SOCIAL MEDIA DID YOU KNOW: WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA? IGNORE IT AT YOUR PERIL! ANYWHERE GETTING GREYER

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1 The world s top brands are using social media as a meaningful way of deepening relationships with their customers. Is it now time for Sport Clubs to join in? WHAT IS SOCIAL? According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social media is the term commonly given to the internet and mobile based channels and tools that allow users to interact with each other and share opinions and content. As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement. IGNORE IT AT YOUR PERIL! It is clear that social networking has become one of the dominant cultural phenomena in these digital times. The rapidity of this rise to prominence in everyday life for so many people, as well as its global impact, is remarkable. What had appeared to be simply another Western teenage fad was, in fact, being embraced by many different societies and groups of people around the world. It is now time for sport clubs to start thinking about its potential impact? A number of leading organisations have already recognised the importance of engaging their customers through social media. Firms such as BMW, Coca Cola and Starbucks have been using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media mechanisms to grow awareness of their brand and products and to build customer loyalty. There is no reason why, with the right focus, Sports Clubs shouldn t be doing the same. DID YOU KNOW: Roughly 73% of UK households have broadband internet, and it is beginning to surpass television as the preferred medium. Also, according to a UK government report, 70 percent of those with broadband at home say they couldn t live without it (rating it higher than television). ANYWHERE Nearly 33% of all UK Internet users have accessed the web from their mobiles in the past year, and the 12.8 million smartphone users are leading the way. GETTING GREYER Over half of the nearly 2 million new Internet users over the past year are 50 or older. One out of every five minutes online is spent on social media related sites. Neilsen Social media advertising spend will increase 400% by the year Forrester

2 1 2 TOP 10 TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED IN SOCIAL You need to have a strategy. Social media offers tremendous opportunities for Clubs to engage with their existing members and publicise themselves to new members...but that engagement has to be earned. So how do you begin? START BY LISTENING Regardless of your overall strategy and objectives, almost any social media initiative should begin by listening to what your members are already saying about you on social media. Check out fan sites, the NGBs and local interest groups. How? Fortunately, it s never been easier to capture this information: online tools provide terrific opportunities to gain deep insight into what your members think, want, need, and expect, making it possible to directly access actual behaviour, likes and needs. Analytical listening dashboards can provide an overview of your position in the marketplace and provide drill downs to individual tweets, Facebook updates, message board comments and blog posts. This offers a potentially unparalleled level of insight into your brand and your members perspectives on it. START SMALL You don t have to get everything complete at the beginning. Whilst it s important to get the basics right (avoiding the obvious pitfalls like not responding, not integrating all social media channels or linking you website to your social media channels), it is just as important to learn and iterate quickly. Honesty and transparency will help to build your members trust, so that when mistakes do get made, you are more likely to get the chance to redeem yourself! MAKE THE CASE Undertaking a social media initiative is no different from any other Club undertaking, in that it s essential to be able to articulate a compelling case and demonstrate the benefit. Often the benefits are of the softer kind: brand building, awareness and advocacy; but it s still possible to calculate ROI through qualitative and quantitative member feedback and increasingly through end-to-end tracking of social media campaigns and increase on membership subscriptions. KEEP IT INTERESTING To attract members, you need to find ways of making your social media channel interesting and exciting. For example, use videos and photographs effectively to deliver interesting facts about your Club, what is going on and provide tips on your sport and show real member highlight clips. Use competitions, games and blogs to get people interacting with your social site; consider providing additional, unique services to customers through social media channels MAKE IT RELEVANT AND MAKE A CONNECTION Having nothing relevant to say is a big turn off for members. To maintain interest and a steady supply of repeat visits, your social media channels must be updated frequently with the latest breaking news, content and features. Ideally a member or group of members should be established to manage social communications and content. Customers feedback and questions about the Club and services must be answered quickly if the site is not to suffer negative feedback or losing the goodwill of members DELIVER ON YOUR CLUB S VALUES It s not enough to just be out there. Your activities within the social media space need to be appropriate to your Club s brand and your

3 7 values. Many Clubs may need to re-assess and understand their key brand attributes in order to participate effectively. How do you want to be known? What are your key messages? How do you want to engage? A strategy is required that fully considers the appropriate use of different social media channels to match your brand attributes and properly reflects the value your brand delivers for your members. This is a prerequisite for web designs, web applications and content provisions. KEEP IT ACCURATE Members want to know correct information about the Club in which they are interested. Keep the information posted about your Club s activities, events, fixtures and promotions accurate and up to date if you want people to visit. You will need to develop a social media policy, with a risk and control assessment, in order to manage the accuracy of the information posted on your social sites by your Club and to respond to the information (hopefully) posted there by your members and interested parties an organisation s Facebook page is to get access to special offers and sales discounts. What can you offer members? FACILITATE SHARING Social media may be a low cost way to communicate and engage with your members, but it takes effort to make it work. Organise discussion forums, chats and Q&A sections on media channels, to make it easy for customers to share their views and provide feedback (hopefully good as well as bad) about your activities and services. Make it timely - a page is only as good as the information that is up there! KEEP LISTENING! If something negative occurs, you ll be wellpositioned to respond quickly and meaningfully. More importantly, you will now have real-time access to behaviour and dialogue that can greatly enhance your current understanding of your members, as well as the ability to track the benefits to your business. 8 CREATE VALUE FOR YOUR MEMBERS It s not realistic to think that your members will participate in a community if it offers no obvious and immediate benefit to them. Sometimes called the Del.icio.us Lesson (after Joshua Porter s 2006 essay (http://bokardo.com/ archives/the-delicious-lesson/), this principle states simply that the value to those in the network must precede the value to the network. Think about what assets / activities / connections you have that your members might find useful, and allow access to this resource - it could be fixtures, it could be an opinion, it could be competitions. What will people want to come back to your community for? It could be an opportunity to share - without preconditions (registration, payment or subscription). Soon you ll find community activity springing up around this social object. Interestingly, one of the main reasons customers site for friending

