by Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social Media
We have heard it hundreds of times in our conversations with athletic directors and coaches. How can we get more people interested in our teams and people coming to the games?
In todays noisy, media everywhere, social connected world the old school methods just don’t work. Posters, Free Pizza Night, Free T-shirt Night, e-mails, Media Guides, radio spots, etc. will not cut through the noise and get you new fans or remind your old ones that you are there.
They will get you what you have always got and do nothing to spread the word to new people. So why not try something new? Something that is relevant! Something that can allow you to target the fans you seek.
That something is using Facebook to target your local fan base, which is what we are helping college athletic departments do across the country. That fan base is not just people who like your college. You have people who may like your sport, like a player or coach, a local business, college students and media. All of whom have their own reasons for wanting to potentially support your team and they are all on Facebook waiting to be engaged.
We look at the local fan base world in three key areas:
- Sports Specific Fans
- College Organizations
- Media/Business Owners
First – Sport Specific Fans
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide you an opportunity to target specific groups of people with ease. Facebook allows you to target demographically, geographically, by interests and behaviors to reach the right people.
Let’s take for example TCU Volleyball and Facebook 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. Not TCU, just the sport of volleyball.
A person may not care about TCU but if they like volleyball and are local you can bet they would come see a game. Either because they want to support volleyball as a sport or perhaps a youth who likes volleyball and see’s your team as a pro sport and something they aspire to become.
So TCU started to target those 50,000 volleyball fans and in one year generated almost 7,000 fans on Facebook. This has resulted in an attendance going from 700 per game average to over 1,300 and a 30% increase in camp registration.
So, use Facebook to find your local specific sports fans and turn them into your fans.
Second – University Organizations Such As Sororities, Fraternities or Groups
I have been on a lot of campuses and I always see the signs in the ground or posters in the student union, game today! I think these are good, but if you look around just about every kid has their headphones on, looking down using their cell phone or engaged in a conversation and usually miss the sign or forget about it later.
Most school groups are looking for ways to connect to the school and some even have charters requiring it. But the once a year swing by the Fraternity House by a coach or an email to the Sorority President is not enough. You need to engage them where they are spending their time.
A good majority of them have a Facebook Page too and with the new changes to Facebook you can post and engage them as your team using your Page as person.
This provides a direct link into the life blood of your college athletic programs, the students! An example of this is San Diego State Volleyball, who follows 18 different programs giving them access to over 15,000 of their followers. Simply congratulating the group on their accomplishments, promoting their events and asking them to come to a game will keep you top of mind and cool! You could even go as far as having contest or special sections and promotions for them via Facebook.
Third – Media and Business Owners
I hear it a lot from Olympic sports or from the non-dominate college in town that they don’t get their fair share of press or support from local businesses. Well with 24 of the top 25 publications failing and major magazines declaring bankruptcy most have moved to social media to get their news out.
The fast pace, media snacking world of social media has left them needing more stuff to talk about. That’s where you come in. Simply emailing or posting your game notes will not get you the press you desire. Just about every local news outlet is on Facebook and/or Twitter. Engage them and the rewards will come.
Take TCU Women’s Basketball for example. After simply following local Fox News and ESPN Dallas and re-posting their articles about sports they had ESPN Dallas tweeting and blogging about their program. They had Fox DFW promoting their Pink Zone game to their viewers.
Then there is local business. Local businesses have flocked to social media to reach the local market because newspaper ads and radio spots aren’t cutting it. Most understand the benefit to promoting local sports and would welcome the chance to cross promote with your team.
If you are not following your local coffee shop, sports bar, pizza shop or even dry cleaner you are missing the chance to create a buzz. You will also find they may give away specials just to your Facebook fans.
To recap, remember if you really want to market your team, find new fans and get more exposure. Use the power of Facebook to target your local market. Focus on ‘Sports Specific’ fans, School Groups and your local media and businesses. Follow and engage them and the rewards will come.
Lodestone is a recommended resource for college athletic departments, and the official social media experts for Tudor Collegiate Strategies. If you want to know more check out this summary video or feel free to reach out to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.