We all know Facebook, Twitter & Instagram are huge. So huge that companies as big as Google are trying desperately to tap into the market. Likewise, companies large and small, in every market, work tirelessly to develop an effective Social Media Advertising Campaign. With the ability to easily, quickly and very inexpensively reach customers you would be silly not to be involved and yet it seems many Ice Rinks, in my opinion do not use it effectively.
I follow a large sample of Ice Arenas across the country, and while there are many that use it well, it seems the majority of them do not use the Social Media outlets as effectively they could be. It goes above and beyond setting appointments for open hockey or parent and child stick time. It also goes far above just bombarding your followers/friends/customers with SPAM type info. It seems to happen all too often, Rinks simply use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to blast people with information with no concern for how often they post, how they word it or how impersonal they have made it.
The secret and the beauty of social media is that it offers the ability for two way communication. It offers the management and/or ownership the ability to talk to a mass market of their customers or potential customers and gain insight, understanding and feedback for how your patrons view your facility, like your programs and feel about your staff. The second secret of Social media is how to make this happen.
People do not respond to appointments, they do not respond to the constant sales pitch and they do not respond over or infrequent use. If you want people to follow you, like your pages or posts and share your information with their friends you have to use your Social Media outlets with tact.
Post once, maybe twice a day (on Facebook-etiquette on Twitter allows for more), make sure you use some of these posts to take time and thank your customers, congratulate them on their accolades (Hockey Tournament, Curling Competition, Speed Skating Race or Figure Skating Meet) and sometimes just offer interesting information that people might not know (Zamboni travels on average 2000 miles a year).
Facebook and Twitter are not hard to use, don’t let your age, technical skill or lack of time hold you back. Anyone can do it, in fact the best person may be your youngest, lowest paid employee, and they would probably be very happy to help you develop a plan and a program. All of the social media markets offer mobile apps that you can very easily access from any smart phone, so you can post any place at any time. All you need it about one minute and something to say, even if it is just “Thank You.”
In closing, follow these rules, but use them to your advantage. Remember most people have 1500-2000 followers minimum, so posting early in the morning or late at night may not be in your best interest. It may cause your post to fall too far down in their feed and simply be lost in cyberspace. Don’t be afraid to use technology to your advantage. Even if you are not that comfortable with it, if you act cautiously and respectfully, there should be no reason your audience won’t grow.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and a host of other social media sites are a great way to build your marketing base at very low to no cost at all. The secret is creating content people are interested in. Provide your audience with content, not always a sales pitch. There is a huge population of Hockey Players and/or Figure Skaters who are interested in what you have to offer, as long as you keep it interesting.