Size Matters: Leveraging Facebook Fans

Stephen Yagielowicz

There is no denying the popularity and size of Facebook, which dominates the social networking landscape; controlling an audience share that marketers simply can’t ignore. Adult marketers, however, are not particularly welcome — resulting in penalties for the ham-handed and opportunities for the subtle.

For inspiration as to how Facebook might be leveraged by adult fan-based businesses, such as a website featuring popular performers, or a personality-driven solo-site, we turn to one of the business model’s best analogues: television.

Substitute “online” for “on-air” and you will be on the right track to boosting your website’s Facebook fan base — and ultimately, its traffic and revenues.

Lost Remote (, “Where TV Meets Social Media,” recently ran a couple of articles detailing several of the innovative marketing mechanisms employed by local television stations as they seek to boost ratings and viewers via involvement with the Facebook pages of not only the stations, but also the pages of its on-air personalities.

According to Lost Remote, most local TV stations average from 15,000 to 30,000 Facebook fans — while Salt Lake City’s KUTV has surpassed 200,000 Facebook fans — an impressive achievement for a local operator in the nation’s 32nd largest market; and a fan base that the station credits for its news show winning in the ratings — a win that was considered one of the biggest turnarounds in broadcasting history.

This relatively large number of Facebook fans is an aggregate of those following the station’s primary page, as well as the pages of its morning show and individual staffers.

“We have a strategy and it’s working,” KUTV news director Jennifer Dahl stated. “Anchors, reporters, producers, assignment desk editors and news managers all take an active role in posting not only to their own page but the station’s page as well. We also integrate social media into our daily newscasts.”

The station’s fan-building initiatives include contests, where the station gave away an iPad 2, and raised money for the Utah Food Bank — illustrating how “giving to” and “taking from” your audience may both work to your benefit — and the benefit of others.

Morning show personalities are competing to see who can engender the most “likes,” producing YouTube videos to solicit votes as part of their “Facebook Faceoff” campaign.

“Our morning show anchor, Ron Bird, produces a Facebook video everyday between the AM and noon newscasts,” Dahl added. “He shoots, produces and edits these videos. They rarely make TV but it’s [a] fun way for 2News to be transparent with our loyal viewers.”

Being “transparent with loyal viewers,” is something that will resonate with solo-site operators, who may be best suited to capitalizing on these fan base leveraging techniques — but success in initially attracting Facebook fans means little, if they don’t stick around.

“Social media can encourage people to sample a station’s newscast,” Dahl concluded. “However, you still have to have a quality show to maintain interest.”

Substitute “site” for “show” and the similarities are obvious.

Further lessons can be learned from the efforts of Cleveland’s WJW, which boasts the largest collection of Facebook fans that are following a television station’s main page — 165,000 fans — despite WJW being located in the nation’s 18th largest market.

Some of the techniques used by the station to reach this level include a daily feature highlighting a “Facebook Friend of the Day,” and a fundraiser, “Save These Faces,” that promised a donation to a local animal shelter if the station added 100,000 fans in a week.

Lost Remote underscored the mathematics, wherein WJW got fans for a nickel each — 1/20 of the cost of acquiring fans via Facebook ads — and placed the value of those fans at $3.60 each.

“After looking at WJW and KUTV, it’s clear that heavy on-air integration, contests and campaigns are the key drivers to ramping up Facebook fans,” author Cory Bergman concluded, pointing the way for other fan-based endeavors to follow.

Once again, substitute “online” for “on-air” and you will be on the right track to boosting your website’s Facebook fan base — and ultimately, its traffic and revenues.