On Twitter over 98,000 tweets are sent out every sixty seconds. On Facebook, more than 3.5 billion pieces of content are created every week. Through YouTube, over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month.
Defying logic, social media continues to grow at an amazing pace. Twitter passed 100 million users approximately a year ago, Facebook announced they’ve reached 1 billion users earlier this month, and YouTube now streams over 4 million videos every day. Together, these social media platforms make up a ‘big three’ of personal interaction.
With so many people available in these channels, how can sports teams connect? Further, how do the teams convert Likes, Follows, and Views into attendance and revenue? For now, I’ll work on a smaller scale: The University of Central Missouri. For today’s post, we’ll tackle the Facebook approach. Be sure to check back on the next piece: YouTube.
Create material people want to see. UCM’s Athletics twitter account, @UCMMULES, recently tweeted a photo of the scoreboard being taken down at Crane Stadium/Tompkins Field. This photo is a perfect example of a simple, quick update to share on Facebook. When creating interest in a person’s News Feed, it’s important to not appear repetitive and to post material that gains attention. A steady rotation of photos, various links, and our next topic: engagement.
Invite fans to be a part of the online presence. With each post, Facebook allows people to “Like,” “Comment,” and “Share.” Few pages use the variety of options better than ESPN’s key show SportsCenter.
In this example, the show’s page invites fans to weigh in on the game between the Packers and Texans. Facebook users are invited to “Like” the post in support of the Packers, “Comment” if they favor the Texans,” and “Share” the post for friends. There is no limit in the ways to use the variety. Here are a few examples how schools like Central Missouri could use the posts:
- Post a photo of school gear, asking fans to “Like” if they’re wearing one school color or “Comment” if they’re wearing the alternative.
- Post a photo of fans in attendance, asking fans to “Like” if they’ve been on the video board and “Comment” with their favorite moment.
- Posting a cover photo, like this, and encouraging fans to “Share” it and post it to their own profile.
Creating activity on a team’s page develops a consistent following who will be attentive to a page’s messages, links, and even future events. With the proper balance of posting and engagement, teams can turn their page into a destination for fans — not just a passing thought.
Showcase what the fans mean to the team, and thank them. That doesn’t the teams page simply posts “Thank you for your support!” on occasion. Rather, encourage fans to post their photos to the team’s page and highlight the photos when the fans do. In doing so, the team thanks a fan and shares a positive experience. From there, the fan has the opportunity to “Share” your post and drive more traffic to your page while your page shares a positive experience to other fans. Both results directly benefit the page’s reach and the team’s support.
Develop a sort of incentive for those fans who “Like” your page, or even those who are consistent contributors. For instance, a team could hold a “Caption Contest” in which the team posts a photo, asks fans to caption it, and offer a reward for the caption with the most “Likes” by a certain period. This simple post creates an incentive for engagement, encourages fans to share your image and page to friends (in an attempt to gain more “Likes”), and offers a break from your page’s traditional posting. Keep in mind the contest doesn’t have to be based on your page: You can provide a prompt (“Most creative support of the team using ______”). Tell your fans to post a photo of themselves around the campus or facilities, instruct them to “Check In” at a certain location, or simply select a random fan who “Liked” a post. In terms of rewarding fans, it can be as simple or as lengthy as you choose.
When it comes to social media, the key is simple: Make it about the fan. According to one study, auto-posting to a page “decreases Likes and Comments by 70%.” When fans come to your page, they don’t want to be spammed and bombarded by links that don’t provide them anything. The absolute majority of people like a page to display loyalty, stay current, or be rewarded. If your team’s page is layering their News Feed with spam, is it still a brand they want to support? If you’re consistently posting irrelevant links, will they stay around?
The likely answer is “no” for each.
To maintain and grow your page, it’ll take a little work. But with the average Facebook user spending over an hour on the site each day, your work will pay dividends in no time at all.