Ways Social Media has Changed and How Sports Organizations Can Keep Up
If you feel like keeping up with the latest social media updates and changes is a full-time job, you’re not alone. Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are constantly launching new features and searching for ways to keep users engaged just a little while longer.
At the same time, the ways people use these platforms keep evolving. The combination of innovations in tech and users eager for the next big thing means very little is permanent in the world of social media strategy, but that shouldn’t stop your organization from killing it on social.
Below are some of the long-term trends that have emerged on the social media landscape, along with tips on how you can take advantage and sharpen your approach to social.
Trend: Video content is king —but it doesn’t have to be expensive
In recent years, video content has become the most effective and engaging way to reach your audience on social media. Facebook videos can receive up to twice as much engagement when compared to other forms of content such as photos and plain text. Every major social platform now allows you to easily upload videos to share or stream live video directly to your followers. While there are typically higher costs associated with producing quality video content, it’s becoming easier and easier for sports organizations to share highly engaging videos on regular basis without breaking the bank.
One major factor is the overwhelming shift to mobile — 78% of time spent on social media is accessed via mobile device. Fans may all want a giant 4K TV to watch the big game, but it’s clear that most of us have no problem watching quick social videos on our comparatively tiny phone screen. Similarly, most smartphones have built-in cameras that are capable of capturing crystal clear video without the need for a professional camera crew. Unless super premium video content is what you’re known for, your iPhone’s camera will probably do the trick. In the world of sports specifically, brands like the NBA and Bleacher Report have set a lower standard for video quality, happily sharing such highlight clips and watching the views roll in. Okay, so maybe you don’t have footage of famous playmakers in your camera roll, but the bottom line is this: if you’ve got athletes making awesome plays or coaches demonstrating innovative drills on video, people are going to watch.
Tip: Here’s three ideas for inexpensive video content
- Simply use your phone to capture and share incredible plays made by athletes in your program. Your players are doing impressive things on the court, field, and ice everyday — with parents’ permission, share them with the world. You never know what might end up on the SportsCenter Top 10.
- Record quick videos to motivate, inspire or educate. You and your coaches eat, sleep and breathe the game, so what better way to promote your organization than to give followers a glimpse of that wisdom? Share an inspiring message from a coach and jump on a common hashtag like #MotivationMonday to reach even more people.
- Issue a challenge to your followers. It could be crazy trickshot, new agility drill or mind-blowing dribble move. Athletes love to compete, so just record a video and ask your followers, “Who can top that?”
Trend: Customer support through social media
As social media exploded in popularity, brands started recognizing that their social media presence can have a big impact on how people view the company as a whole. Assisting customers with unexpected problems through social became an easy way for brands and organizations to garner goodwill and strengthen loyalty one customer at a time. Fast forward to 2018 and customer support on social media is no longer a pleasant courtesy but a near necessity, with over 60% of users expecting organizations to be reachable for assistance through social media. The same can apply to sports programs, if you have a social presence, be ready to field help questions through it.
Tip: Be ready to respond
Keep in mind that customers often opt to communicate via whatever method comes most naturally, so be sure to check your messages on all the social media accounts you are maintaining, in case a player, parent or a prospective customer is messaging your program or responding to a post.
The amount of resources you should dedicate to social support will necessarily depend on the volume of questions coming in, but at a minimum, it will help to have cheat-sheet of responses to save you time, or to provide to someone helping you with your social media channels. By anticipating frequently asked questions you’ll be prepared to offer help in a timely fashion, answering sign-up inquiries and keeping parents and players satisfied and happy so they’ll refer friends to your program.
Trend: Live sports on social media
It’s hard to think of an industry that has been more impacted by the rise of social media than sports. The main reason, most people are watching sports live and social media thrives in live events. This provides an opportunity for sports organizations to have conversations, engage their community and tout their expertise. Facebook and Twitter know this and have spent huge amounts of money to acquire streaming rights for NBA, NFL, and MLB games in an attempt to make their platform a one-stop shop for sports fans. While we’re likely to see live sports streaming through social expand in coming years, right now it’s more common for fans to use social as a “second-screen” to enhance their sports watching experience.
The majority, 63% of sports fans, say they use social media while watching TV, this is one way to talk to them and start conversations with your followers.
Tip: Bring people along when you watch live sports
Organizers and coaches have unique perspective as experts in their sport. When watching the NCAA Final Four, use your own experience and expertise, and consider sharing your thoughts as the game develops.
Although the sheer volume of activity on social during live sporting events can seem pretty hectic, providing insightful commentary and analysis in real-time is a great way to cut through the noise and position yourself as a thought-leader in a crowded space.
While it might feel like social media rules are always shifting and the field is crowded, there are plenty of ways to be scrappy and use your expertise to gain an advantage. If you’re adding quick & engaging videos, offering up your analysis in real time and interacting with sports fans online consistently, there’s no doubt you’ll grow into a social media pro and drive even more fans to your organization.
By Conrad Kaczmarek
Conrad is a social media strategist. He has worked on social channels for the NBA and Nike Basketball