by Daniel Fleming – June 2013
“Put your voice where the ears are.” At least that’s the way Ohio University classmate and fellow S3 writer Ken Troupe puts it.
Remove the name given to the internet-based communication platforms, social media, and look at what they actually are: FREE marketing outlets with the capability to reach thousands of fans, create exponentially more impressions, and push a desired message. Put your voice where the ears or eyes are.
How does social media fit into the bigger marketing picture? Think of the hub and spokes metaphor: With each additional spoke you create (traditional media, PR, community efforts, etc.), the stronger the wheel and the better it runs. Social media should serve as a spoke in your marketing strategy and an extension of traditional marketing strategies.
How to invest social media efforts
With so many platforms, how do you decide where to invest?
When you take an objective look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pheed, and all the other social media platforms, Kevin Johnson, Director of Mandalay Creative Services at Mandalay Baseball Properties reinforces the realities of social media, “Content has been and always will be king. Fans love to see photos, videos, and participate in polls.”
Start with a presence on Facebook. Facebook may be at its peak before it becomes MySpace, but you need to be there now.
Comparing the platforms, there is very little fundamental difference among the social media outlets. Understand that your content can be adjusted slightly to optimize it for the different platforms. Johnson emphasizes, “focus on the same tone, style, voice, and messaging throughout.”
A best practice among professional sports organizations on Instagram is the Seattle Mariners. They add production value to their posts by creating a game summary graphic which needs no explanation. The same image can be posted to Facebook with a headline, Tweeted with 140 character or less caption, and posted on their (hypothetical) “Games Played” board on Pinterest.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are always on the forefront of social media innovation. During the season and this year’s playoff run, the team posts 6-second videos on Vine of fans before the games, players coming on the ice, and other exciting moments easily captured with anyone with a smartphone. Click here to see a Penguins Vine in action. The Penguins are also one of the first to be on WhoSay, which is geared more to fans following individual celebrities and players like RGIII (see below).
Where am I supposed to get the additional resources?
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The Chicago White Sox installed a social media lounge for fans to charge devices, connect with other users, create and promote White Sox content, and ultimately serve as brand ambassadors. White Sox Vice President of Sales and Marketing was quoted on CSN Chicago saying, “It doesn’t have to be marketing and sales, but it’s the best way to communicate with your fans and give them accurate info. It’s a great way to communicate what’s going on with the team and with the ballpark.” It also creates impressions to organically increase brand affinity. The increased and continuous relevance brings fans to your building and have them wearing your gear.[/dropshadowbox]The magic of social media is the vast community of viral ideas.
- Try crowdsourcing for ideas.
- Look internally. There are people in your organization that are paid for their great ideas. And there are people that don’t need to be paid to produce great ideas.
- Look externally. Allow fans to produce content and create another level of connection with your fan base. Check out what the White Sox did with their social media lounge!
Cutting through the clutter
One of the best recent examples comes from BNP Paribas, corporate partner of the French Open, and their activation with homegrown tennis superstar, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. A social-media controlled tennis ball machine launched balls cross-court to help Tsonga train for the upcoming French Open. Fans have a unique connection with their tennis hero and feel a part of his team in helping him practice tennis.
Social media is a space intended for creativity, for innovation, and for busting down walls. It dares you to take chances, attract attention, and create viral buzz. In an incredibly competitive industry, sports, accept the challenge to beat your competitors. Create social media campaigns that leave your fans cheering and your opponents in shock and awe!