As marketers continue to invest in social media, research suggests that they are still challenged to prove the success of their initiatives. The “2017 State of Social Marketing” report from Simply Measured discovered that 61 percent of brand and agency marketers are finding it difficult to determine the ROI of their social media efforts. To learn more about the struggle, we spoke to Scott Fallon, vice president of marketing at Simply Measured, for more insight.


“Marketers need to expand the metrics they use to gauge social media success. 58.9% of brands use engagement metrics–likes, comments, shares, and such–which dwarves the next most used metric of conversion and revenue metrics, at only 19.9%.

Without looking at web traffic and other conversions–including revenue–coming from social, marketers are missing learning what in social will have the most impact on bottom line business results.

This makes it difficult to nearly impossible to make decisions on the most effective social tactics if something such as likes is your primary measure of success.”


“We did not explore this in our current research. As a broad generalization, we find that B2B marketers can have a different perspective on goals than B2C marketers.

For example, where a B2C marketer might be happy with measuring engagement–such as likes–the B2B marketer is typically less interested in that and more focused on clicks on posted content. The B2B marketer is more interested in drawing a prospect deeper into the funnel using social.”


“Marketers today are called on the mat to deliver leads that convert from activities such as email and paid search.

They need to treat social the same. They need to set social goals at the same level, which means looking at web traffic, form fills, and revenue that is coming from social activities, such as posts and sharing of content links included in posts.

We believe that engagement and awareness metrics are still important–because marketers can’t ignore branding and the top of the funnel–but too many think performance against those metrics is all they should expect from social.

Once those conversion goals are determined, and marketers have put in place the tools to track performance against them, then they need to adjust their social tactics based upon which content, posts, and social strategies drive the most bottom line results.

The summarized answer is that marketers need to stop viewing social as a side activity outside the main activities of demand generation, and treat it and report on it alongside the other demand generation tactics.”


“This will happen when marketers demonstrate that social can and does deliver on business results. Social is a lead source, social is valuable through the entire funnel, and social can be held accountable for driving revenue.

If marketers can show that optimizing social leads to better business results, they can justify the tools needed to evaluate which social activities have the best ROI.

They can also make the case for the need to track how links shared privately from social posts represent intent to buy and are driving business results, but because of a lack of tools to track that, the traffic coming from this source is being inaccurately attributed to direct.

Studies have shown that the volume of this dark traffic is massive.”


“Our research showed that over half of brand marketers believe influencers are vital to the success of their social programs, but 76% have no dedicated budget for influencer marketing.

Why is that? Partly, we think it is because influencer marketing is not mature enough yet that it is setting business goals.

Today, the number one reason marketers engage influencers is to extend reach–55.2% say that is how they use influencers.

Influencer marketing needs to play by the same rules as other marketing domains such as email and paid search, if it expects to win budget: It has to set and deliver against business result goals, and not just focus on reach goals.

What we see evolving is the rise of the niche influencer. As the influencer space matures, and becomes more crowded, consumers can seek more specialized expertise from the increasing number of influencer choices.

So brands will invest in influencers who are effective in niches they care about, and not just those with celebrity-type followings and massively broad reach.”


“The most interesting finding of the report is that social continues to increase in importance to the marketing mix but still 90 percent of marketers struggle to measure ROI or tie social to business results. Surprisingly, we found that only 57% of brand marketers set web traffic or conversion goals.”


Food is a necessity, which means that there’s a constant demand for businesses that provide it in new, improved and of course delectable ways. To help the startups that want to cater to this need, Food-X is on the scene and the food-focused accelerator is more than just a flash in the pan.

The self-proclaimed number one food innovation accelerator in the world originally started in 2014. Backed by the SOSV venture capital investment firm, Food-X has helped 30 companies launch and successfully held six seed rounds of funding. Here’s a quick taste of how it all works.

The Competition for Food-X Support
Startups apply to participate in the Food-X Cohort programs, which give them access to everything from co-working office space to a wide network of investors. The Food-X executive team is comprised of five members with backgrounds ranging from software engineering and serial entrepreneurship to business advising and sustainable agriculture. For each Cohort program, the team evaluates all applicants and narrows the list down to 10; those 10 receive $50,000 cash up front and a convertible loan once they complete the program.

