Facebook is the unanimous choice for engaging with fans on social media and brands are always on the lookout to find new and exciting ways to engage with them. And celebrating fan milestones serves as a good occasion to build engagement and show gratitude. While there are various ways to thank your fans like co-creating a community song or thank you video, giving away gift hampers or a special prize to crowdsourcing ideas for celebrating the occasion, here’s an innovative and smart way to mark the 1 lakh milestone on Facebook by mineral water company, Bisleri.

This May, Bisleri in association with its digital agency, Flying Cursor decided to embark upon an innovative route on Facebook, as the page was soon going to reach the 1 lakh fans milestone. The result of which can be termed as India’s first real time countdown Facebook cover photo, that changed in real time to reflect the final countdown towards the 1 lakh goal. Here’s how they went about it:

The idea

Once the fan count had reached 98,500, the cover page was changed with a text on it saying ”We’re 1,500 likes away from hitting 1,00,000″, beside an emoticon. As the Bisleri Facebook page added fans, the fan counter kept decreasing with a new emoticon beside. This continued till the fan base reached the 1 lakh mark eventually. Here’s a video depicting this better:

The execution

The agency has given us a technical explanation down to the codes that were written to execute this. While that is not so exciting to non-geeks, the end result surely is. Here, we try to drill it down in basic layman terms.

To achieve the real time countdown Facebook cover photo, Flying Cursor used the Facebook PHP SDK and PHP GD image library and created a Facebook app. The current number of likes on the Bisleri Facebook page was fetched using the graph api and stored in a database, after taking required access permissions.

Bisleri FB cover page at 99

A regular IF condition checked whether the last stored number in the database had increased or decreased. If the condition was true, an image creation function was called that would create a PNG image with the number of remaining fans.

The newly created image was then uploaded on to the Bisleri page using Facebook post api. And then it was set as the cover page through its photo id. The parameters were changed so that the cover photo was not published to the Bisleri Facebook timeline and onto fans’ feed.

Bisleri FB cover page at 1 lakh

A refresh timer was maintained at 5 seconds that ensured this php script ran every 5 seconds and checked for the changes in ‘likes’. Does it run forever, you wonder? No, the script had a test condition that started from 98500 to 99999 – what this means is that the php script created new images and uploaded them only after the number reached 98500 or more till it reached 99999. The script stopped at 1 lakh fans!

A cool concept using Facebook api to achieve a memorable feat. Kudos to Flying Cursor and Bisleri for doing this!

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