Golf Course Marketing
Make Your Golf Course a Social Golf Course
The Don’ts of Facebook Marketing for Golf Courses
“Mistakes are part of the game. It’s how well you recover from them, that’s the mark of a great player.” – Alice Cooper
A new General Manager was hired at one of the first golf courses 19th Hole Media signed up to manage their social media pages. In my first conversation with him he told me he saw no value in social media.
“What do I care what people had to eat?”, he said.
In speaking with many golf course owners and general managers, they were of a similar opinion.
That was six years ago.
Through education, competition and the shifting purchasing habits of golfers most golf course owners and general managers realize the importance of social media in increasing rounds and revenue at their golf course.
Many, however, are doing it wrong.
Here is what NOT to do when marketing your golf course on Facebook:
Don’t Be Overly Promotional
People use Facebook to keep tabs on their family, friends and the companies that interest them. Selling on Facebook is acceptable, but not all the time.
How many of you would willingly sign up to watch TV commercials, look at magazines with only advertisements, or read newspaper ads without any news stories?
If all your posts are sales posts, your audience will get tired of your constant ads and stop following your course.
Another reason not to be overly promotional is that Facebook algorithms will show posts that get low engagement to fewer people. From analyzing thousands of Facebook posts, I can tell you that promotional posts get little to no engagement.
If you continually make posts that get little engagement, Facebook will show your posts to fewer and fewer of your followers.
Don’t Post Flyers
Many golf courses treat their Facebook page like an on-site bulletin board. They have their marketing team draft a flyer, blast it out via email and share it on social media.
Just like when you’re being overly promotional, flyers typically get little to no engagement. The less your Facebook followers engage with your posts, the less likely your posts will show up.
You also don’t want to post flyers because flyers usually contain a lot of text. Facebook will not allow you to boost – spend advertising dollars to reach more potential customers – any posts that have close to 20% text in the photo.
Facebook did this to limit an advertising look and feel to their platform. They also recognized that most photos with text had little to no engagement. And Facebook is all about engagement.
Lastly, consumers can spot, and ignore advertisements easily and flyers are easy-to-spot advertisements.
Think about opening your emails. Do you know which emails are promotional and which ones are not?
Most email users can immediately identify and delete any sales/promotional emails while recognizing emails that are important to them.
Think about watching TV. Do you watch commercials when you watch TV?
Most TV viewers now have a DVR to record programs and skip through commercials to watch their shows uninterrupted.
Think about retrieving the mail from your mailbox. Do you open and look at every piece of mail you receive?
Most people immediately discard mass mailings and open the letters that are important to them.
As consumers we’re constantly filtering out sales messages. Try your best to avoid anything that looks like an ad in your social media posting.
Don’t Post Too Infrequently
Another problem golf courses have is posting too infrequently. I can’t tell you how many golf course Facebook pages I’ve seen get started enthusiastically and then go dormant.
Many of your golfers are accustomed to getting information about their world from their social media pages. If your golf course is absent from posting to the people who want to hear from you the most, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
There are many reasons why golf courses’ Facebook pages go dormant: perhaps the person in charge of social media moved on, it wasn’t a priority, or there just wasn’t enough time in the day to commit to creating a vibrant social presence. (Which is why golf courses hire 19th Hole Media.)
Every day something worthy of social media is happening at your golf course. Identifying those opportunities and sharing them with the world takes a consistent, committed and focused effort.
Don’t Not Engage
Another big problem we see many golf courses struggle with on social media is responding when followers comment on stuff.
Imagine a customer comes to the counter at your golf shop and says what a wonderful time they had playing your course and the person behind the counter says nothing.
Better yet, imagine your golf shop full of golfers when your customer complains loudly about an experience they had at your golf course and the person behind the counter says nothing.
When golfers comment on your social media pages they are expecting a response, just as they would when they are at your golf course. Ignoring comments by followers not only misses an opportunity to connect further with the golfer who commented, but it also hurts your relationship with other golfers who see that you aren’t responding to your golfers.
The more you comment back, the more you encourage comments in the future. And the more engagement you have on your posts, the more Facebook will show your posts to your followers.
