NOTE: I initially wrote this article in early 2016 but never published it until today (9-24-17). However, upon looking at the results of the two anime streaming companies this month, I thought it would be an interesting “Back to the Future” case study. See current results here.

Original Post:
I generally don’t make social media posts. But over the past few months, I’ve been getting irked at how my favorite anime broadcasting company “Funimation” is stinking up the joint with Facebook.

Take a look at last week’s 1-14 through 1-21 numbers of engagement.

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1.7 Million Likes with 12K people talking about Funimation. This equates to a 0.7% engagement with the brand. This might not be the exact measure of engagement, but for a company that makes about 50 posts a week, this is abysmal.

In the meantime, a relative newcomer to the Anime Entertainment scene “AnimeLab” has been dominating Facebook for months now. Take a look at their previous week’s engagement numbers.

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“Killing it” would be an understatement with how they have been performing. 591K likes with 174K people talking about it equates to a blazing 29.4% engagement with the brand. This is a 41x difference between the brands.

I will break down what Funimation is doing wrong and will provide strategies & examples of ways to improve their Facebook Engagement. If I were Funimation, this is what I would do to increase their Facebook presence.

For those unfamiliar, Funimation is one of the biggest anime licensing companies that provides subbed and dubbed versions of anime. If you have ever seen an anime where the characters are speaking English, chances are that they produced it. It’s a growing niche that I am familiar with.

It’s only been recently where Funimation has begun branding themselves as the premier anime streaming source. “Anime. Anytime. Anywhere” can give you the idea of the current brand positioning. As a matter of fact, they are in the middle of a transition period of launching “Funimation | Now”, a full fledged anime-streaming service.

While I’m excited about this change, they still need to make some drastic changes on Facebook.

Let’s Discuss and Fix Funimation on Facebook

Let’s compare the numbers of a typical funimation post compared to a typical AnimeLab post.

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AnimeLab – 50x more likes, shares & video views to Funimation. Assuming the post quality was similar, why is such a difference in viewership & engagement? This is because of EdgeRank

Understanding EdgeRank

EdgeRank is the of the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what the content is shown on someone’s newsfeed.

Similar to Google’s algorithm, the primary goal of EdgeRank is to determine the quality of a post and will show it to users that it sees fit. Unfortunately, depending on the quality of posts, likes, comments & shares, Facebook will limit a number of organic views that are shown.

In other words, even if you have millions of fans on your Facebook page, poor engagement = fewer views.

In the case of Funimation, they haven’t had much engagement for a long time.

So How Can Funimation Improve Their Facebook Presence?

Before we dive into this, we need to take a step back and provide meaningful goals.

Assuming Funimation wants to gain market share with streaming anime, they have to:

  • Educate users about their streaming platform
  • Convince users they are worth the price

We will also assume that while Funimation still gets revenue from their hard copy sales, the goal is to gain streamer viewership.

So now that we have a better understanding of what they want, we want to tie this into our Facebook campaigns that allow for its current fanbase to get engaged with and share content. Thus improving edgerank and thus, improving user engagement that will expedite the learning curve of new customers while convincing them it’s worth the value.

Reverse Engineering Top Target Markets

With over 17 million fans, finding one primary target market won’t be enough. However, let’s come up with a range of specific traits of a primary target. So let’s take a look at Facebook Audience Insights.

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Men generally outnumber women 2:1 when interests include funimation and other anime. And we see a staggering number of 18 to 24-year-olds enjoying anime compared to ages 35 & older.

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Overall Facebook activity suggests that their target market is way more likely to like posts, make comments and share more frequently compared to a typical facebook user.

Seeing such activity does explain why AnimeLab continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Target Market Interests

So at the moment, we can see that our general target market is between 18-24 male that likes to share content.

Here are some current interests.

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We can start to get a better idea of what a current fan of their channel enjoys. While we get a list of some popular anime’s, it’s important for Funimation to note that fans are interested in their overall selection as well.

Native Content – Appropriate for Funimation

I have two main gripes with Funimation’s content strategy.

  • Most of the content is purely focused on promoting products (DVDs) and to watch the stream.
  • Almost all of the content isn’t worth sharing or talking about

Take this piece from Australia Day

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1.7 Million fans, only 1.5K views and 1 share. Basic math says 1.5K / 1.7M = Atrocious.The video is 10+ minutes long. This is not natural to a Facebook user who is browsing on mobile or even on a desktop. The post content is ambiguous, are they asking fans to answer or is this a question that is talked about on their video? I’m very confused as to the point of this post.

Solution: Stop hurting your Edgerank and keep broadcasting your show on Twitch and upload your content to Youtube & and website blog. It would help draw in more organic visitors that are targeted on the correct medium.

Major Mistake – Using Facebook as a Megaphone

Looking at the first example, you can see that a vast majority of Facebook posts don’t have much engagement and they all require some sort of call-to-action.

