Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bringing the dojang online attracts parents.

Facebook has been a great tool for use within my school at the Y, even though I've spent a significant amount of time creating a website. Facebook, along with other social media have managed to clear a lot of hurdles for users who were intimidated by the Internet in the past, and given them a fairly simple and fun way to interact with friends and family. These are the users who would probably NOT seek out your website, much less check it constantly for updates, and would not email you. Facebook opens these lines of communication.

In the past, when Facebook was solely for college students, we used it at OSU for fun, and almost everyone in the club who has an account is friends with everyone else as well. Many club alumni are still connected to us this way, and it serves as a nice way to keep up with their lives and (hopefully) training.

At the Y, most of students are too young for Facebook, but the parents are taking it by force. A lot of the parents chat with each other before and after class, and now these conversations are continuing online, and building a strong parent base for the club. Here are just a few ways that a studio Facebook page can make your parents feel more involved:

  • Parents become "Fans" of your page, and receive any updates you make to the page. If you cancel class, the parents who read Facebook will find out almost immediately.
  • You can also make use of updates by announcing special classes, tournaments, paperwork deadlines, parties, etc.
  • Beyond announcements, consider creating Events and inviting parents. FB allows your fans to RSVP to an event, add comments, ask questions, and more.
  • Your parents will share photos from testings, demos and tournaments. They will start to tag other kids as well! Same for videos. Encourage your parents to share their photos and videos on your Facebook page, and they will create that content for you.
  • Use Facebook to announce additions to your website. Think of your website as the home of more permanent content, and Facebook as a method of quick communication.

I've only touched on parents in this article, but you may be asking "what about the students?" Here's what I do:

Under NO circumstances whatsoever, do I accept friend requests from students who are under the age of 18. It's not worth the mental anguish and stress of constantly checking my own stream of thought for appropriateness, etc. I simply ignore the request, and when I see the student again in class, I privately inform them of my policy and make sure they understand that it is in no way personal. So far, it's never been a problem.

Instead of being MY friend, they are more than welcome to be fans of the studio page!

I hope this motivates you to create a studio page in Facebook. If the thought of Facebook makes YOU uncomfortable, this would be an outstanding project for one of your black belts or office staff. These people, in all honesty, are probably already using Facebook, and will love to be able to use it officially. Whoever makes your Facebook page needs to come back repeatedly, at least weekly, and make updates to the page. Keep the content fresh, and people will keep coming back.

Here are a few examples:

Columbus Tang Soo Do Academy Facebook Page

United States Karate Academy

Eagle Academy of Martial Arts
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