Lewis asked me to discuss the benefits of blogging to enhance your sport marketing efforts this week. Being a huge advocate of blogging, this shouldn’t be a problem for me, but when I sat down to write the words didn’t flow.
I suspect because in my mind there’s a logical progression through navigating social media, and it doesn’t start with blogging. Using the framework set forth by Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth (and expanded on by Valeria Maltoni) I’d like to start a mini-series on engaging social media for sports marketing.
As noted in the aforementioned framework, the first step is to involve.
My interpretation of involve is to completely immerse yourself into the social media stratosphere. Until you do this, and familiarize yourself with what is pertinent to you, your business, your brand, etc. then you are certainly not ready to create content (i.e. blogging).
What follows is a 1-month plan to becoming completely immersed in social media as it relates to sports.
Week 1: Read Relevant and Interesting Information
Go get Google reader. It is one of my favorite online tools, and it allows you to enter RSS feeds by clicking on the add a subscription button, and then pasting the feed to a website in the blank. One you start submitting sites it will even give you recommendations. [In the interest of space, I won’t detail out every step, but if you have any specific questions feel free to e-mail me or utilize the comments section of this post.]
Find some sites that interest you related to both sports and social media. It is important to follow both because being familiar with the current sports trends (and also what works for those websites) is important with respect to sports marketing, but so it your ability to learn from prominent social media blogs. Start big and then trickle down. Try Deadspin, The Big Lead, Sports by Brooks, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Seth Godin.
Set up Google alerts for search times you want to monitor and how often you want these alerts sent to either your e-mail or Google reader. This will pull information you are interested in that you are not necessarily getting from the sites you subscribed to.
By the end of the week you should be getting a good feel for current trends in the sports industry, and also becoming relatively familiar with the social media space. During this process just focus on finding content that you find compelling; then towards the end of the week start thinking about how you could use what you’re learning about social media and how you could apply it to your sports marketing efforts.
Week 2: Listen to Relevant and Interesting Conversations
Now that you have familiarized yourself with a significant amount of both sports and social media content it is time to start learning about the influencers and thought leaders that are producing this content. More importantly, it is time to learn about the conversations they are having with others in this space.
I suggest using both Twitter and LinkedIn and their respective search features to (Here for Twitter) search for people that you found yourself admiring, learning a lot from, or those that were earning your respect as you delved into their content in week one. Follow them and just get a feel for the kinds of conversations they are having. Remember you’re still learning so that when it’s time to start creating your own content you won’t be fumbling through the forest with a blindfold on.
Lewis has a great article on ways to generate success with Linkedin, and I wrote about ways to use Twitter not too long ago. As you become acclimated to both sites I think it would benefit you to check out both articles to get a better grasp of how you can use the platforms more effectively.
[Note: Until you have something to offer people on LinkedIn, I would seek out people’s profiles and learn from them, but refrain from trying to add them to your network until you have reached out in other ways or have something valuable to offer them.]
Week 3: Learn what content “gets legs”
Two weeks down and you now probably have Google reader stuffed full of engaging feeds and your soaking up valuable content. You have started following influencers in the sports and social media fields and gotten a good grasp of the conversations they are having. In doing so you have familiarized yourself with the Twitter and LinkedIn platforms without rushing to try and do too much too soon.
Week three is about learning the types of content that “gets legs,” “goes viral,” and “becomes a pillar post.” All these phrases are just fancy Internet-speak for content that is very popular, well received, book-marked and passed around.
One of the best ways for determining this is to become familiar with social book-marking sites. I keep an archive of some of my favorite articles on delicious, but digg, stumbleupon, and Reddit are all viable options. By searching these sites for terms and using tabbed features to search (depending on the site you’re on) you can locate articles that have lots of bookmarks, representing the fact that other people found the content valuable.
Throughout the duration of week three pick a handful of these well received posts each day (let’s say 5-7) and read them. Understand the elements that go into making a great post. Are they long? Short? Bulleted Lists? Have great titles? Intriguing sub-headings? Chances are some common themes will begin to emerge. This is important because it will give you an idea of how to create great content when you are ready venture out and begin creating content of your very own.
Week 4: Participate in the conversation
Now that you have spent the last three weeks absorbing a significant amount of content you should have a good grasp on the kind of content that intrigues you, what the experts and thought leaders are talking about, and what elements make up an article or post you could be proud of.
So you think you’re ready to start your own sports marketing blog now?
Not quite. The final week of the month should be spent joining in and participating in the conversations on all the places you have been following for the past three weeks. Now would be a great time to re-visit the articles Lewis and I wrote, and start connecting with people who you want to get to know better.
Reach out on twitter by using the @insertusernamehere feature. Start joining groups on Linkedin and participating in discussions on Linkedin answers. Better yet ask a few questions. Share content that you have really enjoyed via Google reader, and start commenting and weighing in on the blogs that you have become acclimated to.
Following this one month plan to immersing yourself into social media will give you a great feel for this stratosphere, and also give you momentum and credibility once you decide to start creating your own content.
Honestly, I wish someone had given me this advice when I started because I spent the first few months of blogging working out a lot of kinks instead of hitting the ground running. Follow this advice for just one measly month and then enjoy the smooth sailing!
Ryan is an Associate Media Analyst at Sports Media Challenge where he helps champion social media strategies for sports, lifestyle and entertainment brands. In his spare time he serves as 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. Feel free to leave your thoughts on his article in the comments section below, connect with him on his blog at Ryan Stephens Marketing or on Twitter @ryanstephens, and read the rest of his bio here.