Volunteer fire departments must embrace change to stay relevant and successful. Part of that change includes various methods of marketing and outreach. Departments today must embrace the digital landscape. In doing so they will increase their network, improve their recruitment initiatives, and improve overall donations. Seems simple right? Well not so quick. It does take a strategy. Check out this short video on YouTube, which highlights various digital, trends https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k_G_h41ZaQ&feature=youtu.be.
Interesting information to digest, to say the least. So let’s discuss some common trends:
· Is it mobile friendly? A majority of individuals view websites on their phone compared to a laptop, computer, or tablet. If your website is not set up for mobile viewing, it will result in a disastrous and quick viewer experience.
· Is the first thing you see on your homepage “war stories”? Those stories when written properly are important, but it should not be the first thing a visitor sees. It only takes on average 7 to 15 seconds for someone to decide if they are going to view the rest of your website based on the homepage.
· Your homepage should immediately draw a call of action towards recruitment, funding, and even “about us”.
· Your website should also allow for an easy donation process. Viewers should not have to hunt around and or create an account to donate money.
· Websites are more static and do not change frequently, whereas your various social media accounts provide relevant and timely information.
· The younger generation does not spend a lot of time on Facebook or Twitter. They spend most of their time on Snapchat, Tik Tok, and or Instagram. So do not put all of your eggs in one basket.
· Understand that each social media platform has its own purpose and its own way to engage its users.
· Photos and videos are the most successful in terms of engagement.
· Be responsive on social media.
· Does your department have an email marketing campaign? These can be useful for sharing community information, public fire safety education, department events, and fundraising.
· Create a blog to share information with your followers, to keep them engaged and informed.
· Remember that not everyone is on social media or tech-savvy, especially the older generation. Don’t leave them out. They are just as important and loyal. Alternative methods to reach that population may include newspaper articles, community meetings, HOA meetings, and in-station events.