This is an excerpt from Leisure Services Management 3rd Edition With HKPropel Access by Amy R. Hurd,Robert J. Barcelona & Jo An M. Zimmermann.
Social media offers ways of communicating electronically to share information, ideas, beliefs, and created content. Social media gives organizations another outlet to build relationships with their target market while also providing a space for consumer-to-consumer communication. Social media incorporates advertising, public relations, customer service, and media relations and requires an understanding of all these aspects of marketing to effectively use social media as a marketing tool.
Social Media Presence
A presence on social media sites is critical because many people turn to social media for information about events, products, and services. A presence requires more than just presenting information; a strong social media presence will include three elements: engagement, information, and sales.
- Engagement. Social media opens 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 are 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 engages people with the brand in a more personal manner than a post promoting soccer leagues or a billboard on the side of a highway about a new product. Another form of engagement rising in popularity on social media, specifically video platforms (TikTok, Reels, etc.), is showing the brand or agency behind closed doors. This type of engagement content can add extreme value to the consumer because it promotes the “humans” behind the brand or agency, deepening their connection to it.
- 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, but it also makes it easier for people to reshare content with their friends and followers on social media. Many agencies have made excellent use of features such as Facebook Events to share information. This allows an agency to provide information and offer a place for people to ask questions, RSVP, or share with others who may want to attend. Many times, informational content aligns with sales opportunities as well.
- Sales. Promotion of goods and services takes place on social media. 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 all messages must be crafted to the target audience. General sales posts are seen frequently on organic feeds, but more targeted sales advertisements have also become a feed staple. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter all allow brands to create advertisements or sponsored content. A business can craft a message, select a target audience, create a budget and push an advertisement live in a matter of moments, expediting the process seen with traditional newspaper or television advertisements. Many of these platforms also provide free training on how best to use their sponsored content, which is valuable knowledge for any marketer.
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 because customers can 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, they 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.
In current times, any conversation about social media will certainly lead to the role influencers play. An influencer is a person who has built knowledge, credibility, and expertise in a specific area; has a large audience; and has the ability to influence potential buyers or users of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. There is an array of influencers on each platform, all with a unique audience and voice. Influencers can be used by brands to promote products, events, and services in an authentic manner that branded social media content cannot provide. Influencers are seen as a trusted source for information within their specialty. If you are searching for a new bike, you may research in traditional ways, but you may also check out your favorite cyclist who reviews bikes on YouTube for their opinions on bikes. Influencers provide a personal experience for a potential consumer. When working for an agency or brand, it is essential to learn who are key influencers in the industry to best decide how to incorporate them into your marketing efforts. Influencers can become brand ambassadors, create sponsored content, and help build relationships with the brand consumers. They will continue to be a large part of social media marketing for years to come.
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 building a brand persona for consumers to connect with online. 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 or the time of day posts go out, incorporating appropriate images and videos, and learning how to interact with consumers are all aspects that may need to be adjusted based on your brand’s followers. Social media managers must be prepared to actively engage with and monitor social media to bring this tool to its optimal potential.