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While some businesses are still figuring out the value of building a fan base, entertainment brands have long understood that a vibrant fan community is critical to their success. Perhaps this why entertainers were among the first to embrace Facebook as a way to attract, engage and communicate with fans. And because the most effective Facebook marketing programs often combine compelling content with personality, entertainment brands are uniquely positioned to succeed with this medium.
But even for the most popular entertainers, creating a robust fan base on Facebook requires more than just creating a Page and posting content. Here are four ways entertainment brands can accelerate their Facebook success.
1. Use Questions, Polls and Quizzes to Engage Your Community
If you post a piece of content on your Facebook Page, you might generate a good number of comments. But if you post your content in the context of a question, a poll or a quiz, you make your content interactive and provoke viral distribution.
Sarah Hofstetter, SVP of brand strategy and emerging media at digital marketing agency 360i, recommends trying out the new Facebook Questions tool to engage users around a question. 360i is using Facebook Questions in its work with BRAVO Network. For example, this recent Facebook Questions post on the Real Housewives of New Jersey Page encouraged fans to pick a side in a family feud that has emerged in the show’s storyline, generating over 15,000 votes.
GLEE is also a fan of this approach, posting a poll every Tuesday to spark conversation around the show prior to its airing that night. These weekly polls routinely generate thousands of interactions.
Also consider embedding a promotional offer or a download in a poll or a quiz — this tactic can work to drive very high conversation rates, since fans are already actively engaged with your brand.
For example, Glenn Beck is promoting his magazine Fusion through a series of polls and quizzes on Facebook. After taking the poll or quiz, fans are presented with a custom page promoting Fusion and enabling fans to click through to subscribe.
2. Reward Your Fans
Engaging fans is one way to keep them happy; rewarding them is another. While there are many ways to reward your Facebook fans, many entertainers have found that sharing exclusive or free content gives fans a reason to come back time and again.
“I think the best piece of advice to give someone who is looking to build a fan base on Facebook is to tell them to figure out what they do best and give it away for free,” says Chris Taylor, co-founder of MicControl, a blogging platform for the emerging music community. “Social media has made ‘free’ a word that consumers have begun to expect.”
Taylor points to Chris Webby as a great example of how this strategy can work. Webby, an up-and-coming rapper, regularly releases free mixes via Facebook. This approach has helped Webby reach the 100,000 fan mark.
Webby’s fans “are some of the most dedicated fans you will see in the emerging music industry — they buy all of his merchandise, they buy tickets to shows and will travel hours to see him perform,” says Taylor. “By giving his fans free music, interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter and showing how much he truly cares, his fans are more than happy to show him how much they truly care.”
Rewarding your fans can also be as simple as making sure your Page provides valuable information, such as upcoming show dates or releases. For example, DJ Jody Wisternoff keeps his fans current with custom tabs for both his gigs and new music releases, and he posts personal updates in the run-up to each show, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the highs and lows of life on the road.
3. Let Fans Behind-the-Scenes
Letting fans get behind-the-scenes is not only an effective way to reward them, but also a great way to take more ownership of your personal brand.
Jessica Sitomer, CEO of TheGreenlightCoach.com, encourages entertainers to use their work as an opportunity to promote themselves creatively on Facebook. Sitomer suggests doing a “behind-the-scenes” video before a shoot or a show.
“Get creative with your videos; they can be of you getting ready at home, getting your make-up done in the trailer or prepping your equipment on set,” says Sitomer.
Sitomer points to Juliet Landau, best known for her work as Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as a great example of this approach. “Landau wanted to break out of her genre,” says Sitomer, “so when she got a job as an action hero in a film, she leveraged her connections from her Drusilla promotions and contacted a magazine to do a shoot of her as the action hero. She then had a cinematographer film the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the photo shoot.” Landau then shared the video broadly on her own Facebook Page as well as the fan pages her fans created.
Some entertainers are even tying this behind-the-scenes content to becoming a fan, requiring that fans Like their page to access it. For example, actor and author Rob Lowe created a custom “Fan Wall” on his Page, where he shares exclusive content and excerpts from his new book Stories I Only Tell My Friends with people who “like” his Page.
4. Use a Facebook Storefront to Turn Fans into Buyers
According to Sumeet Jain, principal at CMEA Capital, more business will be done on Facebook than Amazon within the next five years — which means that the value of transactions completed within Facebook may exceed $34 billion within five years.
But there’s no need to wait; many entertainers are already tapping the tremendous value of their existing fan base today by launching a Facebook storefront, turning their fans into buyers and product evangelists.
“Shopping on Facebook is the next step in the evolution of e-commerce,” says Christian Taylor, co-founder and CEO of social commerce company Payvment. “Facebook is the perfect place for musicians, comedians and other entertainers to promote and sell their content and merchandise. Their fans are already there, and Facebook users don’t like to leave Facebook … so why send them to a separate website to transact?” he says.
Actress Molly Sims is using Payvment’s free Facebook commerce storefront to promote and sell her “Grayce by Molly Sims” jewelry to her more than 150,000 fans and others on Facebook. The storefront also includes Sims’ personal posts, updates and pictures to create a more integrated and social shopping experience.
Other entertainment-focused applications, such as Nimbit, offer musicians, managers and independent labels a storefront for Facebook. Nimbit’s free store allows musicians to sell or give away digital music, and for an additional subscription fee, they can also sell CDs or vinyl, merchandise and e-tickets.
“We’ve found that musicians who use Facebook to launch their releases can benefit greatly from the viral nature of the sharing that goes on,” says Carl Jacobson, VP of marketing at Nimbit. “Fans become promoters, and we’ve seen some artists more than double their expected sales as a result.”