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How Cumberland Farms used word of mouth to go from zero to 100,000 Facebook fans in just 6 months

Here’s a guest post Dave Kerpen wrote for our WordofMouth.org project. This post has been adapted from Dave’s book, Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver. If you like this post, check out WordofMouth.org for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

New England convenience store chain Cumberland Farms knew they had a strong fan base around their Chill Zone products (especially among teenagers), they just needed a way to bring this passion out into the open. So, together, our team at Likeable Media and Cumberland teamed up to create and launch their Facebook fan community.

Using Facebook social ads, group outreach, and weekly Chill Zone giveaways, Cumberland Farms incentivized their dedicated customers to spread the word and share the Chill Zone fan page with others. The big lessons from the project:

A group goal can encourage fans to work together

Shared opportunity can drive an entire community to work together in promoting the growth of their community, and Chill Zone generated excitement by presenting a challenge: Help us reach 50,000 fans in three months, and we’ll hold a free Chill Zone Day.

The goal was aggressive, but Cumberland had the heart and the social media strategy to achieve their goals — despite their limited budget.

Focus on the right talkers

The first thing Cumberland did right was correctly target their audience. They knew they needed to capture the hearts of teenagers around New England who loved their product and had the social presence to ignite enthusiasm in their friends and classmates.

Using contests and sweepstakes to create excitement, Chill Zone tapped into the sentiments of this younger crowd and showed them that Cumberland appreciated their loyalty.

These targeted contests and giveaways — in addition to the overall group goal of getting 50,000 fans — generated excitement by presenting an opportunity for fans to work together.

Let the fans take over

Fans responded to the Chill Zone challenge and continued to spread the word — sharing the page with friends until it hit 50,000, then 75,000, and finally 100,000 fans (today they have more than 150,000 fans).

Not only was the number of fans joining the community amazing, but the sentiments of people in the community were even more incredible. People posted on their own pages things such as, “I’ve invited my whole school to become fans” and “I won’t rest until we have 50,000 fans. Chill Zone rules!”

The sales results were amazing as well, Free Chill Zone Day led to over 27,000 redemptions, increased sales by 23% from the previous Friday, and 50% of the total sales for the day were attributed directly to Facebook.

What about you? How have you seen communities rally around a group goal?

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