I spoke to Douglas Draa, editor of Weirdbook Magazine, author, and administrator/moderator for the 1.3+ million-member Weird Tales Magazine Facebook group, as well as owner of the Weirdbook Magazine and Weirdbook Legion pages, about how he grew the audience of the Weird Tales page.
TeleRead: You current follower levels for the Facebook page are very impressive, at over 1.3 million. What level did this start at, and how long did it take to build these numbers?
Douglas Draa: It was at around 6k feed subscribers when I took over. It took me a little less than 18 months to reach the 1.2 million mark, and another year to reach the 1.3 million. The page developed a life of its own and went viral, and started growing daily in leaps and bounds. The page’s current growth is about 5-10K a week.
TeleRead: How important was the Weird Tales brand to the final audience numbers, and do you think other brands or propositions can do the same without such an iconic brand?
Douglas Draa: At first I thought that Weird Tales was an important topic for the feed subscribers. This think might have been true for the first few thousand, but as the page grew it attracted more and more followers who had no interest in or knowledge of Weird Tales. I could post a good piece of art and get several thousand Likes and just as many Shares. I’d then post something genre-specific such as a piece of fiction from the magazine’s past, and maybe get 100 Likes and a few Shares. Looking at this response brings me to the conclusion that only a fraction of a percent of the fans are actually interested in Weird Tales or weird fiction in general.
So I think that the early fans are actually interested your page’s theme/subject, and later on the rest are mostly interested in what you are posting, and not what stands behind it. The “brand,” in my opinion, is only useful for your startup. Continued growth will be dependent on your postings and how quickly the page goes viral/organic.
TeleRead: What kinds of content or traffic-building approaches worked best in building the audience? What was less successful?
Douglas Draa: Oh, this is a tough one. I won’t lie. I had no plan whatsoever. I simply posted to amuse myself, hoping that whatever appealed to me might appeal to others. So i guess that I lucked out. I do believe that I have a wide range of tastes that help to appeal to a large and varied group of people. Sometimes I’m a highbrow kind of guy and sometimes I’m a trashy kind of guy.
I am a firm believer in no politics or religion. That will end up pissing off more people than you attract. I want my pages to be for everyone who shares my interests, and who might just be future customers/purchasers of the product that I’m trying to promote through my page/group. Alienating people just for the hell of it makes no sense to me. Regardless of what you have to say about religion, politics or society, you’ll either be preaching to the choir or seriously pissing folks off. And what’s the point of that?
TeleRead: What do you recommend to any franchises in genres or other areas to build their Facebook and social media communities?
Douglas Draa: Wow, hmm… I guess that you should decide what you want to post, and for what ends you are posting it. Like I said in a previous answer, lots of the folks following Weird Tales have no great interest in the nagazine or reading in general. so I do my best to cater to my core base of followers while keeping the rest amused in order to grow the page – 0.1% of 1,300,000 feed subscribers is a hell of a lot more than 0,1% of 6K, even though I’m assuming that the original fan base consists of mostly “true believers.”
And once you have a fan base, do your best to keep them involved. Get them communicating with the admins and fellow subscribers. Pay attention to what they like and dislike, but don’t let this sway you from you own chosen course. For example, Cheese-Cake/Good Girl/T&A art are is a genre staple, but that doesn’t mean go with it 24/7. That would quickly become monotonous and possibly alienating to a big part of your audience. If the page doesn’t grow as well as you would like then don’t be afraid to play with the content and format. As long as you don’t deviate from your stated mission, that is.
And it can become tedious, but I answer every single message that the Weird Tales and Weirdbook pages receive. These folks are doing me a favor by following the page, and they might just become paying customers if I play my cards right.
You don’t have to kiss anyone’s ass, but always treat the fans with respect and dignity. A happy audience is a loyal audience!