local media insider
Case study

$5000 a month social media package monetizes PittsburghMom.com

Yes, there is money in Facebook. Here's just one model

Alisa Cromer
Tinkerbell helps out. Fans can sign up on PittsburghMom's Facebook page, or, aternatively, on the Ballet's page. All banner ads click-through to these pages.
Moving people to Facebook for discussion requires instructions prominently display on the home page.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Site: PittsburghMom.com
Initiative: Selling sponsorships of the Facebook page
Fans: 3300
Key executives: Laurel Lane, Manager of Digital Revenue; and  Heather Starr Fiedler, “Pittsbughmom”

Summary: PittsburghMom.com  created a social media package that doubled monthly revenues from each of its sponsors.  The initiative began when the website started pointing all of its comments to its Facebook page, instead of comments, creating a forum and accumulating 3,600 fans (see image to the right).  They also came up with a way to get a sponsor’s logo at the top of the fan page, build an e-mail list of 5000 names and package everything for $5000 a month in customizable sponsorships. 

Challenge:  PittsburghMom's social media package got kicked off almost by accident. PittsburghMom’s was originally build on a a Joomla platform with the popular PittburghMom columnist Heather Starr Fiedler, who is also Department Chair of Journalism and Communication at Pointe Park. But when the commenting section got hacked and didn’t repair correctly, media executives notices conversations starting to happen on PittsburghMom’s Facebook page.

Strategy:  Management considered moving the entire site to Facebook, but since the blogging capacity on Facebook is insufficient, they  simply turned-off comments on the website, and pointed comments  to Facebook. Fans jumped from 2200 to 3600 and engagement on Facebook began to show higher TATS. 

To monetize the site, Lane created a social media package that includes the sponsor's logo fixed on the Facebook page. By altering its own logo to include the sponsor uploading, the result looks much like a left column skyscraper.  

This simple fix also means that the sponsor’s logo is always at the top of the Pittsburgh Mom’s facebook page. Here's what it looks like (please scroll down): 

The package also includes a set number of postings in the Events calendar, enter-to-win contests, advertising on the Pittburghmom.com site and sometimes a blog-style review (three Packages and current pricing are at the bottom of this report).

As fans grew, the top package's pricing increased from  $2200 in March, 2011 to  $5000 a month by the end of that year for a Social Media sponsorship that included all  of these options.

New advertisers 

Events make good sponsors for both Mom's sites and social media campaigns. A big success was a custom program for the Pittsburgh Ballet.  In addition to the logo on Pittsburgh Mom Facebook, the package included an events detail, five wall posts on promoting the  Peter Pan performance, and a Peter Pan ticket and backstage pass contests wit the  winner announced on Pittsburgh Mom Facebook. In addition,  the campaign added an Email campaign to “Moms” email list, mobile banner ads with mobile landing page and impressions on Post-Gazette.com
Here's how the promotion looked on PittsburghMom's Facebook page (see full packages below): 

Here's the how the promotion looked on the Ballet's site. Note, the company uploaded the image of it's current show into it's logo position. 

Pearle Vision also bought one  a customized Sponsorship package. The company was especially interested in having  PittsburghMom review their store experience.  So in addition to adding the logo to Facebook, Wall posts, ads on Pittsburghmom.com and post-gazette.com for to months (July and August), Pearl Vision's program  included three blog posts written by The PittsburghMom about  her experience getting glasses at the store. She was clear that she was writing about a sponsor, so church-and-state issue, while blurred, did not seem provocative.

Chevy Volt was another advertiser who became interested in having Mom blog about test-driving the Volt as part of the package. It's a little bit like a radio model - the personality lends  credibility to the sponsor, but in such a way that it's clear this was part of a sponsorship package. 

Another event-oriented client was Light Up Nights, a campaign to promote downtown retailers over the holidays. In this case, the focus was on distributing event information as much as possible.  So in addition to the super large logo/skyscraper, the package included five wall posts, three email campaigns to Daily Headlines list, mobile banner ads with a mobile landing page. 

Here's what the events look like:


Increase in price and revenues. The sponsorship value commanded increased from $2000 from March 2011 to  $5000 a month by the end of the year. “I think we are very close to making the $60,000. I think we will make it if we commit to buildi the right content, ” Lane says. 

