Whether you’re on social media or not, your campers and their families are! If your camp is interested in building relationships with your campers and their families, then engaging and utilizing your social media channels should be a top priority for you. There is more to it than scheduling a post a week on Facebook or re-tweeting the odd post from a staff member. It will take a little bit of effort, but your efforts are well worth it.
The Christian Camp and Conference Association in the United States posted a very informative and helpful blog on social media for camps. We’ve expanded on some of their best points.
Remember that social media is a relationship platform, not a money making machine.
Some camp directors have commented, “I tried social media but I didn’t notice an increase in camp registrations right away so I decided it wasn’t a productive use of my time.” Though social media is capable of producing leads and conversions, you should stop looking at it as a money-maker and start looking at is as a relationship builder. The return on investment might not be in dollars, but it could be in trust, advocacy, community and connections with your campers, counselors, staff and supporters. These are the things that are the most important for camps.
Stop trying to sell yourself and just tell your story.
Again, social media is not a hard-sell marketing campaign for your camp or non-profit organization. View it as a platform for telling your camp’s awesome story. Share things that reflect the great experiences your camp offers, tidbits and testimonies from staff and campers and photos of people having life-changing, super-fun camp adventures! When you are genuine in sharing your story, the ‘selling’ part will come naturally, in time.
Commit to spending some time on social media.
Just like any relationship building, it takes effort and time. Time spent on social media is like time spent nurturing a relationship. Can you go on Facebook every day or every other day? Can you commit a staff member to do that? You could try a combination of scheduling posts that share your camp’s story and commit to going on the social channels and intentionally making connections, commenting, sharing and engaging with your online community a few times a week. Consider a time commitment of seven hours per month per channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
Create really great content.
“Content is King” is a buzz-phrase circling around the marketing world. Online content marketing is the new radio and television when it comes to sharing your message. Your followers are seeking informative, fun and interesting content that is relevant and well-written. Consider writing a weekly blog for your camp highlighting programs, activities and telling personal stories of campers and staff. Make a few videos around camp to share, a slideshow or two and keep sharing that great content. Not only will original content bring your followers back to YOU every time, it will also increase your search engine optimization and engagement with your online networks.
Be consistent and give freely!
You can’t just post twice a summer and say you’re active on social media. Be consistent with it, keep pumping out that great content (you’ll start getting better at it!) and don’t be shy to give back on social media too. That means liking, sharing, commenting, and retweeting content from other people and organizations you like or follow. Some examples would be sharing content posted by the Alberta Camping Association, offering some congratulations to your neighbouring camp for an accomplishment, liking child and family serving agencies and retweeting your staffs’ positive tweets about their summer at camp. All of this is free to do and super effective in growing your online presence.
Need help getting started on social media? Ask the Alberta Camping Association for a few pointers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.