Don’t Post the Same Type of Post Over and Over
Just like you wouldn’t want to continually post advertising messages on your Facebook page, you also wouldn’t want to post the same type of post all the time on your Facebook page.
I see many golf courses who just share links to websites on their page. Facebook posts can be links to webpages, pictures, questions, testimonials, polls, videos and others. The more variety you have on your Facebook posts, the more likely your followers will stay engaged with your course.
Don’t Not Analyze Your Efforts
Facebook has an excellent analytical tool called Facebook Insights which monitors the success, or lack thereof for your Facebook efforts.
In addition to gathering valuable demographic information about your Facebook followers, Facebook Insights will also show you which Facebook posts are delivering results and which ones are not.
Analyzing your efforts will not only provide valuable feedback when it comes to posting on Facebook, but it will also give you valuable insight into other marketable aspects of your business.
The Back Nine for Social Media
As Alice Cooper would tell you, in golf and on social media, mistakes happen. If your golf course is guilty of any of the Facebook don’ts for golf courses, it’s not too late to turn things around.
Don’t be overly promotional, don’t post flyers, don’t post infrequently, don’t not engage your golfers, don’t post the same type of post over and over and don’t not analyze your efforts.
Instead, recover from your mistakes, be great, and do Facebook right.
Coming Soon How to Do Facebook Right at Your Golf Course: The Do’s of Facebook Marketing for Golf Courses
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At our end of year meeting each year we go over a lot of material, make a lot of plans, and do a lot of business stuff. But, we also make a point to look back over the previous year and celebrate our victories.
We have come a long way since we started. Here is our Top 10 of 2016.
Top 10 of 2016
One of the coolest things we did this year was add new client courses in Chicago (Village Greens of Woodridge) and San Jose (Cinnabar Hills Golf Club) . . . and, as a result, visiting those courses during the year to take social media pictures, videos and discussing how to best implement our plans for 2017.In September, Zeb brought the family for an amazing trip to Chicago and played Cog Hill, Cantigny, Village Links of Glen Ellyn and, of course, Village Greens of Woodridge. Thank you Brandon Evans for a memorable trip.In November, Zeb headed up to San Jose for the California Golf Course Owner’s Association Annual Meeting and to play/shoot social photos and videos at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club. Cinnabar Hills is a beautiful 27-hole golf course and includes the impressive Brandenburg Historical Golf Museum.
Zeb started #GolfChat in 2015 and since then it has taken on a life of its own.The Twitter chat (which takes place every Tuesday at 5PM PST) now has it’s own Author’s Group.Each month a topic is explored by golf bloggers and their articles are shared on the #GolfChat website.
We have to thank #GolfChat legends Jeremy White for orchestrating the authors group and Cassie Norris for hosting #GolfChat. As well as Pete Flanigan, Tiffany Chiasson, Todd Marsh, Tony Dear, Anne Foley-Smith, Dave Hill and Jim Burton for being #GolfChat Authors. And everyone else who has participated in #GolfChat.
Congratulations to the 2016 #GolfChat Award Winners – @Front9Back9, @golfbandwagoner, @ShawnBell, @h2cgolf, @GolfUnfiltered, @1beardedgolfer, @bowdo83, @tiffchaisson and @JDres15.
Follow #GolfChat in 2017 with the new #GolfChat Twitter account – @realGolfchat
We first saw the GolfBoard in action early this year at the Golf Industry Show.Since then we’ve played it at Maderas Golf Club, Los Serranos Country Club and Candlewood Country Club.Maderas is one of the most popular GolfBoard destinations in the country and new partner, Corey Ross is solely using social media to promote it. General Manager, Michael Flickinger said their original GolfBoard fleet of four has already paid for itself.
This year we created marketing packages specifically for the GolfBoard. The GolfBoard is a great social opportunity to help attract followers and online conversations about your golf course. Our marketing packages help to leverage social media to drive new golfers to your golf course.
Zeb has starting writing a column for the California Golf Course Owners Association regular newsletter. The column will share the benefits and best practices of online marketing with golf course owners.Check out his first contributions here:
- Top 5 Reasons Why You Should NOT Set Up Automatic Posting On Your Social Media Accounts – And How To Do It Anyways.
