10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

Not all con-men are obvious.

Some of them are quite successful and well-regarded.

But they’re still con-men.

The best con-men… you’d never think of them as one. You’d never consider it. They go by different labels.

Some con-men call themselves authors, teachers, marketers, salespeople and speakers.

I once almost got sucked into a cult.

I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on online courses.

How about you?

Have you ever let someone’s confidence and big promises open your wallet and waste your time and money?

There are a lot of con-men in online marketing

Not surprising, is it?

Marketers love being persuasive and learning more about influence.

Some well-known teachers and authors are actually con-men.

They make big promises, take your money and you don’t end up with much in return.

People who are taken in by con-men feel hopeful and motivated for a while.

Hope can be valuable. Who wants to be depressed?

But the con-man’s promised future never materializes.

His system or tool or strategy doesn’t yield the big changes in your life or business that got you all excited.

Even if the con-man helps you make some progress, it’s not to the degree they promised.

Maybe they said you could become a millionaire but you barely broke even with their plan. In fact, considering what you spent, you’re in the hole!

Maybe they offered you a magical new tool that was supposed to solve all your problems, and then you found out it wasn’t that simple. You needed training, or experience or had to hire someone to help you do it.

Maybe you didn’t take action, plus now you have credit card debt from buying it! You might blame yourself for your inaction. That guilt and fear is why many people don’t ask for refunds. But maybe you didn’t take action because you knew deep down there was something wrong with the training.

So how widespread is the con?

What I discovered

I’m a searcher.

For the last two decades, in order to learn what really works online and what doesn’t, I’ve been…

  • Exploring and trying things
  • Taking courses
  • Reading books
  • Doing experiments, and
  • Analyzing the results.

I always share what I’ve learned with my readers, podcast listeners and keynote audiences.

I naturally love learning and testing things out, and I keep discovering:

There are tons of BS, myths, lies, and things that just simply don’t work.

In fact,

There are more things that don’t work than things that do.

That’s why I keep testing everything to see what really works.

One of the topics that keeps coming up for me is con-men…

I believe that:

Con-men are one of the most destructive forces in the marketing and sales world.

Con-men can be women, too, but what should we call them: “con people?”

Con people? You mean inmates?

They should be inmates!

But more often, many of them continue to steal money from unsuspecting business people without any real consequence.

The con-man can turn their criminal past into a selling point.

Even con-men who’ve been fined by the Federal Trade Commission just get smarter about how to bend the rules. They continue to fool a lot of people.

In fact, your con-man may be totally upfront about their FTC fines and use it to persuade you even more!

People who are aware of a con-man’s shady past make two common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Being too forgiving. “They’ve changed! Let’s give them a chance.”

Mistake #2: Thinking they can get something from the con-man without being the bigger loser. “I’m smart enough to play with fire without getting burned!”

Wrong.

What is a cult of personality?

I know about cons personally, because I almost got sucked into a cult in my early twenties. It was a very disorienting experience.

It led me to study cults and con-men, so that I could understand how I had almost been convinced, and arm myself against that kind of thing repeating in the future.

I thought this experience had totally immunized me against con-men.

I became extremely skeptical about people who have magnetic personalities and are naturally persuasive.

And by the way,  charisma is a gift.

But charisma, likability and influence are powers that can be abused, and often are, by those who have them.

What’s stopping from abusing their power? Everyone is telling them they’re awesome!

A cult of personality is when someone uses things like mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, and the arts to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

We have all kinds of heroes. We love heroes.

We want to see people rise. We want to follow great people.

But the “cult” personality and the con-man is a lie.

For me personally, it turned out that the near-cult-experience was not enough to immunize me to con-men.

The online course con.

I ended up buying a couple of those $1,000 online courses when I started my new freelance business in 2010 (what eventually became my agency, BCG).

I was in a vulnerable place, because I had been let go from a great job, and I was afraid I might not make it solo.

I got sucked in by con-man confidence and promises.

It turned out to be a complete waste of money. The teaching wasn’t bad, but the strategies were not nearly as effective as the teachers promised.

Now, don’t get me wrong- there are some super useful courses out there and many teachers with great integrity.

But

Some of the big names in internet marketing courses are con-men who are better at selling the promise of value than actually delivering it.

Still, finding out those two courses were lame was not enough for me to fully learn the lesson.

