eXtension FSFA Uses Facebook, Twitter to Advance America Saves Week

Ninety-four Cooperative Extension educators, America Saves and Military Saves campaign coordinators and others sent messages for America Saves Week, February 20-27. eXtension personal finance leaders Barbara O’Neill, Rutgers University and Andrew Zumwalt, University of Missouri, used five evaluation methods to track 70 prepared Facebook posts and 70 tweets. A $1,200 grant from the Consumer Federation of America funded the campaign. The messages had information about the America Saves program, reducing debt and expenses and saving money.

At the conclusion of the project, three weeks after the end of America Saves Week,
*1,190 tweets were recorded with the hashtag #eXasw.
*Several thousand Facebook messages were sent.
*877 clicks from Facebook messages and 275 clicks from tweets were recorded.

The project coordinators used multiple methods to measure results and impact
1. unique Twitter hashtag (#eXasw),
2. follow-up consumer survey,
3. follow-up professional participant survey,
4. bit.ly analytics to determine clicks on links in the messages, and
5. tracking pre- and post-project Twitter influence metrics.

Responses from 45 follower and friend survey respondents
–Almost 9 in 10 found the messages very helpful (32%) or helpful (57%).
–48% visited one or more links in the messages, 25% said they planned to and 27% said they did not.
–11% joined America Saves, 32% said they planned to, 18% were already American Savers and 39% said they had not joined.
–12 respondents gave generally positive open-ended comments including “Keep up the good work,” “These tips are timely and beneficial. I appreciate the effort to help us help ourselves,” “The tweets made me think about the ways we are managing our money,” and “I welcome any and all suggestions for increasing my financial well-being.”
–3 respondents had negative comments. Two said there were too many messages in a short time and one complained about a lack of money to save.

Survey results from 36 project collaborators
–The number of social media followers/friends ranged from 8 to 2,723 and averaged 226.
–The Twitter Klout average scores of 17 of 22 respondents increased from 11.22 to 19.68. (For more information on Klout, see http://klout.com/.)
–The Twitter PeerIndex average scores of 5 of 19 respondents increased from 4.94 to 11.52. (For more information on PeerIndex, see http://www.peerindex.net/.)
–Many participants reported positive feedback from followers/friends while some said they felt “bombarded” by the large number of messages.
–Overall comments were positive: “I hope to continue to use the tweets I was unable to use during America Saves Week,” “Wish I had read- made tweets every day,” “This was great. It was easy to do,” and “I really appreciated this project to help me get going with Twitter.”

The project coordinators concluded that if the project is replicated, the messages should be stretched out over a longer time, Facebook message characters should be counted and they should recruit a larger number of participants with high influence. For more information about the project, contact Barbara O’Neill at oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu.