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Should my traditional and established club use social media and, if so, how?

Private clubs share certain common bonds. Each is a platform for socialization; people choose each medium to connect with those who share similar interests and activities. Social media is extremely relevant to Generation X and millennials because it is where they meet and interact with their friends. It is where social intentions and activities are agreed upon. Private club leaders should capitalize on the use of social media in very deliberate and measured ways.

Many club managers and directors are confused by interpretations of the U.S. tax code, which places certain limits on permitted activities for tax-exempt private clubs. First, do your homework and understand specifically in what activities your club can and cannot engage. Respect the rules and do not disregard them. Next, learn what social media channels are currently being used by your members—and identify the best ways to communicate with members. Facebook offers the broadest reach across generations—Baby Boomers interact with grandchildren and small businesses befriend dedicated customers (members). Learn how to create and deploy content for the club’s Facebook page. Start small and encourage your members to share photographs and stories of the club. As your club becomes more adept in using social media, it can expand to Twitter, for ongoing dialogue with members, and Instagram or Pinterest, where members can view club images and share their own.

Remember several important rules: 1) communications are with members; 2) do not advertise offers to nonmembers; and 3) create relevant engagement. Social media can be leveraged to show the personality, people and programs of the club, but it should not be considered as a marketing strategy. Social media is not an end in itself, it should be used as a means of supporting the club’s marketing program by increasing members’ engagement with the club and enhancing brand awareness by broadcasting a unique club identity.

Bennett DeLozier is a senior associate at Global Golf Advisors, the Toronto-based private club consulting firm.He can be reached at [email protected].