By Leilani Haywood
Steve Dailey in Lee’s Summit MO is a drug tester for a private investigation firm and a Santa from November through December. He has a fan page on Facebook with over 10,000 “likes” from all over the world. I set up Santa’s fan page last November when he asked me how could he increase his bookings. “I don’t have a lot of money but I need to get the word out fast about my Santa business,” he told me in late October 2009. I recommended social media as the answer to quickly raise awareness of his Santa business.
When I set up his fan page at that time, I didn’t realize that he was the only Santa on Facebook. We both suggested the page to our friends and within 2 weeks we attracted over 1,000 fans. I was happy about the results and sent out a news release to local media about the Facebook Santa taking gift requests from his home in Lee’s Summit. The Kansas City Star, Lee’s Summit Journal, Lee’s Summit Tribune and Fox 4 News publicized Santa’s Facebook page.
The fan count ramped up to 3,000 within a week of news coverage. Even a reporter from the Los Angeles Times called Steve to interview him for a news story about the Santa business. For those who want to know how to build up your fan counts, here are a few tips from Santa.
#1 Use traditional public relations for your Facebook page. If you have an unusual service or business, send out a news release to promote your page. Of course you should have a reason for someone to visit your page. An example is you were taking donations for a non-profit organization, you could ask potential donors to visit your Facebook page to view photos of or register for an event. This is one of the best ways to build up your “like” base quickly.
#2 Connect your Facebook page with a related cause or brand. Santa partnered with City Union Mission, an outreach to the homeless in Kansas City. We created an “Operation Santa” toy drive to collect gifts for homeless kids and teenagers served by City Union Mission. The Operation Santa drive sparked a second wave of media attention and thousands of more fans. We used Facebook to publicize the drive and sent an update to fans with a link to donate to City Union Mission.
#3 Give and it shall be given unto you. Santa made a surprise visit to the 10 marketing directors at the top hotels and shopping destinations in the metro Kansas City area. The marketing director of the upscale Hyatt Regency hotel came out of an meeting because he had to see Santa. “You made my day,” he said. Santa gave a holiday cardholder that included his business card. That gift yielded a booking at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort and a promise to give him a call for corporate parties.
As you can see, Santa’s Facebook fan page is a key part of his offline outreach. Every day during the holiday season, his posts are folksy stories about the reindeer, elves and creating gifts. But the rest of the year his posts are reminders to keep the holiday spirit of care and giving alive everyday.
By the way, what do you want for Christmas? Tell Santa here!