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For the past year, Earth911 has been undergoing a big re-launch and re-positioning from its former not-for-profit status into a real tool for sustainability — a social venture. When it was founded by my late friend Chris Warner in 1991, it was 1-800-CleanUp, a hotline to find places that would accept used motor oil.Over the years it morphed into a trusted site upon which the environmental compliance people relied. Public officials responsible for enforcing environmental laws would contribute information about recycling locations to Earth911's database, and citizens could (at first) call 1-800-Cleanup to find out where to take stuff, or later come to the online site.

Very tricky to position a site that doesn't sell anything. Earth 911 gives away information, which is the business model for the new marketing.

So now the site's about done, to launch again on Earth Day (April 22). It is in the midst of several large partnerships, one with the United States Post Office, and two others to be announced. These paartnerships should be a triple win: a win for the USPS, which wants to let everyone know that it takes paper for recycling, a win for the consumer, who now knows this because we will publicize it for them, and a win for the business, which gets to continue.

As part of the launch, and because I'm such a fan of social media, we decided to hold a video contest called "Make Every Day Earth Day." We put the contest up on the site. But I thought I would try to reach out by advertising on Facebook, where we already have a page. Y'know, integrated marketing? Y'know, go where the conversations are already happening about your product or service? In this case our "product is Earth Day, and I thought that, since most of the people on Facebook are young, they'd 1)be interested in saving the environment they live in and 2)own a camera or webcam and be into putting their ideas on video.

So I drafted an ad for Facebook. All I said was, "Earth Day Thoughts? Enter the Earth911 video contest." And you clicked through to the entry page on the site.

It was very easy to create the ad, target the audience, and price the ad. I went to bed thinking I had it done.

But when I awoke, I had a message from Facebook saying my ad had been "disapproved." WHOA. Why?

For improper punctuation. Every line of an ad has to be followed by some type of proper punctuation according to Facebook guidelines.. Hmmm. I actually have a Ph.D. in English, and taught it in college for ten years before starting my own business. In my long life, I've corrected more punctuation than Facebook has ever seen :-)

Some algorithm was off doing its own thing, and my ad didn't fit its parameters. This strikes me as quite interesting, since Facebook is presumably trying to sell advertising. It didn't give me any suggestions, didn't fix the ad. Just pointed me to a page on best practices. I very nearly gave up, except I'm not that kind of gal.

I made a second ad, pretty much the same, and posted it this morning. Still waiting for approval. This is a big experiment for me in marketing via social media. Will you let me know if you see the "ad"for Earth911 this week. or francine.hardaway at Thanks!