Build Fans For Life, Not A Consumer For A Day

We’re all after social media ROI. Consider the following two examples, coming from my own experience with my family.

Case #1: While working for the Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club, my mom, predictably, became a big fan of the team and a newcomer as an NHL fan, in general. She watched or attended just about every game, never missed a web story or social media post or video, and soon owned enough Ducks outfits and memorabilia for every day of the week, and then some. I have since moved on from the Ducks in my career, but my mom remains a fan of the Ducks. A superfan.
She still never misses a game or online post and her friends and family now know how big a Ducks fan she is. It is a constant source of conversation and, more often than not, she is wearing some Ducks swag. As a result, her siblings and nieces and nephews have attended games and consumed Ducks content and bought Ducks merchandise. Same goes for many of her friends and their families.
If you can find just a few dozen fans as evangelizing and dedicated as your mom, it can go a long way, even if the exact path of ROI is hazy, at best.

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Case #2: My brother and one of my best friends have long been San Diego Chargers fans, often attending one game each season (I’m a Raiders fan, myself). For years, they talked about the team daily, consumed content, purchased merchandise, and watched every play of every game. As they grew up and started pulling in a higher wage/salary, finding themselves with disposable income, one of their first considerations was Chargers season tickets. With fantasy, daily conversations and articles and TV, a plethora of factors went into what ultimately become season ticket purchases years down the road. The path to ROI here is no more linear than that of the aforementioned case with my mom.

While ads and conversions are more track-able than ever, the fact remains that 85% of digital ad clicks come from just 7% of online users and, with “fat finger syndrome,” many ad clicks come by accident. While advertising is becoming more personalized, contextualized, and optimized, the touch points a fan has with an organization are innumerable, rendering the path to ROI very sinuous.

We’re living between a rock and a hard place as social media and content marketing managers are increasingly charged to show short-term ROI, despite playing in a long-term game. Metrics can tell a lot. They can inform strategy, resource allocation, and messaging. But building fans that think and talk about your team/brand daily, that wear your gear, that proselytize on your behalf — this is the ultimate ROI for social media, even if it isn’t shown this year, let alone this week.

Perhaps Nebraska Huskers’ Director of Digital Media Kelly Mosier said it best at the recent Q1 Sports Fan Engagement Conference, noting that their goal is to create fans who think about nothing but the team “from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep…”
You can sell one ticket today or create an evangelizing, swag-wearing season ticket holder of tomorrow. The ROI is there. It’s up to you frame it and tell the story that appreciates the short-term results, but makes its hay on creating fans for life.

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