“I’ll show you how to get what you want- first just compromise your morals a little.”

A year or two later, I bought a course that promised to teach how to get high-paying clients.

Once I got it and started learning, I realized that the guy’s system could plausibly work… if you were ok with lying to people!

I wasn’t comfortable with it at all. I asked for and received a refund.

“Turn your life story into a lie.”

I’ve been in this online marketing world for 18 years now, and I’ve seen a lot of gurus, authors, speakers, marketers and teachers come and go.

And some who should go who, shockingly, continue to stick around.

I’ve actually saw a video where a guy was teaching marketers how to be better liars…

He was a storytelling expert who has great information. I had a ton of respect for his story structure expertise.

But he was recommending that marketers outright LIE about their personal stories to increase the sales impact.

At that point I lost all respect for him.

Why are con-men successful?

I’ve seen con-men

  • Get complained about online,
  • Reported to the Better Business Bureau,
  • Exposed in blog posts…

Yet they keep going, lying and successfully making money because:

Con men leverage our weakness for confidence.

“How could they be so confident if they weren’t genuine?”
They’re super confident and we love confident people.
But the best liars are extremely confident.
Any the mac daddy version of this is the con-man who sells courses to help you become more confident…

There are a lot of gullible rookies.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
There are 6 million new small businesses created in the U.S. each year.
These rookie business owners don’t have the experience to avoid getting suckered.

Some people are addicted…

“This time is different.”
Some people just don’t learn from getting suckered over and over again.
Just like gambling addicts, they’re addicted to cults of personality.

The three things are the main reasons con-men keep making money online.

Con-men in the marketing world

I’ve seen con-men get published by the big publishing houses. I’ve seen them get chosen as speakers at big conferences. I’ve seen them claim to make millions.

I had some of my own research and work stolen by a fairly well-respected social media author. He talked about my research in his book without giving me any credit whatsoever. And when I confronted the guy, he had absolutely no remorse. He wasn’t willing to change anything to make it right. And he said that my confronting him about it was “annoying.” I found out later from a friend in the business that this same guy has stolen multiple people’s work. This is his modus operandi. Instead of following the responsible academic method of giving credit where credit is due, he played fast and loose with other people’s work for his own gain. This is a guy that many people respect, and nobody knows his true character. He’s built his reputation up by stealing other people’s work and accomplishments. It’s dishonest and unfair, but he still does well.

Another guy was exposed by multiple bloggers for being a fraud. He said it was a misunderstanding. Of course, they will always say they did nothing wrong. He started several businesses and took their money and never did the work for it. He built his company with workers who were young, insecure, gullible and cheap, if not free. Clearly, he had not changed his stripes. Still, a large conference was charmed by the guy and not only had him speak but recommended him to me as an authority. I felt I couldn’t bad-mouth the guy even though the conference was being suckered by a con-man. It is amazing how our sense of decency keeps us from warning others about bad eggs.

How do you stop a con man?

It’s tough. If you want to be the cranky guy who is calling everybody else out, yeah, try that.

Maybe people won’t dismiss you for just being “negative.”

That might work out. Or you could get sued for libel.

People may not believe you.

Once someone is “big” and respected by a lot of people, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Politicians exploit this all the time. If they are confident and deny all accusations, then the people that want to believe in them will defend them.

It’s he-said-she-said, and you have to choose who to trust, and typically, we trust people who have authority and confidence.

However…

  • Their confidence may come from narcissism. They may be a sociopath. Many sociopaths are charming.
  • Their authority may be a house of lies. Is anyone checking it? And again, we get into a he-said-she-said, and people take sides.

Why do we fall for it?

  • If they’re attractive
  • If they’re rich
  • If they’re successful
  • If they’re tall
  • If they’re likable
  • If we think they will help us reach our dreams
  • If we’ve invested money in them and we’re embarrassed to admit we made a mistake…

…then we stand by our favorite con-men. We’re complicit in their lying and stealing.

That’s why this is such a sticky problem.

Cons work, we get sucked in, and con-men aren’t being stopped.

That’s why I made this list…

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

#1 Google them.

Do your due diligence.

If you’re accepting a teacher or mentor, you’re making a huge decision. Is this person really worthy of your trust and money, or are they just a slick lie?

