The Social Media Marketing Starter Kit for Golf Facilities

Golf businesses have a considerable advantage in marketing. Golf is a leisure activity. People are crazy about the game. Golfers use social media everywhere; waiting at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store, at work, at the movies, literally everywhere!

They consume golf content as their disconnect from the world. They dive into their phones to get updates on new golf products, book tee times, read professional tour news, research swing tips, and much more.

That’s a HUGE opportunity for golf facilities that are working on growing their business. They can now provide potential customers with better information, pictures of their facilities, and services through sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.

Social media has directly affected sales for many golf facilities using these free online tools. This article will help you learn more about how you can increase your sales by using social media at your golf facility.

Why Should Your Golf Business Be On Social Media?

Your competitors are likely using social media. They are speaking to your customers. Social media is a free tool that anyone can use. In today’s climate, you need to use it to keep pace. Once you develop and implement a strategy, your business will thrive.

These are the top reasons to update your digital marketing game plan:

Increase Your Visibility

To be successful in business today, you need to increase your visibility and trustworthiness. Social media is a critical component of that strategy. Social media platforms provide you with the ability to:

-reach potential customers who are actively discussing golf

-keep them informed about your course or products

-solicit their feedback

-develop a meaningful relationship with them.

Identify New Customers

Golf is a significant industry in Canada and the United States. But just because your business focuses on local clients doesn’t mean you can’t open your doors to a broader population. That’s where social media comes in; social channels are the perfect places to connect with new customers and share your brand with those who may not live near you. 

Gain Increased Loyalty

The number one reason golfers come back to play at a specific course is because of the relationships they’ve developed. Golf is a community, social game, and customer loyalty can directly affect the rapport you’re able to build with golfers at your facility.

Provide Exclusive Access

Loyal customers are more likely to respond and act when you provide them with exclusive access. You can use social media to offer last-minute deals, exclusive access to special events and products at your facility. Social channels help you build a relationship with your customer base, especially when you give them valuable content.

Offer Better Customer Service

Being available for questions, complaints, and compliments 24/7 is always a smart strategy. You never know when someone may need information about your business or want to offer feedback. Being available to customers via social media allows you to address their needs should something come up. You can easily take care of it before they have a chance to complain.

Increase Engagement/Conversions

How do you turn social media visits into conversions? It’s essential to target your content and offer something of value to your customers. When you provide them with information specific to their needs, they are more likely to respond. Ensure that it’s valuable enough for them to share with others. For example, highlight a tournament or special event two weeks in advance. They’ll likely share or tag their friends in the post.

Create A Buzz

Social media can help create a buzz about an upcoming event, special promotion or opportunity among your customers. Not only will social channels help circulate information quickly, but they can also create excitement that encourages others to visit your facility.

There are double benefits to “buzzy” posts. Facebook is paying attention. An event that gets a lot of engagement will trigger Facebook to multiply its “organic” reach.

Enhance Brand Awareness

As customers learn more about your business through social media channels, they are more likely to share what they’ve learned with others. The enhanced brand awareness helps create positive associations with the name of your business; it can also help build customer loyalty. 

Improve Search Rankings/Visibility

The keywords used in conversations are relevant to your business and what you offer. Using specific keywords in your content can influence search engine rankings. It’s beneficial if you’re advertising on social media channels that are not as popular as others. 

Increase Customer Satisfaction/Retention

Being responsive on social media satisfies customers. It can also help avoid customer complaints. It also boosts profitability for your business.

Suppose a customer is shopping for a driver that you happen to have in your shop. You’re more likely to get the business if you’re the first to reply to their question.

Determine your intent of doing social media

A lot of golf courses have had a lot of success with their social media marketing efforts. Their intent may be to gain more customers, build their brand, market their products, or increase traffic to their website. Whatever the reason, you can create a strategy for success.

Here are some of the ways golf courses use social media:

  • to be available for support and answering questions
  • to book tee times online
  • to build relationships and loyalty with golfers
  • to build brand story and recognition
  • to reach new customers
  • to collect customer and market info
  • to capture leads
  • to increase eCommerce sales

It’s essential to have a clear mission for your social media activities. When you set clarity of focus, it becomes easier to stay on top of what is most meaningful and valuable for your golf business.

