Working Differently: A Facebook Success Story

On August 29, the Horses – eXtension Facebook page had 655 likes and 700 people ‘talking about this.’

The equine specialists behind HorseQuest on eXtension have been working differently for a long time. Horses was the original resource area on eXtension.org, debuting in fall 2006. Some four years later, on January 6, 2011, HorseQuest folks joined Facebook.

Taylor Fabus, visiting instructor in the animal science department at Michigan State University is the person behind www.facebook.com/pages/Horses-eXtension. She created the page at the HorseQuest annual face-to-face meeting but they had no real goal. In January 2012, the HorseQuest folks strategized about their social media. Their Facebook page had about 100 ‘likes’ then. Fabus reports not only are the ‘likes’ going up, but the interaction among users is increasing.

How does HorseQuest get so many people talking about them?
“I’ve been learning social media through trial and error. I observe some other successful pages and learn from their techniques. I like the fact that there isn’t one ‘right’ answer; we’re all exploring the best techniques to increase participation and traffic,” Fabus said. “What’s great about Facebook is it provides ‘Insights’ (daily, weekly and every 28 days).”

“Thus far, I’ve found that anything that involves a prize (even minimal) seems to be just the amount of incentive that Facebook users look for. I mostly give away eXtension logo gifts (pens, highlighters, luggage tags, gator clips, etc.). I have given away some My Horse University DVDs and bags as well. And some horse items found in our storeroom! Quizzes have also been very popular (it seems that people love to test their expertise). Quizzes provide the perfect opportunity for me to point people to our educational content. Recently I’ve added humorous and inspirational posts as users like to share them. When they share our photos and posts, it introduces us to more audience members and increases traffic. Win/win!”

Want to know more about Taylor’s work in social media?
She and Chris Skelley who is in charge of the My Horse University Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MyHorseU, are presenters at the National eXtension Conference in Oklahoma City. Their session — Join the Popular Crowd in Social Media and be Liked, Talked About and Shared! is Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 10:45 a.m. The monthly horse webcasts and electronic newsletter are a joint effort of My Horse University and Horse Quest. My Horse University is responsible for the production and advertising and Horse Quest provides content and experts.

HorseQuest is on Twitter, https://twitter.com/eXtensionHorses, and YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/eXHorses.

Taylor Fabus received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science from Michigan State. She teaches introductory horse management classes, coaches the horse judging team and coordinates many state-level 4-H horse events. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and showing her American Quarter Horse in all-around events.