What Do They Really Think?

When running a business, we often focus our attention and energy on the day-to-day activities. We concentrate on acquiring new customers, delivering our product or service on time, quality control, cash flow, irate customers, managing our teams, etc. We leave planning and deciding about corrective measures for the third or fourth quarter… and sometimes not at all.

To do everything better in business requires listening to what customers have to say. Unfortunately, many businesses treat this invaluable resource as an isolated ‘project’ or ‘event’ and do not engage in soliciting feedback regularly.

happy meter
If asking customers and potential customers what they think about your brand, operations, products, customer service and more is not part of your regular operation, I would like to encourage you to start including it in your process. If you don’t have the internal resources (people, skills, or time) to do it in-house, have an outside firm help. In fact, having an outside and unbiased entity collect the information will usually result in more honest feedback.

Collecting information routinely could help in making adjustments to every aspect of your operations in (almost) real time, and it can help with longer-term planning, too. You should be asking customers about their satisfaction level with what they purchased, the purchase experience, what else you could have done for them, their impression of your brand, what could make your offering better, and when and what will be their next purchase, just to mention a few.

Collecting this information need not be hard or complicated. It can be done in different ways and by utilizing various methodologies. Here are some examples of ways you may want to employ, depending on what you offer and sell:

  • Send a simple survey to every customer after each delivery of product or service
  • Conduct periodic focus groups with multiple customers (face-to-face or online)
  • Schedule visits with customers for in-depth ‘voice of the customer’ conversations
  • Send an annual or semi-annual detailed survey(s)
  • Interview non-customers

Of course, what you do with the information you receive is very important. Collecting feedback just for the sake of doing it would be a waste of time, effort, and resources. The information must be reviewed and tabulated (when appropriate), conclusions must be drawn, and changes should be implemented, if warranted. The feedback gathered can also be very helpful for strategic planning – For example, it can help determine what should be your next product or feature release.

Lastly, positive feedback can also be utilized in marketing. Success stories and testimonials are extremely powerful tools to attract new and repeat customers. Ask permission to use the feedback received and incorporate it into your marketing efforts!

Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer

Ad Placement That Will Make You Cringe… Or Laugh

By Ginger Mace

Sometimes the placement of marketing messages is out of a company’s control. The below examples might not have had the desired effect on sales, but what they lack in bringing in revenue, they more than make up for in laughs!

We’re not sure which entity benefitted the most from this placement, but some online commenters have an entirely different question – What exactly is he watching? Is it the store’s visitors or the store’s offerings?
Boy, those fast food cows have turned aggressive, haven’t they?!
bad advertising

Reddit users probably audibly gasped when they saw these two things consecutively. While we can’t tell who the advertiser selling the steak is, we can guess that this ad placement underperformed.

This split screen aired on NBC during the Olympics. Call it foreshadowing or fortune telling, but either way, Google seemed to be reading the tea leaves when their ad (left) aired during then Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to a sexual harassment report in which he was the subject of inquiry (right).

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Not the time nor the place. Someone needs to edit their keywords and add some exceptions.

A devil is on one shoulder, an angel on the other. Do you choose the fast food or the healthier eating fresh start?

outdoor advertising
five finger fillet

Wait! You forgot a few options in the answer choices. In some places, it’s called Five Finger Fillet, while the National Institutes of Health calls it mumblety-peg. No matter what you call it, the knife advertised would do a number on those digits once “hands down” is declared and the contestant tries to stab only the spaces between fingers.

Be sure to check out our two previous articles in this series: Copywriting Casualties and Awkward Acronyms and Four Questionable Marketing Moves That Missed The Mark.

What Is Fractional CMO & Marketing?

Fractional CMO & Marketing is ‘Your Outsourced Marketing Department’ when you need expert marketing leadership and marketing services to accelerate growth and improve profitability, but you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer or your own marketing department.

Our unique arrangement is the most efficient, innovative, and cost-effective formula for you. Click on the image to the left to watch a short video.

