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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA Matt@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.

 

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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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The Impact of Social Media

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Monday,

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 NCRPA Marketing Summit in Durham, NC. The information shared during the sessions was extremely valuable. As digital media continues to grow it is being embraced and utilized by an assortment of agencies. The questions is; how can we use digital media to promote wellness?

Why is this relevant for wellness? Social media is one of the strongest, (not to mention free, mostly), tools that your parks department can use to their advantage. Social media is one of the primary modes of communication to broadcast breaking and updated news and information. Still not convinced? According to the Pew Research Center, as of September 2014: 71% of online adults use Facebook, 23% of online adults use Twitter, 26% of online adults use Instagram and 28% of online adults use Pinterest, and 28% of adults use LinkedIn.

What can you do with those social media outlets? Facebook allows us to post visually engaging content. You can promote your department’s programs and events by posting pictures and stories. The key is to find a story to tell to create an emotional response. This could be sharing a story of one of your staff members or families in the community. Twitter is widely used by journalist, companies and individuals. It is easy to build a network of users by creating hashtags and geotags. It is also great for instant and constant news, both to share and receive. Instagram can be used to create photo and video content, check out the department of the interiors page for some inspiration (https://instagram.com/usinterior/). Create an engaging and creative competition for users to post pictures helping promote your department. Lastly, Pinterest is good to organize topics, such as arts, sports and special events. Check out how Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources is using Pintrest (https://www.pinterest.com/raleighparks/)

The high percentage of online users tells us that we should communicate to our communities more through social media. Your department can have impact by strategically sharing useful information, whether that be regarding healthy eating or physical activity ideas. Spark ideas by sharing pictures, videos and stories of health related topics. According to the Social Media Examiner, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide. As well as adding a photo to your tweet, can boost your retweets by 35%. These statistics indicate that by posting visual content related to health and wellness can help increase overall engagement on your social media pages!

We can inspire our communities through the use of the internet by sharing health related information and providing tools to empower change in their daily lives. If you have any ideas on using social media as a positive reinforcement, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net, http://www.ncrpa.net/?Wellnesssub).

Colleen

Tags:  Awareness  Health  Social Media  Wellness 

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How Often Should we Post to Social Media?

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, March 9, 2015

As parks and recreation professionals we are asked to fill many roles and be ready to change to better serve our communities at a moment’s notice. When it comes to marketing our parks, programs and events the scope of responsibilities can vary greatly. Sometimes our marketing and social media is coordinated by a dedicated marketing team, sometimes it’s a department director and other times it might be a programmer.  If you are managing your departments’ social you have a variety of things to think about; when to post, what to post, and sometimes even how to post.  Often these questions can be answered by asking our peers, reading various blogs and reviewing what industry leaders are doing.  At NCRPA I use Buffer to help me manage and coordinate our social content.  (Buffer is an app that helps you manage and monitor social media accounts.) In addition to being one of my favorite media management tools, Buffer does a good job of sharing research and tips on how to be a more proficient social media manager in an ever changing landscape.  To get you started, check out this great blog and infographic from Buffer on posting frequency. https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-often-post-social-media

Don’t forget that if you are looking to take your marketing and social media to the next level you can join NCRPA at the 2015 Marketing Summit on April 14th in Durham, NC.  http://www.ncrpa.net/event/Marketing

Stay tuned to the NC’Recre8’er blog all this month and April for more tips and tricks for marketing as parks and recreation professionals! 

  

 

Tags:  Blogs  Facebook  Marketing  NCRPA  Parks  Programs  Recreation  Social Media  Tips  Twitter 

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