If it’s been said once, it’s been tweeted a thousand times: social media is a vital tool for almost all businesses and organizations – Sports businesses, teams and National Sports Organizations or governing bodies are no exception. Many high end sports properties have jumped in full-tilt and are increasingly throwing more of their advertising budgets and HR resources at different social media activations, (check out Sports Fan Graph’s top performers to see what they’re executing across social media channels). However, many smaller sports organizations and teams are still shying away from real social media engagement for a myriad of reasons: “too risky”, “not enough bandwidth or time” and “don’t know where to start” are just a few. If this sounds like your organization or an organization you might know, please keep reading! There are multitudes of different approaches to social media engagement ranging from foundational shifts in organizational culture to simply having a few employees on twitter. Successful approaches are a matter finding a good fit for your organization. A lack of budget should not scare off non-profits and sports organizations that can’t afford to build their own online community sites or fund endless HD content. Often for sports organizations, the biggest challenge is simply taking the first step, starting small and building towards the benefits that will start to flow soon thereafter. Here are 5 quick tips to get your organization off the bench! 1) Sit down with your office team and select a head of social media and determine 3 ranked goals for entering the social media sphere. Heres a few examples to get you started:
- Increase engagement or registration in the sport at a grass root’s level
- Sponsorship outreach or activation
- Increased Donor engagement
- Growth in site traffic to support online sponsors
- Increase awareness of the organization
- Find new business partners and opportunities
2) Start with the big boys (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). Simply register your organization for a page, channel, account. If you’ve already registerered consider a management system here are some good tutorials on the main ones: Tweetdeck Tutorial, Hootsuite Tutorial. Both systems are free/cheap and provide an excellent way to manage your different social media channels. 3) Interconnect everything. Link your Facebook to your twitter, your twitter to your youtube channel make everything as shareable and connected as possible. Start with simple twitter or facebook buttons available from the homepages and move on to some of the apps below. Here are some useful free/cheap tools and apps to make this a little easier
4) LISTEN, take a week or so and follow a few discussions related to your sport/topic. See how people are interacting and what elements are of the most interest to them (is it pictures, videos, outlandish comments, behind the scene info?); start to gauge how you might enter the conversation to achieve your goals.
5) Get out there and iterate, sure you might spend some time tweeting into the void but slowly and surely you will start to gain a few followers, friends, subscribers, skills and confidence; the snowball will start to pick up momentum, your skills will grow and you’ll start seeing success as you reach for your first social media milestones and ROI. Initially try aiming for 2-3 tweets/day and a Facebook update a week. After a few weeks build towards an average of about 6 tweets and 3 Facebook posts, this is where top performers average out. See these twitter stats from Sysomos for some more insights: http://www.sysomos.com/insidetwitter/appendix.
Now, following these steps won’t leave you with 50,000 followers tomorrow, (and we’ll argued that this is less valuable than a fewer quality connections in upcoming posts) but it will get you out there, learning, and connecting. Once you’ve made it to this stage of the social media game you can start to flex your muscles, get creative, and extend social media back throughout your organization and further out into your community, target market, and potential sponsor pools. At this point, if you find yourself a little short on bandwidth or are in need of some good activations with a quick ROI, give us a call, we LOVE this part of the game and understand how Social Media can really fit with, and augment, your organizations existing assets!
For more on sports organizations, social media and why sports organizations should get into it, check out Jason Pecks Blog series here, spend some time doing your own analyses using Coyle Media’s Sports Fan Graph, or check out twitter.com/usahockey or www.usahockey.com for a good example of how a non-professional organization is succeeding in social media.