Social media is one of the most powerful mediums in an alumni committee’s marketing toolkit. If used correctly, social media can create a strong personal bond with past, current, and possible future Scouts and Scouters, alumni members, and the greater community. However, committees often make the mistake of plunging into social media without a clear plan of action. At best, this is a waste of time, and at worst, it can lead to a public relations disaster. To gain advantages from social media, begin by building a clear strategy that takes into account what you are trying to achieve, who the target audience is, and what related groups such as the local and national council are doing that may help leverage a common message.
The Scouts BSA tools and resource section of the national website, https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/resources/scouts-bsa-marketing-tools/ is your one-stop resource to help you serve more Scouts in your area. From recruiting ideas to social media best practices, this section provides resources you need to build, activate, and improve your marketing and recruiting strategy.
There are additional resources in the section titled BSA AA Logo and Branding in this guide.
The following social media channels are commonly used in the Scouting community:
You may want to consider an annual survey of your members to determine their social media preference. Each of these sites has advantages and challenges, both in use of technology and ability to reach the target audience. For this guidebook, we will focus on the top three channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), as they are the most used and seem to currently have the highest market share of community members to target. (Note that this often changes as trends fade and grow and may not be representative of your local area.)
As with any journey, the first step in developing a social media strategy is to understand where one wants to go. What is the purpose of the committee’s social media efforts? Is the committee looking to increase alumni awareness, or website traffic, or both? Is the goal to build loyalty or to increase retention? Is it to reach former Scouting members in the community or to reconnect with those who may have moved away?
These goals are not mutually exclusive, but the committee should focus on one or two. As a wise Scoutmaster once said, “If you spread yourself too thin, you’re going to be a mile wide but just an inch deep.” Keep in mind that the goal for a social media strategy should go beyond simply gaining likes, retweets, and shares. Scouting alumni and friends desire rich and consistent content, and providing that will keep your alumni engaged.
Create Separate Strategies For Each Social Media Channel
The target audience interacts with content differently on every social media channel. Some channels are much better suited for types of content than others. The committee needs to adapt the group’s strategy accordingly but maintain the same expression and character across all channels. The following provides a few ideas for some of the top social media sites.
Include photos! The post needs to stand out on end users’ news feeds. Posts of solid text are simply not eye catching and are oftentimes ignored regardless of how professionally written or important the information may appear.
Optimize the post. Some believe that a post can receive double the activity if it is 65 words or longer, 50 percent more contact if it contains hashtags (marks that are indexed by the site and easily searched by other related stories and unique searches), and 25 percent more activity if a question is asked.
Use an appropriate number of hashtags. A handful of hashtags leads to greater visibility, but too many make tweets difficult to read.
Post pictures. Although often ignored by those posting the story, images can be just as effective on Twitter as any other channel.
Pay attention to length. Headings should be no more than 70 characters and link descriptions no more than 250 characters to ensure all text is visible.
Work on generating leads or new connections.
Keep in mind that there is a stronger sense of business etiquette (formality and newsworthiness) on LinkedIn than on other social media channels and plan the committee’s content accordingly.
BSA AA committees are encouraged to seek out inspiration about how to use social media channels by checking out other groups that have high membership or following in the committee’s local area (e.g., colleges/universities, large employers, and local chartered organizations). Find out what they are doing and how they engage with their followers.
Develop A Social Media Calendar
Although communications with the target audience should be spontaneous—which is the true power of social media—the committee needs to plan the dissemination of the information with a few details in mind in order to get the most out of its social media strategy. Draw up a plan for the coming month that describes when the committee will post to each channel, what type of content the committee desires to target for this period, and how this will help meet the main objective. Consider geofencing and paid advertising to target your geographic market.
The BSA AA committee needs to constantly monitor its content strategy to remain fresh, draw in more followers, and retain those who have already been captured. Look through the site’s analytics every week to ensure the strategy is being followed.
Scouting Wire is an official BSA website offering Scouting news and updates for volunteers and professionals. It is user-friendly and makes it easy to find topics that interest Scouts and Scouters — and just as importantly in this age of information overload — filters out those that do not apply to the Scouting role.
Scouting Wire is not a one-way street. The site offers plenty of chances to submit feedback, share ideas and ask questions.
The Official Newsroom of the Boy Scouts of America is your source for Boy Scout news, announcements, and information.
The Boy Scouts of America National Foundation exists to help secure the future of Scouting. For decades, the Foundation has worked with councils and donors to nurture the philanthropic culture of Scouting. Connecting a donor’s passion and resources with Scouting is the key to a vibrant future.
Fiscal security enables local councils and volunteers to dream big and create innovative ways to engage today’s youth.
The Boy Scouts of America National Foundation understands the difference between a transaction and a relationship. Attentiveness to our individual donors is at the heart of all we do. Through relationships we listen and craft philanthropy with our investors so they may direct funds to specific interests in Scouting on a local and national level.