Ybor firm aims to make its mark in the evolving advertising industry

In an era where consumers often avoid advertising, Carl Vervisch and Kate Whatley have embraced social media as a tool to reach people who want to see their ads. Their goal is to offer a more personal, more respectful form of advertising.

“What we realized very early was that that was the opportunity here,” says Vervisch, Co-Founder and President of Social Forces.

The company founded in 2009 by Vervisch and Whatley, now its CEO, who holds an advertising degree and who has furthered her education through post-graduate studies. The firm provides marketing services to clients worldwide from a historic building in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. Headquartered at 1001 E. Columbus Dr., in the old El Progresso de Ybor Grocery relocated from 12th Street, Social Forces is banking on the power of social media to target people genuinely interested in learning more about a product or service.

“The forces that we’re really interested in are those audiences of Facebook, of Twitter, those people who are following a page,” he says, explaining the company name. “That becomes the force for or against your brand, depending on how you treat your media and how you communicate.”

With a staff of 12, they focus on assisting companies who want to market using social media.

That’s vastly different than traditional billboard, newspaper and TV advertising, he notes. Advertisers no longer have to cast a broad net to find people who are interested in their product or service.

Social media also is different because it enables dialogue. “People could talk back,” he points out. “It was a two-way street.”

They wanted to grow along with the medium. “We wanted to put ourselves in a position to really be experts in that,” Vervisch says.

Through the years, the company has kept true to its focus on social media. “At this point, we have developed into a relatively full-service agency,” he says, adding they offer branding, complete production, and media buying.

Among its offerings is social shopper marketing, which directs customers to physical stores to buy items featured on a page. For example, a chocolate lover can see an ad for a new chocolate brand, and be directed to the nearest store where they can buy it.

“I think that’s what sets shopper marketing apart. Anytime you’re considering the brand, you’re also considering the retailer and where the product is going to go,” he explains.

Social Forces has expanded into photography and videography as the use of social media has evolved to include them, offering custom content by an in-house team. They’ve been working with global brands such as Circle K, Pepsi, Doritos, and Monster Energy.

“We are not the type of firm to point our customers to a particular new platform or new social media website just because it’s there,” says Vervisch, who holds a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Michigan State University. “We will never lead our client to do something because we think it’s cool. We are looking for what is viable and what is efficient.”

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. 
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