Tips, tools of the trade & some clarity
Written by John King, Project Manager, European Golf Course Owners Association
Let me assure this is not another article preaching about the importance for your business to have an online social media presence. The time has passed when having a social media presence was a “good idea” for businesses to try. It’s now essential to your golf facilities marketing strategy.
Let’s start focusing on HOW you can harness the power of the new online social landscape we live in
Like any good social media strategy you should initially focus your time and energy on one or two platforms that reflect the characteristics of your target market. In the case of golf courses, Facebook and Twitter are king.
With that said, in this series of social media articles we are going to focus on harnessing the power of these key social media platforms to engage your customers by focusing on the 5p’s of an engaging social media strategy.
- Plan – The strategy side
- People – The personal side
- Position – The creative side
- Profile – The design side
- Patience – The slow side
You very likely already have a Facebook page and possible a Twitter account for your golf facility, but if you are like 99% of businesses, these account are relatively inactive.
If you have other social media accounts such as Linked-in or Instagram it’s time to weigh up their effectiveness in engaging your current and potential customers. It’s important to factor into this analysis the demographic you’re targeting. In my opinion Facebook supported by Twitter is key for a rounded social media strategy.
Now take a step back and think about your strategy and put it down on paper focusing on the following key points:
what is the goal of your social media strategy (attract new members, member interaction, promotional offers or a mixture of all)
What is the objective of your businesses and what makes you stand out from your competitors. Identifying what this is and align your social media activities closely with it. This will not only focus your campaign but will also strengthen your brand.
Establish a balance with your social media activity. If your Facebook page and your tweets are a repetitive sales pitch you will not only fail to engage your customers but you run the risk of tarnishing your facilities brand reputation which you have work soo hard to develop.
Budget both for time and resources to manage your social media strategy.
Set out a clear timeframe and targets for your social media activity and stick to it.
TIP – A number of extremely useful free resources are now available to assist you in managing the integration of multiple social media platforms. Or top pick is:
this is a great social media tool, both the web and mobile versions. It can handle all of your social media needs from scheduling posts, monitoring followers, lists, hashtags and more so that you can keep up to date, engage and share with your audience.
So your posting, engaging with users and sharing online, that’s great, but who’s listening and most importantly, why? Engagement is the key here to grow your audience. You could have the most creative, sharable post or tweet ready to fly but if no one is on the receiving end it will without a doubt end up in social media purgatory. Below are a few steps to help you on your way:
Your social media strategy needs guidance and management. Take the lead yourself or delegate this role to one of your more Facebook friendly staff members (give them an excuse to use their smartphone on the job.
Use the analytical tools that Facebook has provided you with. YouTube is your best friend here, watch a short tutorial on how to use the key tools. Monitor how many people you’re reaching and the engaging effect of your posts. Evaluate this regularly and adjust your strategy if needed.
Get your staff involved in your social media strategy. Offer a prize or incentive for the most creative weekly post or tweet. Believe it or not more than half of your staff are generally addicted to some form of social network. Let them feed their habit on yours.
Get your members involved. Many of them take pride in being a member of your facility. Give them an excuse to share it. Run a weekly or monthly competition for the most liked member post.
Stand out from the crowd with your posts and shares. Be creative and don’t loose sight of the goal of your social media strategy. Before rushing into a thoughtless post just for the sake of boosting activity, take a step back and ask yourself…’what am I trying to convey?’ Finding clarity and creativity in your messaging is key in engaging customers.
Do a little market research across the golf social media universe. You will immediately see what works and what does not. Consumers have evolved and are more and more evasive when it comes to engagement. Don’t just ask you customers to like, share and retweet your post GIVE THEM A REASON
A picture is worth a thousand words but will it engage a thousand users? Photos have a higher engagement rate than text, links or even videos. So just by posting a photo instead of something else, you are instantly more likely to receive likes, shares and comments. A photo receives 53% more likes than the average post and 104% more comments. For a golf course this can be incredibly valuable in building brand awareness and engaging the participation of your customers.
Your Businesses Facebook Page and Twitter Profile should be an extension of your brand. Here’s a few tips to help you polish up your page.
Dimension & Design
Your Facebook business Page & Twitter Profile have a number of set dimensions for the cover photo, profile picture and posted images. It’s important to scale your images to these specific dimensions. If you need some custom design options there are countless outsourcing options online for inexpensive designers specialise in the design of social media pages and profiles. A little investment here can go a long way in polishing your social media presence.
Facebook allows you to integrate your Twitter and YouTube accounts into your business page. Save some precious time and integrate.
Finally, all good things come to those who wait. You now have your plan and your strategy now stick to it. Don’t overwhelm your customers with content and expect them to respond favourably. Remember, social media is about establishing relationships and that takes time and consistent interaction.
So let’s get real, stay creative and most importantly consistent with our social media efforts!