The Digital Dish

The Oxford Comma Debate

The Oxford Comma Debate

The Oxford Comma Debate

The Oxford comma is a polarizing piece of punctuation, and its use has even been disputed in the courtroom. The Oxford comma debate raged on in a class-action lawsuit where Oakhurst Dairy drivers were awarded $5 million for not receiving overtime pay from their employer. Maine law states workers must be paid 1.5 times their

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How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

Recently, I’ve been brainstorming how to implement a plan to use Facebook Stories across all of the brands we own here at TrackFive. I have to admit – although I am an avid Facebook user, I rarely

Read more
Fyre Findings: 10 Things Marketers Can Learn from the Fyre Festival Fail

Fyre Findings: 10 Things Marketers Can Learn from the Fyre Festival Fail

Fyre Findings: 10 Things Marketers Can Learn from the Fyre Festival Fail

Maybe I should start out with a spoiler alert… b

Read more
Benefits of a Website Audit

Benefits of a Website Audit

Benefits of a Website Audit

I’ve survived! After hacking through (literally)

Read more


The Oxford Comma Debate

oxford comma debateThe Oxford comma is a polarizing piece of punctuation, and its use has even been disputed in the courtroom. The Oxford comma debate raged on in a class-action lawsuit where Oakhurst Dairy drivers were awarded $5 million for not receiving overtime pay from their employer. Maine law states workers must be paid 1.5 times their normal wage if they exceed 40 hours per week. The exceptions to this law included the following activities:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  1. Agricultural produce;
  2. Meat and fish product; and
  3. Perishable foods

The drivers claimed that “packing for shipment” and “distribution” were not two separate exemptions because there wasn’t a comma included before “or”. This meant that distribution on its own was not an exception to the law and merited overtime pay. The ambiguity that resulted by omitting the Oxford comma caused the judge to rule in favor of the drivers.

What Exactly is the Oxford Comma?

If a single comma can cost a company millions of dollars, the Oxford comma debate must be a big deal. Also known as the serial comma, the Oxford comma is a piece of punctuation placed just before a coordinating conjunction in a list of three or more items. There is little consistency to its use and it continues to spark controversy in the world of writing. Many American-style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style advocate for the use of the comma, but the Associated Press Stylebook is one of the most noteworthy exceptions. Several publications only use it when it’s necessary to avoid confusion, and most foreign languages leave it out of their writing entirely.

Arguments In Favor

Many researchers, academics, and writers insist on using the Oxford comma in their work. Proponents of this comma believe that it improves the clarity of a sentence and should never be left out. Consider this example:

Without the Oxford comma: “After accepting the award, the director thanked his parents, Jeff Goldblum and God.”

With the Oxford comma: “After accepting the award, the director thanked his parents, Jeff Goldblum, and God.”

The absence of the Oxford comma in this example literally changes the meaning of the sentence. Without the comma, it could be wrongly assumed that the director’s parents are Jeff Goldblum and God. Placing the comma before “and” separates the two nouns and helps to avoid any misconception of meaning.

Another argument in favor of the Oxford comma is that it better mimics the cadence of a spoken sentence. Adding an extra comma before a conjunction represents the pause you would take while speaking, and many people would argue that it makes the meaning of a sentence more clear. Like the example above, failing to pause at the end of could make the listener believe that the final two items in the list are combined.

Arguments Against

The Associated Press, along with many journalists, are against the Oxford comma being a grammatical requirement. Opponents of the comma believe that it can make a piece of writing seem cluttered and even pretentious. A lot of these people think that including a conjunction is sufficient enough, and some would even say that including the extra comma belittles readers because the author assumes they have difficulty understanding longer sentences. Publishers also frown upon its use because it has the potential to take up page space, something that is incredibly crucial to conserve.

Some people would consider the Oxford comma in this example to be unnecessary:

Without the Oxford comma: “Mary went to the mall, the library and then to Jenny’s house.”

With the Oxford comma: “Mary went to the mall, the library, and then to Jenny’s house.”

In the example above, some would argue that the sentence is clear enough without the extra comma.      

One Key Takeaway

Whatever your stance is in the Oxford comma debate, remember to remain consistent in your writing. Only using the comma periodically could cause even more ambiguity and make your writing seem unprofessional. The comma is not yet a universal requirement, so pick a side and stick to it! 

Where do you stand in the Oxford comma debate? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below!

Stay up-to-date with the latest online marketing trends in our blog.

