I was watching the Stanley Cup playoffs last night with a few friends; nothing out of the ordinary right? On the bottom of my screen was a ticker that displayed Twitter comments from viewers relating to the game. Along with regular viewer comments, were tweets from other sports teams!
This got me to thinking about how teams use social media to stay relevant. Teams that weren’t currently playing, that hadn’t made it into the playoffs were using social media to comment on the current games. I thought this was ingenious! How many fans hate the off season? Four to six months of barely anything to talk about; if you miss the playoffs it could be even worse. It’s important to keep your audience engaged and interested in your brand throughout the year, but how?
Social media gives teams, businesses, and players the chance to interact one on one with fans like never before. When I was a kid, I had a friend at elementary school that had seen Wayne Gretzky. Our friend was school royalty for the rest of the year, despite the fact the he had merely spotted him walking down the street. Getting a reply or retweet from a team or player account is a thousand times better…I’m blown away by how fans can now engage with players, and vice versa.
Interacting with your favorite team or player on social media makes that team/player real: suddenly they are more than just a person on the television, or a name on a jersey. Social media gives your team the chance to inject some personality into your interactions. For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets and L.A Kings of the NHL have had what could best have been described as a Twitter bromance for the past few years. Both accounts frequently reference each other, and the days when they pay each other always render the best material:
So we know that you need to keep your fans engaged around the calendar year, you have a good local following, but how do you keep those fans that don’t fall into the “diehard” category engaged?
1. When a user interacts with you on social media, either through retweets, mentions, or messages, engage back. There is little worse on the social media world than simply ignoring people that are trying to talk with you. It can even be something easy like answering a quick question. Always make sure you are responding and growing the conversation online.
2. Engage with other teams. The back and forth between the Columbus and L.A Twitter accounts garnered multiple articles and blogs on sports websites, documenting the relationship between the two teams.
3. Interact with outside entities. If you share your arena with another team in your town, acknowledge their successes! Even mentioning the successes of a local high school or college team can be big in growing your team presence online. People want to see that your team represents their city. By supporting local news and events, you are forging that bond between your team and the area.
4. Form a voice. It should be pretty clear at this point, but we are big fans of social media accounts that offer humor and excitement. Social media can be fun, and people love an account that gives a laugh once in a while. Create a voice for your account that you will be using to interact with fans. You don’t have to be cracking jokes constantly, but lighthearted exchanges are always good.
5. Stay consistent. Fewer things are more disappointing to a user than a failed initiative. If you start a weekly series for the season, stick with it! Think of your series like a season for a television show. A network rarely pulls a show off mid-season, you shouldn’t either.
6. Stay consistent! We can’t stress this enough. If you commit to something, do it. Along the lines of your social media “voice”, if you are going with a personality online, stay committed to it. Obviously be serious when the situation calls for it, but if you choose a personality to post from, make sure your posts are something that personality would say. Frequently switching from a serious to a humorous voice online can be confusing and unattractive to your fan base, as they won’t know what personality they will get during their interactions with you.
By following these 6 rules, you will be well on your way to growing your team online. Remember that social media is like a garden, you need to tend to it every day, and watch it grow. You won’t get immediate results, but given time and patience you will see some amazing outcomes.