Napkin Labs Takes Facebook Fandom to Another Level

katieschrank    June 13, 2013

Gone are the days when companies counted their Facebook page likes and gave themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. It isn’t about how many likes you have anymore; it’s about what you can do with the fans who have liked your page and how you can continue interacting with them once they’ve clicked the like button.

So how do you keep them interested? You have to engage them in something that will grab their attention, and keep it. If you need help with how to do that or what to engage them with, a good place to start is with Napkin Labs.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Napkin Labs has worked with many multi-national companies, including Domino’s Pizza and Whole Foods Markets, to create online communities inside Facebook. They know how to draw users in and collect and measure data to show the effectiveness of a Facebook fan campaign.

What they do is summarized well on their homepage: “We build simple tools that plug into your Facebook pages to transform passive fans into a powerhouse of real-time insights, feedback and ideas.” They use their tools to help companies get fans engaged in their brand. To learn about how they do it, watch the video below from their homepage.

By creating a contest, Crave was able to get fans to create new flavour ideas, post photos, buy a specific product (vanilla ice cream) and get people to interact as a community on their Facebook page. In the end, the company had a ton of new flavour ideas and all the hard work was done by their fans.

These contests can be run publically for large exposure (like the example above) or Napkin Labs can create a private fan group accessible only by invite. Invite only groups can act as a safe environment for customers to share new product ideas and gives companies an audience for new product testing. Those fans feel like they are involved from the beginning stages of product development and that they are part of something within the company’s online community. The company gets real customer feedback on its products right from the source. It is essentially an online focus group with fans of your choosing. These fans then become an army of brand activists who want the company to succeed because they feel invested in having a successful outcome.

Napkins Labs was the brains behind The Think Oven campaign with Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s had been getting a lot of bad press regarding their customer service and food quality. Instead of retreating, they opened the gates and invited customer feedback, from fans and non-fans, and were able to enhance their service, offer new products and really get engaged with the pizza loving community. The video for the campaign explains a little more about the project.

With Whole Food Markets, Napkin Labs worked with their marketing team to create a program that made an already large fan base into an engaged fan base. By offering contests and sweepstakes and identifying brand advocates within the Whole Foods community, they created an active and engaged community that regularly posts photos and food ideas, and has given Whole Foods a great deal of insight into what their fans really want from them.

The full list of tools Napkin Labs uses are: Brainstorm, Photoboard, Storybook, Giveaway, Product Feedback, Brand Photos and Brand Stories. All very simple concepts, but the return can be huge. These tools also have mobile compatibility and are fully integrated with Twitter and Instagram. That makes the social media engagement possibilities even larger. And as new social media platforms evolve, so does Napkin Labs. They are always developing new features and activities to be used through their platform.

Lessons for Others

It’s no longer about how many people like you on Facebook, it about what their likes can do for you. Get engaged with your audience and everyone will have a better experience. Fans will feel more connected to your company and your product(s) and you will be gaining valuable knowledge from a resource that is just waiting to be asked what they think.

Web resources

Napkin Labs
Napkin Labs Facebook page
Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s Pizza Facebook page
Whole Foods Markets

Submitted by: Katie Schrank – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
To contact the author of this entry, please email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.