How to Make a Bigger Splash on Social Media
Blog By: Michael Popke, Owner of Two Lakes Media
If you operate a public swimming pool and aren’t using social media effectively, you’re fortunate your facility is still in business. By this point, your pool should not only have a presence on the three social major platforms USA Swimming recommends — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — but you also should be using those networks to build your pool’s brand.
If you’re new to any of those platforms, these links should help:
When I was managing editor of a magazine that covered recreation, fitness, and athletic facilities, I met pool operators who seemed to think a static website containing such basic info as hours of operation was good enough. If people want to swim, operators seemed to think, those people would visit the site, call the facility or just find their way to the pool if they had any questions.
The key, however, is keeping those people engaged all the time — not just when they want to get in the water. And the best way to remain in ongoing contact with them is through social media.
Here are ways to use each of the three major platforms mentioned above to your advantage all year long:
• Facebook: Despite reports that teenagers have logged off Facebook for good, they’re still around — and so are their parents. These days, teens are the ones reading their newsfeeds while adults are sharing what’s going on in their daily lives. Find ways to appeal to these broad user groups by treating Facebook as a way to promote new programs, report unplanned schedule changes and encourage aquatic exercise. Post videos of a different lifeguard each week reminding patrons of important water-safety practices. Share video tours of your facility that will introduce it to would-be patrons. Whatever you do, make sure you incorporate a photo or video with as many posts as possible. Countless studies indicate those are the ones that receive the most engagement.
• Twitter: Consider Twitter your real-time newsletter that will broadcast everything you want patrons to know. Again, new programs and unplanned schedule changes are perfect fodder for Twitter. So is a cute photo of a daddy-daughter swim class. Or a reminder that the pool will be undergoing repairs next week. Or a video that captures the finish of an insanely close 200-yard medley relay race during a swim meet your facility hosted. You can even include links to websites for local club and high school swimming teams. But, depending on how many accounts each of your facility’s followers follow, keep in mind that it’s even easier to miss posts on Twitter than it is on Facebook, so don’t be afraid to repeat posts.
• Instagram: On Instagram, let the images do the talking. Powerful photos — a young swimmer on the starting block, a swimming lesson in progress, parents rooting during a swim meet or crews installing a new water feature — can be stronger than words. Encourage your patrons to tag your facility in photos they post on Instagram, too, allowing their followers to see the quality of fun and excitement to be had at your pool.
Remember, regardless of platform, you don’t need to always promote your own facility. In fact, you shouldn’t do that; people eventually will unfollow you. As long as you’re an advocate of the sport and a voice in the greater swimming community, your followers will come to rely on the information and other content you share. And that will keep your pool in their lives even when they’re not in the water.
Michael Popke is an award-winning journalist and owner of Two Lakes Media Group, a writing, editing and content marketing company based in the Madison, Wis., area. For 14 years, he was managing editor of Athletic Business, the leading business-to-business magazine and website for athletic, fitness and recreation professionals. He also is a swim dad; has coached baseball, basketball and softball; worked as a USA Swimming stroke-and-turn official; and is an avid high school sports and aquatics safety supporter. He would like to swim faster. For more information, please visit his website at www.twolakesmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @michaeljpopke and @TwoLakesMedia.