We Help When You Need To:

  • Generate more of the right kind of leads
  • Close more sales faster
  • Get repeat sales
  • Formulate a more effective message
  • Produce powerful sales tools

  • Establish brand awareness, recognition, and preference
  • Differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Develop lasting relationships with customers
  • Introduce new products

Marketing Lingo: Watchbait

Watchbait sensationalizes what online content is about or deliberately withholds information to give the wrong impression about the value viewers will receive if they watch or engage with the content. It can be seen in any part of the post, such as the content itself, description, caption, thumbnail, text overlay of a video, or narration. It is similar to clickbait in that the goal is to increase views, interactions (whether negative or positive), and engagement.

Watchbait is very similar to clickbait, wherein the entity posting the content uses similar deceptions in an attempt to get more clicks – and, therefore, more engagement and interaction – done basically to artificially inflate popularity and fool social media algorithms.

* ‘Marketing Lingo’ is a regular column in which we define, or otherwise explain, terms often used in marketing but not necessarily correctly or properly by some. You may see a glossary of marketing terms’ definitions here.

How to Avoid Watchbait in Your Social Media Posts

By Ginger Mace

Watchbait has been on the radar of Meta and other social media platforms since early 2022, yet it still is an issue that ethical, honest businesses are trying to compete against. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed more of it lately than ever before, and if we have, you can bet those who decide what goes against community guidelines have as well.

In this article, we’ll delve into the three major tactics used, as well as some guidelines so you can avoid your content being flagged for attempting to fool your viewers and readers.

The 3 tactics most often used in watchbait, which we call “The 3 Ds”, are:
1. Deny Giving Details – Online posts employ missing information to generate an “I must watch this to learn ______ that I clearly must know!”. The scant information given makes it seem that the only way to gain this knowledge is to interact or engage with the content.

social media watchbait

2. Dramatize – With this tactic, exaggerations and gripping words or images are used to invoke feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) or if this content isn’t watched, vital knowledge will be missed.
3. Deceive – Expectations are often not met when this technique is used. The content of the video does not align with the promise of what the “payoff” will be for watching.

Examples of Watchbait

Michela.Chiappa posted a bread recipe that truly was too good to be true. Unfortunately, what she said in the video didn’t match the text accompanying the post, and commenters let her know how untruthful she had been.

Very early in the video, she claims the recipe only has 3 ingredients, which encourages viewers to keep watching – there were actually 5 ingredients. Also, the caption claims it takes seconds to make, but does anyone really refer to 5 minutes (or 300 seconds) in that way? Check out the screenshots below.

Michela.Chiappa bread recipe

GlassesTheBully used watchbait to up the metrics on the post below. We have just a screenshot of the video here, but if you saw this and expected to learn some useful knowledge about why this dog breed might not be a good fit for your home, you aren’t alone. Sure, it’s just a video about all the cute things bully breeds do, but for someone looking to maybe adopt one, the video doesn’t provide information the caption seems to promise.


RevolvePrimalHealth used the same techniques as our furry bully friend above. This one is a bit more troubling because there are several reasons why fermenting food at home is not for everyone. The poster discussed the benefits of home ferments, such as saving money and better gut health. What would’ve been more useful would’ve been actual considerations regarding why not to try to make fermented foods at home (such as it can be difficult to get the salinity correct which is necessary to avoid the growth of bad bacteria, ferments must be attended to at regular intervals to avoid too much gas building up and an explosion, and one has to know when the fermented food or drink should be refrigerated).

RevolvePrimalHealth perhaps capitalized a bit on the trend of home fermentation, but had this post provided actual, useful information about the practice, both the viewers and this account would benefit more in the long run.

Why should you avoid using watchbait?

Meta stated the following in its Business Help Center:

“We want to make sure that the time people spend on our platform is well spent and that the video content they consume is meaningful and satisfying. Viewers express negative attitudes towards videos that use watchbait tactics and provide feedback they want to see less of this content.”

“Videos that are considered watchbait may not be recommended to viewers and/or may receive limited ranking. Repeatedly posting watchbait will result in overall distribution being reduced and all created content may become ineligible as recommendations to viewers. If a creator stops posting watchbait, over time their posts will become eligible for improved ranking.”

You don’t want your content to become demonetized or not show as recommendations to viewers. Also, you don’t want the viewers who do see your content to be disappointed, annoyed, or feel they were tricked into watching time-wasting content that doesn’t deliver what was promised.