“The journey from 300 to 10 is long and requires multiple rounds of discussions and interviews,” says Martin Noble, the head of Marketing & Communications at Food-X.

However, the rewards are big for startups that get the opportunity to work with Food-X. In addition to receiving the chance to mingle with investors and operate in a dedicated office space, startups also get support while creating their business plans. On the other end, Food-X gets seven percent equity.

The culmination of each Cohart program is a Demo Day, where the startups can demonstrate their products and services to a room full of investors, as well as representatives of the media and food industry.

So what does it take to be selected for a Food-X Cohort program?

“We are always looking for entrepreneurs with innovative services, technology or products that address a need or can improve some part of the food supply chain,” Noble specified. “Really, though, it’s the founders themselves that we examine to see if they are motivated enough to take their businesses to the next level. It’s equally important that they have personalities that lend to a cooperative, co-working environment and are open to the mentorship provided by our experts.”

Mentoring to Address Startup Issues
Startups that make it into the Cohort program receive insight from three to four mentors each week, who drop by the Food-X offices. These mentors range from Shawn Broderick, chief acceleration officer at SOSV, to Michael Moss, a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter.

“Each of the companies has the opportunity to meet with the mentor one-on-one to help diagnose their issues and propose solutions,” said Noble.

With time, Food-X also works to tailor the mentor visits to the startups’ specific needs.

Looking Ahead: Food-X Cohort V
Food-X just concluded its fourth Cohort program and held its most recent Demo Day at the start of this month. Some of the companies that Food-X helped in its latest Cohort program include Lotus Scoop, an all-natural ice cream manufacturer; Plasma Nutrition, a company dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of proteins with plasma technology; and Molli, a line of Mexico-inspired cooking sauces.

It is now accepting applications for its fifth Cohort program (the deadline is June 30), and the team will begin evaluating startups at the end of the month.

In terms of trends, Noble says that Food-X is seeing more startups focus on functional foods, as well as international flavors. Health is also being taken into consideration by many startups.

“Millennials are cooking at home more than previous generations and being adventurous with their meals,” Noble said. “This has created opportunity for companies that can bring international cuisine and flavors to people’s kitchens. There are a lot of data driven companies popping up that use eating habits, personal data, and even artificial intelligence to help people eat healthier and smarter.”

The fifth Cohort program is slated to begin in September 2016, with Demo Day to be held in early December 2016.

[As seen on: Snapmunk]


If you have a dog, cat, or several pets at home that require flea and tick medication, you likely have various treatments on hand to maintain their health. However, there are serious dangers that come with potentially mixing up these products, regardless of whether they are prescription or over-the-counter.

“Dog products should never be applied to a cat and owners need to make sure they use the correct dosage for the weight of their pet,” says D.D. Clark, DVM, Companion Animal Technical Services Manager at Merck Animal Health. “Under dosing can lead to lack of efficacy.”

But aside from reducing the effectiveness of flea and tick treatments, there are other health concerns that can stem from the misuse of medication.

Flea and Tick Medications: Mixing Dangers for Cats

Several experts agree that there are dangers associated for both cats and dogs in the event that treatments are mixed. However, most of the issues are prone to heavily impacting cats.

“Cats are more sensitive to most of the active ingredients in flea control products,” says Dr. Jeff Werber, a practicing veterinarian and veterinary medical journalist. “Many flea and tick control products contain pyrethrins, which are derived from the chrysanthemum flower. Natural pyrethrins are generally not toxic to cats if used in the proper amounts. Synthetic pyrethrins on the other hand can be deadly, especially permethrine and resermethrine.”

Werber explains that cats are also sensitive to chlorinated hydrocarbon and petroleum distillates—ingredients used in older insecticides. In large quantities, these can also be toxic to dogs, but cats are more sensitive, he says.

In extreme conditions, Dr. Duffy Jones of the Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Georgia says that a mix-up can be potentially fatal.

“The most common danger is overdose,” says Jones. “Many times the packages can look the same and you might not notice that one if for large dogs and one is for cats. Sometimes these overdoses or using a product with pyretherins or organophosphates on a cat can be lethal.”

It’s also worth noting that cats generally have more sensitive metabolisms, according to Dr. John Clark of the Community Veterinary Clinic in Vero Beach, Fla.

