Falana Thomas, owner of Haute Cakes, Couture Desserts, Austin, Texas, and her sister, Ebby Thomas, found a way to tap into the power of online social networking sites to net them $10,000 in prize money.
The Thomas sisters had been running their cake business out of a rental kitchen since opening a year ago. They had saved enough to put money down on a permanent space for their bakeshop, but still had daunting expenses for remodeling and new equipment in front of them. With a little creative marketing and the clever use of online resources, such as Twitter, Facebook and a blog, the sisters were able to take a chunk out of their expenses with a big cash prize.
Eight O'Clock Coffee, the bakery's coffee supplier, held a contest asking its customers to write essays explaining how a $10,000 grand prize would impact their business. When the sisters heard that Ebby's essay had earned them as finalist spot, they marshaled the power of the Internet to get out the vote.
Facebook, Twitter, blogs, even a website — www.HelpFalanaWin.com — were instrumental tools used daily to help seal their $10,000 win. The sisters used the social sites to drive people to Eight O'Clock's voting website and rally the community around them. Ebby was amazed by the results.
“People responded, voted and re-tweeted our message,” Ebby says. “I even had local Austin businesses voting because they saw my postings on Twitter. Not to mention, at least 12 cake orders were called in as a direct result!”
The contest, which attracted more than 50,000 participants, ran for three months. Ebby credits her outreach to the community — those in her life and those on her computer — as the key to the win. Given their success, the sisters have since entered other online essay contests, using similar tactics to get their local clientele to back them with a vote.
“I entered a different essay contest sponsored by Transitions Lenses and was selected as a weekly winner,” Ebby says in the bakery's blog. “Now it's time to get votes to try and go for the grand prize: $10,000 for a us and $10,000 to a charity.”