This week in San Diego, it was hot, dry and a bit out of control. Fires started burning on Tuesday and by Wednesday there were nine separate fires burning throughout San Diego County. A shout out to San Diego and out-of-town firefighters. They have been doing an incredible job fighting multiple big fires in record heat and high Santa Ana winds, keeping life and structure loss to a minimum.
On Tuesday, the first few fires threatened a handful of golf resorts and country clubs. In San Diego’s North County, the area is sprinkled with beautiful and amazing resorts and clubs. When I saw a tweet from a local news channel that one of the country clubs was being evacuated, I thought I would check out the club’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what and how they were informing members. Much to my surprise, there were no announcements. The next day? One post of “a photo that someone took” from the club during the fires. And there has not been a post since. (Friday a.m.)
What a missed opportunity! Private club professionals all know that in the course of a day, there could be any number of events happening, from casual lunch meetings to golf tournaments, and various-sized private events. When a club is forced to evacuate, events are cancelled, roads are closed, no one is at the club to answer phones, etc. How do you let your members, guests, staff and community know? Do you have a communication plan in place?
Another club which had been threatened by fire did post to Facebook the day after, letting members know what had been cancelled, what was open/closed and that there was no damage. The only problem was that the club had not posted anything since January, so members were highly unlikely to see the post.
We have to recognize that our members are online. They access the internet via their mobile devices, and once online, they seek news and information via their favorite sites, and through social media. If the club is not communicating where the members are seeking and receiving information, we are missing the opportunity to serve as a valuable resource to our Members.
While it is understood that a club evacuation is rare, it is still essential for us to have a communication plan in place, for our monthly, weekly, daily messages and in times of crisis. The club which was evacuated was clearly unprepared, was unhelpful to members and guests, and rendered themselves irrelevant as a resource.
I’ve included a few more tips and advice in the video (above), so please have a look!
Quick note: What you can see in the screenshot is my laptop on a table. That’s what I’m looking at when I’m referencing what was happening online! I wanted to let you know because in the editing process, I realized I was looking at my computer screen often, but you can’t see my laptop!
It’s time for a confession. I’m a magazine junkie. Flipping through the pages of Vogue, InStyle, Real Simple and Travel & Leisure serves as my escape from the digital world. Even so, I often wear my marketing and communication hat while contemplating a time in my life when I might wear Prada. Sometimes that can be a good thing, because I’ve noticed that many magazines are using a full page to direct traffic to their websites and social channels.
But Glamour takes it one step further on their “See It, Share It” page. They call out the people who are pinning and posting, those who are interacting with them online. I love this. Glamour encourages social interaction with the incentive that your pin or post might make it to the pages of Glamour Magazine. Very smart. Glamour has found a clever way to integrate what’s happening in social media with their traditional form of communication. Here’s the See It, Share It page (note that this is a photo from the digital version, which you have to tap to read the captions):
And that is our challenge for this week: What can we do to integrate our social media activity with more traditional forms of communication like newsletters and magazine, websites and e-news? In this week’s video, I share tips for my clients – Private Clubs, Athletics, Greeks and Graduate Schools. Take a look:
The purpose of doing this is to encourage those online to visit and engage with your more traditional marketing pieces, and for those who are already avid newsletter or magazine readers to engage with you online. By integrating your social media with more traditional communication, Your are breathing life into all of your communication channels and rewarding those who interact with you the most. Your members and students gain recognition and reward, you grow effective brand ambassadors and highly engaged fans.
So now it’s time to tell me how you plan to integrate your social media into your traditional communication channels. Have you seen someone else do this really well? Leave a comment below and get this discussion started!
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Every Monday night, I pack up my computer bag and head to the University Club Atop Symphony Towers in San Diego to provide social media seminars for club members. It’s part of my consulting contract and, frankly, it’s one of my favorite aspects of work. I love helping professionals better understand these amazing and cost-effective tools which have completely changed the way we do business and revolutionized the way we communicate. I’ve met some wonderful folks during these sessions and have (hopefully) provided insightful information they can take back to the office and implement.
While it’s a no-brainer that membership organizations like business clubs, country clubs and the like are a perfect match for communicating through social media, it may not be as clear for your business which channels are best to tap into. It is better to select one or two channels where you know you can reach your target audience, versus spreading yourself too thin and attempting to be everywhere. I admit that as a solopreneur, it is tough sometimes to manage my content plan and effectively communicate. I feel completely disconnected and out of touch if a day goes by when I don’t post, tweet or share. But I will tell you that these tools, when used with good strategy and purpose, will produce positive results.
During my Monday night classes, I’ve witnessed several “a-ha moments” when an concept clicks or someone realizes how they can integrate social media into their communication plan. If you would like to learn more about the types of seminars I can provide or need to train your staff (or you!), please contact me. I am eager to assess your business strategies and help you better utilize social media. My number is 619.244.2400 and my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the Olympic Games in London unfolded, the world’s top athletes took to social media to share their experiences. We saw some wonderful stories develop and fun moments from inside the Olympic Village. We also witnessed one Greek and one Swiss athlete leave the games for inappropriate tweets. British diver, Tom Daley, US Women’s Soccer Goalie, Hope Solo, and even America’s sweetheart, Aly Raisman, landed in the news because of their online activity. These elite athletes taught us that not even Olympians are sure how to use social media beneficially.
