Don't get in the way of campers and staff connecting online. It's good if they do! (Part 1)
Let’s cut to the chase. If you don’t get over your fears right now and turn your staff loose on the social marketing front, you will miss powerful marketing opportunities and your competition will eat your lunch.
Does that change your mind?
Look, for the past many years I was just like you. I took every step imaginable to keep my staff from communicating with campers online. I even made my counselors sign a “Camper-to-Staff Social Contact Form” that read in part:
Regarding web sites like Facebook and Myspace:
Do not ask a camper to “add you” as a friend. Do not agree, or agree to be, added to these sites. Do not join a camper's page as a “fan” and do not ask them to join your page as a “fan.” You shall have no contact or association with any child in any remote capacity on these sites. Any violations of these terms or conditions are grounds for immediate termination.
Then one day I had an epiphany. Why the hell am I fighting this?
My counselors are already in the field connecting in person with my campers anyway, so why would I want to HINDER this relationship's development? Instead I should be taking active steps to facilitate this relationship and strengthen the bond even more. If I'm trying to block camper/staff connections online, I’m biting the hand that feeds me, for crying out loud.
If you've done your due diligence hiring staff -- like conducting reference and background checks -- AND you have in place an effective social media monitoring system, you should have nothing to worry about. In fact you should be all smiles. Here's why:
- Your marketing exposure will increase exponentially across the internet
- Your website will improve in the search result rankings
- Your staff can stay in touch with your kids all YEAR (in the off-season, for goodness sake), doing your social media marketing for you year-round. (Just imagine how what this could do for camper return rates!)
- Best of all, none of this will cost you a dime : )
You know what? I'll bet your campers and staff are talking to each other online right now in any case. Either you don’t know it or you DO know but you’re looking the other way.
In any case, how can having staff do your social marketing work hurt you? To the contrary, by fostering online relationships between campers and staff, you’ll be creating a special cyberenviroment where lots of good things can happen.
That's it for now. Part 2 of this post is coming soon. Keep an eye out...