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Leslie Drate on how NVIDIA builds passionate social communities with great content

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We’re proud to call Leslie Drate a member of since 2011 as a Team Lead of Global Digital and Social Media at Cisco Systems, and now as a Social Media Strategist at NVIDIA. For this story, she sat down with us to talk about NVIDIA’s content strategy and amazing social media fans.

Here are a few numbers from Facebook you don’t hear often: 979 likes on a comment for a post with over 6,800 likes and 535 shares. This isn’t a viral video or a click-baited listicle — it’s a photo of a custom-built PC by one of NVIDIA’s 1.4 million Facebook fans. The best part: That engagement is organic.

NVIDIA’s Social Media Strategist, Leslie Drate, says this is normal for their highly engaged fan base of gamers and enthusiasts on Facebook. But in a time when Facebook’s drop in organic reach is making headlines, she realizes this is a big deal.

“It’s mind blowing. Our fans mean everything to our business.”

“They’re fantastic advocates. We feel very fortunate to have hundreds, if not thousands, of those advocates out there. We can receive several thousand likes on a post organically and get a couple thousand comments just by asking for their opinion. They love to give their input, and they like to talk with each other,” says Leslie.

Each week NVIDIA features photos of gaming room setups or custom-built PCs submitted by their fans on Facebook. Leslie’s team picks a winner, puts NVIDIA’s logo in the corner of the photo, and shares it on their wall. She recalls how one self-proclaimed fan boy said the highlight of his love for NVIDIA came when his photo was chosen to be featured.

“He said he couldn’t stop smiling for three hours straight when he saw our logo added to the bottom of his photo,” Leslie says.

Once NVIDIA posts user-generated content, it spurs big conversations.

These photo features often erupt into great conversations between NVIDIA’s gaming fans. They’ll share building tips, post photos of their own custom builds, and ask some pretty technical questions.

“It’s interesting because the fans will moderate the conversations on their own. People will ask questions about how they built it, and they’ll share the specs and their experiences building it. Our fans are phenomenal at responding to each other’s questions,” Leslie explains.

While their Facebook fans are usually gamers, they also have a big audience in the business world.

NVIDIA’s visual computing technology is a part of anything from medical diagnoses to scientific research, product design, and, of course, video games.

Leslie explains, “We get everything in between the business side and the gaming side. Folks who build brand loyalty in the gaming world will sometimes move into the business world and seek out our products for the visual benefits in industries like media and entertainment. There’s a real spectrum.”

To help speak to their wide range of audiences, NVIDIA plans content for different demographics on different platforms.

While a large portion of their Facebook and Google+ audiences are made up of NVIDIA’s 18-24 year-old male gamer demographic, their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are populated mainly by business audiences. For example, on LinkedIn, they might share an article on their CFO making a Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Tech list.

Leslie says this strategy is based on insights from platform metrics, but also from social listening.

Social video is another important piece of that content strategy.

As a visual computing tech company and inventor of the graphics processing unit, a lot of NVIDIA’s stories are visual. With global YouTube channels and a brand presence on Vine, they often tell those stories with video.

Leslie says, “People are consuming video as a form of communication in an exponentially greater magnitude than they have in the past. We used to read all of our content. Now we’re watching videos all day long without even realizing it. I think it’s really important to participate in the form of communication people want to consume your content in.

NVIDIA has a flexible content calendar to keep things relevant to their audience.

“We have no shortage of content here. So we handpick what we think fans will be most interested in and key announcements. We never push anything that wouldn’t be relevant to them,” Leslie explains.

But as for a content calendar, they like to keep things open and in real time.

I don’t understand how anybody can have a rigid schedule and still be newsworthy. Things happen every day. We have to keep our content lively by reacting to that. We roll with the punches and it keep things interesting.”

That kind of fan-centric social strategy seems to be working.

“Our fans seem to have an endless passion for participating.”

In her role, Leslie gets to hear lots of great stories from NVIDIA’s passionate enthusiasts. For example, one fan talked about connecting with his father by building a gaming rig together after his mother died. She says that passion for NVIDIA is based on a consistent, high-quality experience with their products.

She admits, “For me, it’s such a great community experience enabling the fans to share with one another.”

Follow Leslie Drate on Twitter and ask about her adorable Collie. Meanwhile, check out the NVIDIA fan activity for yourself on their Facebook page.

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