The Social 9 with - John Kim
The Social 9 is an up-close look into the lives and careers of the golf industry’s social voices and influencers. Each week will feature a new guest answering nine (or more!) questions about their careers, brands, and personal lives.
These are the voices that drive the industry further every single day.
John Kim — US Kids Golf
Title: Senior Director Digital Media and Communication
How did you get started in social media?
I was working in the newsroom at CNN Headline News and I remember some of the interns talking about MySpace at the time, ultimately Facebook (which I don’t even think I could sign up for because it was college kids?). Ultimately, I did create accounts because it seemed like a fun way to connect with people, share my dumb thoughts on things, and show off some cool experiences. Then when I went to PGA.com, I learned there was a true professional advantage to having a presence on social. I am glad to say I was an early adopter in the golf space. It earned me some attention, awards and accolades that certainly helped my career. But I started on it almost as a lark and joke. Some may feel I haven’t progressed much past that.
Do you have a favorite social media outlet right now?
They all have significant value in their own way. And downsides too. I think Twitter is awful in that it seemingly brings out the worst in people. Just a lot of anger, vitriol, and mob mentality exists over the most ridiculous things. And then with that said, it’s invaluable now for sharing information and building movements. It truly can affect change. So in that regard, I love it. If I had to pick a favorite, Instagram is great because it’s pictures without a lot of anger. In my job, I see families celebrating their kids accomplishments in golf. That’s pretty cool.
Is there ever a struggle to put brand before self or vice versa?
As for U.S. Kids Golf, it’s no struggle. I know that hundreds of thousands of families care about U.S. Kids Golf, they don’t care about me. I’ll work with a team to keep content engaging and fun, but the stars are the kids and their families. As for my own social accounts, I love that I get to show off some personality and share my life. But the first rule is, “don’t do anything that makes the company look bad.” I know I have a lot of followers that are parents of kids that participate in U.S. Kids Golf events, they don’t ever need to question whether someone at the company is the kind of person who’s judgement is questionable.
How has your content evolved with so much being picture and video centric, rather than just words?
Absolutely. Imagery is powerful. I can tell you all day long how awesome it is to see a kid excited about hitting a golf ball flush for the first time, but I don’t know that it conveys the true joy of it. But if I show you a photo or video, that’s a commercial right there. Often a viral one at that.
Does your favorite outlet match up with golf demographics?
Instagram and family golf were absolutely made for each other. Believe it or not, parents like to show off their kids. I love that there’s a platform for them to do so, and that we can pick a photo or two each day to help share that joy to a bigger audience.
How has your role changed as social media has changed?
The basics of it have not, but the execution certainly has. Marketing, Communications, Media, etc…they’re all about telling the right story. I’m lucky because our story is inherently so compelling. Regardless of how we do it, if we can share the joy and excitement that families get from playing golf together, and that influences other families to give it a try, it’s going to be good for us, good for golf, and most importantly, good for more families out there.
What's the most important thing you want people to know about your brand?
U.S. Kids Golf is the most genuine, sincere organization I’ve ever seen. Our founder, Dan Van Horn, put a big mission statement on the wall about serving young players and creating lasting, enjoyable family experiences. No matter what idea we have, or venture we pursue, we have to show how it relates back to the mission statement. And I think that shows by how many great friends I’ve met because they were first fans of U.S. Kids Golf. And they are all over the world. It’s a global reach with a very interpersonal connection to the customer.
Is there a style or a voice you shoot for with your brand's social content?
Fun. Golf is fun. There are awesome, emotional, exciting moments that we will celebrate appropriately. But first and foremost, golf is something to enjoy. You don’t need to be sarcastic or crude or even overly clever to get that point across.
What's the biggest misconception about your brand you'd like to clarify?
That’s a tough question. If there are any misconceptions out there, it’d be my job to help clear that up. So I’m hoping that’s not the case too much. The only thing that comes to mind is that our biggest event is the World Championship, where 1500+ players from 50+ countries come to Pinehurst. That gets a lot of attention and people could assume we are a platform for the elite players. Though that is true for that week, overall, our biggest customer base is the kid just learning the game, or just wanting to be able to go to the range or play a few holes with dad (or mom!). If we do our jobs well for these families, they will become the next participants in the World Championship. We want more kids in the funnel of golf. It’s nice to see the best kids compete, but it’s just as big a deal to see the new kid fall in love with the game.
What's your typical work day look like?
There is absolutely no such thing as typical. We have three (actually four) pillars of the business and I can get pulled into any one of them on any given day or week. But in my role, I’m going to spend time on the communications part of these pillars – which might mean working on copy for our catalog, or rewriting items for the website, or recording a podcast with a golf persona, or sending emails to our certified coach group. Sometimes I go on the road to visit with our coaches. Every day is a different task, which is exciting because it means we’re growing and serving more families. It’s a fun, but busy work environment. I will point out that regardless of the task, I’m likely to spend some time in the simulator we have in the office. It is put in for testing, but if they didn’t want me to play, they shouldn’t have put in all the great courses back there.
What's it like to work so closely with brand ambassadors and pros?
I’ve been so lucky, so so lucky, to work in golf. The best people just seem to be in the golf world. The integrity of the game just attracts people that you want to know. So when I see a professional and how they interact with their members, students, or even fellow pros, I learn a little more about how to treat people, what earns respect out in the field. I think my philosophy of life fits in great with golf. “You’re here one time for one life. Spend it with people you love, doing things you love, and helping others along the way.” Now go back and apply that to my life in golf. It’s a perfect fit. Can’t ask for more than that.