Branding 101 Resource Guide
Why does visibility matter for a groundskeeper?
Our industry is home to passionate, self-motivated and hard working individuals. We often say, it’s not the type of job you’d do unless you have a love for it. However, it’s more common for us to share our passion with one another at annual conferences, local field days or during vendor meet ups. There are so many unknowns about our industry for the general public. While it’s special to intimately know the best kept secrets of sports, if we don’t get our message out, our challenges will only increase. In order to combat that long list of misconceptions and the labor shortage, we have to be visible. We have to be loud and we have to be creative in how we attract attention to the industry we love.
We’ve created a groundskeeper branding 101 guide to help you join the movement in making our industry visible. Whether you’re starting today or you’re looking to revive decade old Twitter profiles, this guide can provide insight into what's working for others and how you can implement some of the same strategies. Here’s are the takeaways for you in our branding 101 guide:
- How to tap into the power of Turf Twitter
- How to create authentic content that will resonate with your audience
- Tips for branding a crew social account vs. personal turf social account
- How to effectively promote the industry through branding
- How to create a turf portfolio using social media
- How to utilize social media to help justify costs and labor
Meet the experts
We live and breathe Turf Twitter and we’ve dabbled in a few TikToks before, but for this series we went straight to the experts for their takeaways on why branding matters. More importantly, we wanted to learn how branding can enhance your career as a groundskeeper. Our #GroundskeeperChat Branding 101 panelists have found their stride in the social landscape, whether they’re promoting their own page, making connections for their business, or finding the right candidate for the job via social media.
- Andy Gossel, Director of Field Operations for The Lehigh Valley IronPigs
- Leah Withrow, Head Groundskeeper for the Reno Aces
- Andy Hebrard, Owner and Operator of Athletic Applications
- Corey Levine, Athletic Field Superintendent for the University of North Florida Ospreys
- Christo Wallace, Assistant Superintendent for Terrace Park Country Club
How social media and branding can impact you, your crew and your career
For a groundskeeper each day looks different, that’s half the appeal of the job. However, when you’re always head down, focused on the task at hand, it can be difficult to set aside time to consider advancing your career, let alone branding. Luckily, branding and being involved on social media has a pretty immediate pay out.
Leah Withrow with the Reno Aces said that allowing people in via social media built her career up in ways she never considered possible. “You know the only thing turf people like more than talking about turf is tweeting about it,” she shared. Joining Turf Twitter connected Leah with resources and professionals who then became friends and supporters.
For Andy Gossel he joined the industry after 24 years in education and was looking for answers when he joined social media. Gossel talked about the power of Turf Twitter and how it serves as a catalog of solutions for turf professionals. The answer to most questions are just a tweet away. That kind of ROI inspired Andy to start sharing his own challenges and triumphs to help others down the road. Andy now runs his own personal account and a social account for the IronPigs crew, to help brand himself and those working alongside him.
Getting Started Guide
Setting up accounts
- Don’t stray away from the help features on most social media platforms. When getting started there are a few things to decide before you’re up and running. For the purpose of this guide, we will assume that the account you’re going to start with is Twitter. One of the first things to consider is whether you’ll be creating an account for yourself or your crew. There are pros and cons to either route, so depending on how or why you want to start branding, make this decision early on.
- Andy Gossel with The LeHigh Valley IronPigs not only runs an account for his own groundskeeping journey but he also manages one for the IronPigs grounds crew. Andy said it’s nice to be more personal on his own page, share life updates, relate to others going through similar situations. In contrast, his crew page focuses on the members who make his team special. The negative to creating a crew-only page is that if/when you make the decision to move on, you’d have to rebrand or retire the page entirely.
Who to Follow/How to Get Followers
- Remember the panelists we introduced before, that’s a great place to start. When starting out, find turf professionals who are already succeeding with branding on social media and see if their content aligns with your goals. If so, go through their followers list and connect with people who interest you. You already know you have one thing in common, you both like the turf content. You’ll find that on Turf Twitter people are happy to follow back if you’re reaching out. Simply going through and finding people you want to follow will, in turn, grow your following.
Creating your First Post
- There are several ways to navigate your first couple of posts on social media. You can simply retweet things you like (resharing of content on Twitter) or you can introduce yourself with a few starter posts. One thing to keep in mind from the very beginning is creating posts/content that are authentic to you. The content that will resonate that best with Turf Twitter is content that is true to you.
- Christo Wallace with Terrace Park Country Club said a lot of his posts are off the cuff content because he loves what he’s doing so much that it just comes natural to share. Wallace shared that we need to be louder about the passion we share for this industry in order to get the younger generation involved. For Wallace, this involves sharing photos of his dog on the course, engaging in trending conversations with his peers. and giving lots of love to others who are being “loud.”
- Andy Hebrard, the owner of Athletic Applications, says authenticity comes from taking bits and pieces of what others have taught you and making it your own. “Copying and pasting is going to fall flat, but I’ve found that if I take a little here from a mentor of mine, then a little from over here from someone I admire in the industry, and add my personal blend of personality and professionalism, it resonstates.”