How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

Recently, I’ve been brainstorming how to implement a plan to use Facebook Stories across all of the brands we own here at TrackFive. I have to admit – although I am an avid Facebook user, I rarely pay attention to the Stories at the top of my page. So, I started watching the stories my friends are posting. They’re similar to Snapchats in that they’re short, 20-second snippets of either photo or video. After 24 hours, they disappear.  Plus, they’re at the top of everyone’s newsfeed and can be seen by all of your Facebook followers. However, I wondered, how many people actually watch Facebook Stories, and how valuable could Facebook stories for brands actually be? It turns out pretty valuable. It’s no surprise that Facebook has an average of 2.23 billion monthly users, but I was surprised to learn that Facebook had 150 million active users per day for Stories just 14 months after launching this feature. Also, in a study conducted by Facebook, the social media platform found that 62 percent of those who actively watch Facebook Stories said that they become more interested in a brand after seeing it in their Stories feed.

So, the audience is there. As best stated by Forbes writer Bud Torcom, “I see Facebook Stories like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush, and as a fellow marketer, you deserve to know about this rich vein of opportunity waiting to be tapped.”

Let’s tap in!

Five Benefits of Using Facebook Stories for Brands

  • Facebook Stories are the first thing people see when they log into Facebook, and they’re growing in popularity. This means you have the opportunity to reach a wide audience of people who probably aren’t going to your brand’s page every day. Once they see your attention-grabbing Facebook Story, they just might.
  • Facebook produces a greater return on investment than any other social network, and Facebook Stories is rising in popularity. People are mindlessly scrolling Facebook, and they’re not even really looking for anything. Facebook is kind of like wandering into Target to kill time. You didn’t realize you needed all that junk from the $1 bins at the front of the store until you saw them. Facebook Stories puts your brand at the front of the store, so to speak.
  • Video! Let’s face it, video marketing is more relevant than ever before. In fact, whether you’re talking companies or regular consumers, we are all uploading more video content per month than major U.S. television stations could create in 30 years. Let that sink in. People engage with video. It has a higher reach on Facebook, and it’s an interesting and more personal way to tell your brand’s story.
  • Stories are organic and easy to consume. If you want to connect to your customers in a real way, getting their attention by creating Facebook Stories is an effective way to do it. It’s especially beneficial if you’re running a campaign or trying to engage with your audience. Here at TrackFive, our first Facebook Stories trial was with a scholarship campaign we host every year through our TravelNurseSource brand. We created selfie videos encouraging people to head over to our page and vote for their favorite scholarship contestant. It worked!
  • It’s free! The fact that Facebook Stories are free is the most obvious benefit. Even if you experiment with it and find that you’re not seeing a difference in engagement from your consumers, it doesn’t cost you anything at all to do it. Well, other than a little bit of time and creative juices.

Three Tips for How to Effectively Use Facebook Stories for Brands

Facebook Stories for brands

If you want successful Facebook Stories for brands, check out these three tips!

  • Make sure your content is time-sensitive. Think about it. Facebook Stories are only live for 24 hours. You don’t want to post something evergreen here or duplicate your stories week after week. You want to promote something that’s timely, like Valentine’s Day, a 24-hour contest, or announcing something new in your industry.
  • Don’t bore your audience with all of the same content. What do I mean by “the same content?” Well, you’re not going to like it, because this is a tough one. You shouldn’t post the same content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Although some duplicate content is ok, it gets boring. Think about your personal Facebook use. How annoying is it to scroll Instagram and see that your friend from high school is posting a proud “my child used the potty for the first time” picture? Now, it’s even more annoying when you switch over to Facebook and see the post again. Before you create a story, ask yourself, who cares? Then, ask yourself, which social platform cares most?
  • Use Facebook Stories as a way to take things to a more personal level. Sure, your Facebook story can be graphics or animation, but also think of ways to show face. People like people, so if you can use Facebook Stories to recognize your employee of the month or to show video clips of a conference you’re attending, this will attract a lot more attention. It also shows your audience the people behind the brand, and it can increase their likelihood of engaging with you.

How to Measure Success After Posting Facebook Stories for Brands

My issue this week – how do I measure the success of all these Facebook Stories that I planned out? I found through Facebook Insights how to see the stats on my stories, but I didn’t really understand what they meant. It said something about how many people forward swiped and backward swiped. Now, I’ve used Tinder before, (for those of you in relationships, this is a dating app) so I get the whole left is bad, right is a good thing when it comes that. However, Facebook is different. Did they like it or didn’t they!? It took me just one a quick Google search to arrive at my answer. I’ve included the info below for you.

  • Unique Story Opens: This is the number of people who opened your story. If that number is high – yay!
  • Forward Taps: Forward taps means that’s the number of times someone tapped to skip to the next piece of your story. If this number is high, that’s also a good thing. That means your story was interesting enough that they hope there’s more to see.
  • Backward Taps: This is the number of times someone tapped to go back to your story. So, basically, if someone was tap-happy and moved forward too fast, backward taps mean they probably thought – “hey, that was cool. I should go back and look at it again.”
  • Forward Swipes: The number of forward swipes is one that you don’t want to be high. This is the number of times someone swiped to skip to the next story in their feed.
  • Exits: This one is obviously the number of people who viewed your story and then exited the Stories feature to go back to their regular newsfeed.