Remember: Facebook and social media as a whole thrive because of the “social” aspect. It’s not hard to run astray from this concept. The first thing I would do is drop 95% of posts that focus on promoting DVD sales.

Understanding Strengths & Weaknesses

When Funimation | Now comes into full force, they will be battling with other streaming networks such as Crunchyroll & AnimeLab. AnimeLab has a free service and a premium option that is comparable with Funimation, and Crunchyroll has the biggest selection of anime available (subbed).

Funimation will need flex it’s major strengths

  • Most popular animes
  • Exclusive English Dubs right after Japanese Subs are released
  • Hundreds of dubs & subs stream available for both casual and hardcore fans

However, all of this is meaningless if they are unable to connect with their existing fanbase to take advantage of EdgeRank

How to connect with their fanbase

First – They have to put a halt to scheduled timing

Timing

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The majority of posts come either come at 00,15,30, or a variation of 3 minutes before those time frames. Normally I don’t mind automation, but by using almost all scheduled posts, they are missing out on major opportunities for getting in on trends or creating any viral activity.

Second – Create new posts that highlight moments from various animes. It wouldn’t hurt to be bold and not mention the name of the anime so fans can leave a comment and ask for the anime name. This is where AnimeLab dominates! See for yourself.

testerWhat I love most about this is that creates significant value and accomplished the following:

  • The post shows personality and helps enhance the video content
  • Short & Sweet – 30 seconds long which allows for easy sharing
  • Anyone entertained by this clip now has a newfound interest in finding this anime and watching it.
  • This also reinforces the fact that AnimeLab has a wide selection of anime
  • Fellow fans who have already watched the show will discuss it and (hopefully) encourage others to take a look
  • Don’t forget, fans also tag friends that increase the exposure of your posts.

 

All of the above make EdgeRank more likely to show future posts to their audience. Note that links are mentioned in the comments section. Users browsing on the phone or on a desktop will be more likely to click the link in the comment section since it would either be requested or less intrusive. It also feels more natural and has a “word of mouth” element to it.

 

Third – Join in on the fun. In this particular niche, fans like to talk about, discuss, and share anime. Funimation needs to understand this. From subreddits dedicated to top animes to forums across the web, there is plenty of user content that can be used and shared! Not every post has to be a promotion, it can be a great way to build brand awareness.

Case & Point:

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Over 4,000 Shares for a simple meme on a popular anime. AnimeLab understands the importance of being an “anime junkie” and it shows. Posts like these help boost user engagement and allow for more visibility on future posts.

Mistake – TOO MUCH GOING ON

I don’t know how this happened, but there is an overabundance of CTA’s and options available that appear have a negligible effect on engagement.

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  • 18 different options for more. What’s the point in all of this?
  • A majority of these options are videos/products they are promoting, mainly pointing to beautiful, yet useless landing pages
  • “KamiKiss” Contest – Already expired and there is no use for this
  • Two contests that are available, no longer able to enter. Should be taken down.
  • Given the amount of current engagement and limited engagement, these sections should bring every little traffic to the website.

Solution – Keep it simple!

Remove all of the various anime links and contests and replace it with relevant content that fans will be likely to engage with. Take this list for example

  • Videos
  • Likes
  • Anime Streaming Schedule
  • DVD Releases
  • Contests

That’s it, done.

 

Hello? Is Anyone There?

With Funimation’s current Facebook strategy, it appears that answer questions and responding to messages tend to fall by the wayside.

Funimation does have a separate page for customer help (about 700 fans).

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But it’s sparingly used and it feels like an unnecessary add-on (and obnoxious to find), especially when the fan base already has the main Facebook page to a message.

Quite often users have questions that don’t receive any sort of answer.

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Facebook launched Messenger for Business in 2015 and it allows brands to directly connect with customers in real time. Fans will be able to see when a business is online and how long they should expect to hear a response. Big brands such as Hyatt have already tested it and are seeing amazing results.

Adding Messenger for Business and focusing additional efforts on Funimation’s primary Facebook Page allows current customers and fans engaged with the brand. It will also allow for opportunities to convert fans to paying customers.

Funimation – Ditch the unneeded “help” Facebook page and centralize your customer experience on your main page. Facebook Messenger for Business would be a great tool to communicate with customers & increase sales.

Summary

Funimation has built a massive brand over the years and should have a more engaged user base. But anime upstart “Animelab” has been crushing it and it will only a matter of time before they will surpass them.

Results

Updated: September 24, 2017 – It’s been over 18+ months (Feb, 2016) since I originally wrote this. As it stands today, here are the current numbers.

  • Funimation: 1,873,412 likes (+160,000 followers since Feb, 2016)
  • AnimeLab: 2,156,662 likes (+1,564,000 followers since Feb, 2016)

This post isn’t so much about Funimation dropping the ball but rather understanding how an up and coming company knew how to use social media to gain an incredibly loyal fan base with millions of followers.