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YPN Blog: October

Posted By Andrew Lance, Parks and Recreation Manager, Lexington, Thursday, October 11, 2018

Small Town Department, Big Time Marketing


All of us have faced the dilemma, how do I get my stuff out there?  How do I connect with the people in my community? I know I have awesome programs and events, why don’t people come to them?  Awareness in your city or town can be a big problem, especially if you are a smaller department. Budgets can be tight, time is valuable, and the staff just don’t have the resources to effectively run a major marketing campaign, right?  WRONG! As young professionals, we have lived our entire professional career with social media, and understand the power that it has. The best part is, it’s FREE, and all you have to do is take the time to work it.

When I came to Lexington 2 years ago, we had a social media presence, but it was very disjointed - no voice, no vision, and needed help.  People were there, and wanted to hear from us, but we had to make time to engage them. In the past 2 years, we have grown our likes from 1300 to 3000+ in a city of only 17,000 (shameless plug – give us a like! www.facebook.com/colparksandrec).  There is no secret formula, but here are some tips and tricks to help you improve your social media presence.  

  • Take advantage of free stuff.  Need cool photos to use?  Pixabay and Unsplash are two FREE stock photo sites that have high quality pictures.  Want to make professional looking posts? Try Canva, a FREE site that gives you all kinds of social media templates for posts, covers, etc. and more.  Need more ideas? Check out Hubspot for marketing ideas and links.  Go on NRPA Connect and the NCRPA YPN group on Facebook and ask questions of other people in the field, there are tons of free resources out there.

  • Post videos.  Videos will show up more in news feeds these days, so try and post videos when possible.  At an event or program? Go live, and show off the cool things you are doing!

  • Be personal.  This doesn’t mean post as yourself on the department website.  People want to see family and friends, so share photos of participants and people enjoying your programs and events.  Little Johnny playing at camp will have much more engagement than a picture of a flyer for summer camp.

  • Schedule in advance.  Grab a calendar, check out what you have coming up, and then go ahead and schedule your content for the week.  Boom, your Facebook week is done.

  • Use your insights tab.  See when your audience is online, look at the engagement for your post types, and understand what the audience demographics are.  You can then use this information to tailor your content.

  • Promote engagement.  Ask for comments, pictures, gifs, etc.  Interaction help drives your reach, and the more you have, the more people you can reach and impact.  

  • Schedule events.  Have a cool event coming up?  Make an event on Facebook, then share it.  Making an event is so much better than just a post, because it shows up for other people in the “Events you may like” and Happening near you” sections.

  • Show off your facilities!  Parks and rec centers are cool, and sometimes people don’t realize all that your community has to offer.  We did a #FallParkSpotlight, and every Wednesday highlighted a different park, and people told us they were introduced to parks they never knew were there!

  • Share relevant local content.  Cool stuff happening in your community?  Share that on your page. It shows you care, and encourages other people to share your stuff in return (be sure you can/should share things before you do)

This may seem like a lot, so take a few steps at a time.  Start with a plan, and work to integrate different pieces as you feel comfortable.  By no means is this a comprehensive list, I am learning more and tinkering with the page constantly.  The amount of time it takes now to manage our Facebook page is drastically less than what it used to be, but guess what?  The interaction and reach we have is so much better now, and we have seen a tangible impact on registration, awareness, and community sentiment. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about?  


About the Author

Andrew Lance is the Parks and Recreation Manager for the City of Lexington.  Recreation has been his passion since an early age, especially sports, but he realized early on that he would not grow up to be a professional athlete. Instead, he decided to stick with what he loved, and see the enjoyment others get from being active, playing, and learning.  He attended and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Sports Management. After school he worked for private sports facilities in Virginia Beach and Downingtown, PA prior to moving to Lexington. Andrew is married with two young boys, and enjoys following Tottenham Hotspur, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Braves, and the Gamecocks among others, and playing sports whenever he can.  Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/andrewlance1), Facebook (www.facebook.com/andrew.lance.016) or reach him at aglance@lexingtonnc.gov.


Tags:  Andrew Lance  Lexington Parks and Recreation  Marketing  NCRPA  NRPA  Social Media  young professionals 

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