4 WHAT ARE THE PLATFORMS... To understand the social media movement it s necessary to understand the most popular platforms for user engagement and how they differ. Traditional marketing channels broadcast in one direction and are usually only targeted in a general way. Social media, when done well, creates dialogue with a very specific and large audience - one person at a time. Social media also runs across all other channels - whether web, mobile, phone or physical stores. This is a highly connected community where the most unlikely contributors can be celebrities and other social influencers. Member don t have to come to you anymore. Your members take their social media applications with them wherever they go, whether it s to your Club, on the phone to your governing body, linked to your website or on their Xbox. In order to truly exploit the power of social media for your Club, you need to understand more about the platforms... FACEBOOK Launched in 2004 and it is the most widely used social network by worldwide active users. As the name suggests Facebook s initial purpose was to facilitate the sharing of photographs amongst friends. It has, however, expanded into a platform for social networking, providing blogging, real-time chat, application development, sharing and Q&A functionality. Facebook has now overtaken Google as the most visited site in the world and is a major platform for communicating with customers. Sport England has teamed up with Facebook to create a Sport Hub which enables NGBs to engage with over 20 million people who use Facebook in the UK. The Hub looks and feels like a Facebook fan page but offers a range of new applications, enabling NGBs to organise and market grassroots sports events. Facebook users are able to challenge other people in their area to compete against them - whether in a squash match or a running race - and then share the results with their Facebook friends and networks.

5 LINKEDIN Launched in 2003 LinkedIn is often considered the professional face of social networking. It has 80 million registered users and primarily provides address book style functionality for business users. It is, however, also used as a site to post job opportunities and for job seekers to apply for them. Over the last few years LinkedIn has added a number of new Facebook-like features such as status updates, groups, company following, LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn polls to increase the usage of the platform. LinkedIn is a great way for Clubs to share information and blog posts, links and articles, as well as to lead discussions about hot topics in their sport. LinkedIn is also a great way for members to form connections with other professionals / members in their field of sport. Clubs can post job listings or links to sign up to events, fixtures, fundraisers they re hosting. TWITTER Launched in 2006, Twitter provided a similar microblogging service to Facebook s status updates in allowing users to create tweets of 140 characters or less. These tweets are available to all users of Twitter and users can subscribe or follow a particular user s twitter feed. A number of sporting celebrities have taken to tweeting and are being followed by their fan base - it was used as a great news source during the Olympics. The growth in tweets has been astounding, going from 60,000 a day in March 2007 to 177 million Tweets sent on March 11, 2011 (Source: twitter.com) Twitter is growing in popularity amongst sports men and woman - it is a real force in connecting fans to sports. So how can Clubs best use it? You can create live Tweets on the results of competitions and events. Make sure to have someone that is witty and knows the Club well to write Tweets. You can run competitions during games and events and offer rewards to people who re-tweet. Setting up a registration is easy - but as with all channels - keep it relevant, timely and interesting!

6 MYSPACE Launched in 2003 and up until 2006 MySpace was the most popular social networking site in the US, reaching 100 million users before being overtaken by Facebook, and subsequently falling to 65 million users. MySpace has been particularly popular with musicians who are able to upload their discographies to the site. The purchase of MySpace by NewsCorp for US$580m in July 2005 indicated the value in social networking to traditional advertising and media groups. YOUTUBE Founded in February 2005, YouTube allows members to discover, watch and share originally created videos. YouTube provides a forum to connect, inform and link members and acts as a distribution platform for original-content from Clubs. Sport Clubs with a great deal of media content (such as ECB and premier clubs) tend to use YouTube for sharing content. Clubs can set up their own YouTube channels - just check permission from members for posting images and clips. Regardless of the platform focus, putting user value before network value that is, creating an experience that begins with user needs rather than business needs - is the key to a social media effort that is vibrant and active rather than barren and stale. DISCLAIMER Information is for guidance only and does not constitute formal professional advice. As such, no reliance should be placed on the information contained in this toolkit. Where specific issues arise in your organisation advice should be sought from the relevant expert(s) as necessary.

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