How to Exploit Vulnerable Seniors with Twitter

There’s a special place in hell for robo-callers who exploit seniors. Bilking retirees out of their retirements through scams over the phone is downright evil.

But, at least the robo-callers have to go through the effort of finding exploitable seniors.

Social media companies make it fairly easy to identify vulnerable seniors so you can fast-track exploitations.

How? By allowing conspiracy theorists and fake news publishers to use their platforms.

Social media platforms allow garbage content to flourish on their platforms because they make money from it and/or they don’t want to be accused of censoring garbage content.

But, how does that lead to the exploitation of vulnerable seniors?

Social media platforms allow advertisers to reach very specific audiences, which can be a good thing but can also be used to cause harm. Say you want to reach everyone who lives in a specific state for political advertising, or people who follow a specific political candidate. No problem. Or, you want to advertise to people who like a certain sports team or brand of granola bars so you can attempt to sell products to that may interest people who have those interests. Great.

But, you can also run ads targeting people who follow conspiracy theorists. Why would you do that? Because you can sell anything to people who’ll believe anything. Social media platforms make that easy to do.

I’ve tried to find an example of a vulnerable senior without showcasing one in order to help explain this further. Here’s my attempt.

I searched for “contrails” to find some conspiracy theory believers and found a woman who posted a pic along with text that makes it clear that she’s a true believer that the government is spraying chemicals on Americans from planes during daylight hours. I clicked on her profile and found out that she’s a Catholic MAGA supporter. I then looked her up on Facebook to make sure that she’s a real person. She’s a grandmother living in Northern California.

She believes some crazy stuff, including this:

She’s not alone. Just look at how many people liked and retweeted that garbage.

Say you wanted to do something relatively harmless, like sell WiFi routers to conspiracy theorists by inferring that a certain WiFi router is safer than others:

I then targeted people over 50 who live in the United States who’re the kind of people who follow garbage conspiracy theory accounts on Twitter. I expanded the reach a bit by adding qanon76 as an additional Twitter conspiracy account to leverage to find dupable people.

To increase the reach of the ads further, Twitter’s brilliant programmers have figured out how to find larger lookalike audiences. Here’s who their algorithms suggest adding to my “accounts followed by people susceptible to right-wing conspiracy theories” portfolio:

Not surprisingly, it suggests including Seb Gorka, Jack Posobiec, and Dan Bogino, among others. (Imagine being a member of the House of Representatives and showing up on such a distilled list of garbage people. That would make you Rep. Jim Jordan or Rep. Devin Nunes.)

I added a few of those names to my portfolio and Twitter suggested even more garbage accounts to follow in order to increase my reach. These include one of the president’s sons, the official account of the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and quite a few FOX News show hosts:

But, I don’t want to reach all of the followers of mainstream right-wing misinformation accounts. I just want to distill an audience of the truly dupable.

So, why can I do this? Because Twitter allows garbage to exist on their platform. Think about the advantages for social media companies compared to mainstream media sources. If you tried to put a show on the air or print content that appealed to fringe audiences like this in a mainstream media outlet you’d be laughed at, and face protests against advertisers. For example, Sleeping Giants has been quite successful at getting advertisers to stop advertising on Breitbart and many FOX News shows. But that’s largely a case of mainstream businesses running ads on relatively mainstream media platforms.

What social media advertising allows is for fringe advertisers to reach fringe groups who’ve demonstrated through their online behavior that they’ll believe anything. This is an audience that’s ripe for exploitation by nefarious businesses interested in tapping into the retirement savings of the elderly. It’s a self-service way to reach soft targets, and you don’t even need to pick up the phone.

#Twitter #Behavior #That #I #Can’t #Support

People use Twitter in a wide variety of ways. Here are some ways that I don’t find interesting. No, that doesn’t make them right or wrong – in general – but they’re wrong to me.

1. Posting Foursquare check-ins to Twitter. Foursquare’s great. Twitter’s great. Tweeting Foursquare check-ins? Not great. At least, not if you want me to follow you on Twitter. Exception: the exceptional.