Choose one as your primary objective that would be the best guiding light for your social media. It may be a great time to refresh your brand, mission statement, and vision statement.

Social media without a clear goal is impossible to plan, execute, track, and improve.

How to Measure Your Social Media’s Effectiveness

With intent in place, now let’s make sure you measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

Customers often ask about the return on investment (ROI) when investing in social media strategy. Unless you are selling via e-commerce, it’s virtually impossible to measure your ROI traditionally; ROI = (Attributed Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost.

The golf industry does not have a short sales cycle; therefore, let’s look at Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) instead:

Social Media Engagement (likes, shares, comments)

Social media engagement is a metric Facebook uses to show how often people interact with a business or brand’s posts on Facebook. They added this metric because it was a good indicator of organic growth and overall audience interest in the content. Interest in the content means the page is creating the right content for its fans.

Reach & Impressions

Reach and Impressions measure the number of people or unique devices that viewed a post.

Reach – getting a user to see you is the end goal for social media marketing. The post reach is measured by impressions. The number of times people saw your content in their news feeds or timelines if they were not connected with you yet, or did not follow you yet.

There are many more KPIs, but it comes down to what your goals are with your social media.

What are Outbound or Inbound Strategies

Outbound strategies are self-promotional efforts to make your business and its offerings known. Inbound strategies are user-initiated, such as blogs, public speaking, videos, etc.

These marketing approaches can be parts of a Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy. However, social media is not a “selling tool.” All too many golf facilities don’t succeed with their socials because they only use it as a digital version of a radio message.

To be successful in SMM, you should utilize an inbound strategy. Create content that will engage your fans. Content only you can create that makes them fall in love with your facility all over again. 

The champions of the golf business have already embraced SMM and are profiting in a big way.

If You Avoid It, Retirement is Waiting

It’s not that you should abandon traditional marketing methods. There’s a strategy for everything. Remember that your competition is using social media marketing, where golfers are spending a lot of time. Now is the time to set your plans and goals for being a front-runner in social media.

If you’re managing a golf facility, you’re likely in your 40’s or 50’s. Before social media, most of your career’s advertising was outbound. It may be a challenge for you to understand digital marketing. It’s a medium you use to create relationships, entertain, and inform without the cheesy 1970’s car-salesman pitches.

It’s a much more long-form version of advertising. Today’s golfer wants to know they are spending their money in the right place. They visit your Facebook page, website and Google profile for rates, photos, videos, and reviews.

In our branding article (found here), we talked about attracting the best customers. Your “target market.” These customers will have the best experiences and become fans (and marketers) of your golf course.

Younger managers are winning a lot of jobs because they increase sales at their facilities. They grew up with social media. These tools help them create meaningful connections with golfers. They understand that’s where the golfers are spending their time, so they may as well produce engaging content for them.

Which Social Media Platforms Should You Use?

You may want to use all of them, but it’s just not possible. The good news is there are a few that work better for the golf industry.

Facebook

Facebook is still by far your best and most influential tool in social media marketing. With over 1 billion daily users worldwide, 19 million in Canada, and 556 million in the USA, it’s definitive that you’ll want to use Facebook. In today’s golfer’s eyes, if you’re not on Facebook, you’re irrelevant.

Your goal on Facebook is to use it as your message board. Think of it as a trimmed-down version of your website—something you can quickly update effortlessly to connect with your fans.

Essentials for your page:

-updated hours and contact information

-updated events information, either as posts with graphics or Facebook events pages

-connection to Messenger for instant messaging

-attractive and updated photos

Pros/Cons: Facebook typically has the oldest demographics and offers the best analytics of any other social media platform.

Instagram

Instagram is effective in “showing off” your facility. The fun at your events, unique activities, promotions, and last-minute deals. In addition, photos and videos are a great way to attract new golfers.

There is a lot of crossover between Facebook and Instagram users. It’s critical to understand you have some users that will see both feeds. For best results, create different content for each platform. Duplicating your exposure results in less engagement and reach.

Ensure that you know your demographics in each platform and build your social media strategy around it.