What have you discovered about Facebook Stories for brands? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

Fyre Findings: 10 Things Marketers Can Learn from the Fyre Festival Fail

Maybe I should start out with a spoiler alert… but, by now everyone knows how the story ended. What makes the Fyre Netflix documentary so interesting are the outrageous twists and turns in between, and the fact that there are many things marketers can learn from the Fyre Festival fail. To give you some basic background, musician Ja Rule and former entrepreneur Billy McFarland, got together and came up with an app for booking celebrities at events. To promote it, they concocted this elaborate plan for an upscale music festival – Fyre. It would take place on a private island in the Bahamas, and they promoted it like crazy with promises of luxurious tents, food, beach yoga, yachts, private jets, real-life treasure hunts…  you get the idea.

To say that everything fell apart and the festival was an epic disaster is an understatement. Yet, the entire story is relatable. First of all, have you ever come up with a really exciting idea while drinking? Most of us have, but then we sober up and forget about it. It seems like Ja Rule and McFarland came up with this crazy idea while drinking, kept drinking, and kept coming up with more crazy ideas. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for them. Despite the “combination of confusion and excitement” – as someone described Fyre Festival in the documentary – there are some solid takeaways, especially for marketers. Obviously, the number one lesson is don’t steal from people and commit fraud, because that’s illegal. Aside from that, here are the top 10 things marketers can learn from the Fyre Festival fail.

10 Things Marketers Can Learn from the Fyre Festival Fail

things marketers can learn rom the fyre festival fail

1. Get people pumped up

Despite their epic fails, the one thing the Fyre Festival planners got right was they got people pumped up. Their social media strategy and influencer outreach had people across the globe talking about the festival far in advance. Between hashtags, amazing photography and video, and a really intelligent social media strategy, they were getting retweets. People were talking about them. The press was interviewing them. They were on top of the world. This is one of the things marketers can learn from the Fyre Festival fail – they did have some killer wins.

2. Follow through on your promises

Obviously, their epic failure was in not following through on their promises. First, they were given permission to hold the festival on former druglord Pablo Escobar’s private island, under the condition that they wouldn’t use his name in their promotion. In the very first promotional video, they did just that. It didn’t take long for them to be banned from the island. Meanwhile, they promised attendees luxury tents, private jets, an exotic private island, and so much more. In reality, guests showed up to a mosquito-infested island that was already overpopulated due to another event happening at the same time. Everything they promised unraveled, and instead of owning up to it ahead of time, they lied until reality betrayed them.

3. Don’t pass out with a beer in your hand

I feel like this goes without saying. However, the footage on the Fyre Netflix documentary literally shows McFarland, in charge of the entire campaign, passed out in the sand with a beer in his hand. Now, while we can pause a moment to envy his rock star lifestyle… we have to ask, really? While this might sound like your freshmen year of college, that’s fine. When you’ve graduated and are playing with big-time influencers – not ok.

4. Make sure your talent tags you on social media

In the very beginning of the Fyre fiasco, organizers got all these top talent models to come to the island where the festival would be held. They were doing photos and videography with the models. Simultaneously, the models were posting their own pictures of themselves on the island. However, they weren’t tagging the festival or the festival organizers. Making sure to remind your talent ahead of time to tag you. Give them exact hashtags or locations that they should use, as this is a huge help in promoting your campaign.

5. Don’t spill beer on your plans

And we’re back to the beer. At another point in the documentary, someone accidentally spills their beer on the drawings where they’re planning the layout of the festival. I guess it goes without saying, but one of the things marketers can learn from the Fyre Festival fail is not to drink at their desks… Disappointing, I know.

6. Be able to sell it

Not only did Fyre Festival organizers kill it when it came to social media campaigning, but they also had someone in charge who can literally sell anything. When you see and hear the way people describe McFarland’s selling skills, it’s unbelievable. He continued to convince sponsors to give him money, despite having little concrete examples to show them. As marketers, not only is it important for us to promote and campaign with killer strategy, but our jobs are so much easier when we’re doing that for someone who we are confident can sell the product. Here at TrackFive, it wouldn’t matter how much traffic our marketing team can drive to our websites if we didn’t have a strong sales team backing us up.

7. Think about timing

Something that’s really important to consider when planning a marketing campaign is timing. What else is going on the week of your event, and will your event get overshadowed? Is there anything else going on that could interfere with your plans? It’s important to keep an open mind and think about any outside factors that could impact your strategy. The Fyre Festival, after it was forced to relocate, was scheduled on the same weekend as another huge event in the Bahamas. This created many issues for organizers, like limited transportation and housing available for their guests.

