How One Father Used a Social Army to Find his Son

Bob Pfeifer, @bringjerryhome

Bob Pfeifer, Creator of, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss how he used social media and grassroots marketing to find his missing son halfway across the world.

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Full Episode Details

Trial by Fire

Bob Pfeifer used social media to bring his son home. Bob’s son, Jerry, went to Central Europe with his mother and half-brother in 2012. When he didn’t return from the trip, Bob used social media to make contacts across the world so he could find his son. In December 2013, Bob and Jerry were finally reunited.

At first, Bob didn’t know much about social media. He created a Facebook page and shared it with his friends, hoping more eyes would see it that way. He expected maybe a few hundred fans and hit that mark within the first few days.

The loosely organized but tightly bonded group, which eventually became known as Jerry’s Army, became the global brand advocates. People in Germany, France, and Spain created their own Facebook pages in their respective countries to get the word out.

Jerry’s Army engaged in what they called “post-bombing,” where they would target a specific city. They’d post pictures of Jerry with the story in the local language on Facebook pages for local bars, entertainers, and media outlets. Then locals would pick up on it, with some local bands even posting pictures of Jerry with the story at their merch tables at shows. From there, Jerry’s Army (and Bob’s cause) gained traditional media attention, as well.

Rather than the blowback Bob expected – maybe some local businesses would see his posting on their page as intrusive – people were quick to embrace his message. People seemed to enjoy and embrace “the ability to be able to help and do good.”

Bob’s biggest ammunition was that he made all of the legal documents public online. He didn’t want it to become a case of “he said/she said” when it came to the custody questions, so he relied on complete transparency. “There was a lot of data that gave people a sense of trust,” Bob says, and that was essential to getting the world on his side to reunite his family.

Holy Social!

Ford and Jimmy Fallon have taken real-time marketing to a new level with the #fingersona4x4 campaign that arose in response to Jimmy Fallon looking for a new truck.

When Jimmy Fallon said he was looking for a new truck and asked for suggestions, automotive brands were there with their own recommendations. GM, Ram, and Nissan all jumped in with various real-time responses, but Ford was the eventual winner.

Fallon announced the Fingers on a 4×4 campaign to help him decide which dealer would sell him his new Ford F150. This is a new version of real-time marketing: not only is Fallon engaging directly with the massive car companies; he’s also engaging directly with the individual Ford dealers.

If it were solely a national campaign, it would be just another case of big brands talking to big entertainment. By engaging with the individual dealers, this becomes a real story.

Social Media Number of the Week: 1-800-843-5678

In light of Bob’s touching the story, the only number that makes sense to share this week is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children‘s phone number: 1-800-THE-LOST, or 1-800-843-5678. You can also find them on Twitter @missingkids.

There are lots of ways to get involved with them, from corporate sponsorships (join the likes of Google, Canon, Old Navy, Honeywell, and Sprint) to individual donations.

The first three hours are critical in any missing persons case, so that hotline is essential in getting the word out.

See you next week!