Building your brand on Facebook: 5 questions with The Globeís Jen MacMillan
Posted: December 19, 2011 | 9:12 ET
The rush to engage the 16.6 million Canadians on Facebook is pushing many brands to rethink how they connect with consumers. The Globe and Mail is no different. In recent years, Globe journalists have actively experimented with how to interact with readers on a range of social platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and, of course, Facebook. We have achieved some noteworthy success: with over 41,000 fans, The Globe and Mailís Facebook page has the largest number of followers of any major print media publication in Canada.
We sat down with Jennifer MacMillan, The Globeís Communities Editor, to find out how she creates, nurtures and develops relationships with readers through Facebook and other social media platforms. As she explains, a strong Facebook page is built foremost by identifying the central reason a diverse audience will engage with the brand.
How has The Globe attracted so many Facebook fans?
The short answer is that The Globe is a trusted source of news. Social networks are becoming an increasingly popular way for people in their teens, 20s and early 30s to get their news and share it with friends. The personality of reporters and columnists matters a lot, too, as Canadians seek out trusted voices. People use our Facebook page to get a sense of public debate and opinion. Many share opinions but even more of them are there to listenóthey want to hear what other engaged and concerned people are saying.
What kind of audience does The Globe have on Facebook?
The diversity of our followers is really interesting. Thereís this idea that Facebook is just for college students but itís really not. Fifty percent of our followers are 35-54 years old, and another 16% are over 55, and it skews slightly more female. So the important thing for us, like any brand, is to find the common purpose in this diverse audience. What connects everyone from university students to moms to older folks? In The Globeís case, itís that they seek trustworthy information on current events and a Canadian perspective on whatís happening in the world.
What strategic role does your Facebook page play in marketing The Globe?
But itís also really helpful for us to connect with readers to find out whatís on their mind, what events concern them. Itís a powerful thing to bring together a group of people who are engaged and curious. News media organizations worldwide are undergoing a tremendous digital shift, and itís important to adapt to be innovative about how we can best connect with our readers. We hear it over and over again, through our Catalyst initiative, Facebook, Twitter and comments on our site, that readers want news organizations to connect and engage with them. Thereís still great value in being a trusted voice that can shed a light on stories that might otherwise go untold.
What are some tips for a successful Facebook page?
You first need to have a solid strategy in place for your page: What type of content do you want to post to make sure your Facebook presence is active and vibrant. Itís important to be transparent, to develop trust with users. They need to know that you will answer their questions and criticisms and comments. Itís a social medium, so developing a Facebook page is about making a commitment to invest and grow a community over time.
How do you measure success with a Facebook page like The Globeís?
There are the numbersóhow many ďlikesĒ or comments or article referrals. But when it comes down to it, you also need to assess the quality of engagement. We work at understanding what readers are looking for and how to deliver it to themItís a matter of investing time in that overall approach and not solely in the numbers.
Whatís your top secret for social media success? Whatís working for your brand on Facebook or another social media platforms? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your biggest challenges and successes. We'll post the best on our site and Tweet them too...
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