“Owners should be aware of this and always read the label,” says Clark.

Flea and Tick Medications: Mixing Dangers for Dogs

While there are no toxicity risks associated with giving dogs flea medication meant for cats, it can pose a danger to canines due to a lack of efficacy, says Dr. Katy Nelson, an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, Va. Dogs given cat flea and tick medication will not be protected against Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Nelson also explains that pet parents should not purchase flea and tick medications for large dogs and split the dosage between two small dogs. “The main risk here is skin irritation,” she says. “You’re not going to save any money by splitting a vial of something if your pet has a reaction to it.”

Flea and Tick Prevention and Proper Treatment

The risks involved with having both cat and dog flea and tick treatments around the house does not mean pet owners should stop using these products. Flea and tick medications still provide the best prevention against dangerous parasites. But there are some tips to follow to keep track.

“Know your products and stick to them; don’t keep changing products each month,” says Clark. “Getting advice from a veterinary office can help you choose a reasonably priced flea medication that works well in your region. The technical staff will be more than willing to give you advice over the phone or in person about effective products for both cats and dogs.”

Clark adds that it might be worth scheduling routine pet medication treatments on different days for different animals to avoid a mix-up.

“If [a product] contains a pyretherin or organophosphate, you should probably avoid using them if you have a cat,” says Dr. Jones. “It does not take much for them to become toxic.”

It may also help pet owners to know the signs and symptoms of poisoning as a result of a medication mix-up. Toxic ingestion might present itself as profuse salivation, muscle twitching, weakness, and vomiting, according to Werber. Pet owners should bathe their animal immediately with Dawn dishwashing liquid and seek professional medical attention in the event that any treatment mix-up has occurred.

[As seen on: PetMD]


Amobee’s recent report “Different Generations, Different Standards” looked at how marketers are investing in various video formats to reach out to their target audiences.

In the future, the majority of marketers (51 percent) said they believe that new formats, such as 360-degree video, will encourage their companies to invest more in online video.

To learn more about the direction the industry is headed, we spoke to Jonathan Gardner, Vice President of Communications at Amobee.


“I’d say it’s both widespread and emerging. It’s widespread in that most major brands and advertisers are interested in trying out new formats. Brands are naturally interested in vertical and 360° because there’s a halo effect in being involved with new types of media.

Our recent research showed among ad execs, 51 percent of respondents said they consider new formats like vertical or 360° to be a key factor in getting brands to invest more in online video. There’s a lot of experimentation going on but what we’ve seen plainly is to grow the space, buyers want to see real KPIs connected with any video spend.

We always advise our clients to look at the right mix of KPIs for their objectives and to ask the right questions.

  • Is this format going to help my KPIs? If you want to test a new format, first double check what you’re trying to accomplish overall.
  • Is the format going to be counter-productive or not matter at all? Often marketers get too caught up performance metrics like click-through rates. Conversions are a better metric, but you need to look at an overall conversion across a full funnel plan to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

Video completion rates can be interesting, but ultimately the best KPI is sales.”


“While it could appear that they believe new money isn’t coming in, it’s important to remember the stats here are weighted against one another. Relatively speaking, the budgets have continued to shift from linear TV spend, but we see these as just the breakdown of a more fundamental trend in general advertising growth.

In general, there is a great deal of optimism across the board for the growth in online video advertising. Just look at the market five years ago and how much of a shift we’ve seen from older formats, such as banner ads.”


“We would definitely say that. There is a general consensus that video advertising delivers value for brands.

What’s more, regardless of the output, all marketers see value in the tactics and philosophy of using ad messages and creative that are more highly engaging, immersive and connect with consumers where, when and how they want to engage.

One group has grown up with digital and challenges incumbent metrics, and the other has experienced the rise and transformation of television first-hand. The discrepancies don’t prove one generation correct and the other incorrect.

Younger people appear more blasé about video metrics, but they may actually see view-ability as less important than actually just making good ads.

The research also showed, interestingly, that brands are also still focused on metrics like clicks and conversions — as opposed to view-ability — which is expected from buyers who have been strictly on the digital side.”


“We are seeing tremendous growth in brands looking at the entire “customer journey,” meaning that they understand no one is glued to their TV screen watching commercials all day long.

