‘Fan-Gates’ & Buddy Media: Case Studies

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...April 7, 2011

This is the first in a multi-part series titled “Social Success Stories” in which we explore social media success stories by platforms and organizations.

Case studies provide marketers and organizations with the data they have been craving in the social media landscape to effectively leverage the social medium. In Part One of this series, we’ll examine how the social marketing platform Buddy Media makes the most difficult and first hurdle- accruing Facebook fans- a thing of the past through its ‘fan-gate’ campaigns.

Evangelists: Converting Users to Fans

With three-quarters of the world’s online consumers visiting social networks and 2.5 million websites already integrated with Facebook, it’s imperative that businesses be as efficient as possible in this vast, evolving space. Competition is stiff and it’s no longer enough to simply set up a page and hope for the best. Before increasing engagement and interaction (key metrics that you will ultimately need to grapple with), you must first convert Facebook users into living and breathing evangelists for your brand.

Cultivating loyal fans may be the single most daunting task put before any brand on Facebook though statistics are on a brand’s side with 68% of Facebook users (aged 18-24) becoming fans to gain additional information on a brand or service. Unique content and discussion will organically grow a fan base, but incentives compound their numbers quicker and over a shorter period of time, as Buddy Media has learned.

The ‘fan-gate’ is an effective means of social conversion with call-to-action brand campaigns that offer unique deals or content to Facebook fans only. Leveraging the knowledge that users become fans to gain something additional, a ‘fan-gate’ allows brands to offer a variety of incentives from discounted prices to special advice or commentary.

Pretzel Crisps Case Study: the Discounted ‘Fan-Gate’

Seeking to gain additional fans and exposure, Buddy Media and Pretzel Crisps teamed up to incentivize users with an exclusive ‘for fans only’ coupon during a 24-hour campaign period. The makers of the gourmet pretzel pouches gained 3,500 new fans in that single day (an extraordinary 53% increase).

Not only did the company see direct results to their fan base following the discounted fan-gating campaign, but the offer soon made its way viral across the Internet. Many food and consumer blogs featured posts about the special coupon for fans and continue to spread brand awareness and free advertising long after the campaign has ended

Playboy Case Study: the Content ‘Fan-Gate’

Similarly, Buddy Media partnered with Playboy to attract more loyal fans. Unlike the coupon fan gate, the magazine chose to offer content in keeping with its overall business strategy: the pre-release of a forthcoming cover to Facebook fans only. Not only was this the first time the magazine has ever revealed a cover ahead of publication date, but it was also the first time Playboy utilized a ‘fan-gating’ overlay to attract new fans. The results were clear: the brand achieved a 40% increase in fan conversion during and immediately following the campaign.  

Carnival Cruise Lines: the Interaction ‘Fan-Gate’

When Carnival Cruise Lines wanted to increase its already considerable fan base on Facebook, it joined with Buddy Media to target an audience craving unique interaction before and after their cruising experience. By becoming a fan, a Carnival patron gained access to the ship’s streaming Facebook videos, feedback and message boards and even interaction with crew members. At the time of the initial collaboration on the campaign in late 2009, Carnival had some 45,000 fans. Today, that number well exceeds half a million (635,000 at time of this publication).

Facebook fans provide engagement and interaction metrics that are so crucial in the social media marketing space today. But make no mistake- presence alone will not earn fans no matter how successful the brand may be otherwise. By starting at the tip of the iceberg and implementing strategies to target new fans, organizations of all sizes can extend their reach and begin work on the next step: increased engagement. A fan-gate provides the right call-to-action that attracts new fans and keeps them coming back for more. 

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