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How to Use Facebook for Your Summer Camp

Facebook: it’s the mother of all social networking sites. Used by a whopping 68% of Americans, Facebook is a favorite place for users to consume news and content, keep up with new and old connections, and interact with businesses. Today, 43% of users call Facebook their primary news source and the average person spends about 35 minutes on the site each day.

Along with Instagram and LinkedIn, Facebook is part of what some consider the summer camp social media marketing trifecta. The elements that make Facebook such a useful marketing tool (versatility and reach) can also make it challenging to navigate. But with a few simple tricks, it is possible to master Facebook’s many functions and use it to improve your summer camp marketing efforts.

In this post, we’ll break down the benefits of Facebook for summer camps, and help you learn how to use it in your summer camp marketing.

3 Reasons Your Camp Needs a Facebook Presence

Wondering why Facebook is so vital for your camp? Here are three unique things Facebook has to offer:

1. It Allows you to Reach a Huge Audience Quickly

Facebook is home to about 80 million small- and medium-sized business pages. These companies flock to the platform for a good reason. In recent years, Facebook has implemented a series of algorithm changes, which have curated ad audiences for companies.

It means that businesses like summer camps now have access to smaller, more targeted groups of users, which makes ad dollars much more efficient. It increases the likelihood  that the people seeing your advertisements are the ones most likely to engage with you.

2. It’s a Great Way for Campers to Communicate With You

So Facebook is a great ‘outbound’ communication medium.  But it’s also great for ‘inbound’ marketing. When you use Facebook correctly, it can serve as a powerful lead generation machine. Great, engaging content on your Facebook page will bring people in, pique their interest, and encourage them to reach out to you, which they can do directly through the platform.

In addition to offering powerful messaging and commenting, Facebook also provides a dynamic messenger bot… a fancy term for automated response tools.  This bot makes it easy for users to submit fast inquiries. It also offers programmable auto-responses, which will help interested parties feel tended-to until a staff member can tackle their question. Given that 83% of today’s social media users expect businesses to respond to inquiries within a day, the auto-response is a critical feature. The integration of a messenger bot can help you stay on top of questions and keep your would-be campers happy.

For an example of how this messenger bot works, check out how Vermont-based Camp Akeela uses it:

Here’s what Hootsuite has to say about the benefits of messenger bots and FB’s messaging functionalities:

“Headliner Labs found that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook Message than a marketing email. And since customers can respond (usually by pressing a CTA button—they don’t even need to type), they’re likely to move further down your marketing funnel.”

3. Facebook is a Great Place to Keep People Updated

Part of the challenge of marketing a summer camp is that the program is by nature seasonal. People come out for an amazing few weeks or months and tend to forget about you after the fun of summer fades. The most successful summer camps stay top-of-mind by finding ways to keep people updated in the interim. Voila, Facebook.

Camp Thunderbird in Bemidji, Minnesota, for example, uses Facebook to let campers know about its upcoming camp reunion.

This ongoing, dynamic communication helps to build a digital community around a camp. It also keeps both current and past campers engaged all year long, and makes your summer camp social media more organic.

Facebook, by the Numbers

Just how popular is Facebook, exactly? And how do people use it? Here are a few compelling Facebook statistics to chew on:

  • 51% of U.S. teens use Facebook
  • 74% of Facebook users visit the site daily (check out the SproutSocial graphic below to see the breakdown)
  • 96% of Facebook users prefer the mobile version of the platform
  • During Facebook’s 2018 Q4 report, Facebook reported its advertising revenue had reached $16.6 billion. This represents a 30% increase over the year before.
  • 35% of Facebook’s audience is under age 25–which means 65% of users are parent-age.
  • Each user visit to Facebook lasts between 10-12 minutes
  • 78% of American consumers have found products or businesses to interact with on Facebook
  • 30% of marketers believe that Facebook provides the highest digital ROI
  • The average FB user clicks eight ads each month
  • 150 million people use Facebook stories

As you can see from these numbers, Facebook is an excellent platform to leverage as you renew your marketing efforts for the upcoming year. Many camps around the country are already making use of Facebook, and you can too.

5 Pro Tips: How to Use Facebook for Your Summer Camp

Facebook is a powerful tool, as long as you use it right. With that in mind, here are five professional tips to help you rock your Facebook presence:

1. Get Visual

Like Instagram, Facebook is a highly visual platform.

Photo albums, pictures, and videos get 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement, respectively, than text-only posts. Additionally, live videos on Facebook have an engagement rate of 4.3% compared to 2.2% for non-live videos. Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. Using Facebook like a pro means making the most of its visual aspect.

One obvious way to do this is to use Facebook to share your camp photos – lots of them. Camp Pillsbury, out in Owatonna, Minnesota, does this well.

Visitors to their Facebook page have immediate access to lots of beautiful, high-color, dynamic images depicting the camp’s culture and activities. They also do an excellent job of using their Facebook posts to drive viewer action and encourage people to enroll for the upcoming season:

Pro Tip: Share as many images as possible on Facebook. Create different albums for each camp season or session, Create a collection that offers pictures of your grounds, facilities, dining hall, cabins, and anything else potential campers and their parents would want to see. Collect consent forms from campers that allow you to share snaps from daily activities and events. Encourage campers to tag you in the photos they take at camp. When it comes to Facebook, the more visuals, the better.

