You’ve seen them splayed out on just about every notable brand’s webpage, ads, and flyers: the little Twitter bird, the infamous Facebook “f”, and the Instagram lens looking right at you. Whether it piques your interest enough to check out their social media pages or you just find them annoying, the statistics don’t lie: they’re working. The average social media user maintains 5 accounts and 96% of small business owners/marketers use social media marketing.
So what does this have to do with your child’s club? Why would understanding social media marketing really make a difference to the local youth sports club or league you volunteer with? First of all, the club or league you manage is very similar to a brand. Parents interact online and need to see that their child’s team is one that can be respected and trusted. Building a strong brand is as important to the club’s success as the people who run it. In a time when media is consumed by anyone at any time on computers and mobile devices, it is essential to maintain a strong online image and engage with stakeholders that expect their child’s league to answer any questions or concerns they may have. By extension, maintaining an excellent online presence will drive new and repeat registration to keep the club prosperous for future generations. In the end this is really our goal: to ensure that our children play in a thriving, adaptable club without worrying that it may fold or lose credibility.
Secondly, attracting sponsors is key to raising funds to cover extra costs associated with the club and to help lower registration costs. However too many parents and marketing committees approach sponsorship in the same way they approach fundraising; simply asking a business for it. I’ve seen many sponsorship request letters explaining to the business where the money will go, how it helps the children, and how much everyone at the organization appreciates it. Goodwill alone may account for a portion of the sponsor’s decision to invest, but it would be naive to assume they expect no financial return on their investment. They want to know that their exposure will reach enough people to make a return on the (possibly) thousands of marketing dollars they’ll spend on you. What better way to do this than to give them something measurable and quantifiable such as number of Instagram followers or Facebook likes, or even better, levels of engagement.
So how do you keep the members of your social media platforms not only growing but also engaging with your club? I’ve listed a few things to keep in mind while you’re posting and updating your pages:
1. Keep things visual. It is tempting to share lots of text posts and links with your followers along with images, but ultimately people process and engage more with pictures and visual content. Check out this article by Social Media Today to learn more about getting visual on social media.
2. Post frequently, but not too frequently. Parents will follow your social media accounts because it will show them important information, notable team achievements, and the occasional bit of humour and/or informative links. However, don’t fall victim to thinking everything you come across related to the sport must end up on the page.
3. Make sure all important info is posted as soon as possible to all outlets. Even when using your league communication tools, it is still good practice to inform parents of all venue changes, rain-outs, etc., through social media.
4. React to concerns as soon as possible. It has become very commonplace for parents to voice their concerns on a forum where they know they will have the most exposure: your social media pages. Respond to disgruntled tweets and posts as soon as you can and with complete diplomacy in your tone. Ensure an immediate solution and offer further discussion elsewhere than the page.
It is very easy to fall behind on the social marketing aspect of your club while focusing on other important areas (you know, such as actually PLAYING the game!), but you must keep in mind the value of interacting with people on these platforms. What might just be a quick update to you may be the highlight of a soccer/hockey/football mom’s day. The power of social media in youth sports is growing parallel to that of the largest companies out there. Keeping your club in the forefront of social media today will ensure its success, and more importantly the success of your children, tomorrow.
For information on setting up your facebook page, check out this article by BufferSocial’s Kevan Lee.