It Pays to Be Thoughtful and Mindful in Social Media and Sports

We’re all looking to win the game. Analyzing the content, the metrics, and the strategy to get more reach and more engagement.

But there’s more to it than that. There’s being human and appreciating the humans on the other side. That’s how connections are created and fans are left feeling good.

This was a motif that was carried throughout the recent Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop (I gleaned this from Twitter, unable to attend this year myself. I highly recommend others check out the Sports PR Summit conferences). When you put forethought into strategy and execution, when you treat audiences distinctly, when you think beyond the silo – that’ll lead to wins on social media.

Prepare for every element prior to an event

Lauren Teague has spent several years in the digital and social sports space, working across a number of sports and clients. So when she gives simple, but oft-overlooked tips for success, it’s a good idea to pay attention. It’s a real-time world and not a single second can be wasted – there is always more content to capture and everything must be prepared and practiced to a tee as much as possible. Do you have a pre-event checklist? Do you have a plan? Are you prepared to be spontaneous?

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Don’t just sit back and wait

Jeremy Thum has helped lead successful social and digital strategies for several years, most recently making magic for the Chicago Bulls and now the Golden State Warriors. Customer service on social is no longer a bonus, now, but an expectation. Top teams have systems in place for monitoring and response. But there’s passive listening and there’s seizing opportunity to create incredible experiences. Don’t wait for a problem to solve, create an unforgettable experience for a fan that will take their night from a 10 to a 12. That’s how you can create superfans and a reputation for service and GAF that truly goes beyond.

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Speak with the audience and the platform in mind

Can you picture the person on the other side of those social media posts or inquiries? Do you really ‘get’ the platform and how real people, not just teams and brands and celebrities, use it? It’s not just about understanding the method of response, as longtime social media and sports vet (and former Director of Social Media for the UFC) Shanda Maloney described (and Sports PR Summit paraphrased via Twitter). It’s also important to know the actions you and the fan can take on each end of the exchange. Empathy, putting oneself in the fan’s shoes is key for customer service, in general, but certainly in the high-speed, high-volume world of sports. Be a student of the platform and create personas, potential scenarios, and best responses. That’s how you’ll pass every test on every platform with flying colors.

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Content buckets can organize your content calendar

We’ve all created content calendars. Whether it’s day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, or beyond. But creating some sort of category system can help get a better window into your content mix and performance. The more you can parse your content, study and compare and benchmark more apples to apples, the more effective your data-based insights will be. Consider another column in the spreadsheet or some system of denotation in whatever system you use and try to mold a method from the madness.

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Benchmark your metrics

Some of the best advice is to try and get 1% (heck, 0.1%) better every day. But it’s not about trying to beat the competition. Finishing first in social media metrics, whatever that may mean, does little more than fuel the ego. If you focus on making your content and content performance better, that’s how you win in the end. It still helps very much to pay attention to how others are also trying to improve upon their content every day, but when it comes to social media metrics, don’t live by the latest Nielsen study. Let it inform, but ultimately, the best benchmarks come from samples closer to what you do every day. Aim to beat those metrics, not what the national average is. It’s also a good way to show the suits in the organization success and upward trajectory. (Every suit likes a good hockey-stick graph)

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Create content with the audience in mind

It used to be just creating a single piece of content and sitting back and watching it succeed or fail (okay, this was, like, decades ago). But now we’re beyond simply A-B testing, beyond educated guesses, too. You can’t just create one persona when devising content, but several segments of fans and consumers. This doesn’t just affect branded content (as Learfield VP of Social Media Jack Patterson was referring to below), but all of it. Particularly with the audience targeting that is now a part of every brand’s and team’s social media marketing strategy, it’s no longer ‘advanced’, but is simply a best practice to craft different content for different consumers. The right content for the right person at the right time, fitted properly for the platform.

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If anyone thinks or says that they’ve mastered social media, that thought won’t last long. If you’re not seeking new knowledge, remaining a student always, and using it like a normal person often, you’ll get left behind quickly. But simple principles will remain true. The more a social media presence feels and seems human, the more one keeps in mind the people on the other end, the more we seek continual improvement – that’s how you can at least chase mastery and perhaps achieve sustained success along the way.

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