In 2008, Donna Raphael was introduced to Cruzan® Rum. She always knew about the brand since they were out of St. Croix in the Caribbean, but she never actually had any of their drinks until then. After making a mix with the Black Cherry Rum, she decided that their brand would be her drink of choice when socializing. As someone who was very active on social media during that time, when she liked something she usually looked for that product online. At that time, Facebook groups were still popular since Facebook pages were relatively new and many brands initially had groups. Donna did a few searches for the brand to see if they had any type of online presence besides their website and realized there was none. There were a few fan groups lying around and videos on YouTube but nothing that truly represented the brand. For someone who wanted to follow and keep updated with company updates, Donna figured there had to be other fans out there that felt the same. As a result, she decided to take the initiative and create a fan based Facebook page where other fans of the brand could connect with each other. She thought it would be a fun project to undertake.
Challenge: Cruzan® Rum had no dedicated online presence to complement their branding outside of their website. Social Media as a way to promote your brand and create brand awareness at that time was also just picking up with companies and organizations.
Goals: Donna’s goal was to create an online platform for Cruzan® Rum lovers to come together and share their love of the brand. She wanted to have a central hub for people to share videos, recipes, photos and stories about their love for Cruzan® Rum, St. Croix and the Caribbean.
Solution: In the early months of 2008, Donna created Cruzan® Rum’s very first Facebook Fan Page, independent of the brand.
- She began crafting a plan on what type of content would interest people to the page and pull them in. She did this from a fan perspective as someone who was a fan herself.
- She built a strategy of researching as much as she could about the brand online though the information at that time was a bit limited. She pulled any information she could about the company and their products from the website; She learned about the distillery, and pulled any recipes, photos and videos she could find.
- She created custom graphics showcasing their bottles and plugged in all the necessary information to make the page complete.
- She then started posting content.
- The first thing she did was sharing the page with all of her Facebook friends since she had about 1,000 friends at the time. She requested that they join and share with other friends and family.
- Donna remained consistent in posting content and cited all of her sources so the proper credit for a video, recipe, photo or any other information was given.
- She made sure to stay active in responding to comments and contributions from other people who liked the page and as a result engagement was very high.
In the span of two years, the fan page grew to over 10,000 followers. During that time, the folks of Cruzan® Rum learned about the popularity of the page and reached out to Donna and another one of her friends from Dominica who were page admins.
As a thank you for growing their fan base to over 10,000, they invited her to an all-expense-paid trip to West Palm Beach, FL to attend a Dave Matthews Band Concert and meet the faces behind the Cruzan® Rum team. The concert was held at the Cruzan® Rum Amphitheater.
One of the brand’s direct contacts also began sending Donna recipes and photos to add to the fan page for the followers.
She also received a letter from the President and CEO of the company along with a gift basket, which contained one of the bottles on their first line of Cruzan® Spiced Rum.
Towards the end of 2010, Donna relinquished ownership of the page to the brand per their request and their team took over the Facebook page. Today, she is still a fan of the page and feels great to see that it’s the same page she initially grew from the ground up as one fan looking to connect with other fans of a great brand.