  • Do they have any criminal history?
  • FTC judgments?
  • Complaints from people in the blogosphere? Look for any review sites you can and read up on them.
  • Use a tool like Moz’s link explorer to see if their main website has any links and authority- or is it totally new?

#2 If they’re an author, read their Amazon book reviews.

Check their reviews of their books on Amazon.

Even if they have 100’s of 5 star reviews, that can be faked.

There are sites like Fiverr where authors can pay people to post book reviews they themselves have written. Do the reviews seem authentic? Would a real person write that? Or do the reviews sound like marketing material?

Read the 1, 2 and 3 star reviews. Do any of these people find the 5-star reviews suspicious?

If previous readers think the 5-star book reviews are a lie, then I would pass on that book and author.

Here’s more about how to spot fake reviews.

#3 Beware the millionaire bait.

Copywriters know that people get more excited by a “millionaire method” than by a system that helps you break 6-figures.

Think big, right?

Wrong.

Most millionaire methods are BS. Most people have a much better chance of making 6-figures in business than becoming a millionaire.

And food for thought: the research says

People don’t get happier after they make more than $105k. In many cases, they get unhappier.

So it might not be smart to strive to be a millionaire anyway.

That’s not a popular sentiment, and that’s why con-men can make so much money promising you millions.

We all want an easy way out of work and into a life where we get everything we want. That’s how con-men hook you.

Becoming a millionaire is not reality for most people, but people don’t want reality.

They want to live their dream. They want positive inspiration.

Odds are, this person has not actually discovered a system that will make everyone a millionaire.

What’s the catch?

What aren’t they telling you?

Where are all these millionaires they’ve created? Can you talk to them?

What percentage of people achieved that?

What percentage failed?

Is the only millionaire the one who made money selling everybody the idea of becoming a millionaire?

#4 Check their case studies and testimonials.

Have they helped any students achieve the things they’re promising you?

Do they have testimonials? Could those testimonials have been faked? Is there any way to verify these people?

Try doing a Google image search of any testimonials from “regular” people. You might find something like this:

Google the people in the testimonials and see if you find real people who’ve achieved things.

If you do find real people, contact them and ask them about the guru, author or teacher you’re considering.

Did these real success story people struggle at all?

Is this testimonial person in their affiliate program and make money on the guru’s stuff? If so, they are incentivized to lie about the guru. Or at least stretch the truth, and gloss over the challenges.

In fact, even though affiliate marketing is a valid strategy, many of the con-men I’ve seen use affiliates, so having an affiliate program may be a red flag.

I know, this is work!

But it will save you a lot of money, time and heartache in the long run.

Please do it.

#5 Check their academic references.

Do they have anything to back up their claims? Research? Studies? Surveys? Click on their references and find out if they’re real.

#6 Do they have the endorsement of trustworthy people?

Almost anybody can put up a landing page with fake testimonials from people you’ve never heard of.

What’s harder is to get positive quotes from real authorities.

Keep in mind, before you decide that a quote from so-and-so is a big deal, some of these con-men go in groups. They all endorse each other, so they all seem to have a lot of authority together. But all of them are lying and cheating to some degree. There are groups of con-men helping each other look more credible so they can all fleece people.

#7 Have they published with a traditional publisher?

Anyone can self-publish. What’s harder to do is to get published by a big, traditional publisher (examples include McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Wiley).

These publishers vet authors pretty thoroughly to make sure they’re for real.

Still, some of the minor con-men slip through- or an author may get traditionally published before they try to con anybody online.

So this one alone is not enough.

#8 Do they teach at an accredited college or university?

Anyone can create their own course.

Few people teach for real universities or colleges where they live.

Again, these institutions will vet their prospective professors.

#9 Do they have mentions or interviews with the big name press and media?

Anyone can blog.

Fewer people are able to get on TV and into the big-name magazines and newspapers.

Editors and producers are skeptical and know that their own credibility can be permanently damaged by trusting the wrong source.

If someone has been in big-name press and media multiple times, there’s a good chance they’ve been checked out by multiple skeptical editors.

#10 Watch your emotions.

There’s really no 100% foolproof way to be sure. But you can watch your own emotions, if you trust them.

If you:

  • Start believing this person and their system or tool is the key to your future.
  • Think, “this is the only way.”
  • Are afraid there’s a limited amount of time, or the seller is using false urgency to get you to act.
  • Are afraid, “If I miss out on this, I’m screwed.”
  • Are afraid they might be lying…

…then take a breath and sleep on it. A lot of these guys motivate through fear and urgency.

