One of the most significant challenges facing camp directors today is recruiting and hiring staff. These days, finding enough people to staff camp requires more than just knowing your ideal audience. You have to speak their language and meet them where they are. And where is that? TikTok.
Camp directors and owners should be using TikTok for camp staff recruitment. The social platform has more than 15 million daily users, 60% of whom are between the ages of 16-24. This means if you can use the right strategies, you can get in front of your ideal audiences.
Understanding these specific approaches is an area of expertise of Jerry Reid, who was the director of River Way Ranch Camp, located in Sanger, California. He is now the president of Top Hand Media, where he helps companies reach ideal audiences through GEO Frames combined with digital ads. These are his suggestions.
Build on viral trends
Jerry explains that camps don’t need to create viral trends, they just need to make it clear that they’re paying attention to them. Whether it’s a particular song, dance, or challenge, you can build on its popularity, but relate it back to your camp.
Just as important is not being late to the game. If a type of video isn’t trending anymore, posting related content via your camp’s account could actually give the wrong impression. Even if you think it’s still funny, it can make it seem that your camp isn’t aware of what’s current. That’s almost worse than not being on TikTok at all.
It’s even important to monitor trends based on location. What is trending on the east coast might be different than on the west coast, and you can’t assume that it’s possible to catch all potential hires with the same content.
Leverage hashtags on TikTok for summer camp staff recruitment
TikTok posts include hashtags, and paying attention to any that are relevant to your desired staff can help your content be seen. One example that Jerry mentions, is checking out what content and hashtags are being shared by colleges in the areas you typically recruit.
If you base your content on what’s locally relevant, you’re likely to get in front of the people who fit your ideal counselor profile. This is another way to prove that you’re paying attention because it indicates that you’re a participant in the TikTok culture.
Capture footage during summer for year-round use
Jerry explains that one challenge that camps face with TikTok content is that there’s no camp magic to capture during staff recruitment season. He says one way to solve this is to take footage during summer that you can edit and compile to fit with trends happening during the year. You can always set a video to a popular song or splice it with video content taken during the off-season. This is a great way to show off camp even when it’s not happening.
Get current staff involved
Create a recruitment team of counselors that have spent a few summers on staff and know what makes it a special experience. This helps in a variety of ways. First, it maintains connections to these longstanding staff members, which can help with retention. Second, it takes the pressure of you to do all the monitoring.
Jerry recommends setting up a group text or scheduling Zoom calls where team members can report on what’s trending in their areas. Finally, these staffers are more likely to be influencers and have networks of others at your desired age. Instead of trying to convince high-school- and college-aged people that you’re “with it” you can leverage the credibility of their peers to do this.
This tip is important for all social media platforms. To give the impression that you’re paying attention, you need a consistent presence, not one that only happens at specific times of the year and that is just related to hiring. As you build your audience, they’ll see that you’re committed to communicating with them in their preferred method, and not just when it’s convenient for you.
According to Jerry, weekly is a good frequency, but of course, if viral trends pop up more frequently you have to be ready to jump on them.
Get to know TikTok for camp staff recruitment
The best way to get comfortable with TikTok is to create an account and start using the app. You’ll start to understand how to use it and what content is drawing in your audience. The most important thing about leveraging any social media platform is to do it well. While it is possible to simply repost content between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, TikTok has a much more unique vibe. The more authentically you use the platform, says Jerry, the more effective you’ll be to use TikTok for summer camp staff recruitment.