Growing Facebook

A year ago, I launched our government organizations facebook page. We have over 15,000 members and by extension, all their immediate family, not to mention friends and others interested in our organization. That number should be in excess of 50,000 people. After one year, we have 1,500 followers on facebook.

Now I’ve read the literature and implemented what I know to be relevant. We post, if not daily, than several times a week, photos, video’s, articles and engage our audience with relevant questions and discussion. We link facebook through our website and we’ve ask people to join us on facebook at regular events. We have even asked those on facebook to spread the word. We include our facebook site in all of our publications, emails, etc. and I have even taken out an ad or two through facebook, targeting our audience, to let people know we are here.

So the question I still ask myself is how do I get everyone in our organization who is on facebook to join us? Maybe I should be happy with 1,500 people after a year? But I can’t help but thinking we are not reaching everyone we can.

I am aware of some organization have whole online teams that develop and execute grand strategic communications plans. But for the rest of us, what else is there?

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Stephen Peteritas

Not that you would spend money but you could always use facebook ads… you can target them really specifically and it might generate “likes”

Sterling Whitehead

You don’t need a whole team to create a strategic communications plan. It simply takes time to make one.

Also, I’d focus on your current fans. Use their enthusiam to attract more fans.

Also find out if your organization has people who blog on their own time. Consider getting them to talk about your organization in their blogs. That can attract more people.

Essentially, build off the infrastructure your fans have in place.

Lorne W. Neff

Thanks for the comments. Blogging itself is one aspect that we have not delved into as an organization. It’s a facet I really want to include.

We did do the facebook ads, it’s what I meant when I wrote “I have even taken out an ad or two through facebook, targeting our audience, to let people know we are here.”

Andrew Wilson

Lorne – do you have a link to the page, love to see more specifically what you have done.

I think the first general question that I would ask is what are you trying to accomplish with the page – engagement is great but it really should be linked to the mission of the organization and tied to overall strategic communications planning. Also, I would suggest it is fairly critical to think through what the ROI might be. Perhaps you can get to 50,000 likes but does the outcome of that justify the resources and time that it would take to achieve it (possible that it does but again it needs to be tied to and understood in a larger context).

Finally, what partnering have you done with other organizations (at all levels – federal, state, local) that have overlapping mission or audience. Perhaps there is a way to leverage those groups to 1) get your content out to your audience via those networks or 2) get there help in promoting your page.

Best of luck!

Adriel Hampton

Lorne, a bit part of the equation should be “what are you trying to accomplish?” with your Facebook page. They are not easy to grow, as you can see from many businesses that have trouble breaking out of the double digits in fan numbers.


Sounds like you are doing the right thing.

Some other tactical tips
-on your website, is it just a link with logo? Or an actual FB like button. Like buttons are way more successful

-specifically ask your members to invite friends and make it super easy to

-run a contest

How many people do you have signed up for email? That would help with comparison too

Michael Rautio

What does your customer want? Provide them with VALUE. Provide them with a reason to use the page. Yeah, it may be nice to make a page and post whatever your commander wants (I am guessing you are military) but in the long run, much like the local base newspaper, most people only pick it up/use the site if it provides some value to their everyday life.

Kevin Lanahan

To echo what others have said, you have to provide value to your fans/customers/users.

When we started our FB page (http://www.facebook.com/MDCOnline ) a couple of years ago, it was viewed as a new channel for our news releases and videos. As we began to get more fans, they began to ask us questions, which we responded to.

With very little marketing (we do have a small link in the footer of our web pages) and no “Like” button, we have over 24,000 likes. The site has really become an extension of our ombudsman efforts.

Provide value, and they will come.

Lorne W. Neff

Does anybody know the percentage of Americans who use Facebook/have an account, etc. I have not been able to find this data.
Broken down by state would very helpful as well.

I thank everyone for their insight. Mr. Rautio, I believe we have met in the past. You know full well the content is dictated by the
boss, not much I can do about that. For a a State National Guard PA, we do
cover our people and provide the latest stories, photos and video’s about them,
constantly updated. If the public is not interested in that, there is not
much I can do about it.

I have begun the drive to incorporate Family Programs and the family readiness groups at the unit level through social media. It’s a
long uphill road. Just getting J6 to comply with DOD policy when it comes
to access to social media is major battle. The number of people, in
power, resistant to social media, is another major hurdle. But, we keep
pushing the rock up the hill…

Aldo Bello

Hi Lorne,

From Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics. They don’t tell you directly but they say that they have about 500M users, 70% of which are international…that leaves 30% as US users = 150M

Also, this Mashable article (although a little old) can give you some insight into the approximate number of state by state users but it’s been hard to come by exact numbers: http://mashable.com/2010/04/05/facebook-us-infographic/

Hope this helps!


Aldo Bello