If you’re feeling adrenalized and stressed, you won’t make the right decision.

Talk to some people about it. Be careful: con-men isolate you from other influences. They tell you that your friends and family won’t understand because they’re not winners or don’t want you to succeed. This keeps you from hearing any second-opinions on the con-man’s ideas.

You need to be patient, take your time, talk to people and make the right decision.

Ask the seller to give you more time. If they won’t, ask why not. These guys are really good at coming up with plausible reasons. Ask them to make an exception. If they won’t, then they probably aren’t a good partner for you.

Sometimes they say, “I only want to work with decisive people.”

Why is that?

“Because they take action.”

Well, that’s pretty convenient for the seller, since that action is you giving them money.

Don’t let them manipulate you.

10 Reasons Why Retargeting Ads Are a No-Brainer For Your Business

Here’s the deal.

Most of your future customers are not buying from you.

It’s true.

Every day you are missing out on 99% of your potential customers.

You read that right — 99%!

Even worse, when you’re not getting people to buy, your competitors are getting those sales and that revenue and those customers.

We’re not just fear-mongering here. We’re talking straight data. Most websites and e-commerce sites convert about 1% of their first-time visitors. 99% don’t buy.

So… Are you freaking out yet?

OMG!

Don’t worry – there’s a solution to your problem. It’s called retargeting.

What is retargeting?

Good question.

Have you ever viewed a site or product, and then you see it everywhere?

That’s retargeting.

  • Retargeting is when ads follow you around to keep them top of mind for when you’re ready to purchase.
  • This is just like email- it’s a great way for customers to see you again and get to know you.
  • You’re still around whenever customers are ready to hit that buy button.
  • Retargeting is ALWAYS one of the most profitable marketing segments in advertising.

Need more convincing? No problem. We’ve made a list just for you.

So, without further ado, here are

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Retargeting Today!

1. Keep your product or service hot for people who are interested in you.

Retargeting is so hot right now.

Retargeting is the best way to stay visible to your hottest leads and best potential customers.

It’s a powerful best practice to getting quicker revenue and profits.

2. Stay in touch with people who aren’t opening your emails.

Email is great, but what percentage of website visitors submit a lead or opt-into your email list?

Between 1% and 20%, right? Those are the industry averages.

The overall average for everybody is a mere 1.95%!

Reverse that number and you get the percentage of people you are losing.

They aren’t even signing up to hear from you via email.

98% of website visitors don’t want to join an email list.

They forget about you within 1-3 days.

They may not remember your name or your business name or your website name.

They try to Google for it and maybe they don’t remember enough to find you again.

Business GONE.

And what about your email list?

What percentage of those people open your emails?

Typically 20% if you’re doing a good job, although in some industries that’s very hard to achieve.

Reverse that, and 80% of the average email list IS NOT OPENING EMAILS.

Maybe only 10% are clicking on your links.

90% of an email list DOESN’T CARE enough to click on links!

If you’re working hard and/or paying to get that traffic from email campaigns, losing most of those people is the worst.

Retargeting fixes this problem.

Even when your email isn’t working, which is most of the time, retargeting keeps you front and center in their attention.

Don’t be forgotten…

Retarget!

3. Raise your ecommerce conversion rate.

What’s your ecommerce conversion rate?

Probably 1-2%.

Now reverse it. 98-99%.

98% of e-commerce visitors, even if they added something to a cart, leave the site and don’t buy.

Again, that’s the percentage of people you are losing who forget about you within 1-3 days.

Don’t you want to get those people back?

Retargeting keeps you top of mind so you can get them back and get more of those sales.

4. Use cookies so you can reach more people.

Mmm…cookies

Did you know?

97% of people use cookies, don’t block them, and can be retargeted.

When advertising on Facebook and Instagram, you can reach

  • 72% of Americans,
  • 69% of Canadians, and
  • 68% of those in the UK.

Retargeting ads will get a substantial message in front of people, just like a short email, but they’ll get in front of 2-3x as many as those who open your emails.

(If you have an email follow up sequence, you need a retargeting ad sequence. Best practice is to do both email marketing and retargeting!)

5. Get your business the highest ROI.

Retargeting is one of the best ways to advertise online.

