by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
The holidays are the most competitive time of the year for brands (and athletic programs) looking to be heard. Traditionally, people are on social media at a higher percentage over the holidays, adding to the noise and pressures we find in the real world. Though you’re not looking to sell a Kitchenaid stand mixer or an air fryer, your program must still cut through the noise to build your brand.
Here are three tips to help build your social media strategy this holiday season–
1) Be engaging and be endearing.
During the holidays, your social media community is looking for unique moments that stand out from what you normally do. They want to feel like they’re part of the program – that goes for parents, fans, and recruits. Generally speaking, you want to be engaging (invite them in) and endearing (inspiring connection, similar to what we talked about two weeks ago).
An easy, stress-free way to involve your team is to have them “teach” your social media following how to bake cookies or complete a DIY project (like making holiday crafting decorations).
Get the camera rolling and let the fun begin with your most engaging athletes; often, it’s the in-between moments that become social media gold. Even if it’s just a clip of your team during the holiday season posted as an Instagram reel; statistics show that 92% of those who watch videos on mobile devices also share them to others.
The key with your holiday social strategy is to boldly show your audience who you are, knowing that friends/family/future recruits are likely nearby.
2) Get your timing right.
Most programs find a lull in creating content when student-athletes are off-campus. When your team goes home for the holidays, use them to fill in the gaps and as a bridge for user-generated content (or UGC).
When athletes submit/share content, this not only fills your content calendar, but sharing their content also encourages others in your community to tag your accounts when they share. (Be sure to follow all recruiting rules with prospective student-athletes, though.)
Map out different content ideas and tell your team ahead of time. For example, if your idea for Monday highlights your players’ travels, have athletes submit their own social content videos throughout the weekend. If your content idea is unplanned, encourage them to tag your team’s Instagram account. If the content plays better live (like Christmas morning, for example) coach them on what you’re expecting.
3) Create a New Year’s social media campaign.
November and December are an assault of holidays, gifts, and good food… and also consumer noise. While you should be planning to impact your audiences during that time, you can also use it to prepare for a new campaign in 2022.
On social media, we find that New Years content resonates more with users. New Years is more universal than Thanksgiving and Christmas (because not everybody celebrates those holidays), while it also appeals to the innate feelings of optimism that come with a new year.
An easy content idea is to host a question or poll on Instagram asking followers about their New Year’s Resolutions, using that as a jumping point to engage recruits or fans.
No matter what your program’s situation, you can absolutely take advantage of the ability to “start fresh” and roll into an even better 2022.
This article is the tenth in a series on athletics branding. Jayson Schmidt is a former NCAA Division II head coach and managing partner of Preseason, a creative agency that helps colleges win.
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