Fans? HSUS Has A Million Of ’em

January 2, 2012       Mark Hrywna      

What do one million fans on Facebook look like? The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has the answer – in the form of an infographic that details all sorts of information about its fans.

The “A Million Reasons” campaign is part of the celebratory focus by HSUS, which is asking fans to add their pet’s photo and story to their collection. “It’s an integrated campaign. It’s not just about Facebook,” said Carie Lewis, director of emerging media at HSUS. The organization also emailed its house file of 1.2 million people, placed a billboard on its homepage, and produced a video blog from CEO Wayne Pacelle.

The campaign launched Nov. 2 when HSUS reached 1 million fans on Facebook. “The campaign is still going on, so the infographic and what’s in there is only a small part of what we’re learning about our fans,” said Lewis. It took almost 4½ years to reach 1 million fans, starting with the first on May 25, 2007 and hitting 1 million on Nov. 2, 2011. Some details about fans wasn’t a surprise. For instance, the charity’s demographics have always skewed female, according to Lewis. Almost 80 percent of the 1 million HSUS fans are female, which matches the proportions in its direct mail file and online file, she said.

What was a little more revealing was where those fans are located. Lewis said HSUS might use the geographic breakdown to do targeted Facebook posts. “We may look for content in those areas, rather than waiting for us to have stuff. We may ramp up targeted posts based on top cities,” she said. HSUS has done some targeted posts in the past where information might be particularly relevant to a certain region.

The top cities for HSUS’ one million fans were:

• New York — 14,019

• Chicago — 13,705

• Dallas — 12,622>

• Los Angeles — 12,502

• Seattle — 11,587

The demographic data was gleaned from Facebook Insights, while some of the other facts were accessed through Facebook’s advertising data. For instance, 35 percent of the one million fans use iPhones compared with 27 percent who use an Android. Among the artists favored by HSUS fans are Katie Perry (288,620), Justin Bieber (240,660) and Lil Wayne (215,680), with smaller segments favoring Barry Manilow and The Beatles (8,140). More fans are self-described “dog people” (342,860) than “cat people” (173,680) while there also are those who consider themselves “horse people” (116,647) or “pig people” (42,980). The random television shows, artists and hobbies of fans were included to “show how diverse our audience is,” said Lewis, adding that Facebook’s advertising data gives a good representation of that.

HSUS also employed, for the first time, a fill-in-the-blank technique, asking fans for their pet’s funniest habit. “It was interesting to see the different responses and how many people wanted to participate in something so simple,” said Lewis. “But really it wasn’t about the data we got from that, people really love to give their opinion and we’ll do more in the future,” she said. The funniest habit, by the way, was “running while sleeping.”

The favorite post among fans was a Hurricane Irene rescue photo album, based on the number of comments and likes, which didn’t come as a surprise because Lewis said both fans and/or donors love seeing where donations are used. During Hurricane Irene in August, HSUS kept updating information and photos about its response. “We closed the loop on that too because it showed where donations were needed, where they were used and what we were doing where,” she said. “We’ve learned that that kind of post, closing the loop, really makes a difference.”

Facebook has been the biggest driver to HSUS’ website for more than one year, and is directly attributable to making the organization’s emails shareable. “People share our emails more than any other content so we put a lot of time into it,” said Lewis, not only making them shareable but ensuring they look sharp, have good descriptions and strong subject titles.

Lewis said they brought the submission form into the Facebook page to make it as easy as possible to upload and submit a photo. If people have to jump through a few hoops, they just won’t do it.

“To get attention, you need to make it as easy possible,” she said. HSUS has been advertising on Facebook for about two years, most of the time tying it into campaigns. “We love it because it’s so targeted and people give up so much information so you can target them based on interests and information in profiles,” said Lewis. HSUS caters content and tends to have a difference voice on Facebook in part because its demographics skew younger on Facebook, she said. The Humane Society’s main goals on Facebook advocacy and fundraising but the top priority is customer service. “We’re big on customer service. Everyone gets an answer,” said Lewis. NPT