Instead of Getting Fans to Just Engage With You, Build Community and Let Them Engage With Each Other

The whole is greater than the sum of individual parts.

You’ve heard that saying before and it’s true for sports fans, all supporting and following the same team. You may have hard of Red Sox nation, or nodded in recognition of someone dressed in the same team’s garb as you. Social media has amplified the ability for fans to show their fandom, to the nth degree. Message boards, social networks, communities.

All of this conversation and content centers around the orbit of the team. There is no better deed you can do than help these fans connect with other who share their passion, The coolest moments are when fans come together, having conversations, forming relationships, fueling each other’s passion. It’s like playing matchmaker.

This rang true in a recent conversation I had with Josh Decker, CEO of Tagboard, which aggregates conversation and content from across social media. Rather than trying to dictate conversation, throwing gasoline on the fire of organic conversation can be even more effective.

“For us, it’s about creating something that brings people together, breaks down those walls and creates one larger community,” said Decker. “We believe, by breaking down those walls and bringing people together, you create this dynamic that has amazing results…”

Social media, as fragmented as it can sometimes seem across the big four – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – has allowed communities with similar beliefs, interests, passions, conversations, all come together to form a bigger, more connected and engaged community. By fanning the flames of conversation and sharing, through whatever methods, teams can stoke the fire of these fan communities and build them to be bigger and stronger.

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But throwing up a random hashtag on a billboard or website or video board isn’t exactly an effective way to elicit genuine community and conversation. It’s about finding something that represents what the community cares about, is talking about, is doing themselves, is interested in. Authenticity is the cannot-be-overstated key — it’s hard to go wrong with fans and with what’s working.

“Don’t force it. Don’t try to come up with something that is not organic already,” said Decker. “You have enough fans out there, that they;re going to tell you which hashtag to use. Keep it authentic, keep it real, and you’re going to be surprised at how much better off it works for you than when you try to force something in and it doesn’t fit with your community.”

There is so much visibility into fans these days and so much opportunity to identify and help unite all these fans. Making fans feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, as cliche as that may sound, is invites them into a family they’ll feel a part of for life.

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