Most people use multiple devices, looking at many different screens and channels. These engagements offer brands the opportunity to segment and target messages depending on where they are in their day, and where they are in the thought process of making a purchase decision.

For example, you could be on an iPad in the morning, thinking about buying a new pair of yoga pants, and throughout the day, as you move along a path to a potential purchase, a brand that’s responsive to your contexts, mindset, content consumption and locations, could find unique ways to use data, strategy and creative to help you along the customer journey to make a purchase.

Tactically, marketers that are thinking this way are working with partners like us to centralize and mine insights from all of their audience data, engage audiences across all social, video and mobile channels, then analyze and optimize their campaigns based on their results.”


“We asked survey respondents if video actually got the job done for marketers. Eighty-four percent of respondents said video is the most effective medium to get a client’s brand message across. Only 3 percent of respondents said they found the medium ineffective.

This shows that confidence in video is high, and that despite some challenges in standardizing the medium, the future of video looks bright to those who are using it.”


In June 2017, data from the “State of Social Video: Marketing in a Video-First World” report from Animoto suggested that more customers were being influenced by the video content on social media. About 84 percent of consumers said they now watch video on mobile devices, and 81 percent of marketers are optimizing their social videos for mobile.

But how is this shift in content consumption and formatting impacting marketers’ overall strategies? We spoke to Jason Hsiao, co-founder and chief video officer of Animoto, for more insight into the report.


“B2C marketers have more opportunity to tap into emotions than B2B marketers do. Consumers can be engaged with your videos online purely because they are fun and entertaining. There is more room to convey nostalgia and humor and other emotions in B2C videos.

When appealing to business customers, that audience needs to know that your product or service will truly enrich their business in some way.

That’s not to say B2B marketers can’t have a personality with their video marketing. They definitely can. However, I find successful B2B marketers tend to educate far more than anything else with their video marketing.

Buffer is a great example. They are a social media management tool that many brands use. They use Animoto videos on social media mainly to educate and enrich their audience’s expertise around social media marketing.


“Marketers often feel like they need to be funny with video. At Animoto, we try to emphasize being authentic to you and your brand, first and foremost. And stick with the content you already know your prospects and customers care about.

At Animoto, we really value video shares. When someone hits the share button on a video we post on Facebook, that’s the ultimate endorsement, confirming that what we’re putting out there is resonating with our audience – so much so that they want their friends and family to see it. However, another business might look at videos as a way to capture leads and base it off that metric.

Under that lens of share-worthiness, anything that you can make that is timely is great. Billboard Magazine used Animoto to recap The Women’s March that took place in January of this year, and that got tons of shares.

A B2B example of this is Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith. She uses Animoto to reach brands that want to know what Facebook’s earnings call or new features Facebook is putting out there means for them. Timeliness is always great. Educational videos work well too if you are putting out info that people are interested in. B2B marketers can definitely take this approach. Make your following feel like they are getting valuable information from the expert (you!).

At the end of the day, choosing the types of videos that work best for a brand is step one. Regularly creating videos like that is step two. And step three is sticking to a consistent message. Consistency is so important. Use video to amplify what message your brand is already communicating.”


“Video is the next best thing to being there in person. Utilizing video for your help center and even for customer service agents to use when engaging with prospects or customers is a great start. We encourage our Customer Success team to use video in fun and creative ways when communicating with customers who are writing in with questions or feedback.

Surprising and delighting folks is what a lot of brands strive for and video is great for that. Sometimes it’s nice to put a fun video on a confirmation page when someone has given you their email or any other touch points in which you’d like to convey what your brand personality is a bit more vividly.

Using video to inject personality and also to enhance education are great ways for marketers to start using video content during the customer experience.”


“Learning that 92 percent of marketers are re-purposing content they already have for their marketing videos was really encouraging. Video is quickly becoming the medium that provides the best reach on social media and it enriches other forms of marketing as well.

I was expecting marketers to be resourceful in creating marketing videos regularly now that we live in a video-first world, but I wasn’t expecting that many of them to be using marketing collateral they already have to amplify their message with video.

Just a couple years ago, so many marketers viewed video as a special one-off project for a website or a campaign.

Now marketers are not only realizing that video has to be part of their regular communication to prospects and customers, but also that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when creating a new video. They know they already have the assets to create something that they’re proud to share.


