This is a guest post by Ryan Stephens
Sports companies and brands have traditionally been slow at adopting web 2.0 and social media strategies. This is unfortunate because fans are all over the web having conversations about your brands without you. Joining this space, and potentially becoming a prevalent figure in this space will give your sports company the added advantage of gaining valuable insight into your fans’ culture and conversations. It is not crazy to think that you could leverage the knowledge you gain in this space to increase revenue for your company or your team. People like Lewis are helping lead this movement.
Today, I want to discuss various ways you can use Twitter, an extremely hot social networking and micro-blogging service that lets you broadcast a 140 character message to your followers, to start embracing this movement and promoting your sports company.
1.) Network With Other Prevalent Sports Figures
I would not encourage diving into uncharted Twitter territory headfirst. People that use the platform to only promote their own work will quickly lose respect of others that are contributing to relevant communities, be it sports, social media or both. First, I would suggest reading up on some of Twitter’s best practices. Then, once you have a general feel for how to add value, consider following prevalent sports figures currently on Twitter.
Here’s a couple to get you started:
Following and learning from other sports marketers, networkers, and social media enthusiasts enables you to see how they are using Twitter and gives you some indication as to how you should approach your own Twitter strategy. Reach out, add value to their networks, and connect so that you can learn new things from each of them. In addition, if all of us that are passionate about helping lead sports into web 2.0 start collaborating chances are we can all benefit one another and the sports industry.
2.) Point Consumers, Fans and Advocates to Your Content
Once you have got the basics down and started connecting with other prevalent sports figures, you can promote your sports company (or brand, etc.) by pointing consumers, fans and advocates to your content. When I write a blog post that I am proud of and I think it will genuinely add value to the lives of my followers I send out a tweet with the link. It’s no coincidence that on these days, my blog receives the most amount of traffic.
Let me reiterate that you should refrain from tweeting everything you produce. Here are a couple of tips for promoting your content via Twitter:
a.) Make sure that it is some of your best work or something that you are pretty certain is unique, helpful, and/or will benefit your followers.
b.) Promote your work about a 1/5th of the time you promote the work of others. I would even say for every 1 item of your own, you should share 10-12 links to others’ work. (More on this later.)
If you follow these two rules you are ensuring that people realize that you are there to help them (and that is what they care about) and that you produce great work (because they are essentially getting a sample of what should be your best stuff).
3.) Utilize Twitter for Event Promotion
If you have an upcoming event you can promote it on Twitter. You can do this by posting updates as the event grows near, announcing speakers of the event, and engaging others in content relevant to your event.
Let’s say I was one of the people in charge of the Princeton Sports Symposium. Here are some things I would definitely consider tweeting about:
a.) Announce the date, time and location of the event
b.) The keynote speaker and a link to a bio
c.) Announce a different topic to be discussed at the conference each day leading up to the conference with a link to a relevant discussion or blog post.
d.) Have a poll over twitter and give away a free ticket to one of the people that participates in the poll.
e.) Ask who is going to be in attendance and make plans to attend an after party, lunch the next day, meet up in the airport, etc.
These are just a couple of examples; be rest assured that I did not even scratch the surface as there are probably hundreds of other things you could do to promote an event using Twitter.
4.) Use Twitter to Give Your Company a Unique, Transparent Voice
One of the most compelling things about people, companies and brands is the stories that we identify with, the stories that define a company and what it means to us as consumers. Twitter is a very humanizing tool in that it allows you to participate in the stories being told about your company. It makes your company more approachable and connected, and if you are using it correctly it can give you an authentic and transparent voice.
I could care less (and so will everyone else) if your PR team has a twitter account under your company’s name is shilling everything you do and produce. But if you are a real person and let us see into your company it becomes easier to identify with you and your company. By now, most of you know that Shaq is on Twitter. It is easy, if you are at all familiar with Shaq, to realize that it is really him. He’s incredibly authentic and funny; Twitter is providing a new way to connect with a mega superstar. Be unique and transparent and your story, your company immediately becomes more interesting.
5.) Promote Other People’s Work Within the Sports Community
I saved this one for last because it is the one that is most important to me, and the one that most people and companies mess up. In fact, I would not promote any of my own stuff until I had promoted the work of others, especially in the sports community. Why is this?
First and foremost you need to show your followers that you value what they want to read, and certainly sometimes this is your content, but it is ridiculous to think your content is always more valuable than the thousands and thousands of other blogs out there. Most of the time someone has already said it better than you ever could, in which case you should link to them.
Also, if our goal as sports marketers and networkers is to increase adoption of social media and web 2.0 in the sports industry we should be advocating this change and shift collectively as a whole. It means more business, more connections, more shared knowledge, more innovation, and so forth and so on for all of us within the sports world.
Are you on Twitter? Is your sports company on Twitter yet?
There are plenty of other ways to promote your company using both Twitter and social media tools in general. If you are using alternative strategies consider sharing them with me (and other readers) in the comments section of this post. Also, if you have any questions, by all means, I would love to help you anyway I can with respect to Twitter, social media or the intersection of sports and social media/web 2.0.
Ryan is a social media consultant who is passionate about the power of web 2.0 and its ability to cultivate conversations, build relationships and spread of ideas. After gaining valuable experience interning for marketing guru Seth Godin this summer, Ryan has continued working to create strategic marketing initiatives for a wide range of clientele. Currently, he wants to help sports companies join the conversation and engage their fans by utilizing social media. You can connect with him on his blog at Ryan Stephens Marketing or on Twitter @ryanstephens.