- Leah Withrow with the Reno Aces says her strategy for social posts is all about keeping it simple. What started as an organic effort to brand herself and promote the industry has developed into a fruitful social following. Today, Leah says she’s a bit more strategic because she knows what will resonate with her followers and what content will help with her goal of promoting the industry. “I’ve started creating posts with the intention of attracting new groundskeepers. People are definitely interested. Most of the comments on my posts are ‘how do I get this job?’, so I keep it simple.” Leah will try to create posts that will peak the interest of beginners while relating to those who have been in the industry for decades.
Up and Running
Now that you’ve set up shop, what’s the ROI on social media and branding?
- When we asked our panelists how social media has impacted their careers. Each of them said that their social media profile serves as a living, breathing resume. A paper resume might have a list of skills for employers to read about. Turf social profiles serve as portfolios that show employers their skills in action.
- Leah with the Reno Aces said her branding on social media is a validation of her skills. “It’s a live look into my day that most people don’t see, while being a validation for everything I’ve listed on my resume. Here’s a video of my tamping. Here's a video of me sodding. Here’s everything I did this week, and I’ll put that into a collage on TikTok and my president will say, ‘I had no idea that happened on the field this week.’ It’s a digital resume, basically.”
- For Andy Hebrard, owner of Athletic Applications, his branding on social media sometimes connects him to his next client. Hebrard is often posting pictures of paint jobs to recap the projects he did that week. Hebrard said he’ll get comments on the post asking, “how much is a logo like this?”, or “how can I get this done on my field?” Hebrard said for his business to be successful, branding is a must. Hebrard said being visible on social media has taken his reach and potential even further.
Tapping into the Power of Turf Twitter
- As our panelists have proven, there are many ways to get connected in the turf industry via social media. Arguably the greatest element of our industry is everyone’s willingness to share. That culture is also reflected on social media. Each of our panelists said they initially started on social media in order to get connected to resources. Every day you can scroll through Turf Twitter and witness a professional getting an answer to an issue they were having on the field or professionals rallying together to help another turfie in need.
- Corey Levine with UNF Ospreys had turf on his radar when he was just a teenager. Without a ton of formal training under his belt, he often took his inquiries to Youtube or Twitter in order to get the job done. Today, he shares what’s working for him and what doesn’t on Twitter so that other young kids could potentially learn from his feed. Levine was also savvy in getting connected to the right people via Twitter, simply by direct messaging professionals in his area for upcoming opportunities. His relationship with the Jacksonville Jaguars all started because Levine messaged members on the crew about how great the field was looking. That social media outreach in turn secured Levine an invite to come volunteer, which sparked a passion in Levine to make sports turf his career.
Justifying your Bottom Line
- We’re constantly looking for tips on how to help groundskeepers justify their bottom line. Budgets and labor can be obstacles for any industry, especially when you frequently have to explain WHY to those higher up in the organization. Couple that with the fact that turf management practices are commonly unknown to upper management, and you’ve got yourself a predicament. Luckily, social media and branding can become a useful resource for you when it’s time to talk about project scopes, budget, and labor needs.
- Corey Levine with UNF Ospreys has used social media and the visibility of other professional groundskeepers to help justify a need/want with his organization. Levine said we have to get creative when tapping into resources for budget talks and things are more effective when shown, rather than just spoken. Levine says he will show his boss a video of someone else in the turf industry utilizing a new tool or practice and their documented results on social media to help make a case for why their organization may need the same thing. Tapping into the social media efforts of others can give you more proof or evidence on why those same things might be successful for you.
Combat Misconceptions with Social Media
- How many times have you been asked what a groundskeeper does when the team is out of town? Or had to explain that your job is much more than mowing grass? There are two sides to the best kept secret of being a turf professional. One, we all understand the special niche industry we get to be a member of. On the other hand, we’re constantly trying to combat the common misconceptions the general public has about our favorite gigs.
- Branding yourself on social media and sharing the day-to-day of what life looks like for a groundskeeper not only promotes what you’re doing, but the industry as a whole. We love when groundskeepers share their laundry list of tasks that happen when the team is out of town or give us the behind the scenes look at how groundskeepers are involved in event management. Sharing content like this can help debunk some of the myths or answer many of the unknowns about our industry.
Social Media = Recruiting Tool
- Each time you post about what your job entails, you’re promoting the industry. So, when it comes time to hire, social media can be a great place to post your job. After bringing your followers along for the story of your job, your organization and the industry, what better place to ask them to join the team? Additionally, posting your jobs on social media gives you more potential exposure.
- Christo Wallace with Terrace Park Country Club has been utilizing social media to attract new hires since his time with the Cincinnati Reds. Wallace would annually share information about the crew’s internship program and tell people to message him if they were interested. This strategy can eliminate the middleman of needing to email HR and potentially getting lost in the crowd. Additionally, reaching out via social media may be less intimidating for new hires who have been following along with your content as a fan.
Lastly, consistency matters. Start your branding journey when you’re ready to be consistent with your social media profiles. Interested in more guidance? We’d love to help! Email me for a free custom “getting started” guide for you and your goals.