“We like to tell marketers getting started with video that they shouldn’t view video as an entirely different type of marketing strategy. It’s a way to amplify your existing marketing strategy. Your content marketing, email marketing, social marketing. Anything you blog, tweet, post, etc. could/should be a video. Again, start with what you already know works with your prospects and customers and tell that message with video.

Finding a tool that is simple and fast to use is key. You can’t spend tons of time on each video you create. Brands need to be communicating with video regularly and so the amount of time you spend on each video has to be reasonable.

Choose what platforms on social media are the most important for you. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all different in the types of videos you would create. Facebook and Twitter needs to work with sound-off viewing and videos out-play. With YouTube, people are generally watching with sound-on. Identifying where you want to start posting your videos regularly will help determine the types of videos you want.

And then lastly, remain consistent and regular with your video usage. With each campaign, milestone, announcement or anything else you’re touting to customers and prospects, ask yourself how you can create a video for it. It will amplify your reach. You can create something short and with assets you already have. Don’t overthink it, but do be thoughtful about your approach and then remain consistent with it.”


If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Sunshine State, VisitFlorida.org is all about giving you a reason to put it at the top of your to-do list. The website, which provides information on all things Florida, also has a successful influencer marketing campaign that spreads the word to Instagrammers looking for some R&R. We had a chance to speak to Stephen Kubiak, Visit Florida’s social media representative, to learn more about their Instagram marketing campaign.

Fullbottle: How has your Instagram strategy evolved as the platform has changed over time?

Stephen Kubiak: “We’ve evolved with the platform. When we first started using Instagram, you had to take the photos within the app and you could only tag your photos ‘on location’ if you wanted to add a geo-target. Once Instagram allowed you to upload any photo, I decided that we should start using user-generated content (UCG) as a way to grow our community and to curate these great photos were taking of the state. We typically find photos that use #LoveFL, which is our ongoing campaign hashtag that we use, and photos that people tag us in. We also always ask permission to use any piece of UGC with a one-to-one ask, nothing automated. I’ve found that this opens a dialogue between our brand and the content creators. People seem to appreciate the give and take. The strategy is clearly working as we’ve seen our account explode in engagement numbers with over 1,000 likes on posts and 20,000 new followers in three months.”

FB: Which types of posts generate the most traction for you on Instagram?

SK: “The most successful photos have been of beaches, sunset/sunrise shots, and animal (e.g., dolphin, manatee) shots in terms of ‘Likes,’ but it’s the comments that really stand out at times. We might share a photo of a hidden gem location like Devil’s Den or Bahia Honda State Park and you see great engagement because people want to know more about the location.”

FB: How do you use Instagram to resonate VisitFlorida’s message with your target audience?

SK: “Our goal with our content and social programs is to inform and inspire our audience about Florida and Instagram is an easy way to that. Each photo is its own story and the Instagram audience helps shape that story with their comments, tags and likes. A picture is truly worth 1,000 words to our Instagram community.”

FB: What would you personally identify as the keys to being a successful Instagram influencer?

SK: “Engagement beyond likes and follows is key to being an Instagram influencer. I think that one-on-one interaction is key, meaning responding the questions and comments, providing links to more information, etc. Social media is a two-way street – you have to be able to have a little give and take with the people you are engaging with. If you appreciate your audience by showing it through your engagement with them, they are more likely to engage with you in the future.”

FB: Do you have any tips for encouraging engagement with your Instagram followers?

SK: “Talk to your audience. Use UGC. Make ‘the ask’ – whether it’s asking them to tag or use certain hashtags or asking for advice about something. Encourage your audience be a part of the conversation by the way you engage with them.”

You can learn more about Visit Florida by visiting VisitFlorida.org, or checking out their Instagram page (@VisitFlorida).


Thanks to the Internet, buying and selling has never been easier for fashionistas who want to make sure they have the trendiest ensembles possible. Poshmark, the online community that allows users to shop and sell, has successfully brought this concept to Instagram. We had an opportunity to chat with Amanda Weiss, marketing manager at Poshmark, for insight into their Instagram marketing strategy.

Fullbottle: How does your team approach Instagram and integrate it into its overall social media strategy?

