This is an excerpt from Leisure Services Management 2nd Edition With Web Study Guide by Amy Hurd,Robert Barcelona,Jo An Zimmermann & Janet Ready.
Social media offers ways of communicating electronically to share information, ideas, beliefs, and created content. Social media gives organizations a new outlet to build relationships with their target market while also providing a space for consumer-to-consumer communication to take place. Social media incorporates advertising, public relations, and media relations. This requires an understanding of all of these aspects of marketing to effectively use social media as a marketing tool.
Social Media Presence
A presence on social media sites is critical as many people turn to social media for information about products and services offered. A presence requires more than just presenting information. Social media presence will include three elements: engagement, information, and sales.
- Engagement. Social media opens up a channel of communication that does not always focus on promoting a product or service, but instead promotes the brand as a whole and the brand identity. Social media managers will be faced with the task of creating a social media personality that is unique but also aligns with the brand or agency's overall identity. Engagement on social media may not be about anything specific to the agency but focuses on the bonding between consumer and brand. A social media post asking members of a community what their favorite summertime park activity is will engage people with the brand in a more personal manner than a post promoting soccer practices, or a billboard on the side of a highway about a new product.
- Information. Social media allows information that may normally be shared in a program brochure or flyer to be shared instantly, without the cost that comes from printing. Not only does posting on a social media platform eliminate cost, it makes it easier for users to share the information with the people who follow them. A post may contain information about a service being offered by a park and recreation agency, which incorporates sales into the message.
- Sales. Promotion of goods and services takes place on social media, as seen above. This happens in two main ways: general posts and advertisements through the platform. General posts fall under engagement and information as well. Every post made on a platform is promoting the agency being represented, which is why each message that goes out needs to be crafted to the target audience. Many platforms have ways of allowing brands to create advertisements to be posted throughout the site. Social media ads are a great example of this. A business can craft a message, select a target audience, and create a budget where the agency pays per click, expediting the process of a traditional newspaper, radio, or television advertisement.
Social media is inherently social, meaning people interact with each other on different platforms. This aspect of social media is a mixture of marketing/public relations and customer service as customers have the ability to speak out about an experience they have had with a brand, opening a door to discussion.
If a customer had a positive experience at a golf lesson, she could post a review on the agency's social media page. This review can spark a conversation on the page about other peoples' experiences, different golf instructors, and golf in general. Managers need to be prepared to interact with customers on social media, especially those who comment negatively about their experience. These interactions appear to be customer service, but since they are on a public site for others to see, these interactions also fall under public relations. Plans must be in place to handle positive and negative discussions happening in an online sphere.
Social media can be an inventive and useful tool in the world of marketing if used effectively. The goal of social media is to create relationships, share information, and promote goods and services along with the brand as a whole. To do this effectively, it may take time to learn how your target audience interacts with your social media pages. Changing how messages are presented, the time of day posts go out, incorporating appropriate images, and how you interact with consumers are all aspects that may need to be adjusted based on who follows your brand. Social media managers must be prepared to actively follow and monitor social media to bring this tool to its optimal potential.