Before you set up your social accounts and get to hashtagging, it’s important to have a plan.

Social media marketing is one of the most common means of marketing today, and there is an overwhelming amount of information available to help teach you how to make the most of it. But many marketers fail to build the important foundation necessary for a successful marketing plan. We asked our Director of Training, Rosie Salas, who has a background in family entertainment marketing, to share some of the common missteps that FECs make. Read on for her top five tips for smart social media marketing.

No. 1: Plan social media as part of your overall marketing plan.

Salas: The most common mistake I see with FECs and other small businesses is that owners and managers don’t think of social media as part of their overall marketing plan. They know social media is powerful, and that they need to be a part of it, but don’t consider the most important rules of marketing. Social media planning is the same as planning the rest of your marketing and being able to answer the following questions:

  • What is my purpose for being on social media?
  • What are my social media goals? What do I want to achieve?
  • What is my competitive advantage?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • How will I get the word out that we’re on social media?
  • What is my budget?
  • How will this work in conjunction with my other marketing mediums?

So many people jump in without being able to answer these questions. They do not understand how their social media strategy fits into the rest of their marketing plan. Be sure every post isn’t a promotion. Include a variety of posts that will build and get to know your audience, create a buzz around your brand, encourage the audience to take action to buy something, and of course, a few fun ones, too.

No. 2: Know your audience.

Salas: Marketing is the most effective when you know your customers. Use your CenterEdge customer reports to review the demographics of guests who visit your facility and use the information to build your buyer persona(s). A buyer persona represents your ideal customer and helps you understand their behavior, buying patterns, motivations, and goals.

Your guests are choosing how and when they engage with you. Social media is a great opportunity to showcase your competitive advantage, what makes you better than your competitor, and gives the audience information in a way that helps them with their buying decisions. Steve Jobs said it best, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Use posts as a way to show them who you are and why they need to visit your park or FEC.

No. 3: Don’t feel like you have to (or should) be everywhere.

Salas: Many people sign up for every social media platform without thinking about which one their ideal customer prefers or understanding what they can truly manage. The last thing you want to do is set up accounts on a dozen different platforms, post a couple of times before realizing how much work it all is, and then leave an account with no content for long periods of time. It’s better not to have an account than to abandon it after a while.

If you’re just getting started, consider starting with Facebook. Facebook is still the most powerful platform where you’ll want to spend time, effort, and money since your core buyers will be there. Make sure that you’re using a business Facebook account, rather than a personal one. Business accounts offer you tools like posting analytics, automated instant messaging features, and basic business information such as hours of operation, location, website address, and reviews.

Once you get Facebook down, take a look to see where you can grow your customer base. If you are trying to attract guests ages 18-29, you may want to consider using Instagram. But if you are trying to attract guests 16-24, TikTok may be a better answer. As you implement each platform, be sure that you’re including updated links on your website. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen FEC websites with no social icons or icons with broken links. We have to make it easy for customers to find us.

No 4: Spend some money.

Salas: Another mistake people make is expecting social media to be free. Unfortunately, those days are long behind us, and you will have to spend some money for effective social media marketing. Set aside a portion of your marketing budget for social media. Your overall marketing budget should be 5%-10% of your gross revenue for existing facilities and up to 20% for new ones. Don’t worry, though, a budget of $50-100 a month is usually sufficient to get you some good return on your investment.

But just like with any other effort, spend your budget it wisely – with a plan and goals in mind. If you have a promotion that you want your current customers to know about, consider posting and then boosting the post.

If you are trying to attract new customers, plan an ad. Here are some great questions to help you plan out your ad.

  • Who are you targeting?
  • What is your message?
  • How long will you run the message?
  • What action should your audience take? How will you call them to act?
  • What does your operations team need to be ready when someone acts?
  • How will you measure the success of the effort?

No 5: Measure success.

Salas: Many people fall short of seeing a return on their marketing investment because they don’t adequately measure success. Measure success with more than vanity metrics of “likes,” “new followers,” “shares,” and “retweets.” As with every other initiative your business undertakes, start with a goal. If you have a goal of increasing your brand awareness, you may want to track impressions, which is how many times a post shows up in a user’s timeline, and reach, which is the number of unique viewers a post has or could have. These numbers, along with your engagement number, will give you a better idea of how your content is performing with your audience.

However, if your goal is to sell a new membership, season pass, or limited-time offer, it would be best if you used a promo or coupon code in the ad to track month over month sales of that item, or increased online bookings, for example.

No matter how you get started, the best advice I have is to keep learning. I love to follow social media experts Mari Smith, Jenn’s Trends, Sprout Social, and Michael Stelzner. There’s always something new to learn. 

Do you have a social media tip to share? Share with us in the comments or on Twitter


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