How A 13 Year Old Gained 16,000 Fans In 96 Hours

Facebook Pages IconLogan Ludwig is 13 years old. Like other kids, he likes to play Guitar Hero and hang out with his friends on Facebook. 58 days ago he found out that his grandfather, a decorated police officer of 19 years, was dying of stage 4 lung cancer. Because of a loophole, his employer, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, had denied him benefits and cut his pension from $3000/month to $700/month. Officer Ludwig was forced to sell his home, declare bankruptcy, and live in the basement of one of his son’s homes.

Logan was broken-hearted for his grandad and fishing buddy. He made a Facebook page for Officer Ludwig, which spread like wildfire among his extended family, fellow police officers, cancer survivors, and even Metro employees. He used a combination of Facebook ads and fan page management techniques to grow the user base to 16,000 fans, now increasing at 3,000 fans a day and attracting media attention. Some call this the “BP moment” for Metro Transit.

He did so without any need of programming skills— no custom tabs, FBML/HMTL tricks, or Facebook application development. He did follow some basic Facebook marketing principles, which can be found in our Facebook Pages guide, and had some coaching from his father, a veteran of Internet marketing. This is what Logan did and why:

CHOOSE A GREAT PAGE NAME

Once you choose the name, you can’t change it. If it’s too long, you’ll see the triple dots. If it doesn’t resonate with emotional meaning, people won’t become a fan. If you’re choosing a page name for SEO value only– to inject as many keywords as you can– you’re misguided. Logan chose “Officer Ludwig”. It’s short, conveys authority– and it’s personable. Facebook users want to interact with people, not nameless entities. Further, your page name automatically becomes your ad headline, so it better fit in that context. And since most people still don’t realize that those 3 messages on the side of the page are ads, an ad that says “Officer Ludwig”, has Officer Ludwig’s face, and has a personal greeting from him will draw attention!

If the page title was “Washington Metro Abandons Injured Officer” (which you might choose if writing a news headline or page title to rank in Google search), his mission would have failed. That’s how simple and critical a page title is.
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BUILD UP SEED CONTENT

The chicken and the egg of web promotion is that you need great content to attract users but that if you don’t have users, great content will sit there unnoticed. Logan sidestepped that dilemma by pre-loading just a few items– a couple wall posts and a few photos. He didn’t put in a custom tab, since he doesn’t know how to program, nor did he do a video landing page– which also requires sophistication that most users don’t have. He did change the page admin settings to allow posts by fans and the page itself– which you’ll see later is absolutely critical to igniting viral growth.

CREATE A DUMMY ACCOUNT

Creating a fake account is technically against the Facebook terms of service. However, Officer Ludwig doesn’t use Facebook and is not in a condition to be using a computer. Further, if Logan’s own user account was admin on the page, any comment of his would show up as the page admin, not himself. And because he wanted to comment as both the page admin and himself, he used the two browser trick– using Firefox to be logged in as admin on the dummy account, then being logged into his personal account via Internet Explorer. He can alternate between the voice of the page and that of himself, which also serves to increase the Post Quality Score, also critical to viral growth. More on that in a bit.
(This trick is not endorsed by the editors of this site.)

RUN ULTRA TARGETED, ULTRA PERSONAL ADS

Officer Ludwig being a highly decorated officer– 54 commendations in his career– is well-known in the Washington DC area. So Logan ran ads using Facebook’s workplace targeting, showing messages to DC police officers with “officer down”, “signal 13”, and other vernacular that fellow officers would identify with. He spent a couple days with his uncle, a police officer, and other officers, so he could get the lingo down– to find what combination of messages would resonate. How many advertisers a multiple of Logan’s age don’t spend time understanding their audience base so they can find the right messaging?