2. Treat Facebook Like a Virtual Camp Community

At your summer camp, the community makes the experience. The same should go for your Facebook community. With this in mind, take proactive steps to build a digital community around your Facebook page. One easy way to do this is to ask your camp partners, counselors, administrators, parents, and previous campers to “like” and share your page.

This serves two important purposes. First, it exposes your page content to more users. When you have more people liking your page, you’ve got more touch points that could grow into a share or engagement down the road. Secondly, widespread sharing helps your Facebook page transform into a powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool. Likes and shares are both necessary ranking and social signals, and having more of them may help your page rank in Google.  

Don’t forget to invite your professional and personal contacts to Like your Facebook page. From your Facebook dashboard, navigate to the “Invite Email Contacts” link under the “Build Audience” tab. You’ll be able to upload email lists (an excellent way to keep your previous campers involved, by the way) and send invitation messages. Finally, get busy promoting your page everywhere else you can, including on your website and other social profiles.

Pro Tip: Want to take this one step further? Use your Facebook page to build your in-person community, too. Take a tip from Camp Olson YMCA and use Facebook to introduce new camp staff members:

Camp Olson also uses Facebook to share news about the passing of a treasured supporter:

3. Get Insightful…with Help

Facebook is much more than just a visual platform where you can share updates. Part of what makes it so powerful is that it comes armed with some seriously useful insight and analytics tools. If you want to leverage Facebook to market your summer camp, learning to use these tools is critical.

Here are a few to pay special attention to:

  • Page Insights. Page Insights is a Facebook original. Designed to help you measure page activity and performance, Page Insights shows you page views, previews, recommendations, engagements, follows, and more.
  • Advertising. Advertising is a powerful insight and marketing tool. The “Info and Ads” tab under your camp’s profile photo will allow you to view all your active ads, and the insights associated with each, in a single, convenient dashboard. This is also where you can create and view Boosted Posts.
  • Facebook Offers. A handy tool, Facebook Offers makes it possible to create and promote special offers once you reach 100 Likes. This is a great way to market new camper discounts and more.

4. Share Announcements and Reminders on Facebook

Remember how 43% of users call Facebook their primary news source? Why not take advantage of this with your summer camp marketing efforts? For best results during the coming season, post news, announcements, and reminders on your Facebook page.

While this shouldn’t be all that you post, Facebook is an excellent platform to keep people in the loop about your camp or program. This is especially true if you’re introducing something new.

Check out how Montana-based Alpengirl Camp does this on their page:

You can also use Facebook to share third-party articles, promote contests and challenges, share original videos, and more!

Pro Tip: Don’t stop at just sharing the content. Take it one step further by engaging with people who engage with your content. When people interact with the news and updates you share, start a  conversation with them. This shows would-be campers and interested parties that you’re paying attention and makes it possible to grow your following. For best results, enable the message feature of your page so that interested parties can reach out to you directly. When they do, respond as quickly as possible. Remember that engagement is one of the primary metrics that allow you to show up in other people’s News Feeds, so it’s not something you want to overlook.

5. Promote Your Content on Facebook

Good summer camp marketing is a multifaceted process. For best results, you want to create a web that spans your various platforms and makes it easier for people to find and interact with your material. Facebook can be an excellent tool for this, but it’s important to remember that it’s not your only approach.

You should also be blogging, interacting on Instagram, and keeping your webpage up to date. As you do all of this, use Facebook to share updates. Again, check out how Alpengirl Camp does this by sharing their recent blogs on their Facebook page:

Pro Tip: Automate your cross-platform sharing by linking your Facebook page to both your Instagram and blog site. This way, you’ll automatically update your Facebook News Feed every time you make a post on another channel.

4 Quick Posting Tips to Boost Engagement

Follow these tips to take your Facebook interaction to the next level:

  • Make sure you’ve categorized your page correctly. Facebook Business Pages come in a few different forms. You can be a “local business or place,” “artist, band, or public figure,” “company, institution, or organization,” and more. For best results, make sure you’ve chosen the right category. Being a “local business” will allow you to establish a physical address and market to your local community. “Company or organization” is also a smart option.
  • Optimize images. Images are critical for Facebook success, and it’s smart to make sure yours are as high-quality as possible. This means they should be high-quality, relevant to your audience, and original. If you have to choose between quality and quantity, shoot for quality every time.
  • Use the CTA buttons. Facebook Business Pages offer a few different call-to-action (CTA) buttons. These buttons appear at the top of your page and encourage visitors to sign up, contact you, open an app, and more. Choose the right one for your marketing goals and refer back to it frequently in your other marketing.
  • Post frequently. According to recent studies, you’ll get the most traction by posting on Facebook at least once a day. Again, though, it’s critical to aim for quality over quantity. To do this, publish original material 70% of the time, third-party content that’s relevant to your audience 20% of the time, and promotional or sales content 10% of the time. Make sure you’re also optimizing your posts with images, hashtags, and anything else that will help them stand out.

Facebook: a Powerful Tool for Summer Camp Marketing

There are many ways to market your summer camp, but Facebook is a very powerful one. Versatile, customizable, and perfect for summer camps at all phases of marketing, Facebook is a favorite social platform for a reason.

By making the most of Facebook’s analytics and targeting features and building it into a multi-channel marketing strategy, you can speak to a broader audience and get more people engaging with your summer camp content this season.

Looking for additional ways to streamline and simplify your summer camp operations? Check out our solutions today.