It has the highest conversion rate and lowest cost per sale.

These people already know you- they’re not cold audiences, they’re warm.

They’re more likely to convert because they know more about your brand and offerings and they’re more likely to like you.

Repeat exposure through retargeting increases your conversion rates, sales and profits.

Retarget to increase your profits!

6. Woo your audience so they can trust your brand.

Aww <3

If someone has already been to your website, they become part of your highly qualified audience. Now it’s time to help them begin to trust your brand.

Remember, not everyone that comes to your website for the first time is ready to buy from you.

It’s like when people meet you for the first time — they aren’t ready to be your best friend or significant other right away, right?

They have to get to know you first.

Retargeting helps customers get to know you.

The more they know, the more likely they are to buy.

7. Repetition is key.

Your audience needs to see your product/brand more than once!

Worried it’s too much?

The more familiar your audience is with you, they more they will like you (even if you’re a little annoying!).

Potential customers need to hear about you as much as possible. Most people don’t buy the first time they hear about or visit a brand’s website.

People are often:

  • Distracted
  • Resistant, or
  • Not focused on your message the first time

But with repeated exposure to the marketing message, they begin to hear and “get” your message, and start to understand your unique value.

Without retargeting, when your potential customer is ready they might see your competitor’s ad, and you’ll lost the sale.

Mwah!

Familiarity increases affinity (in social psychology it’s called The Familiarity Principle, aka The Mere-Exposure Effect).

Studies show that the more we’re familiar with a person or brand, the more we like it.

Look like you’re everywhere to the most interested people!

Get them even more interested.

Retarget.

8. Grow and market to your fanbase.

Your website, blog and social media channels are owned media properties (web properties you can control and are unique to your brand).

Channels like social media and blogs are extensions of your website, and all three are extensions of your brand as a whole.

These are people who are now in your audience, similar to email subscribers or fans or followers – they haven’t opted into a list but they did show interest. Use it!

A retargeting list is an informal fanbase.

You can convert them into email subscribers, post engagers or customers.

Retarget to get them to the next step.

9. Bring your website users back.

Let’s bounce.

What’s your bounce rate?

That’s the percentage of people who only view one page on your website and then leave right away.

The average site has about 50% of visitors bounce, without viewing a second page.

For many sites it’s as high as 70-90%.

Many businesses haven’t optimized their websites behaviorally to get users to stick around and view multiple pages.

Remember, few people buy or take action right away, the first time they visit.

Retargeting is a great way to bring potential customers back to your site.

Retarget for repeat website visitors!

10. Retargeting is incredibly affordable.

Just $1 a day…

Just spending $1 a day on retargeting means you’re in front of 100 of your best prospects a day, instead of zero of them.

The financial stakes are low, and the potential rewards are great — it’s time to start retargeting!

There you have it.

10 Reasons Why YOU Should Be Retargeting.

Stop missing out on most of your sales.

Get people to buy from you instead of your competitors.

Make this year your best sales year ever!

So… what’s next?

Why haven’t you started yet?

Are you confused or overwhelmed with how to retarget?

Do you love the idea, but don’t know where to start?

If you don’t know how to set up Facebook pixels, different audiences, etc., don’t worry, The Brian Carter Group can help.

Contact us via the form on the right (go back to the top of the page if you don’t see it) and we’ll get right on it!

Jim Carrey from Dumb & Dumber poking head out of limo window

The Biggest Mistake Marketing Strategists Make

The biggest failure of consultants that only do marketing strategy:

If they’ve never done implementation they haven’t seen what works and what doesn’t.
Get someone who’s done it!

If they used to implement and now do strategy, there’s a good chance their ideas are at least several years out of date.
Get someone who does it now!

Marketing strategists don’t have access to companies doing working strategies right now. They attract companies that are doing it wrong, and they only see outlier case studies of strategy that the media and bloggers write about.
Get someone with their own data on their own clients!

Those outlier case studies often have to be “news” to get published. Most people don’t hear about last year’s strategies that are still working for a lot of companies- for example, google ads, webinars and email marketing are still highly profitable. These aren’t exciting enough to write about, so marketing strategists get a skewed idea of which strategies are most likely to work.
Don’t just listen to the news- listen for best practices!

