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Hey, that Buzzfeed post is really an ad

svaughan@vagazette.com

Like a virus, viral marketing spreads fast, hence the name.

A good example of viral marketing for Williamsburg popped up Tuesday. A humorous list credited to VisitWilliamsburg.com the website run by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and the Williamsburg Area Destination Marketing Committee, about what the Founding Fathers would be doing in Williamsburg today showed up on Facebook, posted by Buzzfeed.com, a very popular content provider on social media, known for those addictive Facebook quizzes.

The post seems like regular Buzzfeed content, but it's not. It's part of WADMAC's marketing campaign

"It's called a native content ad, because it looks like native content," said Corrina Ferguson, WADMAC's director of marketing.

"It's part of a partnership we have with Buzzfeed, they wrote the copy, we approved it," she said.

And got a lot of exposure. Because the post showed up in the Facebook feeds of all Buzzfeed's 7,209,913 followers on Facebook. That's quite a few more than the 50,897 who follow VisitWilliamsburg.

"We're actually partnering with Buzzfeed on four posts. Two of them are live now and the other two will be posted after Buzzfeed's writers come here next month to take a look around," Ferguson said.

She said the strategy is a reaction to the fact that consumers are becoming more and more resistant to traditional forms of advertising.

"This is funny, you don't think of it as an ad," she said. "With John Adams taking the Yorktown tour on a Segway and Thomas Jefferson wearing the William and Mary sweater." 

Other founders would also be busy, according to the ad: including George Washington visiting Busch Gardens and the Yorktown Victory Center, Ben Franklin enjoying the food at Taste Studio, James Monroe bicycling around the countryside, James Madison eating his way through the Harvest Festival and Samuel Adam sampling microbrews at Alewerks Brewing Company.

Ferguson said $640,000 out of WADMAC's marketing budget of about $2 million is dedicated to digital media, like the Buzzfeed posts. That's more than the $500,000 dedicated to cable television advertising.

"Because it's a presidential year, we are not doing anything on broadcast television," Ferguson said.

Broadcasters are required to give preference to political advertising, which can lead to other advertisers' spots being pulled..

Business Notes:

Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc., parent company of both Chesapeake Bank and Chesapeake Investment Group, reported earnings for the first quarter of 2016 of $1,968,323, a 25% decrease from the first quarter of 2015. However, the first quarter of 2015 included a non-recurring gain on a buyback of debt of $869,000 net of tax. Core earnings, therefore, reflect an 11% increase over 2015. The reported earnings per share were $0.480 fully diluted compared to $0.652 fully diluted for the first quarter of 2015.

Decorating Den Interiors announced that Amy Ahearn has been selected to open a franchise in the Williamsburg area, one of 300 in the United States and Canada.

Williamsburg Premium Outlets will host "Mom's Day Out" Saturday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m. –9:00 p.m. for shopping, entertainment and discounts The first 150 guests to check in at Simon Guest Services will even receive a special VIP tote bag.

Vaughan can be reached at (757)345-2343.

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