Turning comments back on. Now that the Facebook fan base has grown,  they turned the blog commenting element back on. “Readers said they like Facebook but also like communicating with the editor directly on her blog." 

So now there is a choice.

"If you read the blog and just want to say something you can," Lane says. On Facebook, on the other hand, they can start the conversation.  "They can write, hey, I’m new to Pittsburgh and can anybody recommend a daycare or party planner?” 

Building the TDA (total digital audience). The money is only part of results for Lane.  “My philosophy is that we have a media company. Our long term vision and objectives are to drive long term audiences which drives long term revenues." 

Lessons learned

Readers are using FaceBook in a different way - Facebook chatter is more about community, where people can generate questions and post information. Blog commenting is slightly, so there is room for both. 

Mobile became part of some of the packages - Creating a mobile web site and mobile banner ads was important for some of the advertisers, though not in the original packages. Something to consider, since more than 80% of advertising will be spent on mobile devices within a few years, according to the latest research from Borrell & Associates. 

Moms are a valuable audience for a variety of regional advertisers and events.   "Advertisers come to us wanting to target mom’s and there is power in that particular audience group."  The advertisers mentioned:  Events targeting women with children, grocery stores, vision care and auto are just a few of these categories. "We need to do more and are putting more resources on creating shopping and coupon content. Several groups – aka circulation – feel the female reader is underserved and they are probably right." 

In some cases personalities blogging about sponsors can work.  Selling blogs is supposed to be a no-no, but if handled clearly and carefully, a Mom's site blogger can act something between  like a radio personality talking up a client on air or doing a  on-site promotion - without losing their 'street cred.' The trick is to be clear that they were asked by the sponsor to do the blog. 

The style of the Facebook posts is more informal and newsy.

"PittsburghMom's social package, is using the Facebook environment as the distribution tool. We will upload the events and will do promotional wall post for the events. We are not trying to have too much content. We are just trying to let the audience know, heh there is something you might interested in."

"This harkens back to what we (ie newspapers) are good at. We’ve found a way to create a price for the work that we on on their behalf. If you think of Facebook as a distibution tool, we have found a way to reach the auience."

Selling posts on the editorial main page is still under discussion, however, Laurel is a proponent. "How is it any different than a printed paper? The ads and and the articles are together anyway on a printed page."

What's in the package

Key elements are listed below (see also "PittsburghMoms Package on power point at the bottom of this report): 

PG Mom Premier Site Sponsor – 90 days maximum - $5000 per month

Sponsor logo built into PG Mom logo on MAIN PG Mom site
Sponsor logo built into PG Mom branding
Sponsor contest – 2 per year
“About our Sponsor” tab in PG Mom
Local Sponsor events uploaded into Events tab on FB
Up to 4 promotional wall posts per month on PG Mom FB
Giveaway on the “Giveaways” tab
Impressions on PG Mom and Post-gazette.com (impression levels determined in accordance with contest or other sponsor even promotion)  

PG Mom Site Sponsor – 90 day maximum – 1 of 4 available plus Premium (5 at one time) - $3000 per month

“About our Sponsor” tab in PG Mom
Local Sponsor events uploaded into Events tab on FB
Up to 4 promotional wall posts per month on PG Mom FB
1 contest per year
Giveaway on the “Giveaways” tab
Impressions on PG Mom and Post-gazette.com (impression levels determined in accordance with contest or other sponsor even promotion)

 PG Mom Supporter - $1500 per month, no limit

“About our Sponsor” tab in PG Mom
Local Sponsor events uploaded into Events tab on FB
Up to 4 promotional wall posts per month on PG Mom FB
Giveaway on the “Giveaways” tab
Impressions on PG Mom and Post-Gazette.com (impression levels determined in accordance with contest or other sponsor even promotion) 

Many thanks to Laurel Lane, Manager of Digital Revnue at the Post-Gazette for sharing this initiative with us. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.




1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • ldownes

    This seems like it may be against Facebook's Terms of Service. I also think that the new Timeline will make this almost impossible.

    Friday, March 16, 2012 Report this

met-Media Execs Tech
Meet your peers

Please log in to join your group.

View all groups