2. Forum conversations. Chatting with an affinity group on Twitter is great, if people not part of that affinity group don’t have to hear about it. This is something many groups haven’t figured out yet. A good way to solve this would be to set up a username for the group chat, then have everyone @ their group tweets toward that account, so everyone following sees them but no one else does.

3. Live-tweeting television shows. It’s 2013. The best TV isn’t watched live, making tweeting it ridiculous. Exception: Live tweeting actual live events that happen to be on TV.

4. Daily inspirational quotes. Too contrived for my taste.

5. Tweeting a link of everything you’re reading online. I’m willing to assume that you’re literate, so you don’t need to keep reinforcing that. Did you read something particularly good? Share it. And give some context on what you liked about it. Just link dropping? What’s in that for me?

6a. Posting Facebook updates to Twitter. See #1. 6b. And Tumblr. 6c. And YouTube.

7. Dragging your followers into customer service conversations. I understand that you’re frustrated with Comcast, but that doesn’t justify putting a “.” in front of your “@”.

8. Public thankings for follows or retweets. Act like you’ve been followed or retweeted before.

9. #millennials. If you’re a Millennial that uses the hashtag #millennials, you’re probably awesome at LinkedIn yet unemployed. The only thing worse than me generalizing about Millennials like this is Millennials twittering about what it’s like to be a Millennial. Generations are remembered for what they achieve, and public introspection isn’t much of an achievement.

10. #Hashtagging #the #crap #out #of #your #tweets. Yes, this may make your tweets slightly more visible for some people searching on Twitter, but you know what else can make your tweets more visible? Tweeting stuff interesting enough to deserve a follow or a retweet.

Using Twitter Ads for #VoteNO Engagement

Ben’s asking about this tweet that I paid to promote on Twitter:

That tweet received at least 515 retweets, been favorited 166 times, and generated hundreds of conversations with people who didn’t share my political views. What did that cost? Here’s the breakdown:

Cost Breakdown of Sponsored #VoteNo Tweet

The ad targeted people in Minnesota. I don’t know how Twitter does that, but it seems like it doesn’t rely entirely on what people put in their bio, so sharing your location through your device may impact which types of ads you’ll see.

86,500 impressions brings the CPM rate to around $8. There are cheaper and more expensive ways to reach people with an ad impression than that. I think this happens to be a great deal since the tweet resonated with more than 500 people enough to get them to share the message with their own followers. That kind of personal endorsement is the kind of thing that I was hoping for.

The cost per retweet came to $1.35. It’s a bit lower than that when old-school retweets are counted. If I offered to pay someone $1.35 to retweet a tweet, there is little chance they’d do it. But, with the right tweet at the right time shown to the right people, it happened.

I also picked up some new followers out of this:

@edkohler Twitter Followers During #VoteNO Campaign

What was particularly cool about this is how smart and good looking the people who retweeted me were. They should get together and make babies (is that’s their thing).

Did I influence any votes with this? That’s hard to say. One type of action that may have motivated some people to get to the polls was seeing how bigoted some of the people supporting the marriage amendment were based on their responses to my tweet. Perhaps that got some people to show up to the polls?

I also spent some time attempting to engage with people tweeting the #VoteYes hashtag in favor of the marriage amendment. I generally used the four example tweets below to attempt to engage them:

What’s your justification for using the constitution to discriminate rather than protect Minnesotans? #VoteNO

I don’t feel threatened by other people having the same rights as you and me. Why do you? #VoteNO

Please keep the MN constitution out of the discrimination business. #VoteNO

How is your marriage threatened if other consenting adults have the same civil rights you and I take for granted? #VoteNO

Quite a few of these attempts to engage people in support of marriage discrimination were ignored. In those cases, perhaps I got them to think twice about their position? I know this much: no one responded and said, “You know what Ed? You’re right!”

