Facebook, guest posts, social media campaign, social media strategy

Building a Facebook Fan Page – California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) Case Study

21 Comments 17 August 2009

I asked Brenna Holmes if she would write a guest post for this blog after she commented on my last post, Understanding How Facebook Pages Grow. In this post, she details how the California State Parks Foundation’s Facebook Fan Page grew from 517 fans as of May 31, 2009 to over 45,000 fans today. Here is her story, as a Guest Author:

At the end of May, CSPF learned about state budget cuts that would great affect the parks. They alerted us at Adams Hussey & Associates (AH&A) and we quickly made plans for a full multi-channel effort to stop the budget cuts and looming 220 park closures. This effort included direct mail, telemarketing, emails, and social networking. As a main part of the online strategy, AH&A recommended daily updates to the homepage at www.calparks.org with the latest news, creating an Action Center on their site, and optimizing their existing Facebook fan page to promote issue awareness, discussion, and hopefully new activists and members for CSPF.

The Friend Get Friend campaign launched on Tuesday, May 26, on Facebook via an update to the 517 fans. The update (seen below) explained the imminent threat parks were facing and put a deadline – Friday, May 29 – and a goal – 5,000 fans to recipients.

“This year’s cuts are 10 times as bad, so we need 10 times the fans on Facebook.”

initial-save-california-parks-updateWe also still have the message below on the fan page near the action links and logo. “Find us on Facebook” language and graphics are featured in every email and all over the site.  Here is our message:

fan-page-update-suggest-to-friends

By midnight on Friday CSPF had reached 4,467 fans – not quite the goal, but by Saturday they reached 6,263 fans! The second FB update was sent Monday, June 1 at 12:12 p.m. PST, stressing a 24 hour deadline, asking for fans and petition signatures. The California budget committee was scheduled to meet on June 2, so media coverage was at its height and we were in contact with the house file and CSPF’s partners online and on the phone. CSPF sent out emergency donation requests in all channels and had an online petition to stop park closures.

one-day-left-calparks-fb

The chart below (from our Facebook Insights) shows the growth in NEW FANS daily.

As you can see the largest growth was on Monday, June 1, where CSPF gained 3,369 new fans in just one day.

calparks-fan-insights

A tight deadline always spurs action online and when supporters can get instant feedback on the effects of their efforts (seeing fan numbers grow) it makes them even more motivated. On average CSPF’s page still get about 100 new fans per day. And while the unsubcribes have increased over time, CSPF still nets growth on new fans and typically on daily page views and site interactions as well.

net-fan-growth

Since the launch of that second update, CSPF has sent four other FB updates and has made many status updates that send the messages into fans’ newsfeeds. Most of the time the updates give supporters the latest news, but they also sent acknowledgements, posted two subsequent petitions, and promoted an offline event – SOS Weekend and asking supporters to download signs and send in pictures of themselves with the signs. Many parks held large organized events that weekend too. Over 5,000 people went to more than half the state parks that weekend (June 20-21) and sent in pictures as well as posting them to the fan page. All of the updates encourage fans to post to the wall, upload pictures, share their stories, concerns, and hopes about California’s state parks system.

The graph below shows the number of interactions per post, which includes comments, photos, and “likes”, so you can see that the fans really use the page to talk to each as well as to CSPF. We have even seen supporters create videos and individual fundraising drives all on their own and promote their activities on the FB page.

calparks-fans-interactions-on-fb

The massive growth of this fan page caught the media’s attention and was mentioned on several TV news spots and in national news articles.  While Sacramento never made a public mention of the social media activist efforts, but CSPF’s “State Access Pass” bill came up for a vote. Thought the vote failed, this was the first time in many years that the legislature even brought it out of committee for a floor vote.

AH&A is still working with CSPF to save the parks. The California budget passed at the end of July will not close the originally proposed 220 parks, but 100 are still on the chopping block. CSPF has recently expanded its outreach to Twitter. Please follow @CSPFoundation and help us save California’s magnificent state parks and beaches! We are also focusing on converting the 45K activists from Facebook into full CSPF members, and of course maintaining activities and engagement on Facebook.

Adams Hussey & Associates will be publishing the full multi-channel case study on this campaign in the fall or winter of this year.

