FYI Corner: Social Media Handbook and Benchmarking Tools

By Amy Baroch, Station Products & Innovation

Sitting here in the Interactive Department at PBS we get a front row seat to how hard public media is working to innovate and take advantage of all that new media has to offer. We have a forward thinking leader in Jason Seiken as someone who not only wants us to survive, but to come out on top by experimenting with technology, striving to reach ambitious goals, and evangelizing the use of new media across the entire PBS system.

One area that continues to fascinate us is social media. We talk about it constantly, participate in it consistently, research it, study it, measure it, love it, and curse it. But the fact is, we still have a hard time truly figuring it all out before something new comes along that we then need to research, study, measure, love and curse. Not to toot PBS's horn too loudly but according to a recent review of Facebook, PBS's Facebook Fan Page generated nearly 1 billion post views over the past year. That's BILLION, with a "B" and the @PBS Twitter channel grew 42%. Our very own @SPI_PBS has doubled in followers since just this past February.

Over the past several years, PBS has refined its strategy and we've created a Social Media Policy with input from all areas of the organization including human resources, legal, marketing and PBS Interactive that we share across the systems and encourage stations to mold it to their own needs. We provide best practices and have conducted numerous training webinars for stations around the use of social media. This is why we are very happy to share something new - with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, iStrategy Labs, a DC-based marketing firm with expertise in social media, recently completed the Public Media Social Media Handbook and social media benchmarking tool.

"There are lots of resources floating around the web – but now there’s one just for public media stations," says Daniel McCoy, Project Manager, Media Strategies at CPB. "If you've been searching for the right tools to help your station take its social media efforts to the next level, this is it," he continued.

Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab featured an overview of the tools on its blog last week and earlier this month NCME hosted a webinar to announce the tools. An archive of the event can be accessed here. The handbook has insights into how your station can use social media across various departments and includes templates to help plan and focus your efforts. You can find the handbook and benchmark tool at NCME’s site,

What do you think of the new Public Media Social Media Handbook and benchmarking tool? Let us know in the comments field below and as usual you can always shoot us an email.

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