So everyone you know of is talking about social media and you’re just trying to figure it out like everyone else. Twitter and Facebook are the big two, Google+ has has some neat features. Pinterest is growing in popularity and what happened to MySpace? The very nature of social media is suggested in the name, social. As a result, no one should expect any one service to remain for any significant amount of time. As the social conversation changes, so do personal preferences. As we are given and presented with more and more options on how to share our lives online, fans will migrate to the networks that fit what they are looking for the most. Right now, there are clear leaders in several categories and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Facebook started strongly in photo and status sharing (probably why they bought Instagram). Twitter seems to be the news feed of just constantly running updates on a multitude of interests. Pinterest is also photo-heavy, but the demographics (mostly female) and photo types (recipes and fashion) are unique (though this has been changing slightly, more men are engaging on a regular basis, with different types of content being consumed across the boards, yes, that was a pun!).
So what does this all mean for a sport organization with revenue goals? Well, that depends on how you want to quantify it and how you articulate your goals. Sure you could spend a few hundred dollars on ads and get a few hundred more followers, but what’s the point? Organizations should focus on providing great content that the fans of their teams want. That’s marketing. If the content is good, it will be shared. That’s viral marketing. Sport organizations are in the entertainment business; we’re a unique type of entertainment that encourages more than just a passive audience. Give them what they want! When you get to a certain threshold, perhaps you will have the power to tell your fans what they want, but most organizations probably aren’t at that point of saturation.
Social media ought to be a part of an overall marketing plan with the intention of driving fan engagement at your fields, courts, arenas, and stadiums where the magic happens. Drive digital traffic to your own website that only YOU own. When you rely on other media to develop and convert leads, you’re going down an awfully slippery slope and giving someone else your data. Take control of that information while you can and customize your digital brand with content people want – photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes information. Engage fans where they are right now and cultivate those relationships to the point where you learn what they want and how often. Then drive that traffic back to your own website and convert them to paid customers – tickets, merch, concessions, etc. If you’ve got a digital plan, your website should be your home base. As we learned with MySpace, no matter how strong you believe a 3rd party social media hub to be, you really never know what goes on behind closed doors at those companies.
So, start internally and work on your digital home base. Following that, setup a presence on the networks that you can reasonably manage on a regular basis with the staff you have. If you’re able to hire someone or already have staff just for social media, even better. Meet fans where they are already engaged and drive traffic back to your own website.
In terms of generating revenue, how you define success will make all the difference. Is success just putting up ticket links with the same prices you have and converting sales from various other media sites? What are your minimums for success? Is success doing some sort of contest with a minimum amount registrants in order for it to happen? Is success just getting to a certain number of followers on certain networks? One way to justify spending for followers is when discussing corporate sponsorships. Perhaps the business you work with is interested in reaching out to your fans in the digital space. The more followers you have, the more leverage you’ll have in negotiations and the more likely your fans will convert on your sponsor’s branded team messaging. Revenue goals really just depend on where you are as an organization and what kind of budget you have.
In the end, digital marketing is the wave of the future, so get your board and flippers and ride that wave in to the bank! Go Forth!
PS. If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you will probably have noticed that much of what I discuss involves inward reflection, both of self and of work teams. In order to be better for others, one must be comfortable in their own skin, knowing who they are and aware of their capabilities. Take the time to get to know yourself. Test yourself. Re-discover your co-workers and colleagues. Great teams work together and spend a great deal of time getting to know one another, especially their strengths and weaknesses.