Passion, participation, pictures and the popularity of celebrities like Betty White: those are among the key elements for creating a strong fan base on social platforms, according to a panel of digital media executives at Digital Hollywood’s Media Summit in New York on Wednesday.
Community building is high on the list of crucial social media strategies, but it still eludes many brands. During social media’s early stages, some enterprising fans even established brands’ social media presence before the companies themselves got around to it. After playing catch-up, more organizations now are embracing their social communities.
The media and entertainment brands represented on the panel, including WhoSay Media (celebrity publishing platform), DailyCandy (city guides discovery site), Wikia (Wikipedia’s sister site) and Crown Media Family Networks (Hallmark Channel), may have an edge, since they represent hot celebrity assets and focus on fun topics. Still, their tips for creating effective social communities apply across categories:
1. Pictures: “A few pics a week is the secret sauce for having a vibrant community. Our talent wants to be on Instagram”, said WhoSay Media’s VP of talent, Harvey Schwartz. For example, their client Danny DeVito posted amusing shots of his troll feet while sports stars Christiano Ronaldo and Mariano Rivera posed with each other and a certain Mick Jagger shared a photo taken while recording last summer in a Paris studio.
DailyCandy also uses Instagram, sending behind-the-scenes takes during photo shoots. Pinterest is their other favored visual platform. As editor Ashley Parrish said, “Pinterest is about finding hidden gems, since our readers are treasure hunters.”
2. Participation: “Social media has brought our readers under the tent”, said Parrish. “Platforms like Instagram have helped to pull the curtain on live event coverage. Through live tweeting at events we listen and join in on the conversation, and Facebook is an ongoing touchpoint.”
WhoSay is designed for celebrities to share content with their fans. But according to Schwartz, their famous members can also interact with each other through the platform’s intranet. (Ever wonder how celebrities from different fields connect, or how they avoid wearing the same outfits on awards nights?)
3. Popularity: “For us, it’s the Betty White factor. Everyone has a soft spot for her, along with strong sentiments for Lucy and Desi Arnaz” [I Love Lucy show stars], said Mike Freeman, social media specialist at Crown Media Family Networks. Multigenerational content is also part of Hallmark’s emotional appeal. Last week would have been Desi’s 96th birthday, so they posted an old photo.
4. Passion: “Our fans do the heavy lifting for our brands”, according to Wikia’s CEO, Craig Palmer. “Wikia revolves around content people love, and our fans create collaborative work. They engage at a deep level to celebrate their topic.” Wikia’s legendary Star Wars community is so devoted that it integrated its content with the film’s creator, Lucas Films. Wikia also worked with Warner Brothers on The Hobbit to build a fantasy and fellowship alliance.
So to paraphrase a famous expression, keep your friends close–and your highly loyal fan base closer.
Photo courtesy of WhoSay Media / Mick Jagger