Creating a Digital Presence
Every corps needs a modern-looking mobile-enabled website and a Facebook page (not a group). FB groups can be used internally, but they are not as effective for external marketing. If you have enough volunteer power, get a Twitter account and possibly an Instagram account. But, we’ll discuss social media later.
Before a recruiting event - and at all times - it is absolutely crucial that you maintain your website and Facebook page. The following people will search for you:
- Potential members and families
- People looking to book your group
- Local community members
- Folks from the fife and drum world
In addition to your website/Facebook page, you’ll need to saturate your area - not just your town - with recruiting materials, both physical and digital.
Online media & places to post
Write a press release about your event. This will be the basis for your online media sources. Placing articles online or putting events in online calendars can take longer than you might imagine. Sometimes, online sites will take an entire press release. At other times, you are only allowed 50 - 100 characters or can only put an event listing on a calendar. So, you’ll need to decide what is most important from your press release. A file with 5-6 different blurbs that is helpful. Here are some places to post online:
- Online calendars
- Online newspapers
- Town listserves
- School listserves
- PTA listserves (they are not always the same as school listserves)
- Historical society email group
- School band teachers (sometimes will send an email)
- Fine arts/performing arts listserves
- Fine arts/performing arts calendars
- Parenting/mom/dad/family listserves
- Listserves for houses of worship
- Chamber of commerce email
- College parenting listserves for employees/graduate students
- Reenacting listserves - But DON’T poach. Often, reenacting groups won’t take members under the ages of 16 or 18 or they don’t have musicians. So, reach out to them but please don’t poach.
- Homeschool networks - Don’t neglect the homeschooling groups! This will be one of your greatest places to recruit people, so find these groups and reach out.
A note about online calendars
For your main town or area newspaper, when you enter your open house event on the calendar, you will have the option to pay for an upgrade. Pay for the upgrade! It will be around $25, but you will get extra coverage, usually up to 5-10 pictures, and premium placement. Obviously, you couldn’t do this for every online calendar, so choose the one in your area with the best coverage. Typically, $25 will buy you a month of premium placement. Plan on this and do it. It is worth it.
Don’t make every post about your open house or event. Celebrate and thank! It is much more effective and you’ll notice this by the number of “likes” that you get on a page. You’ll want to simply celebrate people in your corps, thank people, and show new members how fun it can be as part of your group.
There are many rules for social media. A good one for a small non-profit is “celebrate and thank rather than always ask and tell.”
On your corps’s FB page, show lots and lots of pictures. You’ll want pictures of your corps marching at events, having fun, learning music at rehearsal, marching at rehearsal, portraits of people playing their instruments. With each picture, have a short sentence or two. In the pictures, tag members if you have the ability. (If they are children, make certain that they are old enough and that you have both parental and the child’s permission to tag them.) Then, have individual members share the corps posts on their personal pages. Facebook is meant for sharing and this is how you’ll get exposure.
You do want to post about your open house and have people share that. But, have a variety of posts on your FB page.
Do you have a town FB page(s)? If you don’t know, find out! In many towns, there are have several. Post about your open house in your town FB page but don’t post every day.
For a small non-profit like a fife and drum corps, between 2-4 posts a week is plenty unless there is a reason to do otherwise. (For example, if your corps goes to Switzerland, by all means, post more than once a day!) If you post too often, your followers will get annoyed and people will stop following you.
If you have the person power, get a Twitter account. It isn’t necessary, but it can be helpful. For example, does your town have a “share” hashtag? (It would look like #tw___ (with the name of your town). Town hashtags can share to hundreds and thousands of people and is a great way to get out the word... That doesn’t hurt! Cooperman, The Old Guard, The West Point Band, and Colonial Williamsburg have great Twitter accounts. Check those out if you need ideas about what to post.
If you really have the volunteer energy, get an Instagram account. This is a great way to reach a younger audience. Plus, you are likely to have many pictures from events. But, don’t spread yourself too thinly.