1 Facebook Page, 2 Weeks, and 3 Realizations

March 10, 2010

Posted in Marketing and Technology.

About a year ago, I created a Camp Fire USA Facebook page for our council: a tiny non-profit with a lot of history and not a lot of resources. I threw our logo up there, I tossed in a quick event, and that’s pretty much it. No real content to speak of. I invited one or two people to be fans, and they did. But since there was no content, there was no reason to share it, and the total fans grew to an astonishing 8 people.

Last week, I went back to the page and added photos, a video, and several events. I spruced things up. And then I invited another 8-10 people I knew who were passionate about Camp Fire and our programs.

Two weeks later…

Our fan count is in the 80s. It continues to grow by at least a few every day. We’ve gotten inquiries directly related to exposure on the Facebook page. Given our small organization and the cost (in time and money) this is a very inexpensive way to reach more people.

Realization #1: This is what I do.

I breathe marketing. I live on the web and in social media. I’m a digital-freaking-native. There’s no excuse for me to not realize how I could have been applying all of these skills to Camp Fire. That said, I’ve opened my eyes to the possibilities that I so very often advise my clients on.

Realization #2: Social networking is our marketing priority and we’ve been doing it the hard way.

People choose camp programs based on trust, price, and recommendations. We’ve got a very competitive price, so we’re left trying to build trust and get recommendations. Fortunately, our customers tend to be very passionate about our product. So we’ve spent a lot of our time and money trying to equip them to make recommendations for us via offline social networking (i.e., talk to your friends about us, here are brochures you can pass on). It’s been tough – people are busy, they’re uncomfortable with such a directed process, and so on. Facebook (and other online social networking sites) are effortless and natural. Parents of our campers are on Facebook. Their friends are on Facebook. What were we waiting for?

Realization #3: It’s a better ROI.

We have great retention rates for our campers. Kids want to come back, parents are pleased, and we stay in touch throughout the year so the return rates are wonderful. The challenge we have is reaching new parents and kids. We do all kinds of direct and indirect marketing to try and acquire new campers, but the aforementioned trust and recommendation factors leave us fighting an uphill battle. Social networking is precisely the approach we need, and it’s likely to pay off much better than a stack of flyers on a random store counter.

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