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.”
We 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.