- How Donald Trump Won the Presidency with Social Media
19th Hole Media became a sponsor of the CGCOA this year and will be helping them recruit new members in 2017.
At the beginning of 2017, we were introduced to Dave Shultz and REALiTEE Golf.REALiTEE Golf is a majestic real golf experience that takes place indoors with a fun social atmosphere. It’s a big idea with a big personality launching it.In February we went with REALiTEE Golf to the Golf Industry Show in San Diego. There we saw founder Dave Shultz in action. He’s incredibly passionate and enthusiastic. We’re looking forward to being a part of REALiTEE Golf in 2017.
Learn more about REALiTEE Golf.
This year has been amazing for 19th Hole Media.We’ve added several new clients including Cinnabar Hills Golf Club, Desert Island Golf Club, Indian Wells Golf Resort, REALiTEE Golf, Riverwalk Golf Club, and Village Greens of Woodridge.We’ve also taken on bigger roles at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, and Los Serranos Country Club and continue to work for Anaheim Hills, Dad Miller, Greenskeeper.org, Robinson Ranch, San Dimas Canyon, and Strawberry Farms.
We hosted the 2nd Annual Southern California Charity Golf Classic at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills, CA on July 29.With help from many in our community, the tournament met it’s goal and raised over $12,000 for Boys Republic, the Chino Rotary Club, the Chino Valley Fire District, the Love Them All Foundation, Priceless Pets and The Let It Be Foundation.The event was a ton of fun and we have already begun planning the 2017 SCCGC.
This year we added Corey Ross to the 19th Hole Media Team. Corey is the owner of Southern California Golf and Travel Blog, contributor to Southland Golf Magazine and Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media at Maderas Golf Club.
He obviously has great experience and our shared mission make Corey the perfect addition to 19th Hole Media.
Read more about our partnership with Corey Ross – Corey Ross Joins 19th Hole Media.
Thank you all for everything! We hope you all have an amazing 2017.
As we plan for 2017, we’re preparing to send out marketing tactics and tips for golf courses coinciding with the CGCOA newsletter. If you’d like to learn how to better market your golf course in 2017 sign up to get our emails – 19th Hole Media Newsletter
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Regardless of how you feel about the election results, you witnessed a drastic shift in the way politics will be handled in the future. Golf courses and businesses should take note of the power and influence Donald Trump was able to yield through social media.
“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde
Our President-Elect, Donald Trump, made controversial statement after controversial statement throughout the campaign and – every time – our political pundits said he was done. He would not recover.
But, he did recover.
Not only did he recover, but he continued to make more and more controversial statements and each time his influence grew.
His campaign is a testament to the new age of marketing – the power of social media.
Donald Trump’s strategy was to make sure eyes, ears and minds were on him and only him.
His strategy worked and it will work for your golf course.
Trump’s campaign relied on one simple premise:
“There is no such thing as bad publicity…” – Brendan Behan
If you’ve ever thought to yourself social media doesn’t work, it’s a waste of time, or it can’t help to get more golfers playing golf, Trump just proved you wrong. Trump used social media to persuade our country.
In a traditional campaign, any number of Trump’s controversial remarks would have doomed his run for the presidency, yet he thrived.
With each tweet, Trump defied conventional thinking and the reason it worked is because his statements dominated the headlines nearly every day of the campaign election cycle. Every late night talk show host, news anchor, newspaper, magazine and media outlet mentioned Trump on an almost daily basis.
The free press Trump received far surpassed the mentions of Hillary Clinton throughout the entire election. Whether good, or bad, Trump was on the minds of the American people and we have social media to thank.
As the results were being read, many pointed to the fact that this election would “rewrite the history books.” Its ramifications will reverberate throughout the future of political campaigns.
Trump was able to activate an untapped voter base. In the same way, golf courses can use social media to tap into golfers who have considered taking up the game, but haven’t yet.
In every debate, Facebook and Twitter were mentioned – they even had a selfie spot at my polling place.
Those engaging in discussions on Facebook and Twitter permeated news feeds and those who proactively supported or endorsed either candidate influenced our election.
If you’re active on social media you’re an influencer. You have the ability to persuade others to your way of thinking in today’s connected age. If your golf course is active on social media, you have the ability to persuade golfers to choose you over another golf course – OR – to choose golf over another recreational activity.