An Update on @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare’s Tweets #wilfare

Two quick updates regarding Vikings Wilfare Queen Tom {Last Name Withheld} who works for {Company Name Withheld}:

1. I mentioned yesterday that the first tweet ever sent by @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare was a link to Kimkbomb (the “Hottest source for fetish video clips! Femdom, Cuckolding, Chastity, Humiliation, MILF, Ass Worship, Domination, BDSM, Bondage, Foot Fetish, Handjobs, and more!”), which @t_junior39 tweeted the day after his appearance in court regarding the harassment order I filed against him.

As of now, that tweet to Kinkbomb has disappeared from @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare’s tweet history.

2. The second tweet of all time sent by @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare was a link to Divine Goddess Jessica’s worship website. That tweet has also been removed within the past 24 hours.

Here are those tweets from a PDF of @t_junior39’s tweets that I logged on September 22nd:

@t_junior39's Divine Goddess Jessica and Kinkbomb Linking

It’s interesting to watched tweets get scrubbed within 24 hours of my previous post by a guy who claims to not read this website. It could be coincidental. It could be a Twitter glitch (we can assume that if they reappear).

As I said yesterday, “He claims that he never reads this blog, and never plans to, so if his word is good he’ll never read this blog post.”

The Curious Case of a Not So Anonymous Vikings Stadium #wilfare Supporter

Back during the Vikings stadium financing debate, a Vikings Wilfare fan in Minneapolis named Tom [Last Name Witheld at Tom’s Request] went way over the top with his behavior toward me. Subsidizing the NFL with other people’s money was very important to Tom. In fact, it still is based on what you’ll read below. I won’t get into the details today, but Tom’s behavior was bad enough to warrant filing a restraining order against him. We came to terms in mediation on July 3rd. This post is about Tom’s recent behavior in light of the fact that he agreed in writing to never contact me. This may also give you a taste of what I was dealing with at that time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jake Wyffels seems to think that it’s bad government to subsidize sedentary sports entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with sitting around watching football from time to time, but is this really the type of behavior that the government should be subsidizing? If people value watching NFL football, shouldn’t the market be able to cover the costs? Apparently not, based on the decisions made by our state’s legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton, the Minneapolis City Council, and Mayor RT Rybak.

Another person who thinks Jake Wyffels is making a mountain out of a molehill is an anonymous Twitter user who goes by the username @t_junior39:

@JakeWyffels why would Vikings fans be more obese? I was more fit on the worst day of my life than you'll ever be. #unathletic #wilfare

It’s amazing how rude people can be when they are posting anonymously.1. For example, how many people would tweet stuff like this under their own name:

so sad, bitches whining about #wilfare may not be able to use imbecilic loser team argument anymore #whataretheygonnabitchaboutnext #cunts

Notice that between when he sent each of those tweets @t_junior39 changed his Twitter username to @i_heart_wilfare. Anonymous, offensive, inconsistent, and proud of redistributing the state’s wealth to the NFL in order to subsidize his private entertainment.

Who is @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare?

It turns out that not all anonymous Twitter users are created equal. For example, here are some interesting nuggets about Twitter user, @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare:

1. @t_junior39 / i_heart_wilfare didn’t start tweeting about his love of Wilfare until after the Vikings stadium was funded. In fact, @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare’s first tweet was on July 4th, 2012 when @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare kicked things off by tweeting a link to Kinkbomb. According to Kinkbomb’s twitter bio, the site is the “Hottest source for fetish video clips! Femdom, Cuckolding, Chastity, Humiliation, MILF, Ass Worship, Domination, BDSM, Bondage, Foot Fetish, Handjobs, and more!” And more? Isn’t that enough?

2. When not tweeting about his love of exploiting gamblers, taxing people buying diapers in Minneapolis (and folks grabbing dinner or a beer in downtown) to subsidize the NFL (and his entertainment) @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare seems to enjoy following dominatrixes on Twitter who specialize in foot-worship.

