Having a social media presence as a club is crucial. It offers your fanbase a glimpse into the team, the players and into the community itself. But, it’s not the easiest thing to implement effectively. Many organizations have found that there are some all-too-common roadblocks on the road to building their social presence online. The good news is that every social media problem has an easily implemented solution.
Problem #1: Too many choices for social media platforms
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and whatever comes next, there are a lot of platforms to choose from, and not enough time to be on all of them. Therefore, you’ve got to figure out where your fans are, and what kind of content you’re comfortable with. There are plenty of helpful sites that rank the pros and cons of the various platforms, based on what resources you have and what role you want social to play in your overall media strategy.
Also, the ‘where’ will inform the ‘how.’ Each platform has a media-format that suits it best.
Problem #2: No one is following your organization on social media.
This is the number one problem that many smaller sports organizations find themselves in, and it’s not unique to sports. There’s no shortage of in-depth guides to increasing your social media following, but it boils down to consistency, relevance, and visibility. Making sure you’re regularly posting, with content that matches the medium and market, and making sure that you’ve got your social media follow buttons everywhere you can, will do wonders.
Then, once you start to build a following, talk to them. You need to respond to your followers and start a dialogue. Positive comments, questions, and mentions can organically grow your following exponentially. There’s no point in having social media, if you’re not social.
Problem #3: The top brass are against social media
This is the toughest one. They’re the ones signing the paychecks, and if they don’t understand it, or have only seen the negative parts of social media, then they won’t buy into your social media and communications plan. Sounds like a ‘game over’ scenario. But that’s not true. You just need data.
- Show them the numbers: Analytics can demonstrate in quantifiable ways why social media is important. Clicks, likes, and other engagement metrics show that the fans are paying attention. If you don’t have enough data yet to make your point, then look to a competitor.
- Show the success of others: The leadership of your organization needs proof that social pays dividends, so find a comparable team that does do it right, and show them that. You can even aim more aspirationally and demonstrate how the big hitters like Manchester United, FC Barcelona et al., started off and what they’re doing now. You can do it too, on a smaller scale
- Have a plan: Much like with the managers, give them an entire marketing plan, that demonstrates how social media works in tandem with your other activities and give them oversight/veto. If your plan is thought-out and professional, and you’re consistent in your execution, you’ll allay their worries and make a splash.
Problem #4: Managers/Owners want to play it too safe with content
The social media landscape is cluttered, and boring content isn’t going to break through or get noticed. That’s the reality. So, you have to aim high, and aim to disrupt. In fact, some of the best social media executions out there, have straddled a fine line between entertainment and controversy. But they’re risky. But good or bad, they generate buzz and get people talking.
When it comes to promoting your ideas, edgy or not, you just need to be patient. Show examples of similar ideas and the reactions, have a rationale on why you want to push the envelope, and demonstrate that you have a “line” in mind that you won’t cross.
As well, offering a longer approval process, multiple touchpoints of input, and a slow rollout of your buzzworthy content, will help you make your voice louder. If you’re seeding your content wisely and not provoking controversy for controversy’s sake, you’ll find the right balance of safe/edgy.
Problem #5 :The manager isn’t on board
An all too common problem. Their job is to win, and drive the athletes to win, and they don’t want them distracted with TikTok dances and live-tweeting. It’s completely understandable. But, it’s also completely missing the bigger picture of what social media can bring to the club in terms of support and affinity. Teams that dominate their leagues, aren’t just scoring goals. They’re actively out there, in the media, growing their fanbase.
Getting the manager aligned isn’t a huge task. Whether you’re new to the communications team, or you’ve got a new person in charge, there are a couple of easy steps to follow:
- Make a plan. Show them your communications goals and strategies, and get their input. Value their contributions.
- Create a team social media policy. Sometimes, the worry is that the players will get carried away, or air the team’s dirty laundry. Having a documented policy that’s signed by all parties, will go a long way to alleviating any worries or distrust.
- Offer examples. Sometimes, you need to see it, to understand and value it.
- Earn their trust. You might need to give the manager a large measure of control and veto early on. If you let them oversee what’s going out and what their players are doing, the benefits will outweigh their worries.
Problem #6: Athletes don’t want to participate in the content
It happens. Some may be incredible on the pitch, and are a bonafide superstar, but are shy in front of the camera. Or they might be too busy with training, family, endorsement-related activities, personal projects, or they just don’t want to. The reality is, though, that your athletes are a great resource for creating that engaging social content, so you need them on board.
Here’s how to address that:
- Demonstrate the benefit. This is pretty obvious, but having a social media presence, on behalf of your club, can also help athletes grow their personal brand and secure sponsorships, book appearances, and get media attention. Athletes have a lot to gain by investing a few minutes a day as the face/voice of their team.
- Get it in writing. Many teams have a clause in their contracts that state athletes need to take part in a reasonable amount of promotional activity. This includes social media. If this isn’t something explicitly stated in the paperwork your team offers, then it’s time to revise the verbiage to include social media.
- Figure out the source of the problem. If they’re camera shy, not confident with their writing skills, or are self-conscious about their language skills, or are just too busy, there are solutions to every problem. A quick meeting can determine where the strengths and weaknesses lie, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Make it fun and convenient. Athletes are busy, so you might need to work with their schedule to get exactly what you’re looking for. Try catching them at practice for a candid, behind-the-scenes look, or ask them to use their mobile phones to record a quick TikTok or Instagram video whenever the mood strikes them.
Problem #7:The athletes are posting inappropriate content on social media
Intentionally or not, someone is going to make a mistake and do something embarrassing.That’s sports. There’s no shortage of tweets and other social posts that paint football players in a bad light. Some of them are complete accidents and a result of a mis-translation, while others are done in the heat of the moment. In any case, the last thing you want is inappropriate content coming from someone who represents your organization.
- Lay out the ground rules in advance. You should have a social media policy in place with clear rules about how athletes representing your organization should use social media. Be clear with what the team will, and will not, tolerate and have a course of action for what will happen if an athlete breaks the rules.
- Encourage your athletes to create a professional account separate from a personal one: Athletes need to see themselves as a brand, and respect the team that they represent. Their professional account shouldn’t take shots at the organization, the manager, or other players, as well as any personal problems.
- Keep the personal accounts as private as possible: If they want to be vocal about something, here’s the platform. But their personal handles shouldn’t be widely disseminated. In the eventuality that their personal comments are found and screenshotted, it will reflect less poorly on the team, then a comment from their ‘official’ account.
- Monitor your players’ social activities: In an ideal world, you’d want to treat your team as if they were mature adults and let them have a social media presence without oversight. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Keep a list of all of your player’s accounts and monitor them. You probably won’t be able to react fast enough to stop 100% of all social media gaffes but you’ll be able to catch enough, or be able to know who to keep an eye on.
Building a social community takes work, but once the foundations are established and stable, fans won’t be able to get enough of your organization.