You probably hear it all the time: The thing people are craving most during this pandemic is connection. Many studios are dealing with the same connectivity obstacle when it comes to your students’ parents: closed lobbies. As a result, you may be feeling like your studio parents are disengaged. So how can you bring parents back into the studio, without physically bringing them back into the studio? Connect with them through a parent-only Facebook group! Not only will it help your families feel the community of the studio, they can also connect with each other and receive important studio information. And what’s in it for you? More parents who are engaged with the studio, a chance to immerse them in your culture, and opportunities to upsell your programming.
As the owner of the business, you want to know your students’ parents. If your business is new, if you are physically present during most or all operations, or if you have a small program, knowing all the parents may be easy. If you are the owner of a large program, or if you primarily work remotely, building that rapport may be a little harder. Or maybe you value your privacy and want to maintain bigger boundaries. Whatever season you are in at your studio or whatever your comfort level is, you can reach more parents through a private Facebook group with personal messages that give them an opportunity to learn more about you. Video messages in particular can have a huge impact.
One idea for a weekly video broadcast is to read your weekly newsletter. Parents are busy these days and appreciate being able to play a video instead of finding the time to read. Bring your personality to the video and your studio families will love it. It’s win-win: You have control over how you share yourself with them and the parents feel like they get a piece of you.
Being a mom can be lonely if you don’t have a crew to support you, or if you feel isolated because of the pandemic. Imagine the new mom in town enrolling her child in your classes. She sits in the lobby, quietly keeping to herself because she is too shy to reach out. The reality is that she is surrounded by like-minded parents, but she chooses the path of least resistance because for whatever reason, it’s more comfortable. Remove the lobby altogether and she feels even more alone. But if she is added to your private, members-only Facebook group, she has an opportunity to connect with other moms in a way that feels safe and is more authentic for her.
Be intentional about how you use the group: Ask parents to introduce themselves. Help parents connect with others who have children in the same classes. Share recipes or encourage them to start a book club. You will find that the Facebook group will become a place where they are handing down dance shoes, setting up carpools, and cheering on each other’s dancers. Your studio families will look forward to engaging in the forum and your studio becomes their third place—their community beyond home and work—not just their dancers’ third place.
Let’s face it: Getting parents to pay attention to studio information can be a challenge! It’s important to use all means possible to connect parents with the details they need. The Facebook group should not be your only means of information delivery, but it should be one of your tools. Your newsletter, announcements, reminders, and calendar or schedule updates can all be posted in the group. Always go the extra mile in your communications, stopping short of breaking into your dance moms’ bedrooms and delivering subliminal messages while they sleep!
Engaging with your Facebook group to talk about your studio culture, beliefs, and programming is a huge plus. It gives you a non-pushy forum to speak directly to the people who already love your studio, so use this to your advantage. It’s not weird, for example, to pop into the group to let the parents know about the new Hippity Hop class that just opened up and has four open spaces reserved just for current members. Did you know that Facebook groups will show up on someone’s newsfeed consistently, whereas the messages directly from your business page won’t? It’s true! You have a better chance of your studio families seeing the messages within the group than with the messages from your studio business page, so posting in the group will get you more traction. Choose to keep former clients in the group and they will also see all the cool things you are doing and, hopefully, will want to re-enroll. If FOMO isn’t a legit sales tactic, well … it should be!
Use your cover image area to announce important monthly dates. Refresh your image regularly so your group doesn’t become “blind” to the image. Using pics of their kids in class is a sure way to please!
Starting a private Facebook group is quick and easy. Always make sure it is being moderated by someone you trust, such as a staff member or a teacher willing to be the face of your organization online. For minimal effort, it can be an amazing community-builder and a huge payoff for your studio.