NGCOA Golf Business Canada Conference
Jeff had the pleasure of being a speaker/moderator for a session at this year’s NGCOA Canada Conference & Trade Show entitled “How to Monetize Social Media”. The theme was “Engagement is fine, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s all about making money”. The panelists included a cross section of the Canadian Golf Industry – Don MacKay (Owner/Operator at Muskoka Highlands Golf Links), Slade King (General Manager of Play Golf Calgary – 3 courses in the Calgary area) and Michael Mather (General Manager of University Golf Club in Vancouver).

Allocation of Staff Time to Social Media
A few questions came up several times about how much time each facility spends of social media and how they manage it. The three panelists each offered a different approach to how social media could be done at a facility. In Don’s case he spends up to 2 hours per day managing the accounts for the golf course himself. Slade has empowered various staff across his facilities, including a wedding coordinator, chef, superintendent and other staff hoping that they will each spend 15 minutes per day posting to social media. Michael monitors the platforms himself but has contracted a 3rd party to provide all posts with the content coming from the managers of each of his departments.

What Platforms are most important
Slade – ” Try out various platforms and see what works for you. You may target specific markets with different platforms. We ended up setting up a separate account for our wedding manager to reach a different audience.”

Michael – “Pinterest has a very heavy female demographic. We use it mainly for promotion of photos of weddings, fashion, food and wine. Our wine following has grown quickly. We also use a Chinese version of Twitter called Weibo which is important in our Vancouver market”.

Don – “My enews program continues to be very important along with Facebook and Twitter. I also have started using an app developed by Gallus Golf. It provides live scoring, tips, GPS etc but the key feature is the ability to send messages to the golfer to engage them. We can remind them after 8 holes to order a hot dog or burger at the turn or any other message. We just started using it at the end of the season but will be tracking our conversion next year.”

We provided a handout at the session for those facilities that have not yet set up accounts and some tips for posting, scheduling and creating content for social media platforms. Here are the Facebook and Twitter tips.

Key Elements to Success
After the 45 minute Q & A Jeff asked the last question to the panel about what one or two points each panelist would like to ensure that everyone could take-away and remember after the session. 

Don – “You must be passionate about your topic. Be creative, consistent and passionate and people will want to hear what you have to say. I try to use topics to always be interesting and engaging to my readers. You need to spend the time on good content. You can use events like Movember or the weather forecast to create interesting and relevant content, but you must be passionate about whatever you post.”.

Michael – “You have to be on social media platforms. You can’t ignore it. Find someone or more than one person in your organization who wants to do it and empower them.”

Slade – “Use a 3rd party platform like Hootsuite to manage your accounts. It is quick and easy and allows you to manage your accounts from one place. You can easily grant access or take away access from your staff and make social media a collaboration.”

Other Related Topics
Some other great topics came up during the discussion such as using Hashtags, Google Ad Words and the next big thing in Social Media. These topics will be covered in follow-up posts.

Search the hashtag #NGCOACanada on Twitter and Facebook for more on this topic and other conversations going on at the conference.

Jeff & Tara Ciecko of CK Golf Solutions write two blogs on their website, one is their 19th Hole Blog where they share personal experiences and the Biz Blog where they share business best practices and golf industry related opinions. They have owned CK Golf Solutions for 6 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries.