5 Social Media and Sports Lessons from SMMW 2016

Relationships aren’t built upon eyeballs. Attracting fleeting glances upon walking in the figurative room of social networks can feel good, but the most popular folks in the place are having conversations, leaving last impressions on those around. The value of attention as a KPI was a key motif at Social Media Marketing World 2016. And now that I hopefully have your attention, here are five related themes from the annual event, from which sports and social media marketers can learn:

1.    Heed the 5 R’s of quality social content: Real, Relevant, Rare, Repurposed Reproduce-able

These 5 R’s are perfect when considering your crafted content. Real means it is, well, real – authentic, not contrived, credible. Relevant means your audience has reason to care about it. Rare ties into those factors of exclusivity and surprise & delight. Make fans say ‘wow’ at least a few times per week. Repurposed is a favorite of mine, getting the most out of your content! Spruce up a highlight or try it in slo-mo, create a GIF, get a quote about the play, share a stat, do a contest around it, share it again on a lazy off-day weeks later. Yes! Finally, reproduce-able. It may sound paradoxical in light of the first four R’s, but it simply means to not invest in a new toy or widget or creative piece simply for a one-off. Be efficient and always think about scale, within reason and when possible. Social media is more than 24/7 job.

Keep the 5 R’s in mind and you’ll be a social media content king or queen in no time. But, beyond the format and overarching principles, what about the substance of the content

2. Content should do one or more of the following: Educate, Inspire, Entertain, Interact. – Chris Ducker

By now, most recognize the power and value of social media to reach, engage, and mobilize your fans and prospective fans on a daily basis. But, especially in this world in which information flows at such rapid velocity, content needs to bring it. The Educate-Inspire-Entertain-Interact all adds value to the fan consuming the content and, at its best, excites the audience enough to take action. It’s easy to nod in agreement as we all espouse the need to add value through content, but it’s essential to actually step back and evaluate whether your content is worth caring about.

3. “The new reality is that ‘Lead Magnets’ are moving out of websites into social media” – Mark Schaefer

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a lot more content consumption now happening natively on social media. Whether it’s Facebook’s videos or Instant Articles, Twitter Moments and Videos, Instagram longer videos, and Snapchat’s 360-degree ecosystem, it’s increasingly easier, and more efficient, to live in the platform. That doesn’t mean social media marketing is dead. It’s just evolving. An engaged community of fans is an engaged community of potential customers. And social networks are making it ever more easier and effective to turn those users into customers — through data capture methods like Twitter Cards, through insights and ad targeting on Facebook and Instagram, and CTA’s and brand activations cleverly integrated into native content. With so much attention and time spent in just a handful of app every day, the long-held notions of lead generation, in all forms, is starting to evolve to suit the user’s preferred experience.

 
4. You need a content strategy and a content distribution strategy. Even great content needs to be discovered.

So you have your compelling, value-added, easy-to-consume [and perhaps native] content, but it all means nothing without a distribution plan. Teams now spend tons of physical and mental and planning resources and time in crafting and creating great content and distribution is taken for granted. Perhaps some huge sports teams can rest assured good content will each enough eyeballs that the snowball will quickly grow, but not all have this luxury. Considering the best way to present content on each platform, leveraging influencers and SEO and visuals to spread your best stuff, and understanding how to enrich the emotions of your fans are all key. It’s great to be proud of your content plan and execution, but start adding ‘distribution’ a bullet point on the agenda and a point of pride.

 
5. “Brands fall prey to ‘mediumism’ prioritizing shiny objects over the actual usefulness of their message.” – Brian Solis

Social networks that have their flavor of the week moment are a dime a dozen. Many of us talk the long game, about mastering a few instead of being mediocre at many, and not chasing a new platform just because of FOMO. But then that shiny new toy keeps glistening and looking innovative as an early mover or increasing incremental reach can be too much to resist, sometimes. So accountability and self-evaluation become an important activity to undertake often. Dedication, attention, content, and time all cost something. And just checking off another Hootsuite box or copying and pasting may seem like a good idea for a few thousand more impressions, until one realizes how lazy and unaware it makes their team or brand look.

Technology, social media, and content delivery may change overnight, and marketers and social media managers must do their best to keep up. If there’s a guiding principle for 2016, which was reinforced by the thought leaders at Social Media Marketing World, it’s that relevance is more important than reach, the smartest marketers know how to specialize and scale, and attention is the most critical currency of the day.

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