Amanda Weiss: “As early adopters of Instagram the app has always played a crucial role in our social media strategy. Since fashion is inherently visual, Instagram is one of our target audience’s must-visit apps each day (…or even each moment!). Since Instagram and Poshmark are both mobile-first and share similarities as a channel where you can express your personal style, it’s a match made in app heaven. Right now, we have three goals for using Instagram: engage with and promote the Poshmark community, share current trends, amazing Poshmark finds and style influencers, and most importantly have fun!”

FB: How has your strategy changed as Instagram has evolved?

AW: “Over the years, our Instagram strategy has shifted quite a bit. As with any social platform, it changes with time. As you grow your community, it’s always important to know your peak times, stay relevant, engage with your followers and be creative to put out quality content — not only with the images posted but also with your captions.”

FB: Do you have any statistics you can share on your Instagram ROI?

AW: “Poshmark has almost 80,000 followers right now on Instagram and our most popular hashtag, #PoshStyle, where women share outfits they’ve scored on the app, has been tagged in over 55,000 photos. Instagram has been a huge driver for us to bring community members back into the app while also allowing new users to discover the magic of Poshmark, making it a very valuable tool for the company.”

FB: What do you consider to be the key to success as an Instagram influencer?

AW: “Clearly identify your goals for the channel, run tests to see what works, be creative and be authentic, staying true to your brand.”

To learn more about Poshmark, visit their website or check out their Instagram page, @poshmark.



Since 2005, Jim Harold has been hosting podcasts that explore the unknown – a common fascination for many. When he isn’t producing shows such as “The Paranormal Podcast” and “The Campfire,” he’s sharing his knowledge of ghosts, ghouls and everything in between with his followers through books such as Jim Harold’s Campfire.

Now, his follow-up book has hit the Web – True Ghost Stories: Jim Harold’s Campfire. I was lucky enough to get to speak to him about his extensive podcast experience and adventures into the paranormal.


Q. How did you initially market the Paranormal Podcast when it debuted? How did you begin to build your following?

A. This was during the very early days of podcasting in 2005. At the time, podcasts were just hitting iTunes and social media like Twitter & Facebook weren’t a factor. The smartest (or luckiest) decision I ever made was to call the show “The Paranormal Podcast.” This meant when folks interested in the paranormal and in podcasts Googled (or searched in iTunes) for “Paranormal Podcast,” I came up number one! That was the extent of my marketing plan other than asking listeners to tell their friends. Picking that name set the stage for me eventually turning this passion of mine into a full time job…what a stroke of luck, I think it was meant to be.


Q. Where do you record your podcasts? Paint a picture of the area you work!

A. It is essentially a den, much like something out of the 50s…knotty pine paneling…the shelves are overstuffed with paranormal books and the broadcast setup looks a lot like what you’d see in a radio studio these days.It is my geeky “man cave,” I love it!


Q. Who have been some of the most interesting guests you’ve had on your podcasts over the years?

A. Almost too many to mention, seeing I’ve done almost a thousand episodes over the years. In terms of authors, some of my favorites are Brad Steiger, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Nick Redfern, Jeff Belanger, and Dr. Bob Curran. I’ve got to say some of the most compelling people I talk to are listeners who call into the Campfire show and tell their personal stories of the supernatural. By the way, folks can subscribe to Campfire & The Paranormal Podcast by going to JimHarold.com or searching for my name on iTunes (and via many other apps).


Q. Do you go out of your way to have your own paranormal experiences? (e.g., visit haunted locations)

A. Not really, I see myself as a curator of information…like a sports reporter…I don’t necessarily participate but I report and disseminate information about those who do. I have had some personal experiences just in the normal course of life, so I am a believer but I can be skeptical too. I am certainly open to it, and would not shy from experiences but I consider myself more of a journalist reporting on the phenomena.


Q. Will you still be releasing a new book this fall? Can you give fans a sneak peek and tell us what it’s all about?

A. Absolutely! In fact, it will be released on Kindle todayfor only $.99 at launch. On Thursday, folks can go to JimHaroldBooks.com to get it at the sale price…a few days after that it will go up to full price.


