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Mining the social media market

March 2012 | by Craig DeVrieze

Visit YouTube channel Q321


Bent River Brewery owner Steve Cogdill didn't give much thought to the video interview he sat down for with St. Ambrose junior Sam Peterlin earlier this year.

Then some folks bellied up to his Moline bar and sparked his memory.

"Our customers came in and started talking to us about it," Cogdill said.

Getting people talking about local businesses is among the goals of a social media marketing class Quad Cities TV newsman and first-year adjunct professor Jason Fechner introduced this semester at St. Ambrose.

Peterlin's two-plus-minute video is part film documentary, part commercial for Cogdill's brewery and restaurant. And it is one of 14 such St. Ambrose student-produced videos that can be found on YouTube's Q321 Videos channel, as well as various other websites and social media outlets.

"The focus is on video production for online distribution and it kind of works in two ways," said Fechner, a news anchor for WQAD and KLJB. "If the students are more interested in journalism and television, they can look at them as feature stories. For the marketing and public relations students, they can look at it like these businesses are their clients and they are helping them to market themselves in the social media world."

Indeed, the class isn't educating only students. It also is opening the eyes and minds of Quad Cities business owners to ways the exploding social media market can be put to good use.

"We use Facebook now," Cogdill said, "but I never thought YouTube would be a medium where advertising would work out. But it has."

The Q321 channel drew nearly 2,000 video views in less than a month, with Peterlin's Bent River video getting the most clicks. A look by senior Nikki Boland at Trash Can Annie's Vintage Clothing Store in downtown Davenport was running a close second.

Employing handheld HD cameras and editing equipment from SAUtv, the students shoot and produce the videos on their own. Fechner said the next step, and a key component of the learning curve, is finding ways to draw attention to their work through Facebook, Twitter and numerous other online means.

"It has been interesting to see how many hits they have accumulated," Fechner said. "A couple of students don't have Facebook accounts anymore because they have ridden the wave and got tired of it. Those are the ones who are lagging behind in numbers."

Cogdill's Bent River and other businesses lucky enough to win the attention of Fechner's students have put the videos to use themselves via their own websites and Facebook pages. Trash Can Annie's is one of those.

"I think it's always a good idea to use different avenues for people learning the about the store," said store owner Laura Heath.


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