At their core, park and recreation agencies are about community. Bringing people together lies at the heart of everything you do, and that makes building relationships a crucial task. When you cultivate strong relationships with community members, volunteers, event attendees and donors, you’ll be able to better understand and meet the needs of your community.
But to build these relationships, you need a communication strategy that helps you keep in touch with supporters and connect with them on a personal level. One of the best ways to do this is to use SMS outreach.
Whether you’re recruiting volunteers for a recreational event or advocating for equitable park access, adding text messages to your strategy can make a big difference. Let’s explore three reasons why texts can help you build and nurture important relationships with community members.
Text Outreach Feels Personal
One of the main reasons text outreach is so powerful is that it naturally feels more personal than other communication methods like email or social media. Email feels like work to most people, and social media is full of influencers trying to sell things. A quick text, on the other hand, feels like the start of a casual, personal conversation.
Take this personalization even further to enhance your relationship-building by using these simple tips:
Keep it casual by using recipients’ first names. Set a casual, friendly tone by starting messages off with the recipient’s name. Don’t be afraid to get creative or use emojis, either!
Mention past involvement. Highlight any park events they’ve attended in the past, donations they’ve made or advocacy actions they’ve taken. Reminding them of the support they’ve given you before will encourage them to get involved again.
Segment your list of contacts into groups. To increase the relevance of the messages you send, group recipients by things like demographics or involvement history. You might create one group of volunteers and one group of parents with young children, for example.
If you have the resources available, using a text marketing app can make tapping into all of these personalization tips easier. An app lets you keep track of recipients, involvement history and past conversations all in one place. Plus, automation features help you save time by plugging relevant details into messages automatically.
One-to-One Texts Help Build Rapport
To build relationships that lead to lasting support from your community, you need to get to know individual community members and their interests. Texts open the door for natural one-to-one conversations that are crucial for learning about supporters and cultivating these relationships.
For instance, sending quick, personal thank-you texts to follow up with someone after an event or show volunteers your appreciation helps community members feel appreciated and invites them to respond in easy ways. Take a look at this example of how a donor turned a basic thank-you message into an opportunity for a personal conversation:
For example, say that you’re encouraging supporters to advocate for a local park by voicing their support at a city council meeting. You send out a bulk text message reminding them about the upcoming meeting, and one community member named Teresa responds with a quick question about what she should say. In response, you provide her with a few tips and ask what her personal feelings are about the park. At the end of the conversation, Teresa has more insight and feels empowered to speak at the meeting.
It’s Easy to Collect Feedback with Text Outreach
Finally, text outreach is a great way to get feedback about your programs and community concerns via one-to-one messages or text surveys. Getting this feedback not only helps you engage community members and strengthen relationships, but it also gives you actionable insight into how to improve your programs.
You can ask for feedback just by sending a simple message like “Thanks for coming to the Booker T. State Park cleanup event, Amanda! Any ideas for how to make it better next year?”
Or, Mogli’s Salesforce SMS guide explains that some text marketing apps allow you to create multi-question automated surveys that add recipients’ feedback right to your database. This is a good option if you want feedback from a large group of community members and don’t have time to sift through individual responses.
With these tips, you can take your park and recreation agency’s community engagement to a new level—all from your phone. To get started, think about the ways your supporters might want to interact with you over text and make a list of the best opportunities. You’ll be starting conversations in no time!
Christina Marmor is the vice president of marketing at Mogli.