Using Facebook to launch your brand

How the social networking site helped Little Airplane launch Small Potatoes.
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Little Airplane Productions creates and produces international pre-school television series like The Wonder Pets, and 3rd & Bird. In the past, we've relied exclusively on our broadcast partners to promote our shows a few weeks prior to their launch. However, with our new series, Small Potatoes, we made the decision to start promoting the show ourselves a full six months before the show's premiere on CBeebies using only one tool: Facebook.

The Small Potatoes Facebook page now boasts over 12,000 fans and averages 40,000 daily page views. To give you some context, that's more Facebook fans than pre-school TV hits The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Dinosaur Train and Super Why combined. And Small Potatoes isn't even on the air yet.

Small Potatoes won't launch on CBeebies until mid-April, and our Disney Junior launch in the US isn't until later this year, but we've already built a loyal international fan base. How did we do it? Well, I can't tell you all of our secrets, but I can tell you a few ways we've gotten the notoriously picky Facebook community to embrace our brand and help spread the word about the Small Potatoes.

1) We Don't Sell.
Facebook users have a nose for when companies are trying to push product on them and they don't like it one bit. Why? Because Facebook is an extension of their personal lives, so any type of overt marketing is considered as intrusive as having a telemarketer call your home during dinner. A good Facebook page needs to provide an experience that users simply want to become a part of. In other words, you can lead a Facebook user to water but you can't make them drink or, in this case, like you.

2) We Listen And We Reply.
We respond to every single posting on our Small Potatoes Facebook page. Sometimes it's a few sentences and sometimes it's just a cute Potato Emoticon that let's them know we heard them and that we care. The result is a level of fan loyalty that a traditional marketing campaign simply cannot deliver.

3) We're Global.
With the help of Google Translate, we post messages to our fans all over their world in their own languages. As a result, we now have about as many fans in Indonesia as we do in the United Kingdom. For these international postings, we typically focus on the countries where we have broadcast partners for the Small Potatoes. Facebook Insights provides us with key information about our fans, so we know exactly how many fans we have in Birmingham, Paris or Kuala Lampur and roughly how old they are. This data has been invaluable in helping us shape our licensing plan for the series. For example, we now know that, in addition to pre-schoolers and parents, our character designs have a strong appeal for teenage girls.

4) We're Creative.
About every hour we post a new and never before seen image of the Small Potatoes along with a short, funny quote from the characters. We also play games like Small Potatoes Story Time, in which we begin a story that our fans and their caretakers help us complete using their postings. And, a few months back, when our fans began requesting potatoes that looked like their Facebook profile pictures, our Little Airplane designers began making and posting these custom potatoes on our page. As you can imagine, the fans love this feature and they typically adopt their potato avatars as their Facebook pictures. This doesn't take a lot of effort on our part and it helps build extraordinary loyalty among our fans.

How big will our Facebook commmunity grow once our show is actually on the air? We'll just have to wait and see. But Little Airplane's inexpensive and, quite frankly, enjoyable Facebook initiative has already helped us build tremendous interest in our brand from a wide variety of international licensing partners. It has also made this month's Small Potatoes premiere on CBeebies one of the most highly anticipated launches in recent children's television history.

We invite you to check out our Small Potatoes Facebook Page at: http://facebook.dj/smallpotatoes/

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