Pros/Cons: Instagram produces outstanding results for product highlights, event wrap-up videos, and all-around showing off the beauty of playing golf.

TikTok

This platform may have the best growth potential for golf facilities. It’s still relatively new, and there is much room for promotional content like videos, photos, contests, etc.

Posting on TikTok requires short videos (15 seconds) where you can tell a story about your course or facility—what makes it unique and exciting.

It’s important to note the demographics on TikTok are much younger than Facebook and Instagram. If attracting more juniors to your club is a priority, you need a TikTok plan.

Pros/Cons: Mostly a young audience and has a lot of potential growth.

How Often Should You Post to Social Media?

There isn’t a magic formula. Creating social media posts is about quality, not quantity. Golfers are your fans; they will interact with nearly every piece of content you publish.

How to start: Publish two posts per week on one platform. Make one post a photo taken from your phone. It can be an evening landscape shot, a member’s hole-in-one, delicious food from the restaurant, etc. The other post should be a club update—an upcoming event, new product, new staff member, maintenance notices, etc.

Publish something you want your fans to share.

What to Post on Social Media

Years ago, Facebook’s algorithm used to be chronological. There was uproar when this changed. It became an algorithmic feed based on who you follow or content you like. Without this change, you could spam people’s feeds every five minutes by adding a new post. 

Social media platforms figured out a way to make more money: more ad impressions. They do this by getting people to stay on the platform longer – and how is that? By showing them things they enjoy seeing.

It is not enough to post something that you want people to see. You need them to engage with it, like it, comment on it, or share it if they think others will enjoy your content. These engagement levels tell Facebook who is interested in your posts.

When Facebook shows the message, “This post is doing better than 95% of your posts.” They’re paying attention to the response your content gets. In turn, they show it to more people that have the same interests.

They also measure specific things like the text in your copy (your caption). You want to avoid words like sale, discount, and promotion, or even using dollar signs because that’s not what Facebook users want.

Engagement can trump these technical measures. A high-quality post will still be able to win even if it’s filled with text, as long as the content is relevant and shareable enough. It’s not just about slick, polished photos from an expensive camera or gorgeous graphic design. Quality also means relevance over polish, so a well-written but simple post may have higher chances of resonating with your audience than a highly edited version.

Examples of posts with high engagement rates:

-hole-in-one notifications

-restaurant menu updates

-video lessons from the pros

-staff introductions

-beautiful golf course photos

-lesson and clinic highlights

-tournament results

-user-generated content (UGC)

Ask yourself, would people share this? If not, maybe you shouldn’t post it.

What does that mean for your socials?

Now that you understand the basics of the algorithm world, you now know that your posts are all about “engagement.”

Every time you are about to hit the “post” button, review the content you are sharing. Is it something you would like, share, comment on if you came across it? It’s your world, industry, and business. If you don’t like it, why would your “fans” engage?

Find out your golfer’s behaviours from your department managers:

-Ask your F&B manager what drinks are new or popular. Is there a meal that is selling more than others?

-Monthly trends. August tends to see a lot of putter sales. Post some putting tips from your professionals highlighting a new putter.

-Is aerating on the calendar? Make sure you post that on your socials to let people know what to expect. There’s nothing worse as a golfer than showing up to a course, and they didn’t tell you at the time of booking. To offset the loss of business, try offering a discounted rate. Give people that aren’t “regulars” the opportunity to play your course.

We tried this with one course, and the results were excellent! Not only did golfers appreciate the “head’s up,” but the facility was able to attract a whole new bunch of golfers that didn’t typically play there. In addition, they collected more emails and new followers on their socials—big picture stuff.

How Does This Affect Your Retirement?

Golf industry leaders who “get it” know that it’s all about the golfers. Your branding, marketing, and social media strategy need to start with the golfer.

It is critical for all leaders at golf facilities to embrace that today’s golfers are digitally inclined. They read reviews, pay attention to socials, and have come to expect information to be available on websites.

Developing a branding strategy (which includes social media marketing) that appeals to your target market will translate into more members, more active golfers, and cash in the till(s).

More cash in the tills means your branding is working, you become a valuable leader at the golf club, and your salary will increase.

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