This is part of a short blog series where we take a look at how social media can be utilized to grow a sports team’s fan base, regardless of whether the team already has a large following or is starting from the grassroots level. You can see the other posts here.
In the first post of this series I covered the importance of listening in social media. Today I’m going to cover how community can help your fan base grow.
Using social media to create an online community is a great way to bring your fans together, constantly keep them thinking about your team and also reach new fans. You can also use an online community as a way to add to your teams overall experience and create brand advocates.
Become More Than Just A Sports Team, Become A Social Experience
This is essential to the success of sports teams of all sizes from amateurs to the pro’s. I play amateur soccer and basketball and as much as I love playing, I also enjoy the social experience that comes with it. Social media now plays a big part in this experience giving us images and videos we can look back on, discussions to join and importantly always keeping the team fresh in our minds.
In pro and semi-pro sports sometimes gaining new fans can simply come down to winning games, but I also feel a lot of gaining, and importantly keeping fans, comes down to the social experience your team brings. In business and sports alike if people enjoy the experience they get from you or your product they will come back for more and probably talk positively about you – helping your message to spread.
There are many ways in which social media can help add the the social experience fans get from your team and building an online community is essential.
Building A Community
When looking to grow your fan base, rather than broadcasting a message to potential fans encouraging them to get involved with your team through traditional advertising (billboards, TV advertising), you should first try to engage them and get them talking about your club and online communities are a great way to do this.
People trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertising. That’s nothing new though, if your friend recommends a restaurant you’re probably more likely to go there than another restaurant you saw an ad for. If you can create positive conversation about your team online and get fans sharing their experiences across the social web this can help you to reach new potential fans.
When you start building any community the first people you want to reach are your die hard fans. These are the people who most passionate about your team and also most likely to become influencers for other members of the community.
Sports teams have a distinct advantage over corporate brands when it comes to building online communities as many teams will have already have existing communities across the web on fan sites, blogs, forums and social networks. When putting together your social media strategy you should look at ways you may be able to tap into these existing communities.
It’s important to ask yourself why people should become part of your online community, whether it’s ‘liking’ your Facebook page or following you on Twitter? How does your community improve their experience as a fan?
Content Is The Difference
‘Content is King’ is one of the most overused phrases in social media, and whilst I don’t totally agree with that statement, there’s a reason it’s a social media cliche – the content you put out is often the difference between success and failure.
If you want your community to grow, you need to make your content sharable, the more people share your content the larger audience it will reach. Word of mouth is one of the most successful marketing and promotional techniques and social media is like word of mouth on steroids meaning you can reach a larger audience with content that can spread fast.
What tips do you have for sports teams looking to utilize online communities to grow their fan base? What are your top tips for building online communities?
If content is not necessarily king, what else are the key variables you consider to be essential to social media success Ash?
I’d also like to hear Ash’s argument on this subject? Mr Read?