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by ERIN SCHOPF With the 2013‒14 membership year around

the corner, an inherent benefit to your Basic Skills programs is the Olympic Winter Games that are being held in Sochi, Russia, in February. As directors, you have probably received a phone call saying, “My daughter saw skating on television and was twirling on the floor. She wants to be a figure skater.” Coverage of our sport during the Olympics

increases membership numbers. We all know how expensive television, print and direct mail can be, so it is important to use creative ways to get the word out about your programs. By using the Olympics as a catalyst and social media to get the word out, you can drive people to your facilities and encourage them to stay in the sport of ice skating. Since most programs do not have mon- ey to spend on ads, access to social media has huge advantages to promote growth and reten- tion. You can tweet about what’s happening, post photos and promote upcoming events on Facebook and, more importantly, com- municate effectively and quickly at no cost. Here are some suggestions on using social

media outlets in conjunction with the excitement of the upcoming Olympics: Facebook is the most popular online social

networking site. Although it is often viewed as a personal medium, consider creating an informa- tive page for your Basic Skills program to com- municate with your target audience. Promote an Olympic-themed free learn-to-skate day, then post pictures of the event on Facebook. Twitter is a microblog in which users answer

the question “What are you doing?” Create a pro- file for your Basic Skills program. Use Twitter to contribute to conversations, answer questions and respond to other tweets. [Your Basic Skills parents can sign up to receive tweets about your program.] You can keep the buzz going during Olympic coverage and your programs will benefit from the excitement. A blog is an online journal and a way to build a community. You can tell a story, invite comments and share expertise. Tis feature can be a great way for directors and instructors to share ideas or teaching tips. Website, email and text updates are also ef-

fective ways to communicate with parents. Have a sign-in sheet on the first day of your group

classes and invite the parents to be a part of the program and receive weekly text message or email updates.

Text your customers with schedule changes,

upcoming events and other important informa- tion. Keeping open communication lines with your customers provides for excellent customer service and could lead to positive feedback for your program. Most Basic Skills programs have a website that contains pertinent information. In many cases the material on the website can be outdat- ed. Ask a parent volunteer to make sure all the information is accurate and current. You can also direct and link customers to your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc., all from one page. LinkedIn is a professional networking site

Get involved in our Destination Sochi video contest. Use YouTube to post your “Go Team USA” videos. Read below for more information:

The video contest is open to all members and clubs. Your job is to create an enthusiastic 30-second video themed “Go Team USA!” Be creative!

Winners receive a prize pack and their video will be shown at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships and distributed to National Skating Month events.

There are three categories: single, small group and team. The video submission deadline is Dec. 1, 2013. To submit videos , go to USFSAIT/NSM_DS2014VideoContest/ index.html

where you can build your résumé, add connec- tions, join groups and contribute to conversa- tions. If you are a director or Basic Skills instruc- tor, you can use this site to communicate with others in the business across the globe and share helpful tips and suggestions for best practices in group instruction. is one of the most popular pho- to-sharing sites on the Internet. Consider taking pictures during your Basic Skills classes and shar- ing them on Flickr. By sharing photos you can show off your program’s culture and personality to a wide audience at no cost. By telling a sto- ry through photos you can build loyalty, market your brand and spread the word about your skat- ing program. Management can be nervous about using social media, especially when children are in- volved. Having an administrator monitor these activities and having the necessary waivers and releases for parents to sign the day of the event is recommended. Familiarize yourself with all of the programs

that U.S. Figure Skating is offering in the upcom- ing months. Visit to learn more about the team competition that your club can offer to its members. National Skating Month will also be a huge

benefit to your Basic Skills programs as it will coincide with the Olympic Winter Games. By having the sport of figure skating at the forefront of the Olympics and using social media, you can capitalize on the inherent marketing value that is right in front of you. Erin Schopf is the manager of U.S. Figure

Skating’s Basic Skills Program. She can be reached at


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