Q. Is there any paranormal topic out there that’s just too weird for you to personally believe? (e.g., reptilians, Big Foot, black eyed kids)

A. Not really, but I certainly believe some more than others. For example, I am much more a believer in UFOs and ghosts than I am in Bigfoot (which some categorize as paranormal). I’ve done this long enough to know not to rule anything out. I truly believe that we, as humans, only have a tenuous grasp of what is going on in the universe…we kid ourselves that we understand much more than we do. The longer I produce these shows, the more I realize that I, and everyone else for that matter, is kidding themselves if they think they have all of the answers. We only see and understand a small slice.


Q. What advice do you have for aspiring podcasters out there?

A. Don’t start with money and fame as an objective, do it because you love it. There are only a few podcasters who have become “famous”…I have a strong Internet following, but I am not in that category. I can’t think of many podcasters who have achieved fame and money via podcasts alone. However, it has changed my life and I love it. I love the fact that you do not need to ask permission to do a show, if you have the talent and inclination you can be successful.

So for my advice:

  1. Don’t buy tons of equipment…get the basics and learn how to use that well and upgrade over time.
  2. Produce every week.
  3. Podcast on a niche that you are passionate about, so you not only enjoy the act of podcasting but the topic you are sharing.
  4. Try to do your best production wise, but realize that you will improve over time.
  5. Be yourself.
  6. Always think of your audience and try to serve them well and they will support your efforts.



If you’re as in to the paranormal as I am, you know a thing or two about John Zaffis. “Haunted Collector” on Syfy follows Zaffis and his crew as they search for items causing unusual activity. Brian Cano, a member of the team, recently spoke to me about his extensive experience in the field.

1. How did you originally become interested in the paranormal?
There is something fascinating about an invisible world that occupies the same space as ours and I’d always wanted to look further into it. However, I was too afraid to try things like the Bloody Mary thing in the mirror. It all seemed beyond what I could really attempt. Then when I was ten, “Ghostbusters” came out and it made it something that was possible to me. Sure, the movie was a comedy, but there as a nugget of truth at the center of the jokes. The paranormal could be measured, understood and interacted with! Look where I am now.

2. You and John Zaffis clearly have a strong relationship – how long have you been working together?
John Zaffis and I have known each other for several years. You can’t be in the Work and not run into him eventually. The guy is the Elder Statesman of the Paranormal, so he’s got a lot of knowledge to pass on. I learn a lot from him…when I can decrypt his method of teaching, that is. Then in 2010 my paranormal partner in crime, Chris Mancuso, and I produced a documentary on his life called, “John Zaffis: The World Within.” We followed him around for a month straight and did what he did, went were he went, the whole nine yards. The film goes into his work as a demonologist, how he runs his home team of PRSNE, as well as providing an inside look into his Museum of the Paranormal.

3. What has been your most memorable case thus far?
My most memorable case still has to be The Grand Midway Hotel. It was a location where I can safely say we tangled with something demonic. People like to throw that word around these days, but when I say it, it’s after careful consideration and a great deal of disbelief. The rest of my team came to the same conclusion and up until that point, it had never happened before. We all had pretty strong personal experiences there, our psychic was communing with something inhuman, I heard voices behind my head, Chris was touched and we got the creepiest EVP we had ever recorded. We revisited the hotel in season two of Haunted Collector, but the references to my prior experiences there got cut. But watch it again, and you’ll see the look on my face…it speaks volumes. Here’s the link to the original investigation.

4. The “Haunted Collector” crew is typically able to resolve a paranormal issue by removing an object. Do you think this is the best way to deal with a haunting?
Object removal is only one possible solution for dealing with a haunting. Haunted Collector is about those kinds of cases, but it’s not the only ones we handle. Think about it, it could be the land, it could be the house, it could be the person, or it could be an item…once we determine that it could be an item, removing it is often a good fix. There are times when the item removed does not affect things. So, we go back and try again, looking deeper into history and perhaps taking a path we had turned from originally. It’s always a big puzzle that we have to assemble and sometimes pieces look similar.

5. Which investigation tool do you feel yields the best results?
I don’t think there is any one gadget that takes the top of the list. I have two cases full of them because there is no one that could do it all! But if I had to pick one or two, I would definitely reach for my Gauss Master EMF meter (or Mel Meter) and a digital audio recorder. So far, these have stood the test of time when it comes to repeatability and results.

