Face To Face(book)

Start with the alums you have e-mail addresses for. At the top of your Facebook page, you’ll see the tab for Friends; simply click on it and you can instantly import as many people from e-mail lists as you want.

You can even set up a Facebook page just for camp alumnae. It will let them “hang out” with friends and counselors they had while at camp.

Now, when building a friends list, include those who have inquired about the camp and requested information, but never actually attended (keep a “tickle” file of everyone who contacts you). If you don’t do this, be watching for a future article about the art and science of staying in touch.

Once you hit the send button, everyone on your potential friends list will receive an e-mail, asking them if they would like to become your friend on Facebook.

The Power Of Compounding Interest

In the social networking world, who you know is the most important thing. And as a camp director, you want to know the youngsters who are/will be attending your camp.

Suppose there are 100 kids who agree to befriend the camp on Facebook. And each of these kids has an average network of 20 friends who may have never heard of the camp. That’s 1,900 extra sets of eyes that will see the camp listed as a “friend” on this young person’s Facebook page.

And every kid who sees it has become a potential attendee of the camp.

The number of kids now introduced to the camp through Facebook has become virtually limitless.

Keeping In Touch

Once you’ve established this list of friends, you now have practically unlimited power in communicating with each and every one of them. But use this new power wisely. Don’t bombard your new friends with daily e-mails about how great the camp is. Be discreet.

For instance, you can send out an e-mail blast to your friends once a month, and maybe special broadcasts to the list when something exciting happens (perhaps you’ve added a cool water-feature to your lake… or you’ve remodeled the mess hall and added a great vegetarian menu).

It’s all about how you say what you want to say.

Don’t come across as pushy or desperate. Take it easy, make casual conversation, and have fun.

Using The Wall

Facebook has a feature called The Wall, on which you, and anyone else, can leave a short, interesting message to anyone who happens by. And other things that your friends have left on their wall and sent out will appear on the walls of their friends.

The short, pithy messages can range from a weather update (“The snow’s finally beginning to melt here in the mountains–which means that a new camp season can’t be too far off”) to personal observations (“Sorry, I don’t care what the experts tell me, I love hot dogs”). The idea is to share something that is amusing and might be of interest to your friends, something that can keep the conversation going and engages current and potential campers.

Summer camps are all about engaging people, being social, and developing relationships. This is why Facebook can be the perfect fit for your camp’s marketing agenda.

Tim Diering is vice president of marketing at Summer Camp Design, a full-service marketing and design firm dedicated to creating cost-effective marketing and design solutions for summer camps. He can be reached at (800) 957-7175, via e-mail at tim@summercampdesign.com or visit www.summercampdesign.com.

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