Now, you may be thinking, “Ed, who doesn’t follow a few dominatrixes on Twitter? Everyone has their vices. Aren’t we all better off with someone ‘Sadistic, Manipulative and Cruel!‘ like Princess Jade in our life?” Fair point. But, we’re not talking about a few dominatrixes here. We’re talking about dozens – and only – dominatrixes:

@t_junior39 is following on Twitter

Okay, he doesn’t follow ONLY dominatrixes. @fetishcon appears to be a twitter account for a sexual fetish trade show.

3. Coincidentally, it looks like @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare set up his twitter account one day after I had a court hearing with a Vikings Wilfare fan regarding a restraining order I had filed against him. Out of more than a million Vikings fans, only one fan reached a level of inappropriate behavior that justified filing a restraining order. He has deleted his previous Twitter account.

4. Coincidentally, the account of the guy I filed a restraining order against also followed a ton of dominatrixes. In fact, @t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare happens to follow some of the same dominatrixes with foot fetish expertise as the guy I filed a restraining order against.

5. On September 20th when I tweeted this:

St Paul's sales tax revenue actually INCREASED during the NHL's 2004-05 lockout year:  #wilfare

@t_junior39 / @i_heart_wilfare tweeted this two hours sixteen minutes later:

adding the Wild to the mix elevated said taxes to current levels.had the nhl not returned chart shows tax base would be lower #wilfare

which, if you knew what the guy I filed a restraining order against does for a living – as I do – one would realize that this is a very in-character tweet for him.

6. Under the terms of the agreement we reached in a mediation session, I told him that I planned to blog about his inappropriate behavior. He pleaded with me to not use his name or mention the company he works for when I described his behavior. I agreed to not mention where he works, his last name, or the Twitter handle he used to harass me (one of a variety of channels he used to harass me) in exchange for him never contacting me again. Based on his behavior in #5 above, it looks like he may be testing the boundaries of the contract he signed at the Hennepin County Courthouse on July 3rd.

He claims that he never reads this blog, and never plans to, so if his word is good he’ll never read this blog post. But, assuming his word isn’t as good as he claims (which seems plausible) I hope he’s thought through the downside of violating the contract he signed in July.

1. Having met this guy, he shouldn’t be calling Jake “unathletic”.

Twitter Activity Tab

Twitter’s new activity tab is pretty interesting. It shows who your friends have recently followed, favorited, or retweeted. I’ve already used it to discover some interesting people that I find interesting have found interesting, thus shortening the time until I found them from an eventual retweet to the follow action.

But, then I saw this:

Pat Kessler's New Follows

Which made me think “How could Kessler just now be following such influential political communications people?” Public Affairs Director – Minnesota House GOP? Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota?

It makes me wonder what other nuggets people will find in their timelines of activity over time.

Getting Banned from Twitter’s Search Results: @ResponsibleWI

Did you know that you could get your tweets banned from Twitter’s search results for being a vulgar jerk? Here’s the deal.

I recently had an exchange on Twitter with a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative tea party sports fan from Milwaukee. The topic? Public welfare for sports stadiums. While this dude claims to be a fiscal conservative, he got really pissed when he discovered that a guy in Minneapolis has the gall to question whether public dollars should be spent on a private sports entertainment enterprise.

This particular Twitter user’s username is ResponsibleWI. He has managed to get himself banned from Twitter’s search results.

Here is how I can tell.

Below is a search for the term “edkohler” which shows recent mentions of that term on Twitter:

Twitter Search Results for: edkohler

Notice that it includes tweets by me, tweets replying to me, and tweets that mention me.

Here is an example for another username, snyde043:

Twitter Search Results for: snyde043

Again, it shows tweets by him and tweets mentioning him. Also, notice that one of the @snyde043 tweets mentions the Twitter user @ResponsibleWI.

Now, check out what shows up when I search @ResponsibleWI:

Twitter Search Results for: ResponsibleWI

Either Matt Snyder and I were having one-sided conversations with @ResponsibleWI, or, you guessed it, @ResponsibleWI’s own tweets aren’t showing up in Twitter’s search results.

