A winning PR formula for social communications
[By Jason Mollica]
Head on over to any sports bar, friend’s house, or even the local playground, and you’ll be sure to find someone tweeting, Facebook posting, and Instagramming about a sporting event. When social media first hit mainstream, sports leagues were a bit slow to the jump. Then again, there were many brands, in general, that were slow to adopt social.
In 2015, it’s hard to even find a league or team that does not have a presence on social networks. English Premiere Football League? Check. The National Hockey League? Score. Major League Baseball? Home Run. When sports leagues and teams did take to social, it wasn’t something that happened overnight. There was research, strategy, and measurement behind all of it.
According to a Catalyst’s 5th annual Fan Engagement Study, 75 percent of fans surveyed used Facebook for following and discussing sports, while 37 percent use Twitter. We now cannot imagine going to a game and not having social be part of the game day experience.
Social communications has created a way for sports teams to personalize their relationship with fans. For example, the New York Mets do a virtual t-shirt toss with fans during games. The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings use social to promote the LA area youth hockey league they sponsor.
So, how does what sports leagues do compare to how you, as a brand, can win at social communications? By developing your fans, or champions, brands are able to better reach out. A smart business strategy on Facebook should involve posts that speak to fans, not sell to them. If you follow a brand on Facebook or Twitter, you probably like the product. Brands need to remember this and speak to customers as people, not numbers.
Sports teams have a pretty good idea of what their fans want. They’ve taken the time to understand their audience in many ways. The same can be said for a brand or individual. This should really be a no-brainer, but, sadly, it isn’t. There are still plenty of brands that would rather treat their followers and fans as numbers, instead of as an important part of their business. Social media isn’t just a platform to get your messages out, it’s also a chance to connect with your audience and make them more of a champion for you. Don’t look at followers as numbers. View every one as a prospect.
While social communications is a way to highlight the good things your brand is doing, it also is an important touch point during a crisis. If your brand, off social, is as strong ethically and transparency-wise as it is on social, you’ll find that your followers will be willing to listen. Just as a game’s outcome can change with one moment, the same can be said when a crisis is developing or occurring. Your social communications channels must be ready to address concerns, questions, and complaints. It’s important that you keep the “last and right instead of first and wrong” mantra. Because on social, your messages can last forever. It’s integral that you make sure what you post and tweet is accurate, factual, and vetted.
You don’t want to strike out in social communications. Make sure your plans are solid and your team is on the same page. That’s a winning formula.