The SMARTSeas PH Project has given 21 peoples’ organizations the chance to develop their Biodiversity Friendly Enterprise (BDFE) through Low Value Grant Agreements. While many of the associations have been operating their respective enterprises for years, there are also those startups that are still learning the ropes of running a BDFE, including the use of an online marketing strategy to promote their products and services.

Both Samahan ng Mangingisda ng Ranzo (SMR) in Oriental Mindoro and Barangay Bolisong Fisherfolks Association (BBFA) in Manjuyod, Tañon Strait are engaged in eco-tourism, and have started using Facebook to build their brand and eventually grow a following and increase sales. They are aware that social media marketing has its own advantages and limitations, but they are eager to learn how to maximize this new age marketing tool.  

Archee Fesariton, SMR park manager, shared that the millennial members of their association manage their Facebook page (Ranzo Fish Sanctuary), which was launched last April. The younger ones’ adept knowledge in using Facebook has been useful in creating the page, uploading photos, and developing engaging posts.

Kami pong mga millennial sa organisasyon ang nagha-handle ng aming Facebook page kasi mas may alam kami pagdating sa paggamit ng Facebook (The millennial members of the organization handle our group’s Facebook page because are more knowledgeable on it),” said Archee.

To date, SMR’s ecotourism services are promoted through word of mouth—through referrals of friends and locals—and its Facebook page acts as a supplemental tool to reach more people. A few photos of the beautiful beach and customers riding colorful kayaks have been posted on the page but Archee knows that it can still be improved.

Hindi pa namin na-check ‘yung statistics ng page namin pero ‘yun ang susunod namin na pag-aaralan (We have not checked the statistics but that is something we will try to learn how to do),” said Archee, adding that the data could help in improving the page, its content, and the way their services should be marketed.

BBFA secretary Loriza Caredo was ecstatic in sharing that a photo from her association’s Facebook page (Bolisong Eco-Tour – BBFA) has garnered 34,000 views, an impressive number for a page that was launched just also last April. The post, featuring photos of a floating cottage against sea water and clear skies, has gotten people excited and missing the beach. The fabricated floating cottage was part of the package of technical assistance that SMARTSeas PH Project delivered to BBFA.

The positive comments that netizens have left on their page was a much-needed lifting of the spirit especially now that they cannot operate yet in full swing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of Facebook has also become convenient as the members still cannot go around to advertise their services outside their barangay.

Nakakatuwa kasi di namin inakala na maraming magshe-share ng picture na ‘yun. Sana mas marami pang maabot yun at maengganyong pumunta dito (We’re happy because we did not expect that a lot of people will share the photo. I hope the photo will reach more people and plan to go here),” said Loriza, who took the photos that almost trended online.

Social media marketing has also made bookings and answering inquiries handy for SMR and BBFA. They recognized, however, that poor internet connection in their areas hinders them to be always online. Nevertheless, they remain optimistic and resourceful.

SMR and BBFA look forward to expanding their operation once travel restrictions are lifted and it is safer for more people to travel. SMR, for instance, will soon offer a guided tour and camping. But for now, the two POs continue to prepare for the achievement their plans and to explore Facebook marketing to create brand awareness and be able to connect with others.

Marami pang gagawin pero (There are still a lot to do but) we take it as a challenge, not a problem,” Archee said.

The SMARTSeas PH Project delivered new kayaks, non-motorized banca, paddles, life vest, and beach gear to SMR as well as capacity building activities and eco-tour equipment to BBFA.  

 

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