Engage the Public

As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic world, many facilities are still struggling with engaging community members in their program and class offerings. One way to deal with this challenge is to meet communities where they are: on social media.

Social media provides an inexpensive and accessible way to promote your recreational programming. And when you have the right tools in place, you can easily incorporate a social media strategy without adding much time to existing workflows.

Mastering Social Media

Whether you're using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or all of the above, there are a few tips that apply across all social media types.

First, promote everything. Every new class, program, league, facility—every time you have something new to announce, promote it on all your social media sites. Then, make a "last-call" announcement the day before registration ends. This will create a sense of urgency, and help you scoop up additional attendees. Be sure to include a link on all posts that goes straight to registration via your recreation management software so potential attendees can easily follow through.

Photos and videos will help catch attention, so always include photos with your posts. High-quality local photos are better than stock imagery, so be sure to obtain release forms during your programs so you can capture engaging photos of real people in recognizable places. Videos are even more engaging than photos, so where possible, show the action.

Promote your events and your people. In addition to sharing any news articles, blog posts or new programming opportunities on your social media channels, you should also consider promoting your people. Create bios for your instructors, and promote them individually via social media. Encourage your people to share the posts with their followers as well to help spread the word further.

Encourage testimonials. Once people have signed up for your activities using your recreation management software, ask them to share on social media. Robust recreation management software will make it easy for people to directly generate a social media post encouraging their friends and followers to check out the registration details.

To help manage your social media campaign, invest in scheduling software that will allow you to schedule social media posts and other communications via multiple platforms and channels. This way, you can spend a short window of time every week scheduling all your posts, then add to them throughout the week as needed.

Get Specific!

Different social media platforms offer different useful tools that will help you engage more people in your programs and activities.

On Facebook, create a Facebook Event page to promote your event. People will be able to RSVP, which creates a status update in their news feed, sharing the event with their friends and family. Paid advertising can be used on Facebook to promote your most profitable events and programs. Facebook advertising will allow you to target specific demographics, set a maximum budget and more. Other ideas for Facebook: livestream your events, and use polls to ask the public what kinds of programs they'd like to see.

Twitter is most useful for time-relevant information, so you can use it for last-call reminders, opening day announcements and signup deadline notifications. Be sure to add relevant hashtags to help people who don't already follow you find your posts.

Want to reach Gen Z? Snapchat is the ideal way to reach younger generations. You can use Snapchat to catch people's attention with photos, videos, drawings and more.

On Instagram, keep your focus on the visual. You can upload photos and videos taken at recreation events, using hashtags and location tags to highlight community facilities. Encourage everyone attending your events to tag your community profile, as a way to grow your followers.

A Parting Word

Pinterest, LinkedIn and TikTok are other social media outlets where you can gain followers and create excitement about your events and programs.

You don't need to be active on all of these social media sites, but you should do your best to leverage the platforms where you already have a presence. From there, investigate adding additional social media platforms that fit your community or that reach the audience you're trying most to engage. If you don't have any social media accounts yet, Facebook is a good start with a wide reach.