Those outlier case studies are exceptions. Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for your company. Those strategies were a fit for that company but may not fit yours. Without a way to appraise your company and categorize it, they will apply a one-size-fits-all approach. They may call it customized because they recommend customized messaging, but the prioritization of strategies and budget allocations may be very similar, and may not work for you.
Get someone who customizes!

You need the strategies and tactics that work for most companies not just what worked for random outliers. You need it customized to your company.

Applying to your company only the strategies of outlier companies is like buying a suit for yourself based on the measurements of successful people.

Got it?
Go get em!

Gen Z Jobs, Advertising and Social Media Behavior

Gen Z is coming. Gen Z is here.

Millennials have been a big challenge to employers, just as every new generation is. We are still grappling with that, and now Gen Z is coming right behind them.

Who are they? How are they different?

I don’t want to make the mistake with Gen Z many made with Millennials.

It took a decade to overcome bad Millennial stereotypes and accept that everyone is unique.

Let’s stick to the facts and treat everyone like a real person.

Also, Gen Z is young (anyone born from 1997 on), and when looking at any generation in their youth, we should always consider:

  • How much of what they’re doing is what young people do, and how much is truly characteristic of their generation?
  • How much of their behavior will change as they adapt to other generations, the workforce and mainstream society?
  • How much will change as they age and their priorities change due to work, marriage, children and family?

We can look at Gen Z’s 18-21 year olds, the ones in the workforce.

As you can see from those age ranges, a lot of Gen Z have not even had a chance to finish college yet.

A lot will change for them over the next 5-10 years.

Facebook Insights & Facebook Ad Manager Data on Gen Z

This data comes from the Facebook Audience Insights and the Facebook Ad Manager. The reason I use this is that it’s freely available, live data on 230 million monthly American users.

A lot of it comes from their regular life and online activity, not from an artificial survey with all the usual flaws of market research.

The Facebook Ad Manager data includes Instagram data, since Facebook owns Instagram and the ad platform allows you to advertise on Instagram.

Gen Z Job Titles

There are above average numbers of Gen Z working in these job areas:

  • Food and restaurants
  • Sales
  • Farming, fishing and forestry
  • Protective services
  • Military
  • Personal and home care services
  • Transportation and moving
  • Administrative services

There are below average numbers of Gen Z in these job areas:

  • Government
  • Computation and math
  • IT and tech
  • Business and finance
  • Community and social service
  • Architecture and engineering

In this particular list, you see mostly jobs that require a college degree, for which Gen Z is currently too young. These likely will change a lot within 5 years when a they’re out of college.

Gen Z Social Media Behavior

Gen Z share posts at the same rate as other generations. Sharing is a positive action that says, “I accept your lifestyle or attitude or idea and want to affirm and spread it.”

Something that’s interesting about Gen Z social media behavior is that they’re less likely to write text comments on posts than other generations. This may be related to a desire for privacy.

Gen Z and Advertisements

Gen Z like fewer posts and click on fewer ads than previous generations.

It’s possible that advertisers aren’t advertising much to Gen Z and haven’t learned how to do it well.

Advertisers tend to advertise to people with money, or influencers of the sale- there has been hesitation to advertise even to Millennials, since Gen X and Boomers still have most of the money- let alone Gen Z, who is barely entering the workforce. Millennials sometimes say they don’t like to “be targeted,” and Gen Z may feel the same way.

This is going to require clever marketing content and adaptation to a new generation. I doubt this has been addressed yet, because most companies are still struggling to fully adapt their marketing to Millennials, let alone to Gen Z.

Gen Z Device Usage, Smartphone Usage and Computer Usage

In terms of device preferences, as you might expects, they prefer smartphones over computers or iPads. Even more interesting, the Gen Z on Facebook prefer iPhones over Androids.

If we look at Facebook vs Instagram users, we can look at ages 13-21.

  • There are 22 million on Facebook
  • There are 20 million on Instagram
  • So, the numbers are fairly equal, with a slight edge to Facebook. Gen Z is the only generation this close. When you look at 18-24 year olds, there are 35 million on FB and 29 million on IG. There are 55 million 25-34 year olds on FB and 40 million on IG. The gap widens with age.

The younger people are, the more likely they are to be on BOTH Facebook and Instagram, and this is definitely the case with Gen Z.

For more on that, read this article.

