Monday, 6 October 2014

Social Media for retention?

We've been really surprised by discussions and questions* at LIW and other events over the last couple of weeks about social media about how clubs should use social media for retention. 

Social Media is a useful marketing tool for clubs looking to engage and interact more with members, and while it is possible to run targeted social media marketing campaigns, sending targeted retention messages is practically impossible, and certainly not as cost effective as sms, email or direct mail.

Collecting member social IDs:

We added social media contact details to the join process at a chain of clubs last year, and ran the process for around 5 months. As well as being asked for email and mobile number (100% completed, less than 0.5% error/invalid), we asked new members or re-joiners for facebook, twitter, and foursquare ids (as optional fields).
Around 4% of the circa 10,000 members who joined over 5 months completed at least one of these fields. However, of those 400 members, less than 10% provided a valid twitter or facebook address, leaving us with less than 40 members’ social media details out of 10,000. If one of those members became absent, we could perhaps send them a direct tweet to encourage them to return, but only if we've followed them, and they've followed us back. Otherwise it’s just a tweet mention, aka name and shame! The other 9,960 members we need to send an sms or email, which we know works!

If you want to communicate directly with your members, then sms, email, and post are by far the most effective methods. We use a combination of all three to get absent members back into clubs. Member newsletters are best sent by email, and perhaps posted to facebook or twitter if there’s no “members-only” content. Appointment confirmations, or class cancellations should be sent by sms where possible, again with an optional post on social media if this helps members. Members who have opted out, or not responded to an absent text or email will be sent a postcard. Sure it costs a 2nd class stamp, but it’s worth a few stamps to get members back to your club.

Telling thousands of twitter or facebook followers that circuits is cancelled tonight is not helpful when you could have sent 20 text messages. Social media is useful for filling a class, asking questions or surveys, and generally engaging with people, but you are generally motivating the already motivated. Don’t overlook the “old school” methods of directly contacting your members, send then a text, email, or even a postcard.

This graphic is a little US focused, but helps illustrate the article, we think:

*We've had directors of software companies asking us how we think Social Media fits in to the retention jigsaw, and heard senior managers at clubs saying that direct mail is for new member marketing, while social media is for retention. We believe that part of the problem is some retention consultants offering social media ‘services’ (they’ll be building apps next) and generally confusing the industry. We eagerly await some proof or case studies that social media increases length of stay, but we’re not holding our breath!

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