Here is Twitter’s explanation:

You are being filtered out of search due to a quality issue: In order to provide the best search experience for users, Twitter automatically filters search results for quality. This Search Quality help page [link no longer works] has information why accounts are filtered from search

They don’t explain what exactly it takes to get yourself banned from search results, but here are two things that may be causing it in @ResponsibleWI’s case.

1. Profanity. Actually, it’s the vulgarity that may be hurting him. Although that may be tough to quantify.

2. Blocks. I can’t prove that people have blocked him, but it seems likely that people have, considering that the two Twitter lists he’s been added to are called:


3. Audience metrics. As of this writing, @ResponsibleWI has sent 1,754, yet only managed to build an audience of 70 followers. While not likely a precise correlation, it seems likely that Twitter could take this ratio into consideration to determine whether it’s worth bothering to show a particular user’s tweets within their search results.

The frustrating part about this is that Twitter doesn’t have a way to seek out the lying-sacks-of-shit / god-damn-disgrace Twitter users tweets. Sometimes that’s the really good stuff. Like when @ResponsibleWI (again, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative Tea Party dude) decides to attack me for questioning the wisdom of public welfare for private sports enterprises.

Update: Not surprisingly, pointing out @ResponsibleWI triggered a response:

@ResponsibleWI on Not Being A Better Person

He has a point. Rather than attempting to be a better person on Twitter, he could start declaring Twitter bankruptcy every time Twitter detects how much of a profane jerk he is. That seems like something a profane jerk would do.

Are URL Shorteners Here to Stay?

Garrick Van Buren posted a recent post about URL shorteners where he suggests that “URL Shorteners Are So Last Year” where he runs through a variety of examples to make his case. To me, this generated enough yeah but responses that I decided to respond here.

For those not familiar with URL shorteners, they are services that allow you to take very long URLs and convert them into small versions

For example, here is a URL from a blog post I wrote in May 2009:

That URL is 72 characters long, which isn’t too bad, but it isn’t exactly short. If I pasted it into Twitter, where there is a 140 character limit, I’d have less than half my allotted characters to comment on what I’m linking to.

I took that URL and shortened it at into this:

That turned 72 characters into 26, so cut the size of the link in half. Clicking that link takes people to the exact same location. There is a drawback to this, as Garrick points out. It’s not as clear what people are going to find. The first link includes quite a bit of information in the URL, such as the destination site (; the year, month, and day the post was written (May 23, 2009), and the post’s title. That is all there due to settings I chose when setting up this blog. I could have created shorter, yet less readable, URLs on which wouldn’t be all that much more user-friendly than’s other than mentioning the destination domain, but didn’t do that for a variety of reasons not worth getting into right now.

If I took the same URL to another shortening site,, I can get it down to 20 characters with this:

This is about as short as a URL can get.

Now, to Garrick’s points.

1. Shortened URLs can be used for spam. Yep, just like any other type of link. Sure, the chances of clicking to somewhere you weren’t expecting go up a bit with shortened URLs since you may be able to catch yourself before you click through to a spoofed PayPal site or some other bad neighborhood on the web if it’s in the URL you’re about to click on. However, how you get to a site isn’t as important as what you do once you get there, so I don’t think that’s a particularly big deal. Also, don’t click on links from people you don’t know (or suspicious looking links from people you do know) regardless of whether the links are shortened or not.

Top of the link URL Shortening services also test links that are shortened with their services to try to protect their users from ending up at spam sites. Clearly, the future of their services rely upon people trusting their service’s links, so they do what they can to proactively solve problems (not easy).

2. Shortened Links Expire. This is not true. URL shortening services would have a hard time existing if people clicked on a link a year from now only to end up at a different site than that shortened URL pointed to a year ago. explains this in their FAQ. TinyURL has provisions on what they’d do if they ever shut down (they have a plan on how to keep every URL that’s been shortened to date living forever).

