Virgin Active, Men’s Health boost fan engagement with evly

Taking user engagement beyond simply clicking “like” on a Facebook page can reap huge rewards for brands

July 31, 2012

Taking user engagement beyond simply clicking “like” on a Facebook page can reap huge rewards for brands, says Eric Edelstein CEO of evly.com – especially for early movers.

“A lot of local brands are still stuck at the popularity contest stage of bragging about how many Likes their Facebook page has,” says Edelstein. “But Facebook on its own is still a very limited tool for user engagement – if you want to do something a little more interesting, like run a competition, encourage fans to share with their friends and make more use of the data people are adding to your page, then you need an engagement app.”

Edelstein cites Virgin Active and Men’s Health as two brands that have successfully used a combination of social media savvy and evly’s user engagement tools to create high-quality interactions with their fans.

Men’s Health used evly to manage its Belly Off Readers’ Challenge, which invited men around the country to see who could achieve the best results in a 12-week diet and exercise challenge.

“We were hoping to get 300-400 entrants, but in the end we got over 1 000,” says Renato Balona, the Head of New Media for Lifestyle Magazines at Media24. “evly made it possible for fans to share their comments and updates on our Facebook wall, which definitely delivered the virality we were looking for. It got so busy we actually had to ramp it down a bit.”

The news was even better for the competition sponsor, adds Balona. “The Coke Zero banners on the campaign got a click through rate of 12% compared to an industry average of around 0.6%,” he says. “That’s a huge difference.”

Virgin Active is seeing similar success with its “Help Us Help You” campaign to gather member ideas for how to improve their gym experience. “We’re using evly to source ideas for how to make the business better,” explains social media manager Giovanni Ghignone. “We have four million people using our clubs each month: There are bound to be issues that crop up that we don’t know about, and our members know what can be done. By providing an effective platform for dialogue, we can move people beyond complaining to helping us find solutions.”

So far, says Ghignone, “We have some really, really good ideas coming through. They can’t be implemented immediately, but we are looking at how they can work in practice. We’re really excited by the fact that we can bring our members in as part of the business.”

Ghignone says evly has proved easy to implement and use: “We could develop something ourselves, but why would we when all the tools we need are there already? I can easily manage the campaign, pull all the reports I need and fine-tune the way user interaction works.”

Like Men’s Health, Virgin Active found that the initial response to the campaign was almost too enthusiastic: “People were sharing so much that their friends were seeing our brand two or three times an hour at peak times, which was just too much – we didn’t want to become spammy. But it was easy to adjust our settings so that didn’t happen any more.”

“I’m not in it for my page Likes,” says Ghignone. “They’re nice to have and I’m grateful for them, but they don’t show how well we are doing our job. It’s more important that we actually follow up on member queries and issues. The golden rule of our service strategy is ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ – evly is helping us do that.”