Meeting the needs of your evolving fan base

In the past few months, my school district experienced two dramatic events that substantially increased our social media following: winning a state football championship and the death of a long-time staff member, coach and alumnus.

Each of these events – one happy and one sad – resulted in a nine-percent boost in our Facebook fan base, with hundreds of likes, shares and comments as the news went viral. More than 27,300 people viewed the record-setting posts in our little 2,200-student district.

When your page experiences such rapid growth, it’s important to do the research on who your new followers are and what content they respond to. Your new fans may be a different demographic than your base followers. And while it’s great to add followers, if you don’t keep them engaged, you will lose them.

The easy way to measure change is to look at your page insights. Has there been a shift in the age distribution? Has the gender balanced changed? Are the new followers interested in different topics than the rest?

With our small town’s state football championship, we gained more fans who are current students (age 13 to 17) and folks age 18 to 24 – likely recent alumni. This group’s interest in athletic events – not just football – have led me to increase postings about our many sports teams.

The unexpected death of a long-time employee and beloved coach rocked our community in an even bigger way. Comments poured in from his former classmates, athletes he coached, and past and current students and staff. These new followers boosted our male fan base by four percent and increased followers over age 55 by about three percent. These new followers may help us raise attendance at alumni events and fundraisers, especially given a scholarship fund started in my colleague’s memory.

Any surge in followers is an opportunity to take a strategic look at your social media plan. Why not post a survey to ask about their interests, or just ask them? At its best, social media is two-way communication that builds trust and community well beyond your district borders.

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