A Facebook engagement model of excellence

Kevin Callahan post by: Kevin Callahan


The list of successes for Eric Whitacre is a long one, including:

  • His compositions have been commissioned and performed around the world by groups ranging from school music classes to the highest levels of professional ensembles;
  • A US iTunes Store search returns 150 albums containing his music, including his own chart-topping 2010 release of Light and Gold;
  • He was a key contributor to the latest Disney Pirates of the Caribbean series soundtrack, and has pushed the boundaries of the music theatre genre with his award-winning Paradise Lost;
  • He is a TED fellow, with his ground-breaking Virtual Choir project being the innovation that he covered in his talk.

The collection of awards, critical acclaim, and high profile projects goes on and on, and the momentum around his work continues to grow.

As of May 2011, Whitacre also has more than 62,000 fans on his Facebook Page, and they’re active! They pepper the Wall with a nearly constant stream of posts in the form of questions, shoutouts, and praises, and they regularly respond to Whitacre’s status updates with dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of Likes and comments.

For a brand reaching out to customers and advocates, it is an enviable level and quality of engagement. And by reading through Whitacre’s posts and watching his YouTube submissions, you can begin to see why. Because after all of the glamor, hype, and glitter are stripped away, there remains a single poignant truth: Eric Whitacre’s music and projects bring true, deep meaning to people’s lives, often to the point of completely changing them.

Whitacre’s voice and presence, along with his uncanny ability to project his substantial charisma, integrity, and authenticity through social media, create a strong positive feedback loop that draws in increasing levels of participation. Fans accept his openness as an invitation to share what is real for them, while YouTube and Facebook enable direct contribution to Whitacre and each other. And when they do, there’s often a reply in short order from Whitacre himself (see an example in the screenshot below), which range from an emoticon or brief thank you to a witty jab, word of encouragement, or other personal response.

Another example: Whitacre recently put out a call for questions from fans, and then posted a 17-minute video response that was more reminiscent of a conversation with a close friend than a PR piece.


The whole social media ecosystem growing around his work has this same feeling of organic crowdsourced growth, though with a level of quality and respect that absolutely defies the lowest common social denominator rampant on the web. Look for another big bump in participation this summer, too, when Virtual Choir 3.0 is announced.

If your brand wants to raise the quality of dialogue and engagement on your Facebook Page to an Eric Whitacre-type level, here are four questions for your marketing team to talk through:

  • How do you positively impact the lives of our customers?
  • How do you engage with social media to encourage customers to directly participate?
  • What is the online persona of your brand, and is it compelling, and more importantly, authentic and meaningful?
  • How do you react and respond to fan participation?

And for more information about Whitacre, check out his official website, his SoundCloud music page, and his Virtual Choir YouTube channel.


This post is part of an ongoing “31 Days of Facebook Marketing” series from LiveWorld.

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