Facebook Still Has More Young People Than Instagram… In EVERY Age Group

It seems like every time I talk to someone about Facebook, they talk about how young people are leaving it for Instagram or Snapchat.

That may be true.

If they go to Instagram, as a marketer, I’m fine with it. We can still market to them on Instagram itself and via the Facebook Ad Manager.

But have the YOUTHS really left Facebook?

Who knows.

So, I thought I’d take a look at the data and find out!

The results might shock some of you…

Is Facebook Only For Old People?

Let’s take a look at how many people are on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. right now.

The Facebook Audience Insights Data

First off, on Facebook- if we look at the Facebook “Audience Insights” tool, which available to anyone- just get a Facebook ad account and you can use it- we see there are 200-250 million monthly active U.S. Facebook users right now (as of June, 2018).

  • If 17% of Facebook users are 18-24, that means 38 million 18-24 year old’s use Facebook monthly.
  • Another 58 million young-ish people between 25-34 use Facebook monthly.
  • That means that 96 million Americans between the ages 18 and 34 use Facebook monthly right now!

The Facebook Ad Manager Data

We can also get numbers from the Facebook ad manager. It can tell you, when you create an ad set, how many people you can easily target on Facebook or Instagram.

  • When I put 18-34 in, Facebook Ad Manager says that there are 90 million 18-34 year old Americans on Facebook. Pretty similar numbers to what I found from the Audience Insights tool.
  • When I add in Instagram, we get 100 million Americans, 18-34 years old, on Facebook and/or Instagram.
  • When I remove Facebook but keep Instagram, we get 69 million 18-34 year olds on Instagram only.

More interesting is this chart I put together from FB Ad Manager’s data…

Number of American Facebook & Instagram Users By Age:

That last row is what percentage of the total (Facebook + Instagram) is in Facebook. Over 50% would mean that there are more people in this age group on Facebook than Instagram.

In every age group, Facebook has more users than Instagram. Even in the youth segments!

So… millions of teenagers still think Facebook is cool? Or at least, cool enough to use, for whatever reason.

Here’s a more graphic comparison of the number of Facebook and Instagram users by age group in June 2018:

  • Even in the 13-17 age group, there are more teens on Facebook than Instagram. That may be changing, but it hasn’t changed yet. There are 12% more 13-17 year olds on Facebook than Instagram.
  • And the gap widens as we look at 18-24 year olds. There are 17% more 18-24 year olds on Facebook than Instagram. It widens again for 25-34 year olds. There are 27% more 25-34 year olds on Facebook than Instagram. And so on.

And before you say, “Yeah, they have accounts, but they don’t use them,” the data above is for ACTIVE monthly users…

And read this article about how Facebook ads are still working WAY better than Instagram ads.

Takeaways

The rumors of Facebook’s death amongst youth have been greatly exaggerated.

Young people may be using Instagram and Snapchat more, but there are still a huge number of them on Facebook.

If you market to youth segments, you should market and advertise on all three of these platforms.

The data I can’t find that would be really great to know is: how much time does each age group spend on each social network? It’s easy to find how many people of each age group use a site. Or how much time users of a site spend on that site, but not how much time each age group uses each site.

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 2/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

This is part two of two. Go here for part one.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 1/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

For now, here is part one of two. Go here for part two.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

risk graphics

THE 4 TYPES OF CREATIVE TESTS THAT DRIVE PROFITS

Everybody wants results from digital marketing.

But what works for you and your business and your customer is different than what works for everyone else.

You can try to follow formulas and systems, and they’ll work to a point, but there is always testing and looking at results and optimizing.

Sometimes you find something awesome and creative that drives huge results…

But new creative often doesn’t work.

It’s risky to try new things.

Testing and learning is expensive.

Not testing, not creating, isn’t the answer either- you’ll never get noticed- you’ll never learn- but there’s a cost to learning.

And too much creativity and novelty is risky.

So how do you manage risk while testing and trying to achieve great results?

The more you spend on digital ads, the more you have to be aware of this.

As we attempt to expand while continuing to get good results, it becomes more and more important to manage risk around creative testing.

How Do You Maximize Profits With Ad Spend Allocations?

You have to make creative decisions and allocate your ad spend against creative in a way that balances the need for two things:

#1 Profitability (high results or low costs of any kind, regardless of the KPI we use for it at the time): any goals we have for appointments, revenue or cost per new customer must be achieved at the same time that we create and learn.

