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New ‘Go Boating NJ’ kicks off; plus, six social media tips

A good trade association website can go a long way toward “selling” boating. Marking Memorial Day weekend’s unofficial start of summer, the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey kicked off its “Go Boating NJ” initiative for this year with a new website.

MTA/NJ launched Go Boating NJ in 2013 following the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. It was created to lift the industry and play a critical role in providing information to boaters, with current and accurate updates on the condition of New Jersey’s waterways. With Sandy in the rearview mirror, the website was redesigned and expanded to include videos, links and boating resources.

More specifically, the website’s primary role is to promote boating in the Garden State by sharing the excitement of boating and all it has to offer. It highlights New Jersey’s most popular boating areas, destinations, activities and more.

“There are so many incredible opportunities for boating fun on New Jersey waterways,” says Melissa Danko, MTA/NJ executive director. “Our Go Boating NJ campaign is one of the ways we can spread that message to everyone. We’ve filled the site with general boating information, tips and resources, safety information, rules, regulations and a lot more. It’s a valuable resource for all boaters who live in New Jersey or vacation here, and we hope everyone, including our members, will help us spread the Go Boating NJ message.”

Go Boating NJ also features a “Bring a Little Buddy Boating” theme that urges boaters to share their experiences with kids. “Providing children with the joy of boating today can develop a special bond with being on the water and ultimately lead them to a lifetime of happy moments and memories,” Danko says. “And there’s another potential benefit: It can create an interest in boating in our youth that may lead to awareness of marine-related jobs,” she adds.

New Jersey boasts 127 miles of coast, hundreds of miles of bay shoreline, and many inland lakes and tributaries. In fact, 17 of 21 counties border salt water. “All of these beautiful waterways and natural resources offer enriching opportunities for self-discovery,” Danko says, “whether it’s simply enjoying the warm glow of a sunset on the water, reeling in a big fish or enjoying water activities with children, friends and family. That’s what our new website is all about, and we want people to know that in New Jersey we have it all.”

Social media tips

While you’re reading this, more than 3 billion people — nearly 42 percent of the world’s population — will scroll through their social media accounts. But with many social media channels available, dealers must decide which to use and what types of content to share.

This can make it difficult to implement an effective advertising strategy, according to author Jennifer Lobb, writing in a recent NAV Small Business Blog. But aside from any confusion, for small business owners it does translate to an opportunity to engage with new and existing customers while building name awareness. If you’re new to social media or are trying to revamp your existing efforts, it can be challenging to get things rolling. Lobb offers these tips to help you leverage social media to engage consumers and expand your business.

1. Know your target audience Defining your audience should be the number one step in any marketing effort, but it’s absolutely essential for a successful social media advertising plan. Social media represents a unique opportunity to engage with users, which means a need to understand what drives them. Knowing your target audience enables you to provide followers with valuable content. In an oversaturated digital space, it’s this “value” that will keep consumers engaged and increase loyalty.

2. Choose the right platforms There are a lot of social media platforms for consumers and business owners alike, Lobb says, from traditional social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to photo and video sharing platforms that include Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Just because a platform exists or is hot doesn’t mean you should push content out on it. Instead, your social media strategy should focus on the channels that matter most to your target audience. For example, if you’re targeting Gen Xers or baby boomers, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook may be your best options. Targeting a younger audience will lead you to add Instagram and SnapChat to your possible list, although Facebook and Twitter would also likely be valuable.

3. Create a content calendar A common roadblock to a strong social media advertising strategy is determining what content to share and when. A content calendar can be an invaluable tool when making those decisions, Lobb says. To create your content calendar, you’ll need to answer these questions: How much content do I already have, and can I use and repurpose it? What themes, seasonal needs, key events or important dates do I need to accommodate? How much quality content can I create and distribute in a given week or month? Are there gaps in content or content creation capabilities? How will the content flow from creation to distribution?

While your goal is to increase your brand awareness, Lobb says avoid overpromoting your brand. Consumers are quick to see through blatant sales pitches and will unfollow or hide your business from their feeds. Instead, build a strategy that showcases you as a resource to your target audience, occasionally using promotions.

4. Vary content type The term “content” often lends itself to things like blog posts and articles, but that’s not the only thing you can share. Videos, infographics, quizzes and GIFs are all considered content. People respond differently to types of content, and a healthy social media advertising effort should take that into account. In addition, it’s helpful to consider and measure the types of content perform best on certain platforms. For example, long-form articles and videos that are 30 seconds or less perform well on LinkedIn, but photos and infographics may perform better on Pinterest and Instagram. And although statistics are helpful in determining what type of content to share, the answer will depend on your audience. Be sure to record performance and use the information you gather to dictate your advertising efforts.

5. Consider paid advertising Social media is an excellent space for businesses with small budgets, but there are also paid opportunities that can help you reach a targeted audience. If you have the budget, consider leveraging paid advertising options. Not sure which platform to use? If you’re just getting started and want to get the best ROI, start with the platform that has the most engagement.

6. Engage with followers Unlike other marketing channels, such as email or pay-per-clicks, social media is a two-way street. For your efforts to be successful, you must be engaged with your followers. That means encouraging followers to interact with you, but it also means responding to their questions, compliments and criticisms.

For most dealerships, social media can be a valuable tool that can help engage users, grow awareness and lead to sales. As such, it’s important to create an advertising strategy that establishes value and plays to the needs and wants of your target audience.



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