Social Media Strategy for Booster Clubs

With booster club board members in mind, we recently began reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of social media platforms. As we researched tips and tricks for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others, we realize that there is some social media strategy that applies to all of them. Our response is this post on audience, account maintenance, administrators, and the age-old question of what to post.

However, before we jump into the great things you can do with social media in booster club settings, we must emphasize that Facebook, Twitter, and other sexy applications cannot exist on their own. Clubs must maintain official communication channels that are open to the world beyond a specific app, online network, or even the internet itself.

Rubber StampOfficial Communications

Social media feeds create spaces where parents can share, discuss, and organize. But social media feeds often can’t replace official club communications without serious discussion and, arguably, consensus. What content is official, and what is ancillary? Every club has a different set of circumstances and needs. That’s why we won’t prescribe a specific set of communication rules, except to say that clubs should try to stay consistent, and declare plainly which communication channels are official and which are unofficial. Why is this important? To avoid these types of situations we’ve had reported to us  and witnessed with our own eyes.

  • A high school student’s parent wanted to get involved in the local booster club, so she looked up the booster’s schedule on the school website. She showed up to participate in the meeting and see how she could help. But, there was no meeting. Apparently, a schedule change had been announced on the booster club’s email mailing list. This parent was not on the list. I later spoke to the President of this booster club, and she told me that email was the official communication of the club. “Anyone who had ever come to a meeting before would know that,” she said.
  • A boy scout’s mom found out through word-of-mouth that her son could have gone on an ice skating field trip, but now it was too late to sign up. How did she let her son down? How did she miss the sign-up deadline? The boy scout club only announced the event on Facebook, and the mother didn’t have a Facebook account.

Arguably, everyone can have a Facebook account. Everyone can open a Twitter account. Everyone can fight their way into an email list or locate a website. Should they have to keep up with Facebook, Email, and Twitter every day just to be involved in a club, not to mention monitoring their phone calls and texts? And even if they did, how are booster clubs positioning themselves and making themselves available to new members? Do supporters have to know the right people? What are the hurdles and hoops they have to jump over and through to volunteer, donate, and help their kids participate?

Exclusion and obscurity are the worst-case scenario in a booster club’s social media use. Those who don’t sign up can’t get the information, and even those don’t know how to navigate every button can miss crucial communications. Facebook’s documents and event calendars, for example, aren’t immediately apparent. As we noted above, email lists can be a catch-22 (I can’t sign up for the mailing list unless I’m on the mailing list). How can booster clubs avoid erecting barriers between themselves and their supporters?

  • Provide and publicize an entry point to the club. This could be an official email or a page on your school’s website. Phone numbers are great too, just make sure that they’re posted publicly and belong to a current club member. Make sure the principal and other school officials know how to direct parents to participate in your club.
  • Whatever that entry point be, make sure to check it frequently. Respond to emails and phone messages promptly. Make an extra effort to welcome new members. For Facebook groups, make sure administrators approve members on a weekly or even daily basis.
  • Publish on multiple platforms at once (more on how to do this in our other social media introduction post). We’re at a point technologically where there’s simply no reason to neglect website updates, emails, and social media feeds.

That’s our warning about social media misuse. But, you came here to get some tools you can bring to your club, right? We can start by identifying your audience and assessing which social media tools are best for you.

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Who is your audience?

Business woman multi tasking busy with phone tablet and computerBefore investing your precious time into a particular social media channel, consider who specifically you plan to communicate with. With most booster clubs, these can usually be summarized into three groups:

  • Participants
  • Volunteers and activity staff
  • Financial supporters
    • Individual financial supporters
    • Community financial sponsors

There’s a lot of overlap here. A parent could be a direct financial contributor, a volunteer, and also run a community business that sponsors booster club events.

Next, consider how you already communicate with those groups. For example, here’s a checklist of less-social media that you might be using to communicate with board members, volunteers and activity staff such as a theater teacher or athletic director.

  • School announcements, calendars, message board, etc.
  • Notices in the local papers
  • Oral announcements or printed handouts at meetings
  • A website
  • Emails
  • Newsletters via email subscriptions
  • Phone call chains

backpackConsidering what you already use, what are the main areas of functionality that you want to add? Maybe you want to make it easy for supporters and participants to upload and share photos? (This is certainly tedious via email or a website!) Maybe some of your board members already use Facebook or Twitter, and find it easier to manage messages there than on their email? Perhaps members of your club have produced a few YouTube videos, and you want to bring them together into one account?

In the same way that email could hypothetically be a forum for comments, photos and live updates, most social media can achieve the functionality of photo sharing, message boards, etc.. But deciding on a channel is about choosing which medium will execute on your priorities most efficiently.

Once you have a list of your functionality goals, you can really take advantage of our ongoing survey of social media platforms. We’ve already reviewed the top social media channels with a booster club lens, and we plan on adding to that list over the coming weeks. (Sign up for our mailing list so you don’t miss any.) But before you jump into our platform-by-platform posts, consider this booster-club specific advice applicable to almost all social media platforms.

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Multiple Administrators

We strongly recommend having multiple administrators on a communications channel. For every email, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube account, two current booster club members should have the following:

  • Current account usernames and passwords
  • Working knowledge of the channel

While one board member might take the lead on the account, having a second member is really useful. The second member could be a trainee for the upcoming year or an emeritus from the previous year. In practical terms, they can help with a lost password, post content if the lead is sick, and help with proofreading and other tasks.

Kid with typewriterWhat to post:

  1. Participant spotlights, shout-outs, and milestones: celebrate your participants’ accomplishments, from a new personal best in a race, to a team scoring record or a music scholarship offer for college. Always repost and publicize local TV segments or newspaper articles relevant to your club. Most of the work is already done!
  2. Performance, playoff, and meeting schedules: because you can’t have them in too many places (but be diligent about posting changes too). Along with sponsor thank-yous and fundraiser announcements, these shouldn’t dominate your feed, but should certainly be included.
  3. Videos and photos: social media audiences appreciate fun media-rich posts whether they’re of the club, for the club, or hilariously related to club activities in a way that helps them laugh at the absurdities of things like fundraising. updates on previous participants (someone playing Varsity at a D1 school, or pro)
  4. Scholarship opportunities
  5. Game commentary: for Twitter and Instagram, post comments and stats for those in attendance. For blog posts, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos, post highlights, scores, and summaries.
  6. Last-minute club needs: volunteers, extra tables, and fundraising requests. These work best with Facebook and Twitter. Unmet requests can be deleted to clean up your feed. Met requests should be  used to publicly thank whoever stepped up to help!

Want to learn about specific social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others? Sign up for our mailing list so that you don’t miss a single post in our social media series. You can also see our brief overview of the platforms that we will be reviewing.

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