#2 Novelty: to push forward our KPI’s, we need varying degrees of novelty in the creative. It’s the amount of novelty, the degree that it diverges from what has been proven to work, that increases the risk, increases the cost of testing and lowers profit while testing.

At times, we work with a simple system of allocating ad spend between:

A. BEST: proven ads (and when I say ads, we may also mean landing pages, depending on how traffic distribution is set up) that achieve our best KPI performance so far. We allocate a certain amount of ad spend to this- as much as possible, to try to achieve the overall KPI goal- while leaving a certain amount of spend for the “TEST” group. In the beginning when nothing is proven, it’s all TEST. And the definition of BEST changes as the KPI’s improve.

– vs. –

B. TEST: new ideas that are unproven. Many of them will not perform and will be discontinued. Some will end up in the BEST group.
As a rule of thumb, we can recommend a ratio of anywhere from 50:50 to 80:20 BEST:TEST.

However, in more complicated situations like TPW, I recommend we look at more groups, as shown in this image…

#1 OLD Proven Creative
Proven profitable, or best performing creative so far
Keep in mind that the definition of proven is relative
KPI’s improve over time, and the definition of what’s best changes
Best investment for ensuring KPI goals

#2 NEW Slight Variations on Proven Creative
e.g. changing one bit of text or one image in an ad or landing page
Lowest risk of poor performance for new creative
Highest assurance of profitability for new creative

#3 NEW Bigger Variations on Proven Creative
e.g. a big landing page layout change, or changing multiple things at one time
Medium risk of poor performance for new creative
Medium assurance of profitability for new creative

#4 NEW Totally New Creative
e.g. totally new ideas, themes, messages, formats and customer pathways unlike previous tests
Some amount of totally new is required, but because its overall performance is, on average, the lowest, it should be allocated the least amount.
Highest risk of poor performance for new creative
Least assurance of reaching KPI goals

An example spend ratio could be…

ProvenCreative:SlightVariation:BiggerVariation:TotallyNew
60:25:10:5

The idea is to put spend in every group to allow for diversity but to allocate spend conservatively to reduce KPI performance risks.

It’s critical that to use this 4-category system for new ad, landing page and other tests as you go forward and increase ad spend.

If you don’t do this, you risk spending too much on the riskiest creative, and while you may learn a lot, you will not at the same time produce satisfying results.

Airport Revenue Digital Marketing & Social Media Keynote Interview with Brian Carter

In March, Brian will be speaking about how to drive more visits and revenue with digital marketing and social media to airport operators and concessionaires like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and TGI Friday’s at the annual Airport Revenue News conference in Orlando. Here’s an excerpt of his interview with ARN!

Ward: What are some key mistakes that you see companies making?

Carter: I think one of the biggest mistakes is opinion versus facts. We now have data – we can test whether the customer likes our branding. If you listen to the wrong information, or your information is out of date or you make decisions that are based on opinion rather than fact, eventually you’re headed for disaster. The companies that are winning today, that are disrupting categories and established companies, are using technology to make customers happier than they ever were before. When your opinion is wrong and out of whack with the facts, you’re not going to be able to make your customers happy.

Read more of Brian Carter’s interview on airports and digital marketing more here…

How to Learn Facebook Ads: Our Recommended Course of Study

Do you or your employees need more Facebook ad training?

As we’ve scaled our digital marketing agency to hire more employees and handle more clients, we’ve also gotten better at training our employees in Facebook ads. Here’s what we recommend to you- the same process we send our employees through:

#1 BEGINNERS: First start with this Google spreadsheet I created of recommended videos from Facebook’s own “Blueprint” training. Facebook has some great introductory training. But you don’t need to look at all of it in the beginning. These are the most important modules a beginner needs.

#2 INTERMEDIATE: More intermediate for getting results is my Amazing.com Facebook marketing course, “Social Marketing Profit System,” taken by over 1,800 students. SMPS is part of their entire training platform which has a bunch of other courses, but you can just sign up monthly, take mine and decide whether or not to stick for their other courses after that.

#3 ADVANCED: The advanced course is my Facebook Leads and Sales Machine course. People tell me it’s too much if you haven’t done blueprint or the SMPS course first. But this is the mac daddy when it comes to getting professional results from one of the most powerful ad platforms in the world.