Thursday, June 13, 2013

Using Social Media to Advertise

Using social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook can have a positive impact on your company or product. I have a personal experience that I would like to share with you all on how posting pictures, videos, and information on social media sites can have a positive light. Back in 2011, a friend /colleague and I decided to do a community project. We decided that it would benefit a lot of foster children in the local area if we held a suitcase drive. We partnered with Troy University’s Social Work Department and the Houston County DHR to help us achieve our goals. We wanted to raise a total of 500 suitcases to be given to foster kids so they would have something to put their belongings in while they move to and from multiple homes. These children often times do not have anything but an old grocery bag or garbage bag to carry their few belongings. We thought by giving them a suitcase it would give these children a sense of self-worth and confidence while they are in an unfortunate situation. We started this project thinking we would only be able to reach our goal; however, we ended up over exceeding it. We actually collected around 800 suitcases. We also collected some toiletry items, school supplies, and diapers for the babies. How did we end up getting the community to donate 800 suitcases, you ask? Well, we did a lot of advertising for this project. We first started out with handouts. We gave out brochures all over the community. We also posted them all over the Troy Dothan campus. Then we contacted the following media: The Local, The Dothan Eagle, Ricky Stokes News, Troypolitan, Wiregrass Happenings, Dothan Moms Group, His Radio 94.3, WTVY, WSFA, and WDHN. We were able to have interviews with both WTVY and WSFA.
Then there were articles printed in the newspapers about our suitcase drive. Here is one of the articles:


The next thing we did was go online with our project. Rachel and I both promoted our suitcase drive on our Facebook pages. We posted pictures, information, and fliers on Facebook. I believe this is what really pushed our cause, because we were able to reach more people than ever before. We started getting calls from people in Headland and Enterprise that wanted to donate suitcases and supplies. Before we advertised on Facebook, we were getting suitcases but not like we hoped. Once we announced our project on Facebook, we started getting suitcases, backpacks, and supplies left and right for the foster kids.

Why does posting on social media sites work for advertising? Soumitra Dutta suggested that communication leaders should embrace social media, because social media provides a free platform on which to build a brand while allowing you to communicate within and outside your company. It also allows you to engage instantly with peers, customers, employees, and the rest of the public in real time. The third reason it allows a learning process to take place with instant information and feedback. (2010)

Now back to the suitcase drive. Because we were able to post our information online through our Facebook page, we were able to provide a free platform to promote our community service project. Facebook allowed us to chat with friends, family members, and the public about why it was important for people in the community to donate a suitcase. We were able to listen and learn from the community with instant feedback. The majority of the people we connected with were very supportive of the project.
I know that this is a community cause, but these same concepts and strategies can work for a business or organization that is trying to sell a product. If an organization takes a product and puts it on Facebook or creates a funny YouTube video about the product, chances are that company is going to see an increase in sales. Ford Motor Company has a blog called, The Ford Story. It allows Ford customers to comment and put the customer’s viewpoint first. They can communicate with the customers directly and ask their customers for instant feedback on topics such as personalization and safety. This allows the company to hear the opinions and make changes to future cars; therefore, keeping the customers happy. As long as the company continues to keep the customers happy; they will keep buying Ford vehicles.

Ford also uses a Flickr widget to share photos of their vehicles, and they post YouTube videos about their vehicles for people to view, share, and comment. These ad-ons are allowing customers and fans of Ford to get involved with the company. The customers then feel like they are a part of the company’s decisions. In a way, they are a part of the company, because Ford can take their suggestions and improve the products. Ford must be doing something right with their marketing strategies, because I drive a Ford Taurus.

Just keep in mind if you are going to use social media to advertise your company or product, make sure you think about the message that you are sending to your audience. You should be cautious about what you say or do in your video or on your webpage, because some things could come across as bad. If this happens, your company could lose potential customers and shareholders. Also, if you are going to use social media for your business, make sure you stay proactive. Interact and engage with your customers. Find out what they do and do not like about your products and fix the problems. The more you socialize with your customers, the better off your company will be. It is a social media site after all, so socialize! If you would like to read more about Ford’s success or Soumitra Dutta’s article on social media strategy, I have provided the links below.