A summer audit and subsequent refurbishing of the U.S. Potato Board’s Facebook page is paying off.

The audit “helped us strategically create a calendar, a direction, a tone, a look and a feel for our page,” said Meredith Myers, manager of public relations.

The changes, which include quarterly promotions, are working.

In July, active users of the board’s Potatoes, Taters and Spuds Facebook page numbered just over 3,150.

“By October, the total was 7,961, and we anticipate the number of active users to exceed 9,000 by the end of the year,” Myers said.Contests, Facebook gain 'likes' for U.S. Potato Board

The board’s December promotion, the Holly Jolly Potatoes Photo contest, runs through the month. Entries must come from registered Facebook users and submitted to PotatoesTatersAndSpuds by Dec. 31. Winners will be determined by consumer voting on Facebook in January.

The board’s first promotion, the Potato Salad Recipe and Photo Contest in August, attracted nearly 1,700 new Facebook fans and more than 1,500 entries, Myers said.

“But it’s not a popularity contest,” she said. “It’s about reaching our target audience with valuable information — and engaging the audience.”

Some of that valuable information comes from a new service of the board, a weekly recipe e-mail, that began in September.

“In just over three months, the e-mailed recipes have doubled our consumer database,” Myers said. “And the recipes are being shared — they’re being liked on Facebook and they’re being shared on Twitter.”

Contests, Facebook gain 'likes' for U.S. Potato BoardSome of the recipes are being developed to MyPlate dietary guidelines in conjunction with the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Hockessin, Del., Myers said.

The popularity of the recipe e-mails has led to a refreshing of the board’s www.potatogoodness.com website. The home page now includes the week’s recipe.

The Potatoes, Taters and Spuds Facebook page is now updated up to five times weekly, Myers said.

“We know that opinions and perceptions about potato nutrition are definitely on the upswing,” she said. “So much of that improvement is due to concentrated efforts by the USPB, other potato organizations and partnering nutrition organizations in spreading the word to consumers on potatoes as part of a healthful diet.”