Vitamin T, a new Mexican restaurant located at CityScape, is one of the few downtown Phoenix businesses using social media to market itself and reach ASU students and will be launching a social media campaign this week.
Through its Facebook page, Vitamin T, located on Central Avenue and Washington Street, will hold a Mr. T look-alike contest, and give a year long supply of tacos to the person whose pictures most resembles the famous actor from “The A-Team” television series and “Rocky III.”
“It’s something just a little off beat, fun and funky, but I think that’s what’s great in social media — when we’re having people engage through photography of themselves dressed up,” said Ty Largo, spokesman of the restaurant. “It’s all things that they’d love for their friends to see too, so that’s why it works for social media.”
But while Vitamin T and a handful of other businesses in downtown Phoenix are using social networks to reach students, most businesses in the area are not posting statuses, tweeting or checking in and run the risk of alienating young adults, said Michael Denning, a professor of marketing at the W.P. Carey School of Business.
“If you’re going to ignore social media, you’re going to ignore that entire market,” he said.
The current generation of students, Denning said, has lived most of its life with the Internet and uses social mediums as one of its primary forms of communication.
Although television ads are still effective in reaching this demographic, Facebook is the “granddaddy” when it comes to marketing to students, Denning said.
“I don’t know of any students in my classes that don’t have a Facebook page,” he said,
Lea Elsbury, the assistant general manager of Lucky Strike Lanes, said her business uses its Facebook page to promote any events they have going on, such as information about bowling leagues, promotions, specials, or any kinds of deals they have.
Elsbury said she thinks other downtown businesses should use social media simply because it’s a free form of marketing and it’s easy to use.
“Everyone is on Facebook, and if you manage it the right way, it takes five minutes,” she said. “It may take a little longer to set the page up, but it takes five minutes to maintain it.”
Sophia Charchuk, a journalism junior, said she thinks businesses using social media is a smart way to reach her and other students because they are always online.
“If (businesses) have any deals I can follow them and they can tell me about any new products,” said Charchuk who mentioned that she follows Hoodlums, a record store in Tempe, on Facebook.
R.J. Price, the online-community editor of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, said part of the reason why many downtown businesses aren’t using social media is because they are largely an older, more established bunch that haven’t embraced that type of marketing techniques.
“To a lot of people it’s kind of scary,” Price said. “And instead of sitting down and learning they just ignore it and hope it kind of goes away.”
Price said the Downtown Phoenix Partnership has plans to help businesses get educated on the advantages of social media. He said because students are so plugged to the Internet, businesses can’t depend on traditional media to reach them.
“A lot of students’ heads are buried in their smart phones and their laptops,” he said. “You’re not going to get them with a billboard or a newspaper ad.”
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