This week’s Saturday Night Live episode hosted by former Golden Girls star, 88 year-old Betty White, claimed the highest ratings and largest audience since November 1, 2008 when John McCain and Sarah Palin appeared. And who do they have to thank? A fan and his Facebook Page.
After White starred in a viral Super Bowl Snickers commercial, a 29-year old superfan named David Matthews took to the 450+ million user platform in an attempt to garner 5,000 fans before writing a letter to SNL producer Lorne Michaels.
After being picked up by USA Today and Perez Hilton, Matthews says the Page jumped from 8,300 fans to over 22,000. According to AllFacebook, the Page went from 30,000 to 230,000 fans last week. The “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” Facebook Page now claims over half a million “likes” or “fans”, which is simply astonishing.
This phenomenon is a textbook example of how social media can be leveraged to drum up grassroots support for a cause, mobilizing passionate fans and followers to help bring about real world outcomes. Once something like this gets picked up by mainstream media and popular blogs, it can gain a head of steam and simply take off.
We’ve seen athletes like Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudamire turn to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online channels to campaign for All-Star votes. Twitter has also proven a legitimate tool for athletes and celebrities to raise funds in support of worthy causes such as Haiti earthquake relief and the fight against malaria.
However, it should be noted that Betty White’s example is unique for a variety of reasons. White’s edgy yet lovable comedic style makes her appeal to a wide range of fan demographics. “Betty White is one of those rare folks that engenders good will among people,” Matthews says. “The Facebook fanpage’s wall is among the most polite I have ever seen on any other page. There is little, if any, griping, snipping, zinging, etc. There is no politics. It is just a large group of people who share a common wish. Betty White is a person that truly transcends age, gender, race, socioeconomics and politics. Perhaps this is why she is as admired as she is.”
The campaign goal – getting Betty White to host SNL – was also focused and conceivable enough that it wasn’t a far stretch to achieve. In fact, many already felt White was slighted by never having the honor of hosting in her prime, which gave both fans and the media a movement to get behind. Betty White was hot in pop culture and the time was right to capitalize on the digital buzz.
Of course none of this would have been possible even as little as two years ago. It’s amazing how fans can essentially act as talent agents and book celebrity appearances in today’s digital age. Nick O’Neill of AllFacebook makes another keen insight when he states, “It’s interesting how the advertising world of television and Facebook are beginning to merge in strange and unpredictable ways. This is better exposure for Betty White than any paid advertising could ever achieve, and it’s all from user generated content.”
What do you think about Betty White’s influential Facebook Page? Are you a fan?