With Facebook knocking on the door of 2 BILLION users, most golf courses have figured out they need to have presence there. Meanwhile, Instagram, which is growing faster than Facebook and is now twice the size of Twitter, remains the most neglected social network for reasons that frankly confound and frustrate me.
You need to incorporate BOTH into your social media strategy or you risk missing out on as much as half of your golf audience if not more depending your golf course’s demographics.
In this post, we’ll delve into why a multi-channel strategy is a necessity in today’s social media marketing environment and breakdown the differences between the two and how they can complement each other to give you more complete coverage and reach with your golf audience.
When I pivoted my career toward social media marketing in golf four years ago, the refrain I heard from courses about Facebook was, “Our audience isn’t on there,” largely meaning older golfers don’t use social media. Can you possibly imagine someone saying that today? Well, they are, but now they’re talking about Instagram. Déjà vu, anyone?
There are several differences between the two channels, but the one you need to recognize first and foremost is audience. Most people seem aware Facebook is by far the dominant social channel in a Wal-Mart/NFL/Starbucks sort of way, but what few realize is its fastest growing demographic: Baby boomers. You know them. They’re the generation that largely is still paying the bills for the golf industry.
The generation that is lagging in taking up the game and causing consternation in the industry is millennials. Guess what their preferred network is? Instagram. But when you tell course GMs/marketers, they need to be on Instagram, they’ll give the same audience answer they were giving about Facebook four years ago. Anyone else detect a chicken and egg scenario here?
I largely caution against audience generalizations, but that’s the simple audience assessment of the two channels though Gen X (my generation) is equally prevalent on Instagram as are some boomers, some of whom I know to be quite active and effective on the network.
I have a hunch some Boomer GM’s confuse Instagram with Snapchat, which is mostly for teens and those in their early 20s and has yet to establish itself as a truly business factor. (In fact, a recent study found it to have the worst ROI of all the social media channels.) Such is not the case with Facebook and Instagram, both of whom are quite effective in a business environment when managed and leveraged properly.
Two things dictate which channel to use. We’ve talked about audience. The other is content. Some content is simply much more effective on one channel than the other and it’s important to know why.
Facebook is better for longer-format videos, especially since it changed its algorithm to favor video, and written pieces, such as blog posts, whereas Instagram is almost strictly for photos and short-form video (a minute or less). The goal of all social media content is for it to be shareable amongst your friends and following and knowing where to send certain contain will improve your chances.
You can get engagement on Instagram, but that’s more the domain of Facebook, where you’re far more likely to get a discussion going about, say, how to play a certain hole at your course. On Instagram, you’d be more likely to show video for someone playing the hole or a panoramic and hoping it accrues likes and shares.
The apps for both are fairly easy to use, but the filters and other features on Instagram make it especially easy to upload quality photos and videos and thus make it my preferred app. for golf. Rather than encouraging dialogue, you more want to encourage your golfers to share photos and videos from their round that you can like or comment on, or, through an app. called Repost, you can repost on your account, which is the ultimate social media complement. And the more content you repost, the more you’ll encourage your golfers and followers to participate. You can also pull in content from other sources, such as golf instructors, to build your gallery and following.
Where Facebook can help is that you can encourage your followers there to follow you on Instagram and encourage the sharing of photos and videos. This is cross-channel promotion that can help grow your audience on BOTH channels. And when you’ve got golfers following you on multiple social media channels, that’s online loyalty, my friends. That means you’ve got an interested and engaged golfer who WILL come practice and play at your course, unless rate, distance, etc. is a factor.
You can also use Instagram to bolster your Facebook following, and I’ll use a project I did with Arroyo Trabuco this year as an example. I interviewed Arroyo Head Pro Michael Block about playing in the Tour stop at Riviera CC in LA last Feb. ahead of the event. I hosted the three videos, which were 90 seconds or more, on Facebook and then used photo of Michael and the course to cross promote the Facebook videos on Instagram. All three videos performed great and generated a steady stream of supportive comments, exactly the type of engagement I was looking for.
By using this cross-promotion strategy, the course Instagram accounts I’ve overseen can now be run almost entirely on user-generated content, but obviously I still incorporate organic content as it suits the course’s social media marketing needs.
If you aren’t on Instagram, you’re not only missing this engagement opportunity, much worse, millennials might not be even be aware you exist. They have become notorious for looking up businesses online before making purchasing decisions. When they look you up, what will they find? Will they feel welcome? Are you prepared to engage them and even entertain them?
By the way, another word for millennials is young professionals, who are showing a renewed interest in country clubs for entertaining clients and hosting business events. If your club isn’t present on Instagram, you risk missing out on this audience and opportunity. How’s that for a social media reality check?
So if your course is still saying no Instagram (and why would you?), you are now fully aware of what you’re missing out on and you’re likely leaving a social media door open for your competition.
But if you’re ready to club up on your social media and get your game to better than par, contact 19th Hole Media. This is what we do and the strategy that we believe serves our clients best now and going forward. Who’s ready to have a conversation?