6. We know John has dealt with the demonic, but have you ever been a part of this type of case?
My investigation of the Grand Midway Hotel was my first brush with the demonic. I have yet to be part of a case where we take one on for a client or person in need. I’ve seen recordings of cases John has been on and I am floored. It makes you look at the world differently afterwards. Forget the Hollywood treatment – you don’t need rotating heads and projectile vomit to see something truly evil and frightening. Sometimes the silence is equally as imposing.

7. Any advice out there for paranormal investigators just starting out?
For those who are interested into getting into the Work, I have this advice to pass on: be patient and keep your goals pure. What do I mean by that? Paranormal investigating is not always as flashy as it appears on TV. It takes time, dedication and research. It’s not glamorous. Nine times out of ten you’ll go home with no evidence. But it’s that tenth time that makes it all worth it when you get an EVP or some other sign of contact! As for your goals, keep them honest. If you’re doing this to help people, great. If you’re doing this to get answers or contact a passed loved one, also great. If you’re looking to get on TV, that is also fine – just cop to it. Don’t say you want to help people and then spend all your time working on your sizzle reel. All the goals are valid, just own up to them and stay true to your path.



Philip Mandel is a 59-year-old amateur cyclist who isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Over the course of his cycling experience, he’s participated in numerous multiple-day tours across the Northwest region of the U.S. Although he hasn’t rode outside of the country, he has several stories to tell and advice to give to fellow amateur cyclists. Recently, he spoke to CycloCamping about what he’s learned while on the road.

Q. How long have you been cycling and embarking on long trips?
A. [I’ve been] cycling since a very young age, like most people. The first long trip I can remember was a two-day fundraising ride back in the Boston area around 1978. I did an occasional long trip or multi-day tour for around 20 years, then started to get more addicted. I don’t let a year go by without doing at least one two-day tour, usually Bike MS, and most years I do a six- or seven-day tour like Oregon Bicycle Ride or Washington Bicycle Ride, sometimes both. This year, I only have time for OBR.

Q. How do you physically prepare for an extended bike tour?
A. I do spin classes all year long, especially when it’s too yucky to ride outdoors. I’m totally a fair-weather cyclist. Three to four spin classes a week keep me in riding shape at all times, although the first few extended times-in-saddle are uncomfortable. The century I did this past Saturday, for example – still a little tender you-know-where.

Q. What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced on tour?
A. Getting good, sound, comfortable sleep. I happen to hate camping. Make that hate camping. Exhaustion from a long day of cycling helps, but there are definitely nights when I toss and turn and don’t get the restful sleep I need. That usually takes care of itself after the first couple of nights when I am even more exhausted (cumulative effect) than after day one or day two.

[Another challenge] – staying hydrated while being cognizant of the facilities. Thankfully, I’m a guy – one of the few times I’m glad I’m a boy is when I gotta go, but I’m nowhere near a blue room, if you catch my drift.

Also, keeping intake up and healthy. In other words, consuming enough calories, in the right form, at the right times. Nothing hard to digest during the day, but still consuming energy food to make it to camp.

Q. What advice do you have for amateur cyclists setting out on a tour for the first time?
A. Read the tour operators’ information and suggestions carefully. Heed all equipment, clothing, medicine, and training suggestions. Or die. Take your pick.

Q. Do you prefer to ride with other people or travel solo?
A. Interesting question. I’m happy either way. [During] the century I did last Saturday, I was totally alone. I saw just two people I recognized on the tour, and one of them was a volunteer, not a rider. This coming Saturday, I’m doing another organized century – alone. For OBR, I’m sure I will hook up with others if, for nothing else, for transportation from home (Beaverton, near Portland Ore.) to the start (eastern Oregon). Since I’ve ridden many OBRs and related Bicycle Rides NW rides, I will know many of the folks when August comes around (OBR). I won’t necessarily ride with anyone, but it’s nice to see familiar faces at camp, at the rest stops, and en route.

Q. Have you cycled outside of the U.S.? Do you have any plans to do so in the future?
A. I have not. And, I have no plans to do so in the future. I’m not against it, just have no plans at this time. Frankly, I’m not real interested in riding elsewhere, being kind of a homebody. And guess what? We have millions of miles of gorgeous, ride-able roads here in the U.S. The vast majority of my bicycle touring has been right here in the great Northwest, and I still haven’t been on more than a few percent of the ride-able roads just in Oregon and Washington.

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