Learn From Within
Working in social media, it becomes increasingly evident that every department crosses paths with social because everything the organizations endeavors to do is inherently social. At the end of the day, all departments are striving to achieve the same goals for the team/organization – create value from fans, through ticket sales, merchandise sales, sponsorship deals, etc. Not only are the best ideas collaborative (and indeed, need to be), but there are so many touch points with the main actors – the fans, and everyone can learn to be better in their fan interactions by learning from each other.
Every employee that walks through the doors of that arena has a role in the value proposition and extraction for fans. Ticket sales reps making pitches and closing deals, service reps keeping account holders happy and renewing, box office reps answering question and fielding customer complaints and pressure points, sponsor salesmen wheeling and dealing and understanding brand and how the team is portrayed to fans and potential sponsors, community relations reps doing this through events and outreach and engaging with fans on a deep level and promoting a team’s message, public relations working to reach as many fans out there as possible through the various forms of media, the concession workers hearing a complaint or complement from a fan about the food selection or price; the list can clearly go on ad infinitum!
Fans communicate with the organization in so many ways and, whether through a dedicated CRM (and this is not panacea because not EVERY piece of info can be quantified and recorded) or through frequent communication and meetings internally or an internal wiki/social network (like Yammer), these correspondences must be occurring so everyone can have as full a picture as possible of the fan, their values, their pressure points, their wants/needs, etc. If a ticket rep has a phone call, a social media rep has a Twitter exchange or observation, a PR rep hears from media or reads an article, or any of the other scenarios inspired by all the ways with which fans convey their values and needs and complements and complaints to the team/organization, everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page! As the individual becomes more vocal and important, it is incredibly important that this type of learning from within is occurring. The most valuable way to learn more about the team’s fans is to ask questions of each other, first! Every employee in the organization, from the CEO to the receptionist, has valuable information that can help optimize campaigns, work flows and, ultimately, the team’s bottom line. When the machine works together, it is a beautiful thing.
Sports and social media have been a perfect marriage from the beginning and that inherent relationship has been the main factor behind why sports has often led the way in the evolution of the greater social media field as a whole. The fan to team connection is stronger than ever and introduces a plethora of opportunities to: identify and mobilize (and learn about) one’s fans, help shape and mold the portrayal of the team and exhort/.empower its fans to promote it; to join in on the conversation to find what fans value, participate in the conversation and insert a potentially lucrative offer or message within the context of a conversation about the team, player, sport.
Beyond the reams of information and opportunity to learn and to monetize that social media presents for a pro sports team/organization, in the end, social media allows teams to provide fans with the stories they want to tell. Individuals are constantly on the lookout for stories to tell – from the sandwich they ate for lunch, the movie they went to see, the new hairdo they have, every opinion they have on a major/minor event and every minute detail of their lives that has become an annoying, but customary, part of sharing on social networks. Every interaction with a sports team, especially (of course) attending games, is an opportunity to give a fan a memorable experience, a story to tell the rest of their lives that will pass along your brand/team to their friends and family and inspire the positive pathos that will reinforce the personal connection and investment to the team for which we should all be striving. It does not need to be the time they saw a game-winning home run or buzzer-beating goal; winning a contest, getting re-tweeted, meeting the mascot, having a positive experience with a ticket rep; these are just a few examples of when fans can acquire positive stories and memories to tell. The other consideration is to exhort and empower fans to share these stories! Any little way a fan’s memory can be jogged of an experience [photo, magnet, t-shirt, whatever, pin on pinterest, etc.], a reminder of their story, a conversation starter with friends & family – the more your team is ingrained as part of one’s identity, the higher concentration of super fans / fangelists among your base, the better, of course.
We are in the middle of a new and exciting age. It is both daunting and exciting for an organization to adapt, but every day should be about the following –
1) Learn something about [or from] your fans every day: by listening, tracking keywords, ASKING questions, taking polls, talking to others in your organization, etc.
2) Create a story, one fan at a time, every day, every game.
3) Find something another team has done that you like and re-purpose or adopt to use with your team
Keep learning, keep tracking, keep evolving and, most of all, keep creating deeper relationships and lifelong stories with fans every day and you’ll find success in the incredible, fulfilling world of social media and sports. I know I did.
Clich here to see more of the No Biz Like Sports Biz series of posts
Posted by Neil Horowitz