And when they choose you, you have the ability to generate a “base” of followers who will overwhelmingly support you and your brand. So much so, that they’ll take to Twitter, to Facebook and other social channels to tell everyone just how great your golf course is.
Trump demonstrated the power and appeal of reaching the masses. If you’re not using social media you have zero influence on those people using it. If you use social media, you have the potential to tap into thousands of people on a daily basis to convince them to play golf at your golf course.
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Before I tell you how to set up automatic posting for all your golf course social media accounts, let me tell you why you absolutely should NOT do it:
- It Screams Inauthenticity: To engage in social media effectively, you need to use each channel as it was intended. Posting the same exact message on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest will tell your followers that you’re not engaging with anyone, you’re just blasting out a message. Remember, the key word in social media is “SOCIAL.” If you think socially and interact with your followers you’re much more likely to connect with golfers and encourage them to play your golf course more often.
- Social Media Channels Will Limit Your Reach: Facebook and other social media channels have become more sophisticated in identifying when a third party tool like HootSuite is posting to your golf courses Facebook page on your behalf. As a result, they will make sure your posts show up less than if you posted them directly inside of Facebook.
- Your Message Won’t Look Right: Each social media channel operates differently than the others. Instagram and Twitter are #Hashtag heavy, while Facebook and LinkedIn are not. Twitter can only post 140 characters at a time. When you share blog articles each platform pulls different website data to automatically populate the posts. Each social media channel has its own socially acceptable behavior. When you set up automatic posting for your golf course, you’re failing to reach your audience in the way they’d like to be reached.
- You’ll Miss Out: If you only post in third party apps, you’ll miss out on opportunities that come from operating organically in each one of those social media pages. When logging into your accounts directly on your various social media channels you’ll be able to conduct outreach in those channels. If you’re relying solely on getting a message out there, you are missing out on opportunities to build connections and collaborate with other referral sources, golfers, local businesses, and your community.
- Neglect Advertising Opportunities: The advertising feature in each social media platform operates differently too. As more and more consumers flock to social media, these social media channels will require more and more advertising to reach target audiences. If you’ve seen your Facebook reach lately you have probably realized that Facebook only shows each post to a small percentage of those who have liked your page. Spending money on social media advertising is an extremely affordable and effective way to reach your target audience. Use of an automatic posting tool will not help you identify advertising opportunities within the various social media channels.
Although I recommend not setting up automatic posting, it’s better than nothing. Realistically, posting on social media is time consuming and posting organically inside of each social media platform may not be feasible. For those of you that are interested, I’ll share with you some of the top tools to set up automatic posting for your social media channels.
- Social Oomph
- Social Flow
Of the previous tools listed, I’ve only used HootSuite and TweetDeck. Each one operates a little bit differently and has unique features. If you’re looking to automate your social media postings these tools are a great place to start.
If at all possible, avoid automatic posting to your social media channels.
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We’re excited to announce the addition of Corey Ross to the 19th Hole Media team.
Corey is the owner of Southern California Golf and Travel blog, contributor to Southland Golf magazine and Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media at Maderas Golf Club. His experience in promoting golf and online content using social media and other internet tools is a tremendous asset to 19th Hole Media.
In 2014, his Southern California Golf and Travel blog won the media award from the San Diego Chapter of the PGA. In 2016, Maderas was named best in social media for Troon Golf’s North American properties. Among other things, Maderas’ social media marketing has been integral in the success of GolfBoard, a motorized scooter that resembles a surfboard.
At 19th Hole Media our goal is to grow golf by helping golf courses and golf-related businesses realize their potential through social media. We are proud to have found someone that will help us do even more to grow golf.
Find out more about Corey Ross and the Southern California Golf and Travel Blog at socalgolfblog.com.
Turn Your Golf Course Into a Social Golf Course
If your course has online marketing and/or social media needs we’d love to sit down with you to talk about how we can use those tools to get you more customers, increase rounds, and increase revenue. We help your course reach more new players while deepening relationships and increasing rounds with your current clientele.
Schedule an obligation free consultation to see how 19th Hole Media can help your golf course do better online.
