay focused, topical, and on target.

• Secondly, as much as we all like to be informed, people respond in a more positive manner when they are entertained. They are also more likely to share entertaining content, expanding your sphere of influence and growing your base of fans. If you can present useful information in an entertaining manner, you have hit upon a winning formula! You will know you are on target when your posts generate a high percentage of “likes” and – better yet – comments that generate a conversation between you and your fans … and among your fans.

• Next, people want to feel that they are part of an active “in” place to be. If they visit your page, and the latest post is three weeks old, your page appears to be unattended, uninteresting, and unlikeable. You must post content on a regular and ongoing basis. The same thing, incidentally, applies to groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

How to generate more “likes”.

Forget the nonsense about building a ball park in a corn field. You have to seek out your prospective fans and hold up the Welcome sign. Here are a few random tips:

• If you are willing to spend a little money on Facebook advertising (which, incidentally, can be very cost-effective!), run an ad campaign that targets Facebook users who like your product or service, like your competitors, or like related products, services, or organizations. Send them to a landing page that offers them a coupon or other incentive to want to stay in touch with your company.

• When logged in as your business page admin, find and “like” related pages. For example, if you run a local tourism business, you may “like” your local chamber of commerce, tourism agency, or an annual event. By doing so, you may now post comments on those pages that will be of interest to their fans while subtly promoting your own page and business. If you run a campground, and an upcoming local event draws visitors from beyond the local area, you may want to post the fact that you have cabins or sites available for that weekend.

• Contact admins of groups that are related to your page. Provide them with news that will be valuable for them to share with their readers. Because of the manner in which information is shared within groups, this may allow you to reach people who would otherwise not see your message.

• Promote your Facebook page on your website, but also promote your Facebook URL in itself. To do this effectively, you should have a Facebook vanity URL. When you create your business page, it will have a long, cryptic URL that ends in a series of 15 digits that nobody will ever remember. As long as your page has at least 25 “likes” (enough to convince Facebook of its authenticity), you are entitled to a Facebook vanity URL that will make your address memorable and easy to share. Go to:

• Cross-promote your content across the social media, but beware of overdoing it. A perfect example of how to do things right is the “People of Walmart” music video produced by Jessica Frech, a talented, Nashville-based college student, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker. Her video was released on May 5, 2011, quickly went viral, and had over 1,000,000 views in less than 2 weeks. Above all else, it was the quality of the production that earned its accolades. As I write this post, it has now gotten over 2,770,000 views and has generated its own series of challenge videos! If you have not seen this excellent music video, enjoy it now: The end of each of Jessica’s videos includes a self-promotional message that encourages viewers to download her MP3 and to visit her Facebook page, which now has nearly 5,000 fans. Bear in mind that this represents less than 2/1,000 of 1% of her views on YouTube that have translated into Facebook page likes. Social media cross-promotion is challenging for even the best of sites!

How to avoid “unlikes”.

People can “unlike” a page on Facebook just as easily as they can “like” it. If your content fails to meet their expectations, they will do so.

As you can see, the # 1 reason that people unlike a page is because the company posted too frequently. One of the pages that I follow on Facebook is The David Wax Museum, a talented musical duo out of Boston. Last night, they posted 25 (yes 25!) consecutive “events” on their Facebook page, which monopolized quite a bit of real estate on my wall. This was not a good idea, and something that easily could have led people to unlike their page. (I was more tolerant, at least this first time.) Another way to wear out your welcome? Re-tweet to Facebook. At first glance, this may sound like a good idea that will help to broader your reach, but the fact is that the frequency of posts on Twitter and Facebook are entirely different. What is more than acceptable on Twitter totally crosses the line on Facebook.

The # 3 reason for unlikes is repetitive or boring content. Again, provide stimulating and useful content. One of the pages that I follow (but which disappoints me) is for Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. I want discount coupons for their product. Instead, I get pointless, self-serving posts such as “LIKE this if you need to go grocery shopping!” and “Do you call it Orange Juice or OJ?” Somebody on the company’s marketing staff is totally missing the point! The company’s posts also tie in with the # 5 and 6 reasons for unlikes: Did not offer enough deals, and posts too promotional.

Examine this chart and the survey results carefully, and then ask yourself whether your Facebook presence is working to generate “likes” (not “unlikes”) that translate into an ever-growing and loyal customer base. Treat your fans with respect, meet their expectations, and you will reap the rewards.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

The Multiple Powers of Facebook Comments

June 3rd, 2011

Presuming that your business has a Facebook Business Page – as it should – there are some powerful tools at your disposal. One of the most powerful of these is your ability to comment and respond to comments posted by others. One of your key objectives should always be to build your number of followers (you may prefer to refer to them as “fans” or “likes”), particularly followers who have a true interest in your product or service and who will be likely to engage in ongoing conversations. These conversations will take the form of posts, allowing you to further a rapport with your followers in a manner that enhances your marketing efforts in a very subtle yet highly effective manner.

