Facebook is your number #1 tool for getting new members to your neighborhood pool. If you are not a fan personally, hear me out. Because Facebook is essentially an automated member recruiter. What Pool Dues does for automating billing and check-in for members, Facebook does for finding new members. Their “discovery” algorithms (what they recommend to users) leans heavily on location and what a user’s friends are into. So, if a potential member has Friends in your Facebook group, they are going to get a recommendation from Facebook. And of course, you can occasionally remind members to add people to the group that aren’t members yet. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a step back to discuss how to start your club’s presence on Facebook.
The Difference between a Page and Group
Chances are someone at your club has already setup a Facebook Page, but if not, consider this an online business card for your club. Within a few minutes you can add a video or image header, icon (like your personal profile icon), and basic info like location, contact info, description like, “We are a members-only swim and tennis club in [city, state].” You will get stumble-on traffic to this publicly visible page, so you want visitors to quickly know you aren’t a community pool, but you also want to show off the best your club has to offer. So make sure you post up some high-quality photos. Find someone with an iPhone and take some decent photos of the pool in full swing. Kids jumping in. Adults with drinks in their hands in the pool. Point is: look cool. An empty pool, or a picture of the front entrance sign is pretty lame.
Next up make a Group for the pool. Groups are social, Pages are not. Although it is possible to post a comment to a Page, people generally do not as Pages are heavily moderated., and comments get shelved to a tiny corner of the page.
On Facebook people converse in groups. And neighbors in neighborhood groups talk A LOT. You want to encourage people to make the group active. Allow members to post freely. The more active it is, the more people visit the group (or get recommended to it) and get to know your neighborhood pool and the people there.
If you created the pool’s Facebook Group, you are the Admin by default. If you are just taking over as Social Director or Membership Director, get the current Admin to give you Admin powers. Then, make the pool’s Page the admin of the Group. Find Edit Group Settings, then look for this option…
After you make this connection, you’ll have the option to post in the Group as either yourself or the Page. Facebook makes it easy to toggle back and forth (for reference, see the image below). So you can even respond to your own posts by toggling back and forth.
Group Settings for a Neighborhood Pool
The big decision in your Facebook Group’s settings will be the Privacy. You definitely don’t want Secret, so it comes down to Public or Closed. For marketing purposes Closed might seem counter-intuitive, but if your Group’s description reads open and inviting, you should get plenty of new neighbors / potential members to the group. Your group’s title will also help encourage new neighbors to join. For example if you title it “Hillside Pool – Members Only Group”, that’s obviously not going to attract non-members. If you title it, “Hillside Neighbors and Pool”, you’ll get plenty of people asking to join.
You can still be choosy about who you allow in the Group. One of the main things I look for in approving new members is mutual friends and location. If the user is new to Facebook and knows no one that I know, and doesn’t live nearby, I won’t approve (which is rare).
For extra scrutiny, you can even ask questions to Facebook users that request to join. For example, “Do you live in the Hillside neighborhood?” or “Do you want to be contacted by our membership director?”. These questions will probably deter anyone that’s just looking to advertise their local business.
Let’s rundown a few other useful settings…
Automatic Membership Approval – Great setting. If you run another group, for example, the neighborhood Men’s or Women’s group, this will auto-approve anyone in your other groups.
Posting Permissions – Do not toggle this on. Doing so would make every post subject to admin approval. Which sucks. The whole point of groups is open discussion. If a member is a trouble-maker down the road, deal with that on a case-by-case basis.
Custom Address – Give your group a nicer URL with this option.
Location – Obviously you want to enter the club’s home address.
Group Type – Club or Neighbors. I’m not sure if there’s a benefit to one over the other.
It’s called Social Media for a reason. It’s time to be social (and show non-club members what they are missing)
Once you add people to your group (and you definitely need to add them in yourself), it will begin to fulfill its purpose of reminding prospective members about the club. In the off-season, people will discuss whatever – local news, restaurants, power outages, etc. You don’t have to do much posting then.
During the summer month’s you’ll have no shortage of things to post: ice cream socials for kids, beers by the pool, shark nights, swim meets, birthdays, poker nights, outings with other club members, tennis round robins, clubhouse parties, adult nights, tween nights, etc. Plus any news worth emailing to club members is worth posting on your Facebook group as well.
What you’ll find is that members are going to do plenty of this social media work for you. You can nudge them to help out too. If you see someone taking a photo or video at the pool, ask them to post it to the group.
Example post: Crowd-pleasing time-lapse video (no one is visible long enough to be scrutinized in their suit)