At the end of the year, the 19th Hole Media team gets together to reflect on our successes and failures throughout the year. This meeting gives us an opportunity to fine-tune our direction and set new goals for the upcoming year. These are the Top 10 things we accomplished in 2015.
Top 10 of 2015
10. Share Your Passion Scholarships
Since starting the Share Your Passion Scholarships in 2012, we’ve awarded scholarships to 17 deserving students. We have kept in contact with many scholarship winners and are still inspired by them. They continue to work towards following their passions and helping better the lives of others. This year we awarded 3 Share Your Passion Scholarships and gave out our first Student of the Year Scholarship Award to one of the hardest working students at The Tutoring Solution.
9. TV Appearance
Zeb appeared on the Golf Life Video Channel for Fox Sports WEST. It was pretty darn cool to get on television.
8. Joined the Rotary Club
Zeb was inducted into the Chino Rotary Club by Melinda Robbins, Dale Bright, and Steven Bremer. The Chino Rotary Club has been serving the Chino Valley since 1925. San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman spoke and my wife, Cindy, mom, Annie, and dad, Larry were all in attendance.
7. Speaking Engagements
One of the things we enjoy most is educating others on growing their business. This year Zeb spoke with the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board, the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center, the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce, Baldy View ROP, Small Business Summit, the California Golf Course Owners Association and the Golf Inc. Summit.
Topics for Zeb’s Speaking Engagements were:
- Internet Marketing Strategies
- Marketing with Facebook
- How to Turn Your Business Into a Social Business
- Marketing with LinkedIn
- Marketing with Twitter
- Social Media for Golf Courses
- Innovative Marketing Tactics for Public Courses
At the beginning of this year Zeb started #GolfChat. #GolfChat is a Twitter chat which happens every Tuesday at 5PM PST where some of the greatest minds in the golf industry come together to talk golf. #GolfChat has grown drastically since the beginning of the year and is a trending topic on Twitter every Tuesday. We’ve met so many amazing and passionate people working to grow golf. A highlight of #GolfChat in 2015 was when professional golfer, Natalie Gulbis surprised #GolfChatters by giving away free tickets to the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course.
5. Awards and Accolades
It’s always nice to be recognized for the hard work you do. This year we were extremely grateful to receive a few unexpected awards:
- Top 9 Game Changers by Southland Golf Magazine
- 10 Most Innovative People in Golf Marketing by Golf Inc. Magazine
- Top 100 Podcasts that Will Make You Smarter, Better and Wiser by Inc. Magazine
- Silent Partner of the Year by the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce
4. Southern California Charity Golf Classic
We hosted the 1st Annual Southern California Charity Golf Classic to raise money for several worthy charities on July 17 at Los Serranos Country Club.
With help from many in our community, the tournament helped raise $7,597.81 for charity.
We distributed the money to several charities including: Bark for Life, Boys Republic, California Scholastic Press Association, Chino Rotary, Corona Firefighters Benevolent Fund, House of Ruth, The Let It Be Foundation, Salvation Army, Share Your Passion Scholarship, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
We had such a great time with this, we’re planning on running it again in 2016!
3. Chairman of the Board at the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce
On July 27, Zeb was installed as Chairman of the Board for the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Becoming the Chairman of the Board has given Zeb an opportunity to help make local business owners more successful.
During his term of office, he set five goals to work towards in 2015/2016:
- connect and work with other local business-related organizations
- collaborate more with organizations that work to educate business owners
- encourage and promote the involvement of young business owners in our community
- enhance our use of technology
- focus more on giving back
2. Lacey Gets Married
In August this year Lacey got married to Ryan Bernholtz at a fun wedding in Santa Ana, CA.
In June, Lacey’s twin brother, Rocky married Megan Hutchinson at a beautiful wedding in Corona, CA.
Truly a notable year for the Welborn Family and there was another addition to family this year…
#1. Birth of Sebastian Welborn-De La Torre
Sebastian Welborn-De La Torre was born on Friday, November 13th at 9:52pm in Ontario at 8 pounds, 9 ounces.
Sebastian is a happy, healthy, and super cute baby.
Zeb says it’s awesome being a dad.
Thank you all for everything! We hope you all have an amazing 2016.
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