Shortened links will expire if a URL shortening service doesn’t include provisions for what to do if they decide to get out of that business. For example, Garrick’s started and later stopped a URL shortening service using the domain, which he used to shorten a link here:

Garrick Using

Since the service shut town, that link has pointed to this:

Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 9.04.20 PM

This makes me glad that I never shortened any links using that service. It would suck to hear from a client who decided to click on a shortened link in an old email telling me that the link no longer worked due to something outside of my control. It looks like Google can see 193 such links that were shortened and then published to the web somewhere that Google could see.

We also can no longer tell what David Brauer was talking about when he used a link in this Tweet:

Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 9.12.55 PM

Critical parts of Twitter conversations by Brauer, Tom Elko, Mike Kelliher, Jason DeRusha, Paul Jahn, Michael Janssen and Mookie (Chuckumentary’s cat) were destroyed when went offline. Here are some examples of pages within Twitter that Google can see that include now-dead shortened links: Link Rot

This is known as “link rot”. It sucks when links go bad, so be sure to shorten your links somewhere that has provisioned for this.

Case insensitivity is one of the keys to keeping URLs short without having to recycle addresses. With 6 characters after the / where uses a combination of numbers together with both lower and UPPER case letters (62 options per character), they have generate over 44 billion URLs before they’ll need to add another character.

3. Usability. Here is Garrick’s take:

At best – they make less usable URLs – because both the URLs shorteners domain name and the random string are meaningless (not to mention hard to remember) to people.

First off, if they were less usable, why would people use them? People don’t go out of their way to make life more difficult for themselves or for others. While it would be nice if we could link to everywhere on the web from a nice short URL, there are some good reasons why that’s not possible. The trade-off of linking to content using URLs that are more email and Twitter friendly is clearly favoring the shortened URL side of this equation. We can see this in the combined growth of just two of these services ( and who’ve had a combined 3X increase in traffic in the past year: vs Traffic

With capturing a ton of that due to their superior service.

While URLs provide guidance, I don’t think many people are remembering long URLs. Sure, they may be able to remember that a company’s blog is at but that wouldn’t need to be shortened. Few people will remember 70+ character URLs.

Guidance can help, but true guidance comes from what’s around a URL as much as what the URL itself has to say about itself. If a friend sends me a link that says, “here are some pictures from last weekend” I know what I need to know about the link whether it’s shortened or not.

4. It’s webmaster’s faults for making long URLs in the first place. As Garrick puts it:

“URL shorteners are cheap hacks apologizing for poor content-management-systems”

By that, he’s saying that URL shortening services only exist because web developers are slackers who are too lazy to create human friendly (describe what they’re linking to) short URLs. He picks on Google Maps, but doesn’t provide an example of how Google (who has a few smart coders) is supposed to create human friendly (and short [possibly even memorable]) links to their maps. Google Maps’ links, as they exist today, can include up to dozens of variables (along with values). So once we get past, you’ll often see variable=value&variable=value combinations building out a long string with popular variables being:

Zoom Level
Map Type (map, satellite, hybrid)
Layers (bike, transit)
Driving directions (or other type of directions)
Starting point
Name of venue
Character encoding

Is this really a case of bad URL architecture, or is there simply no way to get a URL that has to contain so much information down to a shorter format? I’m guessing the latter.

There are over 40 variables that can be used to customize a map view. Most people don’t interact with the variables directly, but every time you move or zoom the map, the URL needed to get someone else to that exact same view changes.

Once you get to the map location, zoom level, venue, etc. that you’d like to share, would you rather send your friend an email with a URL that goes on for multiple links and probably breaks, causing them to click on the link then email you back to say that the link didn’t work for them? Or would you rather shorten that down to something that easily fits on one line (and will even tell you if your friend clicked on it)?

