by Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social Media
Social media has created a monumental shift is the way people consume content and engage with your team. It has made some traditional methods of marketing obsolete.
In 2010, Facebook topped Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. and a study found that 1/3 of people will check their Facebook page before brushing their teeth when they get up in the morning.
It has created a powerful platform to stay connected with your fans. And, the way people find their news today. Mobile phones and social media allows you to connect with your fans any time anywhere. YouTube is like your own personal 24/7 mobile TV station, allowing you to create a personality for your team and showcase your brand to millions of fans and recruits. More and more, coaches at the college level are wanting expert direction to help them capitalize on this growing opportunity.
With email open rates at less than 2%, 24 of the top 25 largest newspapers failing, Publications like PC Magazine filing for bankruptcy and micro-websites seeing decrease traffic it’s no wonder some of the biggest brands in the world have seen the light that is called social media and shifted their marketing budgets to ensure they don’t lose. Nike recently moved away from micro-sites into building Facebook pages, Gatorade launched a social media control center and P&G shifted 80% of their Soap Opera Media dollars into social media.
All while professional teams like the Pittsburg Steelers and Phoenix Suns have focused on Social Media using their Facebook pages to drive promotions and even create sponsorship packages for their brand partners.
So what does this mean for your Athletic Department or team? How can avoid falling behind? How can you do what the top marketers in the world are doing to increase your attendance, camps, media exposure and sponsorship dollars for your programs along with improving recruiting?
Implement these five best practices and you can create a social media presence that will rival a professional team or one of the best brands in the world.
- Think Local
- It’s a Relationship not a Microphone
- Design and Branding
- Content is King
In this first of our two-part series, we will discuss two fundamentals of social media: How to ‘Think Local’ and ‘It’s a Relationship not a Microphone’.
- Think Local
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide you an opportunity to target specific groups of people with ease. Through Facebook, you can target demographically, geographically, by interests and behaviors to reach the right people.
Let’s take, for example, TCU Volleyball and Facebook at www.facebook.com/tcuvolleyball. A quick look on Facebook showed there were over 50,000 people within 50 miles of the Fort Worth campus on Facebook that stated in their profile they liked volleyball.
In addition to TCU fans they were able to target people who like volleyball as a general interest. By doing so, we helped their coaches generate almost 7,000 fans on Facebook. This has resulted in an 80% increase in attendance and 30% increase in camp registration since they began the campaign.
You can also use Facebook to find your Sororities, Fraternities and School Organization and create a relationship with them. This provides a direct link into the life blood of your college athletic programs, the students! Example of such is San Diego State volleyball who follows 18 different on campus groups giving them access to over 15,000 of their followers.
So in summary, use social media to find, attract and retain your local fans.
2. It’s a Relationship, not a Microphone
One of the biggest pitfalls coaches and athletic department officials fall into with social media is thinking it’s a way to “broadcast” information instead of a platform to engage fans. There is no greater example than with your local media.
Every local, national or regional TV station, radio, blogger and reporter is on Twitter and they all are looking for news to share with their followers. But if all you do is use Twitter as a microphone soon people go deaf and tune out your message.
So here are some simple rules to follow on Twitter to get more out of your efforts.
Keep your follower to following ration at 1:1 or 2:1. Engage with your followers. Share their stories. Be relevant! It is about quality and engagement not about having 1,000’s of followers. For instance, one Division I women’s sports program we researched has over 1,100 followers but only follows 16 people. They have tweeted over 1,700 times but hardly any where re-tweets, replies or relevant stories other than their school’s scores and updates which resulted in only a hand full of people actually re-tweeting or sharing that information.
On the other hand, TCU has a 1:1 ratio and re-tweets or replies to followers regularly. In exchange TCU has had ESPN Dallas, Fox News DFW, local news reporters and radio personalities writing stories about their program, re-tweeting about the program and even resulting in radio interviews for the coach.
So remember it’s a relationship and not a microphone.
In Part two of the 5 Best Practices of Social Media for Sports, we will show you the gas that fuels the engine and focus on Design, Content and Promotions.
Lodestone Social Media is a recommended resource for increasing the use of social media in your sports program. Whether you’re looking to engage more fans, or find creative ways to showcase your program to recruits, the experts at Lodestone are helping to create amazing social media websites for your competition.
If you want to know more about Lodestone, check out this great summary video at http://budurl.com/SocialSports or feel free to reach out to the author, Mark Drosos, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.