The games served as a good reminder that the lack of new media training does not apply only to athletes. It’s an issue for many businesses, too. Private Clubs struggle with the issue even more.
Most every club has an executive team that is comprised of the GM, Membership/Marketing, F&B, Catering/Private Events, Member Relations, and the Executive Chef. All of these departments are essential to a successful team and performance. And each team member has a unique voice which can serve the Club well in communicating with members and prospective members online. But, just like in synchronized swimming, if one team member’s moves and timing is off, points are deducted and the gold medal will remain out of reach.
Social networks are simply communication tools that should be integrated into marketing and communication strategies. It’s essential that your Club integrate social media into your communication plan and decide what role department managers and staff will have. Establishing guidelines for the team to use as a resource is smart planning.
Determine the content each department will contribute. Make a content plan. This is critical so that everyone understands what and when they should post their news. Private clubs, social by nature, don’t need to have separate accounts for each department – personally signing Facebook posts or initialing tweets is acceptable, and actually makes your content look like a team effort. Make social media part of your weekly meetings where you discuss what your communication objectives are and how each member will participate. This will enhance your content plan so that everyone understands the strategy.
In Private Clubs, the responsibility for social media falls on the team. This is not an individual sport like archery or track & field. The Chef sharing food pictures and recipes is just as significant as the Catering Director thanking Mr. & Mrs. Smith for hosting their wedding at the Club. The members appreciate the team as a whole, as well as the individuals who fuel the dynamics. And that’s why the authentic voice needs to shine through. If the receptionist has been assigned as the lead on posting everything to social networks, then every post will sound like it comes from the receptionist. Private Clubs are in such a unique and wonderful position to share the ongoing story of the club and the value of membership. Each department has a special story to tell which enriches the Club’s brand message.
From top to bottom, all staff members should understand your brand identity and message, and take part in helping to achieve gold in the Social Olympics.
Everyone, despite their position or level of experience, can learn to communicate well and to serve as better brand ambassadors. Loyalty starts within your club. One rogue employee, like Hope Solo, can torpedo your brand.
It’s time to train your staff, your managers, and leaders to be good communicators and to serve your club and members well.
Membership Recruitment: A Strong Brand Identity Recruits the Right Members
This article originally was written for and published in the Club Membership and Marketing Magazine, an online resource for Private Club professionals. The article appears in full below, as the magazine is subscription only. The Magazine is a resource provided by PCMA, the Professional Club Marketing Association.
In a world that has gone almost completely digital, it is easy to get caught in the online current of promoting your Club through various social channels. It’s a natural tendency to advertise the Club’s events, golf tournaments and membership programs, to show the public how great it is to be a Member at your Club. Without doubt, Private Club Membership is rewarding on many levels. However, before you post another status update, craft that 140 character tweet, or share another photo, take a few steps to make sure you are recruiting the right Members for your Club.
Review your Club’s core values
Every Club most likely has a vision or a mission statement somewhere. Perhaps it’s written on a plaque which hangs in the library or it may be collecting dust within the founding documents box. Where ever that may be, it is time to find it and read it. Your Club’s vision is based on the core values of your Club’s brand. It’s a good idea to discover what those are, too. If you haven’t reviewed the Club’s core values and vision in a while, then it is time for a re-education. This is the heart of your brand. This is the foundation for all of your communications. And the Members you want to attract should connect with those core values. The Club’s values are the most significant component of your brand identity. Your Membership is the embodiment of your brand identity.
Take a temperature on your Club Culture
Is your Club culture in-line with the core values of the Club? If your programming has fallen a bit out of touch with the vision of the Club, then work with the executive team to get it back on track. Determine what events best promote the vision of the Club. Tweak some of the less successful events to better represent your values. For example, if your Club is founded upon being a family-friendly retreat and you have very few kid-friendly events, they you may want to add activities that kids will love to the appropriate festivities.
Be a good listener
Most of a Club’s advertising and promotions tend to be all about the Club and what the executive team wants or needs to push. But let’s change that focus to be more about what Members and prospective Members want and need to hear. Do your programs truly add value to their life? In what way? Does it offer a solution? Make their life easier? These are some things to consider. Your brand messaging should definitely be infused with your core values, but it should also address your Members’ core concerns. Online, it’s easier than ever to understand what people want. They talk all the time! This is a key step in finding prospective Members who have a need for your Club. Listening to what people want, need and are concerned about will help you reach out to them with all the great answers wrapped up in a Membership at your Club. Spend more time listening online to discover who is a match for your Membership.
Choose the right channels
While you might love posting every event and program to Facebook, your Members and prospects may be checking their LinkedIn profiles three times a day and Facebook only three times per week. Part of listening is also learning where your Members are living online. You will better connect with your audience if you find them, versus them having to search for you. Learn and understand your Members’ social habits to better promote your Club culture and find new Members who are a good fit.
When you and the staff are living and breathing the Club’s core values, you’ll find the culture warmly reflects this vision, the Members embody it and that your communications reach prospects who want and need what you offer because you address their core concerns. This is the strong brand identity that will recruit the right Members for your Club…and keep them.
Shanna’s private club experience includes an award winning role as Member Relations Director at City Club on Bunker Hill, a ClubCorp Club in downtown Los Angeles, California. Shanna is pleased to be presenting Private Club IPO: Go Public With Your Club Culture at the PCMA Convention in Las Vegas on September 25th, 2012.