Responding to Posts

Your settings will allow you to determine whether or not you want to allow others to post to your page. Without exception, you want to allow people to post to your page. What happens when somebody who has “liked” your page posts a negative or otherwise unflattering comment? Let me present a few rules of thumb:

1) Use of profanity: In almost all instances, if somebody posts a comment that contains profanity, simply delete the comment. If you leave it there, you are sending a message to others that it is acceptable to follow suit, and you will be presenting your business in an unfavorable light. If you go into your page settings, you can keep this under control without your constant vigilance. Go to Edit Page > Manage Permissions > Profanity Block List, then choose your settings. The options are None, Medium, or Strong. You can also create a moderation block list that allows you to enter keywords that will be blacklisted from posts.

2) Criticisms of your business: In almost all instances, if somebody posts an intelligently presented criticism – even if you vehemently disagree with the criticism – leave the post. Particularly if your page is new or has relatively few followers, you must jump in and respond to the comment as quickly as possible. Remember that you are not trying to engage in an argument. You want to put out – not add fuel to – a fire. Try to see things from the other person’s perspective and use the criticism as a learning experience. You may want to respond with some sort of apology or admission of guilt, even if you were not directly responsible or involved with the incident behind the complaint. In most instances, the fact that you have responded in a prompt and professional manner will defuse a situation which could otherwise snowball out of control. If your page has a large number of followers, it is likely that your followers will jump in and come to your defense, and they are in a position to more strongly rebut the initial comment without the appearance of being defensive.

3) Comments that “cross the line” or a simply vengeful or retaliatory in nature:One of our clients was recently attacked on their Facebook business page by a group of people who had been guests at the client’s campground over Memorial Day weekend. The campers were disruptive, showed no respect for quiet hours, refused to comply with the requests of the park’s security personnel, and had a barking dog. Clearly, these were the type of people that nobody wants at a campground because they interfere with everyone else’s enjoyment. Apparently these folks took exception with being expected to follow reasonable standards of behavior. When they returned home, they began their online assault, “liking” the campground’s Facebook business page specifically so that they could post to its wall. Their comments were highly derogatory, referring to campers who abide by rules as “idiots”, using a mild obscenity, and naming a competing campground as a better place to stay. They continued a string of comments (that were only authored among themselves), with the clear intention of “getting back” at the business. Under these circumstances, the comments were deleted and the users were banned from being able to post. (To do so, simply hover over the posts on a page where you are an admin, then click on the “x” in the upper right of the post.) Had the posts been less inflammatory, it would have been preferable to let them remain, but this was clearly an attack that needed to be nipped in the bud.

4) Spam posts: Delete these immediately, and ban the user from posting to your page.

Responding to Controversy

When the posts were deleted from the page of the client who came under attack by disgruntled campers, the client posted the following message:

Some of the things that our campers truly appreciate are the quiet hours, dog policies, and basic rules of behavior that we enforce, when needed, in order to insure that everybody will have a peaceful and enjoyable camping experience. At (our park), we do everything possible to insure a perfect combination of fun-filled days and quiet nights, without disruption from another camper.

This post received several favorable comments and was “liked” by nearly 20% of the park’s followers. End of controversy! Feel free to paraphrase it if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Posting Comments to Other Business Pages

The situation outlined in the previous section demonstrates the importance of posting comments to your own page; however, are you taking advantage of the opportunity to post comments on other Facebook business pages? Early in the Spring of 2011, Facebook changed its policies in this regard and now allows business pages to “like” other business pages. What does this mean for you? It means that you can broaden your reach to expanded networks of Facebook users who are likely to have an interest in your product or service. For example, let’s say that there is a major event in your area that draws in visitors from beyond the local area. If you are running a campground or bed & breakfast that is located near that venue, you could post the availability of campsites or rooms during the event dates. Sharing useful information in this manner represents the use of Facebook networking at its best. (If you are running Facebook ads, you could also run specific ads in advance of the event, targeting Facebook users who have “liked” either the event or the types of interests that are related to the event.)

Keeping Yourself Informed

As an administrator (admin) of your account, you should receive Facebook Alerts – in real time – anytime anybody posts to your page. Read these as quickly as they arrive, and respond to them in the appropriate manner. Use the tips in this post as your guidelines to success!

This post was written by Peter Pelland