(This is a guest post by Daniel McLaren)
This is another side to Social Media that is often overlooked, when organisations plan their online approach yet can be as important, if not more so than having a Facebook/Twitter page.
A old approach that has taken on a new meaning and been opened up by social media is creating brand advocates and generating positive ‘Word of Mouth’. This is important because you as a brand can only generate a certain amount of trust in what you say to people.
Sound strange? Take a look at the graph below from the Neilson 2010 Global Trust Study.
We are very concentrated on the brand websites and setting up social media presences to get the product/service/team information out there that we forget how people use the internet to influence their purchasing decisions.
What is the first thing you do when you want to buy a product? For me, I go onto Google and find out about the product and see what the reviews of it are like. I take it with a pinch of salt of course but you can get a general idea about if it is going to be a good or bad idea to part with your hard earned cash.
This counts just as much for industries around sport. Most teams have hospitality services on non-match days as well as match days which can be just as important (the need for income out of season). There are thousands of products and services that are on offer to anyone in sport whether you are selling sports kit, trainers, marketing services, iPhone apps… the list goes on.
If we trust family, friends and online reviews the most then what social media has done is allow us to find out from those we trust even quicker and easier than ever before. You can tweet or post an update saying that you are thinking of going to this game or buy X product and get others opinions.
For B2B you can use LinkedIn with its discussions areas in groups, status updates and Q&A section to find out from your peers and get their opinions. With Facebook starting its own Q&A facility this is going to be expanded more than was ever thought possible.
Where am I going with this?
What I’m trying to say is that even though your online presence on the official channels is important. It is vital you also have a presence where people will be talking about you and your products to generate truely great customer servoice experiences and word of mouth.
You will not only be able to connect with them and create advocates of them by having great customer service in an area where they are (rather than them having to come to you) but you can find out more about what people think of you.
Remember that not all criticism is unjustified charater assasination (!) but try looking at it as free product research. If you are a club and launched a new season ticket policy or merchadise line then it can give you great clues as to what is working and what isn’t.
If you plan properly, listen and work hard at giving great customer service then you will gain some of your strongest brand advocates and create some awesome Word of Mouth.
Daniel McLaren is the founder of ‘The UK Sports Network’ and a Sports Consultant at social media agency called Spearfish Labs. He is an experienced sports events professional and passionate about social media. A lover of all sports, player of a few and ardent Manchester United fan. He runs several groups on LinkedIn including ‘The UK Sports Network‘ and ‘Social Media & Sport‘ which total over 1800 members. He tweets regularly on @danielmclaren.