Recently, I received a phone call from a fellow professional who wanted to discuss an organizational challenge with social media.
We’re frequently approached by Parks and Recreation professionals who express concerns about their inability to utilize these new-age communication tools as a department, and the conversations are usually the same.
We have heard this comment a million times:
“We are not allowed to have a Facebook page because the city wants to control access.”
Many cities regulate social media use because they're concerned about staff spending too much time surfing at work, or they’re nervous about the public speaking out against the city online.
If this is a familiar issue, keep this in mind: whether or not you have a presence on social media already, your community does. They’re talking about you RIGHT NOW - and you’re not listening.
With so many conversations already happening online about your programs and facilities, you can utilize Brand+Aid Insights as ammunition to make a very strong case. The simple reality is...
YOU DON'T HAVE A CHOICE ANYMORE
If you didn't start a social presence for your local park, don't worry; someone else probably already has. Our team regularly searches Facebook, FourSquare, etc., for rogue park and facility pages. We then claim those pages so we can monitor the platform and make sure the social media environment is community friendly.
Yes, at times, inappropriate comments are made on the forums (they can be easily cleaned up with the proper policies and procedures in place). Yes, sometimes users will talk negatively about a park or an experience, but that’s okay! There is nothing wrong with feedback because it helps you evolve efficiently.
If you're managing platforms properly, and building online advocates, the community will help monitor your page. Moreover, these advocates will support you when times get tough. When a comment is made that bruises your department’s ego, other community members often step forward and comment; correcting misinformation or expressing their positive experience. Your followers can be strong advocates for your brand and department and help you in more ways than you might realize.
IT PAYS TO ADAPT
Lets consider this a small case study. The City of Arlington Parks and Recreation Department has more than 13,000 fans on our main page, and north of 30,000 across our top twenty Facebook pages. These pages offer a 68 percent target audience yield (residents living within the Arlington city limits). With an average CPM (cost per mille) or (cost per thousand impressions) of 5-10 dollars, we were able to justify the allocation of traditional advertising funds to digital. We now geo-target our custom audiences rather than paying for third-party ad placements - producing a drastically improved return on investment. Last year alone, we were able to generate more than 1,000,000 impressions through community engagement, re-marketing and targeting advertising, and that’s just on Facebook. This form of marketing can be very advantageous.
As professionals in this industry, we need to embrace marketing and allocate more resources toward this area of our business. Marketing is no longer running a few advertisements in the newspaper. Social media has been around for more than a decade and we need to embrace this communication tool. It’s time to start speaking the language of the next generation because those individuals are our future patrons.
Affordable and Accessible Marketing Education
The concept of the Brand+Aid Conference was born from the desire to educate public-sector staff about marketing and social media.
To be successful in today’s competitive business culture, we must be open to new ideas and be wiling to evolve. At the Brand+Aid Institute in Charlotte, NC, (the day before NRPA Congress begins) and the Brand+Aid Conference in Grand Prairie, TX, attendees are exposed to an array of new-age marketing tools and tactics.
If marketing in the digital world confuses and frustrates you, then Brand+Aid Marketing just might be the right tool to get you and your staff up-to-speed.
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