Results vary, but social media here to stay

by Shannon Rae Gentry
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Staff photo by Allison Potter 

Chops Deli uses social media to announce its daily specials and choose random fans to receive free sandwiches.

Many large and small businesses promote products through the use of social media, but some businesses have varying results. Social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter often serve as free advertisement, and Abigail Beck with Soapbox Laundro Lounge said it also allows for important, quick updates for fans, but doesn’t necessarily yield higher turnouts to events or concerts.

“It’s helpful, but I think an article in the newspaper is going to do way more for any show than Facebook will,” she said. “It’s just another way to tell people what’s going on.”

Even with more than 8,800 ‘likes’ on the Soapbox Facebook page, Beck said she isn’t sure if it actually reflects an increase in customer base. “There are people in Japan getting our notices, and that’s pretty cool, but it’s not like they’re going to show up to the show,” Beck said. “They’re not going to be buying T-shirts from the band, which is what directly helps them every time.”

Some business owners use Facebook in different ways to motivate customers by holding regular contests and announcing winners. For example, entering Facebook fans into a daily drawing for a prize, which is what Chris Graham and Brad Corpening, co-owners of Chop’s Deli have been doing. 

Graham said they initially began using Facebook as free advertisement, but decided to take an initiative to increase their fan-base by creating a daily “Fan of the Day” giveaway. “My partner Brad is on Facebook. I’m older and I personally don’t do Facebook or any other social media,” Graham admitted. “But I saw how younger folks were so into it … [the giveaway] was sort of an idea I got to get people to go to our Facebook page so that they would look at our specials and soups.”

With more than 4,600 Facebook “likes” and counting, Graham and Corpening pick a random fan to receive daily a free sandwich of his or her choice. Graham said the activity the contest generates is unparalleled. 

“I think we get anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 people looking at our page every day and that is all free for us,” he said. “Facebook is just a good tool for us to use to get in touch with our fans, and we couldn’t do this without our customers and the people that like us.”

Old Books on Front Street, which is wrapping up its 30th anniversary this year, has only used social media for the last two years, said managing partner, Gwenyfar Rohler. 

“We actually started using Twitter during the renovation of this building to update people with pictures,” she said. “When we get new things in we try to put it up on the Facebook page. It gets the information out there, but there isn’t a sense of immediacy.”

Rohler said they had done a contest similar to Chop’s for a short time, but didn’t see the same results. 

“We were picking a customer of the day off of our Facebook page to win a Danielle Steel novel [for fun] and 25 percent off purchases,” she said. “This joke, we discovered, was for a very different age group … our demographic is not necessarily the Facebook world.”

Though Rohler said that Old Books doesn’t see direct cause and effect, she also doesn’t see the end of social media trends in business or hers. “What Facebook does is that builds recognition for us with people, but I wouldn’t say that it translates into sales,” she said. “Who knows what the next thing is that will displace all of this.”

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