ABC Family On Social Media Marketing: Let Your Fans Guide You
- May 3rd, 2011
- 3 Comments
ABC Family shows have over 12 million Facebook fans and more than 250,000 Twitter followers (and counting!). The network has developed such a huge following by treating social media as a key component of its marketing strategy and allowing fans to speak their minds — whether positive or negative. We chatted with Danielle Mullin, VP Marketing, and Beth Johnson, VP Digital Media, about the perils and pitfalls — and the significant rewards — of engaging an audience on social media. Through their experience, they offer other marketers helpful advice…
You can hear more from Danielle and Beth at the Youth Mega Mashup this June, where they will be discussing their marketing tactics for the hit show “Pretty Little Liars.”
Ypulse: You’ve developed a very active audience on social media channels — 4 million+ Facebook fans, 100,000+ Twitter followers for “Pretty Little Liars” alone — how do you achieve those numbers and develop such a significant level of audience engagement and response? What are your tips for other youth marketers?
Danielle Mullin and Beth Johnson: Our strategy involves listening. We pay attention to what our fans are talking about and then we engage with them around those subjects — not just once a week, but daily. We ask interesting questions about the latest plot twists, we answer fan questions, we thank fans for their support. We really take the time to cultivate one-on-one relationships with our fans.
Our advice for other marketers is to do your research — read what your consumers are already saying about your brand, and then develop an authentic voice to speak to your fans as if they were your friends. Friendship isn’t one-sided. And the communication on social networking platforms shouldn’t be one-sided either.
YP: You give fans a significant voice on your social media sites. You even post fan art and don’t seem to censor comments very much. Is that critical for authenticity and fostering fan interaction? (It’s clear that some fans use the site to communicate with each other via comments, even though I assume they don’t know each other in real life.)
DM & BJ: We love our fans. It’s very important to provide them with a forum to express their thoughts and ideas. We don’t censor comments (unless there are any obscenities within the comment) because we know that our fans won’t love every aspect of a particular episode or a particular character. That’s okay with us.
We welcome spirited dialogue around our shows and are thrilled to have such a passionate fan base. And censorship overall isn’t necessary — if you look closely at the comments on most of our posts, you’ll see that fans are very adept at calling each other out if they think someone is being unfair. And yes, we’ve seen many virtual friendships develop as fans bond over their shared love of a character or show.
YP: How do you prepare a brand that is new to social media for such a partnership and what they’ll encounter with fans online? It can be a scary moment for brands, getting direct feedback — both positive and negative — from fans.
DM & BJ: Your brand can grow and evolve based on the feedback you receive in the social media space, but you need to be prepared for both the positive and the negative, and when you allow an open forum for fans, we think they appreciate it. You’re not a “brand” anymore—you’re just someone who is listening and respecting all the diverse opinions that are out there.
We learn a lot from our fans every day. They tell us what we can do better, and sometimes, we can actually implement an immediate change. When fans of our “25 Days of Christmas” Facebook page expressed their desire to have a particular holiday movie air as part of our schedule this past Christmas, we added that movie and told our fans that we valued their input.
YP: In what ways have you allowed fans to have a say in the direction of the show and its style? Are you ever concerned about giving fans too much input or control?
DM & BJ: We look at the comments on our social networking platforms all the time and share the information we uncover across multiple departments. Fans don’t make our decisions for us, but we certainly listen to their likes and dislikes.
YP: Having significant experience using social media tools for marketing, in what ways do you find social media limiting or challenging? What do you wish social media could do for you that it isn’t yet capable of, and what marketing goals do you turn to other channels to fulfill?
DM & BJ: Social media is constantly evolving, so you have to always be ready to adapt to any changes. We’ll continue to be open to new ways to reach our fans and new ways for them to reach us, and we’ll evolve our communication strategies accordingly. Social media is a way of life for our Millennial viewers and we think that usage will definitely continue to increase.
The bottom line is social networking platforms continue to be a great tool to build one-on-one relationships with fans and keep them excited about the network and our shows. But marketing across all platforms remains important — when consumers see a TV spot that gets them excited, or an intriguing print ad in a magazine — they turn to social networking platforms to share their thoughts. It’s great to see the impact of all of the individual tactics in a marketing campaign come together in the social media space where fans themselves become the best advocates for our shows.
YP: For more information about Danielle and Beth’s session and other presentations happening at the Youth Mega Mashup, download the conference brochure.
Ypulse is also honoring the most innovative youth-targeted marketing campaigns with the 2nd annual GennY Award, presented on stage at the conference. While the official deadline for submissions was yesterday, we have been known to grant an extension or two; email us if you’re interested in submitting your campaign for consideration.