Is watchbait ever acceptable?

A post that could be considered watchbait by some can be helpful in getting exposure to new prospects and increasing social media metrics, but it must be done in a reasonable – even somewhat playful – manner. The text overlay in the image below is a good example of using dramatization to the poster’s benefit.

FirstWeFeast posted this to their Instagram. Olive lovers and those “without tastebuds” (per some commenters) who don’t like them interacted with this post to the tune of 11,049 likes and 2,887 comments so far. This particular IG account, when a post contains one picture and does not tag other accounts, usually receives somewhere between 2-20% of that number of likes and comments, respectively. Some new followers were gained, but more important than that, people were leaving comments that encouraged others to share their experiences with olives (which included everything from stories of their grandfathers curing olives in the bathtub to going into detail about Mediterranean cuisine), and that meant much more engagement and the algorithm showed it to more Instagram users (leading to increased exposure for FirstWeFeast). 

Examples of Deny Giving Details, Dramatize, and Deceive

Deny Giving Details

Significant – even basic – information is omitted to encourage a level of curiosity so great that someone must watch or interact with the content to fully understand it. Often, comments under these posts will feature questions like “What did I miss?”, “That’s it?!”, “Well, I’ll never get those 2 minutes back again.”, or similar sentiments. No one likes to have their time wasted, feel manipulated, or like certain expectations were set but not fulfilled.

Two examples given by Meta to avoid – unless the content you’re posting meets the expectation set – are:

  • “His Reaction Was Priceless!! 😂😂”
  • “He paid attention at first but then this happened…”.

Videos that are either exceptionally long or short for artificial reasons fall under this category, too, as many social media users decide whether or not to watch a video based on its length. The YouTube platform is especially susceptible to this tactic because those who monetize their posts know that videos less than 10 minutes do not qualify for monetization and ads. It’s fine to post a long video, as long as viewers are not misled and are delivered the promised information without obvious attempts to get to the required length for potential revenue. We recommend you provide value throughout longer videos and not just the very last bit of it.


Sensationalizing or exaggerating what a video contains usually results in the comment section being critical, leaving viewers feeling like they spent their valuable time to learn something that turned out to be much less than what was promised in the description, caption, text overlay, or narration.

Meta gave the following as examples of dramatization:

  • “Absolutely mind-blowing details in the latest recipe of Café Bob’s milkshakes!!”
  • “Your best friend has just sent this crazy message to your girlfriend! 😰😰😰”
  • “SHOCKING weather phenomenon could upend all of your summer plans.”


When the “payoff” for spending time watching content is not met, deception may have occurred; when attempts are made to make social media users think a certain thing or things about what is posted and none of it is true, that is deception. Along with manipulation, deception is a tactic that your followers will probably find the most offensive.

Meta’s guidance to not be deceptive includes NOT using:

  • Thumbnails, titles, descriptions or other parts of the video that suggest something happens in the video that actually does not, often implying something outrageous or unbelievable may happen which ultimately does not occur in the video.
  • Using staged, scripted or fake content that is portrayed as reality that misleads viewers.

Watchbait Dos and Don’ts

🗸 Use accurate language that sets appropriate expectations in your post titles, descriptions, captions, text overlays, and narration.
🗸 Use headlines, descriptions, and captions that are informative so those about to view your content have a clear understanding of what they will actually see.
🗸 Use thumbnails that are derived from the content that will be shown and are an accurate representation of what will be seen.
🗸 Instead of an AI-generated voice, consider using your own, as it helps establish your brand, authenticity, and encourages organic interaction and engagement.

🗸 Don’t think that leaving out information or denying details will keep viewers engaged in your content.
🗸 Don’t dramatize or add sensationalized words or phrases, and avoid unnecessary or extensive use of capital letters or emojis in the title, description, caption, or text overlay of each post.
🗸 Don’t include photoshopped or ridiculous images, reactions, or emojis in thumbnails unless they truly relate to the content of your posts.
🗸 Don’t use staged, fake, outrageous, dangerous, or ludicrous events as if they were real (such as the camera just happened to be there at the right moment or inauthentic CCTV video).

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