Social media is the online equivalent of word of mouth advertising, the most coveted form of advertising you can get. It is the new way to reach potential fun center guests, as opposed to the traditional way of advertising.
Advertising in the past was a simple formula: The more money you spent, the more people you reached. The biggest channels for reaching people were (and still are) TV and radio. Broadcasters knew this, and could therefore charge premium dollars for air time. They could substantiate those dollars by using complex methods to measure how many and what kind of viewers were seeing your ads. But does your fun center need to reach the masses in order to be successful? No. It’s like thinking you need to use a fire hose to clean one leaf stuck on a fence.
Who to reach
You need to reach 1) the people who are already your fun center’s guests, 2) friends and relatives of those people, and 3) more people just like both those categories of people.
Using traditional media to reach those people has a few problems. The people you want to speak to are being bombarded by all kinds of messaging, so they will likely tune out your ads along with everything else they aren’t interested in at that moment. Also, you want to only reach a portion of those people, not the masses. That’s where social media can be the most help.
Social media is a completely different way to communicate with the public. You’ll go where the people are congregating (social networks, blogs and other websites) and participate in those conversations (commenting, “liking,” forwarding or sharing, or tweeting) to share information when you think it’s relevant. Using social media effectively means you’ll
- listen and learn about the people who visit your fun center, and others like them
- join existing conversations about your fun center or fun center activities
- start conversations about your fun center or fun center activities that will be heard and listened to by the people you want to reach
Social media is above all things SOCIAL! As a fun center operator or owner, that’s probably one of the things you do best, and was likely a huge driver in your passion for your business. And being social is what drives word of mouth. Is this stuff exciting or what?!
Does a fun center need to choose?
That doesn’t mean that traditional media is a bad choice—not at all. As a fun center owner, you have to ask yourself if it’s always the BEST choice, and something that will get those people talking about you.
What are your traditional media success stories (or learning opportunities)? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Nala Henkel is a social media partner to FEC Network Inc., and editor of the IAAO Blog.