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Public service announcements turning to social media

Sept. 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Advertising experts said the way for public service announcements to reach younger U.S. audiences is to have a stronger presence on social media.

The Ad Council said the government and other non-profit organizations increased their budgets for social media advertisements from $300,000 in 2009 to about $1 million in 2012.

Smokey the Bear, the iconic character who warns against the dangers of forest fires, now has Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive of the Ad Council said the biggest question is where their target audiences -- often teenagers who check text messages during commercial breaks on television -- get information.

"If that's Facebook or Twitter, that's where we want to be," she said.

Adonis Hoffman, a member of the National Advertising Review Board, said ad executives need to change their tone because peer-to-peer endorsement sites like Yelp and TravelAdvisor are more valuable than the government telling people what to do.

"So if you want to cut through the clutter and reach young minds then you really need user generated content, you better get people giving you thousands of likes on Facebook or re-tweeting your ad," Hoffman said.

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