With a novel cocktail of public health concern and economic uncertainty, recruiting during COVID-19 is uncharted territory for private clubs everywhere. You know your audience is on social media – now more than maybe ever, driven there by an equally unprecedented mix of boredom, worry, and curiosity.
If you want to reach prospects on social media during the COVID-19 crisis, you have to know that this is all new for them, too. Like in any new venture, start with what they know – and work backward to what they want.
They're on social media. Are you?
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in America, Facebook has seen a 37% jump in traffic. The COVID-19 outbreak might not have sparked it, but there's no question that it accelerated use of social media. With family to check in on and friends to keep close, they're turning to these platforms more and more to close the digital distance. The good news is that the mechanics for reaching your target audience remain mostly unchanged.
Along with already-robust targeting tools, quarantine restrictions have created a unique opportunity for high-touch brands like private clubs and golf communities to reach the people most likely to respond – but only if the message is right.
Don't ignore the crisis – but don't pretend you're the cure.
This time is building an anticipation and a desire to get out, to meet people, to try new experiences – but it's also building a collective stress, an existential worry about the future and what the world will look like in the wake of COVID-19. This global emotional milieu means that your positioning and messaging have to adapt.
On social media, where brevity is king and miscommunication is only a word choice away, your messaging, positioning, and creative should reinforce the true image of your club as you know it: as a group of responsible people caring for its members by giving them a bridge to their best lives.
Communicate your resolve to protect public health, but don't mistake that for an opportunity to self-congratulate. Now isn't the time to be a lighthearted escape from the doldrums of daily life or, worse yet, problem-solvers working hard toward a solution.
Prospects still want to see why your club is special. Show them.
Many clubs and brands have decided to focus outreach on how their operations have changed as a result of COVID-19. It's tempting to keep prospects updated, but consider the long-term value of this focus. It certainly isn't "business as usual," but your internal audience is far more interested in the nitty-gritty than your new prospects. They still want to see why they should want to join after the pandemic breaks.
For everything that's changed about the world (not least of all for private clubs), you know that one thing hasn't: the strength of your community. Create content highlighting how your membership is connecting in a time when they can't be together.
Share short stories from members about the wonderful amenities they can't wait to get back to (or the ones they're using now more than ever, like golf, tennis, and hiking trails). What is your world-class chef doing outside of the kitchen? Many clubs are doing an outstanding job of featuring staff members in videos offering free remote golf lessons, virtual real estate tours, or a mixology lesson from the bartender.
Understand that your prospect funnel just got stretched out a few months thanks to COVID-19. But each and every piece of content can and should still drive toward a clear "next step": CTAs to follow and like your profile, subscribe to club updates, or send a direct message are all great ways to capture leads while you're capturing attention.
Especially now, prospects look to your social media content for proof that your community is as active, engaged, vibrant, and vital as you say it is – not for checklists of amenities and membership benefits.
It's still an appropriate time for clubs to capture the attention of prospects with social media awareness campaigns, both paid and organic – but exercise sensitivity when choosing language, messaging, and optics. Prospects want to see how your club lives when the world slows down; they want to see what keeps your community together, and why they should want to become a part of it as soon as possible.