September 30, 2008
By NANA DUFFUOR
NEW YORK, N.Y.
It doesn't take much to start a Facebook group, just a general topic of interest and invitations to some like-minded friends. Attracting hundreds of thousands of members, however, is a different story.
Some of the most outlandish and random topics garner huge support. Just ask Steven Klimczak, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University. His Facebook group, "When I Was Your Age, Pluto Was a Planet," has drawn more than 1.4 million members.
"I always wanted to create a group, and I was saving up for a good idea," said Klimczak. "I wanted a couple hundred people, not a couple million."
While there is no hidden secret to creating a successful Facebook group, there are a few important criteria that most successful groups have in common:
Klimczak never expected that his quirky sense of humor and vague knowledge of the solar system would turn into a Facebook phenomenon.
In 2006, he was sitting in his high school chemistry class when a friend broke the news that Pluto, the ninth planet from the sun, had been demoted to "dwarf planet" status. Recalling the years spent with his peers memorizing Pluto as the last planet, Klimczak decided it deserved a proper commemoration. That same day, "When I Was Your Age, Pluto Was a Planet" was born.
More than two years later, the group has exceeded all expectations.
"It's almost like an unofficial petition to get the planet back to planet status," he said. While that was never his mission, he has capitalized on the success of his Facebook group, as well as other witty groups.
|HAPPY BIRTHDAY! August 24 represented the one year anniversary of Pluto's demotion. This group has grown so much and you, the members have been awesome. Let's keep this going!!!|
— From 'When I Was Your Age. . .' homepage. Membership reached 1.4 million on Sept. 18, 2008.
The unanticipated popularity of "When I Was Your Age, Pluto Was A Planet" inspired Klimczak and friend Tom Ackmann to create Myshirtguy.com, an online T-shirt business that plays off popular Facebook groups. The $10 T-shirts range from shirts that read "Drop It Like It's Pluto" to "I Wish I Were Your Derivative So I Could Lie Tangent To Your Curves."
While Klimczak's Facebook group has proven to be a profitable endeavor, he says Facebook groups are simply "a way for people to show their personality, what they believe in and what they're interested in." And it doesn't hurt if you can tickle people's funny bones while you're at it.
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