Patrick Starzan, Funny or Die‘s VP of marketing and business development, believes a strong social media strategy means more than accelerating follower counts. “We’re always working to grow those communities–and not just grow them, but make sure engagement stays at a very high rate.”
“We’re data driven. We track every Tweet, Facebook post, Tumblr post and pin—from the time of day, to the day of the week, to copy, to type of content, to how many characters are in the content to try to optimize for engagement,” Starzan says, noting that the data didn’t just teach the Funny or Die crew what they were doing right–it also taught them what they were doing wrong. “Back in the day we probably tweeted too many times in the day and we started seeing un-follow rates go up,” he admits.
Starzan might be focused on engagement, but that doesn’t mean every engagement attempt always works (and as Chloe Sladden notes, that’s okay). “On Facebook, for a couple of months, we had polls and had people submit their videos. People could vote which one would go on the FoD homepage. We would take a couple of user-submitted videos and have people vote on them. People say they care, but they didn’t care enough to vote. And the videos we were getting just weren’t good. We were trying to force something that we felt would be community-driven and get really excited but it just never did that,” Starzan recalls.
Over time, Starzan and his colleagues found ways to engage their readers effectively–by being entertaining, not patronizing. “Now we do a lot of things on Facebook: comment contest, fill-in-the-blanks contests just to get people to have fun. We want you to be talking on these pages. One thing that we never do is post our content over and over again. We surround our content with other things the community can do. Contests. Jokes. Behind-the-scenes pictures from shoots. Pictures from around the office about what just goes on everyday at FoD. We get celebs to sign stuff after shoots and give those away. We truly feel to be effective on any social media platform, the end user and the community has to feel that they’re benefiting.”
“Everyone says–kids especially–they don’t want to be marketed to or advertised to. That’s not true. They don’t want to be talked down to. Or think you’re trying to pull something over them. They want to be entertained.”
Check out our crowdsourced guide: #TheRules of Social Media.
[Image: Flickr user Pat Gaines]