How the Golf Industry Can Effectively Use the Social Networks

by Mr Business Golf on May 3, 2011

golf-ball-cup In a recent article on Techmento written by Ashim Neogy he wrote about how Tech business can use social networks effectively.  Since it has been proven over and over that the golf industry reacts totally different to social media than any other industry here is how golf businesses should go about using the different social networks…effectively.

Each social network platform is a different animal and should be treated as such.  You are going to treat a horse different than a dog and definitely have to deal with a cat in an entire different manor.  The same goes with the different social networks.  If they were all the same why would there be a need for so many?

Why the golf industry has to approach social media differently has to do with the type of animal a golfer is and the fact they are a very rare breed of consumer online.

Social Networks That Matter

There is no dispute the three main players that have risen out of the muck of the social network battles are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Each one of these platforms have to be used differently and the people who reside in these platforms, even though they probably are the same people, have to be treated differently.  Throw in the fact that golf is not yet into the mainstream of topics trending online the businesses related to Golf have to take a totally different approach to using social media.

The main purpose for using social media is to promote who you are and what you do..in that order.  The key to using all of the social networks is in being interactive and engaging.  If you do not have time to reach out and interact with the people, who took their time to reach out to you, then you probably do not have the time needed to use social media effectively.  Social Media is not a game where you post information or promotions and that works like a Yellow Page ad.  If you are using that method of marketing there is an awakening coming for you soon.

How you go about using social media in the golf arena is clearly different in each of the mega-social networks.  To fast track you so you can start trending”, Here is a breakdown on how golf businesses need to use each of these social networks.

Facebook: Let the Conversation Begin

Facebook: The racehorse of social networking.  Like a horse, Facebook can carry a huge load and get a lot done quickly.  Plus, like a horse it takes commands very well.  I recommend staying in the saddle as much as you can with Facebook since the ride is much better and you get more business done.

There are a few things Facebook does that really work well.  One of the biggest advantages Facebook offers over the other social networks has to do with the ability to carry-on a coherent conversation with someone, either in a chat or in a thread.  The next best thing Facebook offers is for a business to link to their web-site through Facebook Pages.  The downside is there is a lot of silliness still being promoted on Facebook and the silliness sometimes will get in the way of effective social media.  However, keeping the number of friends down to only being people who post a Real photo will eliminate most of the silliness…Hint: most people who on Facebook for a thrill will not post their photo.

BOTTOMLINE: Drop using Logos and other photos in your avatar and post a photo of your face in your Facebook account.  Tech businesses and the unserious luminaries of La-La-Land can get away with posting anything as a avatar, but golf businesses will be quickly passed by if a Logo is posted. Studies are showing that golf businesses who post the photo of the person doing the business instead of the business’ logo do 14% more business.

The key to using Facebook is to be interactive and engaging with Facebook Friends.  Avoid political opinions and other controversial issues.  Provide content at a moderate level from your digital footprint and social spaces. Make sure to be to the point in your Bio in stating who you are and what you do.  Connect to others who like golf, join golf groups and spend time interacting with everyone..even non-golfers.  Interactive does not mean to SPAM or just click on someone’s LIKE button.

LinkedIN: Developing Business Relationships

The Golden Retriever of social networking.  Like a faithful dog LinkedIn takes your commands well and will search out possible business connections of value to you.  Plus, LinkedIn, like a dog, does not require a ton of attention.  Most of the time you break out a ball or stick and throw it and people on LinkedIn come out to play.  Also, LinkedIn has been showing its teeth to spammers lately, so letting the dogs loose on them also helps keeps your contact list clean.

LinkedIn is where the rubber can hit the road for a golf business.  LinkedIn was created for business people to validate their existence.  Take full advantage of this opportunity to be completely thorough with stating who you are and what you do.  Over 90% of people who find you in the social space will go to LinkedIn to validate you are who you say you are so make sure to answer every question you think they may have about your professionalism.  Interaction with people on LinkedIn is not done in high volumes.  Status updates generally get best results when they have to do with something relating to what you do professionally.  Posting a promotion or trying to cram a message into 140 characters does NOT work on LinkedIn.

Making business relationships on LinkedIn is very important.  The amount of time spent on LinkedIn does not have to be huge, but frequent check in and interaction does help with building business relationships.

BOTTOMLINE: Connect to others in the golf industry as well to others in other fields who find golf interesting.  Join a few LinkedIn Golf Groups and delve into the discussions and the discussions only.  Do not blanket LinkedIn Groups or your profile with endless promotions.  The game on LinkedIn is professionalism not blatant self-promotion.

Twitter: Keep it Brief

Twitter..the Cat of social networking sites.  Just like a Cat you can never tell if it is listening to you.  The vast majority, somewhere around 94%, of the people who use Twitter are not listening to you.  They want you to listen to them..like when a Cat wants you to pay attention..geez.   And just like a Cat the people on Twitter reactions usually are they really don’t care what you have said, it is going to do what the heck it wants to..which usually is NOT what you want.  So, deal with Twitter like a cat..just feed it small portions of food and leave it the heck alone.

Twitter is really not a very good forum for golf businesses.  There is no denying there are a lot of persons, places and things on Twitter that a lot of the big brands feel makes a viable market.  For a few industries there is a moderate result to Twitter activity, but for Golf, less than 1% are showing any proven results from their time on Twitter.

The ability to build relationships is diminishing daily on Twitter.  The main reason for the decline in interest by golfers for Twitter has to do with more and more businesses using Twitter as a billboard..or one way communication.  The value of social networking is the ability to communicate with consumers for which Twitter is capable of doing but only if you use Alert Tools to notify you someone has mentioned you.  Time spent watching the flow of tweets is a waste of time especially when the volume of golfers on Twitter is in the low thousands which makes the possibility of this small group seeing anything about golf almost nil.

Still, having a Twitter account is part of the game played in social media.  Posting to Twitter is of value if it is in response to someone who pinged you on Twitter.  Posting promotional, especially golf promotional, will more than likely be blocked as spam by the non-golfers making those type of post a waste.  Posting links frequently to golf related articles or sites will eventually get the golfers on Twitter to block your account since it contributes to very low valued content in their Twitter feed.  The only value for a golf business to be on Twitter is for validation the business is in the ‘Social Media Game’.

BOTTOMLINE: State clearly in your Twitter BIO who you are and what you do..provide a URL where you are more active socially online so when someone serious stumbles upon your account they know where to connect with you.  Post only comments, remarks and a very occasional link to your blog in the Twitter feed.  Follow only people who post a photo and only allow people..not things or places, to Follow You.  Respond only to someone you know and especially if they are responding to you.  Remember, you are dealing with a Cat here so recognize it and then move on to the Dog or Horse since they respond to your efforts more effectively.

Let me know how I can help.

Mr Business Golf

Scot Duke, aka Mr Business Golf Located in Addison, Tx, the capital of North Dallas. CEO/President of Innovative Business Golf Solutions Founder of the: -Business Golf Country Club -Business Golf Advisory Group -ClamBake Cafe Author of: How to Play Business Golf

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