5. Twitter built the need for URL shorteners and they’ll also kill it. Garrick explains that the demand for URL shortening services exploded when people became addicted to sending 140 character or less messages with links. There is no question that Twitter took URL shortening to a new level, but the original link shortening problem that I believe was initially set up to address was making URLs easier to email. That problem still exists. When I send a long link to people today, I shorten it, because I don’t know if they’re going to be opening it using a desktop client, webmail program, mobile device, etc., and all may treat long URLs differently. With or without Twitter, there is a market for shortened URL services.

That being said, Garrick has a point that and other services used by people to shorten URLs may take a dive if Twitter builds in their own service. He goes so far as suggesting that Twitter’s move into URL shortening is “a move which will promptly shorten the already tiny lifespan of other URL shortening services.”

While possible, that depends on a quite a few factors, such as:

a. Whether it’s available in Twitter user’s preferred Twitter clients.

b. Whether it has reporting that’s as powerful as what people find elsewhere.

c. Whether it’s as reliable as what people use today. Would you trust Twitter with your important URL shortening needs based on how reliable their basic service has been?

Sure, 3rd party URL shortening services will see some impact from Twitter getting into the game, but I see no reason to believe that this will mark the end of quality link shortening services like or

Thanks, Garrick, for throwing some ideas out there for me to riff on. Good stuff.

Top-6 Minneapolis Social Media Campaigns You Haven’t Heard About

It seems like self-proclaimed social media marketing gurus in this town like to get together on a regular basis to discuss the same case studies over and over again. Yes, Punch is good at running time sensitive promotions on Twitter. But what else is happening?

Here are five that seem to be flying under the radar for a variety of reasons. For one, the only reason you should know about a social media campaign is if you’re a prospective customer. That’s the reach that matters for businesses. Also, there are people who are very good at connecting with customers who are less interested in bacon.

Without further ado, here are five doing some good stuff with their audiences:

1. Rail Station – This neighborhood bar on Minnehaha Ave S in Minneapolis has – as of this writing – 960 Facebook fans, 512 Twitter followers, a Foursquare offer that rewards loyalty (free drink every 5th visit), and an eClub integrated into their Facebook page for emails of events and special offers.

2. True Thai – This Thai restaurant on Franklin Ave at 27th Ave S has 1,042 Twitter followers, an active blog.

3. Pov’s – Out in Andover, Pov’s Sports Bar & Grill has 1,320 friends on MySpace. They’re also promoting upcoming dart tournaments and bands on Twitter.

4. Good Sports Bar & Grill – North Minneapolis’ new bar at 200 W Broadway has only been open since Feb 4th but already have over 100 followers on their active Facebook fan page.

5. Minnesota Zoo – The Minnesota Zoo has over 6,000 Facebook fans, where they link to Zoo related news, promote events, link to webcams, and answer questions from fans.

6. Surly Bikes – The local bike company has over 500 followers on Twitter, over 300 Flickr friends of the Surly group on Flickr (and another 550+ following Surly Bike Builds).

So, are any of these businesses benefiting from using social media as a marketing channel? I don’t know. However, it seems likely that they are if they’re connecting with some of their most loyal customers. Getting regulars to visit slightly more often is probably one the best ways to increase revenues. And they can do it for nearly free (no hard costs). And it doesn’t involve printing yellow pages directories.

John Moe’s Candy Club on Twitter

John Moe’s Candy Club on Twitter cracks me up. In a nutshell, once a week, John and his fellow candy enthusiasts pick a candy to all try at the same time on Twitter, then tweet about their experiences with it. You can follow along on Twitter’s search engine by searching for the #candyclub hashtag.

The candies chosen to date have been fairly dentally challenging with Skittles, Bit-O-Honey, and Milk Duds being reviewed over the past three weeks. Next week is a coconut showdown between Almond Joy and Mounds at noon CST on Marth 9th. Visualize the match-up here or here or here.

I picked up some Milk Duds in preparation for this past week’s candy club, but ended up being somewhere between Minneapolis and Phoenix during the allotted Candy Club time. Here’s a shot as we started to taxi back:

Milk Duds for #candyclub

I had a few on the plane – stalled out – and think the rest of the box should last me a lifetime.