Making new friends: How Rocky Mountain PBS increased our Facebook fan base by 220% in a year

by Aaron Hoffman, Development Officer and Social Media Manager at Rocky Mountain PBS

A little over a year ago, the Rocky Mountain PBS Facebook Page was hovering at about 2000 fans and was posting 4-5 times per week. We embarked on a new strategy to jump-start our social media presence, and received a challenge from management to increase our fan base to 5000. This wasn’t a “magic number,” but it would bring us more in line with the Facebook numbers seen in comparable markets.  

In essence, we utilized a number of free or very inexpensive methods to drastically increase our following, but we also found a small, highly-targeted paid Sponsored Stories ad campaign to be very effective. 

The “Increase activity and post quality” way
We used a number of different strategies to increase our visibility and engagement on Facebook
  • We learned to post photos as much as possible (they get waaaay more screen real estate than link thumbnails on both mobile and desktop devices), and almost always get more engagement than links. Example:
  • We began to post more often (at least 2x per day)
  • We experimented with switching up the time of day that we posted (not just business hours)
  •  If we had trouble coming up with content, we found it’s easy and effective to share PBS, PBS Kids, PBS Digital Studios, or other content in the “PBS Ecosystem” 
  • We worked on keeping our posts short and sweet.
We began to group our posts into general categories that we found effective:
  • Program reminders (the majority of people who follow PBS on social media do so for program reminders)
  • Nostalgia/trivia. Most of our fans probably grew up watching PBS content, so nostalgia is a great way to engage them (did you know Oscar used to be orange and Grover was originally grayish green?)
  • Acknowledge that you’re in the social media space. If you cross the 2000 fan mark, celebrate and draw attention to it!
  • Track your success. Track some basic social media stats in a spreadsheet, or actually look at Facebook Insights from time to time!