Tell the Story of Scouting
Scouting is one of the most well-recognized “brands” in America. Show people our logo and they’ll probably know that it’s the Boy Scouts of America, even if they don’t know anything else about our program.
The problem is: just because someone recognizes our logo or a Scout in uniform doesn’t do much to convince them to join. In a world of so many opportunities and choices for families and their children, it’s up to all of us to provide information about how those families can join Scouting and why those families should join Scouting.
So how do you do that?
It may not seem revolutionary, but a simple, up-to-date website can go a long way to helping families find your unit and decide whether it’s a good fit. A search for “best free website builder” and the current year will provide you with a good starting point. No matter which platform you choose, you really ought to do the following:
Include a calendar – Modern parents plan their calendars months in advance. By including meetings and outings on a detailed online calendar, you’re giving parents and Scouts fewer excuses for missing activities down the road. But if you’re going to prominently display a calendar, be sure it’s up to date.
Keep it updated – If the most recent activity on your unit’s online calendar is from 2015, that sends one of two messages to potential recruits: (1) this unit has stopped operating or (2) this unit is unorganized. There’s some work involved in keeping a website up to date, but it’s one outward-facing sign of a vibrant, active pack, troop, crew, or ship.
Add your website URL to BeAScout.org – BeAScout is the Boy Scouts of America’s platform for people to search for Scouting programs near their home. Along with your unit leader’s contact information, your website URL will help these families find all of the information you want them to know. Learn how to update your unit’s information on BeAScout.org by visiting this page.
Appoint at least two people to update the site – Many hands working on a website make everyone’s job easier. So giving admin powers to multiple users makes sense, especially if someone goes on vacation or gets swamped at work. For troop, crew, or ship websites, at least one of the admins should be a youth to keep their needs and interests in mind. After all, “youth-led” applies to the online realm, too.
Avoid personal info – Visitors to the site should be able to see the time of your weekly meeting, a way to contact the Scoutmaster, a summary of your unit’s recent successes, a few photos and other key information. Don’t keep information like Scouts’ last names, trip itineraries, members’ contact info, or anything else that could be used maliciously, on the unit’s website.
Using Google to help people find your unit
This 5 minute video from the Boy Scouts of America’s national communications team can help you improve your chances of parents finding your unit when they search online:
The social media world can change quickly, but for now, nothing matches Facebook’s ability to support a unit’s needs. You can schedule events, share photos from recent adventures, post a poll to vote on the next trip destination, stream live videos of courts of honor, answer parents’ questions, and much more. You can also use Facebook posts to direct people to information you want them to find on your unit website.
One important note: be sure to consult the BSA’s Social Media Playbook before you proceed. You’ll learn, for example, that the BSA does recommend that units use Facebook for public information and marketing but does not recommend the use of closed or private Facebook groups. Scoutbook is a better option for that.
What about other platforms? You may decide there is something other than Facebook that best serves your purpose. No matter which you choose, it’s better to do one platform well instead of five or six that you update irregularly.
You can find videos, images, and other graphics that might come in handy for your social posts by visiting BSA’s Brand Center. The most current logos are available by visiting the BSA digital assets page.
Scouting needs families to read/watch stories about all of the great things Scouts and Scout units are doing, whether it’s something fun or something that’s helping the community. People will join groups with which they feel comfortable – groups that they feel they know. One way many of these people can learn about Scouting is by all of us thelling them about it through the local media in your community.
Believe it or not, “the media” loves positive stories. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to find negative news. But if we provide easily accessible, positive stories… the press will grab them.