'Nothing beats a Quickie'

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LONGMONT, Colo.--Sunrise Medical created a Facebook page in January  to “capture the voice” of Quickie wheelchair users. The company’s recent photo contest did just that.

Sunrise announced the first, second and third place winners May 26.

“This is totally awesome,” said winner Cameron Irwin, an Australian who uses a Quickie GTi.

Sunrise asked its 1,100 Facebook members to enter photos of themselves with a caption on why they thought “Nothing beats a Quickie.” Sunrise received 130 submissions from around the world. It chose the top 20 photos, then put them out for judging, receiving 5,000 votes.

Facebook is just one of many social networking sites that have exploded on the Internet over the past five years. The challenge for companies is to figure out how to integrate the networks into their businesses. Sunrise created its Facebook page to open a “direct line of communication to the people who use our products,” said Michael Proffitt, vice president of marketing and product management.

“We’re not using it like advertising,” he said. “We’re using it as a way to understand what excites people.”

Proffitt doesn’t expect the Facebook community to drive sales, but it allows the company to tap into what customers are thinking. Sunrise can then make product improvements based on that input, he said.

To get users to participate in the contest, Sunrise promised the top three winners a new wheelchair. The top winner, Irwin, also will get a photo shoot for an upcoming Quickie advertisement.