Brenna Holmes is an Online Account Executive at Adams Hussey & Associates. She is responsible for implementing innovative and successful email and social media campaigns by applying cutting edge Web 2.0 techniques. Brenna is also a graphic designer and a fervent foodie and wine lover – being from the Napa Valley, CA it’s only natural ☺ Brenna tweets as @bfholmes.

Brenna Holmes

Brenna Holmes

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  • It is encouraging to hear social media success success stories like these. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    [Reply]

  • It is encouraging to hear social media success success stories like these. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    [Reply]

  • Zach Wales

    Brenna, I’ve been referring to this post so much this week that I just had to blog about it: http://bit.ly/EmpGR

    Well done, and keep up the good work!

    Zach

    Changing Our World, Interactive Services

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Zach – I, too, think this is an inspiring story. I love that it inspired you to analyze why the CSPF Campaign worked, and what every organization can do to utilize the interconnectivity of twitter, facebook and email lists. It is a great post! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

    [Reply]

  • Zach Wales

    Brenna, I’ve been referring to this post so much this week that I just had to blog about it: http://bit.ly/EmpGR

    Well done, and keep up the good work!

    Zach

    Changing Our World, Interactive Services

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Zach – I, too, think this is an inspiring story. I love that it inspired you to analyze why the CSPF Campaign worked, and what every organization can do to utilize the interconnectivity of twitter, facebook and email lists. It is a great post! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

    [Reply]

  • The reach and influence of social media is astounding, and this is a wonderful example. Connecting with others in this way is even more effective because such a large number of people can be reached simultaneously, each in their own setting at a time that is convenient for them (as opposed to phone calls or door-to-door). Best of luck on those California parks! California does have some of the most magnificent parks and beaches I have ever seen, and the loss of any of those parks would be a tragedy.

    [Reply]

  • The reach and influence of social media is astounding, and this is a wonderful example. Connecting with others in this way is even more effective because such a large number of people can be reached simultaneously, each in their own setting at a time that is convenient for them (as opposed to phone calls or door-to-door). Best of luck on those California parks! California does have some of the most magnificent parks and beaches I have ever seen, and the loss of any of those parks would be a tragedy.

    [Reply]

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  • Hey there!

    Just thought I should give you an update. CSPF is now tweeting under @calparks and they are almost at 1500 followers, the fan page has over 52,000 fans and we are all very busy moving the State Park Access Pass forward.

    All of our work on the social web is really paying off. Over 1200 CSPF members and supporters are now on the streets in CA collecting petition signatures in order to get the initiative on the Nov. ballot. If you are in Ca and want to volunteer you can sign up here: http://ow.ly/141mW

    Thanks for all your comments and support!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Brenna,
    What a wonderful update! I’m so glad that you checked back in, an it’s wonderful to hear of the great work of @calparks now. Thanks so much!
    Debra

    [Reply]

  • Hey there!

    Just thought I should give you an update. CSPF is now tweeting under @calparks and they are almost at 1500 followers, the fan page has over 52,000 fans and we are all very busy moving the State Park Access Pass forward.

    All of our work on the social web is really paying off. Over 1200 CSPF members and supporters are now on the streets in CA collecting petition signatures in order to get the initiative on the Nov. ballot. If you are in Ca and want to volunteer you can sign up here: http://ow.ly/141mW

    Thanks for all your comments and support!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Brenna,
    What a wonderful update! I’m so glad that you checked back in, an it’s wonderful to hear of the great work of @calparks now. Thanks so much!
    Debra

    [Reply]

  • debbiehemley

    Very interesting pieces. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

  • Great info. Any idea how once can comment on status updates as your fan page rather than that of my profile? I have seen several pages that seem to do so but can’t figure out how they’ve done it.

    [Reply]

  • Howdy – I'm not completely clear on your question. If you want to know how to comment on a status update of someone else's page, then the Facebook Page admin has to allow fan input.

    However, if you are asking about commenting on a status update of a personal profile or a Page, you can only do that as a real person (profile) and not as a page. Pages can't interact with profiles – it's a glass barrier Facebook has erected. That may change soon. It's the same with Events: if you post an event on your Page, only the individual can invite people to the Event; a Page can't personally invite its fans. A real Facebook shortcoming, IMHO.

    [Reply]

  • This was indeed a great way to work things out..I mean just look at the result…Awesome

    [Reply]

  • Wow look at this…Its was an awesome way to gather fans and rectify the issue….

    [Reply]

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About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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