Empower Your Fans

November 16, 2010 - 2 Comments

What everyone can learn from Coca-Cola.

A little over a year ago, I heard someone from Coca-Cola speak at an event that changed the way I thought about Fan Pages (please don’t ask me to remember an event from 14 months ago).  Facebook fan pages were very new, they were popping up all over the place, and then Facebook realized they had a problem. A few brands were threatening lawsuits against Facebook for allowing unofficial fan pages of their products. Facebook quickly initiated a process for transferring ownership to the trademark holder of many fan pages, Cisco being one of them.

This turn of events came as no surprise to anyone, but one story caught my attention. Coca-Cola.

When Coca-Cola was handed ownership of their fan page, they realized that Dusty and Michael had built a vibrant 1,000,000 plus community of loyal fans of the brand. So they took a leap of faith, and turned around and gave the page right back to Dusty and Michael. In the hands of two loyal advocates, Coca-Cola has grown to be the 2nd largest fan page, after Facebook, with 17,898,244 likes.

So here I was, the creator of the Cisco Networking Academy fan page, with a few thousand fans. I was getting to a point where I couldn’t handle the responsibility. Mostly because I wasn’t an expert on the topic that all my fans wanted to discuss. So I took a leap of faith, and granted admin access to 3 individuals that I felt were outstanding members of this small but growing community.

I crafted a terms and conditions document and ran it by my manager who gave me the go ahead. Our safety net was that if any of them ever violated the terms, they would be terminated as an admin of the page. All 3 were passionate instructors, Berry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Aubrey in Australia, and Tomislav in Croatia. I quadrupled my admin strength overnight, added round the clock support, and 2 more languages, French and Croatian.

So what were the results? Take a look at the growth of my community. As of today we’re 141,407 strong, with 90,551 active monthly. The Ambassadors are 7 strong now, fluent in 8 languages, and experts in networking. I’ve also set up a secret Facebook group for them to collaborate and discuss admin related issues like spam, abusive users, etc.

What’s my advice? If you are really interested in building a vibrant community of brand advocates, you need to take a leap of faith and empower your strongest advocates to foster the community for you.


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  1. This is something I have seen over and over again with Facebook fan pages and just new marketing tactics in general. It seems if you give your fans or loyal customers control and more incentive to participate the community will grow virally and faster than if you poured a large budget into it. Organic seems to be the best way to grow a Facebook fan page if you take a look at the few top pages.

  2. Empowering your customers/clients to do your social media and other internet marketing FOR you is something that our practice has just started embracing -with wild results.

    The reality is you can spend all day on the internet trying to create connections and develop your brand image… or you can help enable the people who really matter -your customers- do it for you. Give them the tools to spread your message. Encourage them to post youtube video’s reviewing your service/product and give feedback. Link to that video from your page. Make social media work for you, not the other way around.