8. Make sure you trust your team

When everything started to unravel, people on the team realized what was happening. They put in so much hard work only to find out that they’d been played. Someone started leaking inside information onto a website, designed to expose the festival founder as a fraud. A key takeaway from this is to make sure you can trust your team. More than that, make sure everyone is on the same page and is comfortable with the plan.

9. Don’t delete negative feedback from your audience

Here is a big one – as tempting as it is to just make that negative feedback disappear, don’t do it. People who are paying attention enough to give you feedback at all are going to notice if you take it down. When the festival was just a few days away and attendees still didn’t know exactly where to fly to, had not seen any pictures of where they were staying or received information on what they needed to pack, they naturally started asking questions. At this point, they were being ignored because the festival organizers had no answers. Naturally, people were pissed and posting negative feedback on social media. As stated in my point above, someone already exposed the festival’s shortcomings, so some people had an idea that perhaps they should back out. However, they’d already spent thousands of dollars to go.

10. Have a team that stands by you no matter what

Despite all of his many mistakes, McFarland picked dedicated people to work with him. He had people on his team who were willing to do almost anything to help the festival succeed. Literally, anything. Even when everything was falling apart, his team players had his back until the very end. What amazed me the most was that even though many of them didn’t get paid, and literally worked their asses off for nothing, they still found positive things to say about their fearless, fraudulent, leader.

What was your greatest takeaway from the Fyre Festival execution? Share your top things marketers can learn from the Fyre Festival fail in the comments below!

Benefits of a Website Audit

I’ve survived! After hacking through (literally) millions of URLs, sifting through insurmountable amounts of spreadsheets, and wading my way through site crawls, I’ve finally completed my first full audit of a website. While, I know that description might scare you away, I actually had a ton of fun digging into the meat of one our many awesome websites. Not only was I able to diagnose issues to tackle in the future, but I was also able to learn more about our website and company than ever before! A website audit is certainly a big endeavor, but it could be exactly what your company needs in 2019. Below we’ll take a look at some of the best benefits of a website audit.

Benefits of a Website Audit

What is a Website Audit?

Before we can climb the mountain that is a website audit, we first need to know what it is? Similar to an SEO audit, which I covered in the past, a website audit takes a look at your entire site from multiple angles. You’ll take a look at things like content, functionality, link building, and other aspects of your site that provide the foundation of your brand. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most important benefits of a website audit.

Overall Website Health

Like our own bodies, some ailments affecting your site might not present many symptoms on the surface. Luckily, a website audit could detect issues that could cripple your website down the road. It can help detect navigation issues. For example, you might not be leading your consumers to the correct landing pages. Ideally, a full website audit will catch this. It also identifies potential gaps in content structure, technical gaps, and website speed. The overall health of your website is something that should be examined every year. Whether it’s a broken plug-in, large videos, or simply a messy landing page, one of the biggest benefits of a website audit is the ability to diagnose an ailing site.

Content Audit

We’ll get into the SEO aspect shortly, but let’s first just take a look at the raw content. One of the biggest benefits of a website audit is finding content gaps. A content gap is essentially a topic that you might not be covering on your site. For instance, if your site deals with cooking, you might want to consider a section devoted to cooking schools. This will help you generate more traffic and ideally, more conversions on your site.  You’ll also want to check for duplicate content as well, which can hurt you from an SEO standpoint, but we’ll touch on that shortly.

benefits of a website audit

You also need to be looking at the quality of your content as well. Website crawlers with Google are aware of content that is not valuable, short, and repetitive and will penalize the website and search rankings for content that is seen as inferior. If the content on your website is deemed low-level, it will not rank high in the search rankings. A website audit will help you identify this thin content. Then, you can beef it up and rank for even more keywords in the future!

SEO content Audit

I’ve mentioned it before, but an SEO audit should be an essential part of your website audit. Since a good portion of traffic depends on Google, it’s probably a good idea to make sure your SEO is up to snuff. This can include things like using the correct keywords, interlinking, and link building. This is also a good time to perform a link audit. This will help you find broken links and link building opportunities. Are there any SEO practices in use on your site that are known to generate a red flag or penalty from Google that could hurt your site rank? This is also the time to look for those spammy links that could potentially harm your site.

Another SEO aspect you want to consider is your URL structure. You want your URLs to look as clean and concise as possible to Google can crawl them. They should include the keyword you’re ranking for. They also should have the proper coding to avoid duplicate content and to ensure Google isn’t wasting time crawling unnecessary pages.

There’s certainly a lot more that goes into a complete site audit, but these tips should help you get on your way. Do you have any more benefits of a website audit to provide? Comment below!