Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Being Inherently Social (Guest Blog by Elly Deutch)

As we move closer to Ektron's Synergy Conference next month, and my session on social media, I thought I'd utilize this space to feature guest blog posts from some of the most influential social experts that I've connected with. I hope to see you at Synergy and encourage you to learn more about these guest bloggers too.

This post is from Elly Deutch, Co-Founder & Chief Digital Strategist of Blitz Branding. A self-described "spunky social media savy sports enthusiast", Elly used to work in Professional Sports, but now spends her time working with Athletes through a large worldwide PR agency. She enjoys helping clients, athletes, universities and companies build their online presence with creative ideas, designs, social media strategies, and video programming.

Elly is a Board Member for the Social Media Club of Chicago and a must follow (@deutche) on Twitter. Enjoy!

Being Inherently Social

We are perpetually over saturated with media, news, and instant communication (in usually 140 characters or less); therefore it can be a bit difficult at times to stay atop the clutter and noise. While this new medium can be a bit intimidating to newbies or even those “old school”traditionalists, its important to understand the value and reasoning behind it all.

Sports fans of all degrees are using social media on a daily basis to communicate with their favorite teams, athletes, brands, and organizations. In fact, 1 in 4 fans follow sports via social media, and 41% of sports fans actually prefer getting their sports information from Twitter and Facebook over any other news outlet (i.e. TV, radio, print, etc.).

If you decide not to connect and engage with your fans and brand advocates online, you’ll be missing out on a lot of marketing potential your company can access right at its fingertips.

Below is a list of 10 thought starters that will help you effectively integrate social media into your current organization marketing/PR strategy:

  1. Understand social media. Do your research and dig into various social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) to fully understand what each site does and how it can help your brand. Read up on articles, learn the lingo for each channel, and try to gather an overall grasp on which platforms might be the right choice for you to engage with your fans.
  2. Listen.What are people saying about your brand or organization online? What is their sentiment? What social platforms are users interacting on? How can your formulate a plan to control the conversation and aggregate all your social channels like Reebok has done?
  3. Make a plan. Ask yourself: What are your goals in using social media as a form of communication with your fans or customers? How will you effectively incorporate your brand messaging across all channels? Who is going to run your day-to-day programming? Take a look at what Bryan Srabian is doing as the Director of Social Media for the San Francisco Giants. Smart but simple marketing tactics and experiential programming go a long way for the Giants and their fans with Srabian leading the charge.
  4. Set yourself up for success. Make realistic engagement and ROI related goals that align with your marketing and business structure. Think: a sports team or organization may have different intentions than that of an athlete, so choose where would be best to engage for your brand, and what will generate the most profit/exposure for your brand. And it doesn’t have to be rocket science either; The New York Giants kept it plain and simple: grow engagement with Giants’ fans on and off the field through social media innovation.
  5. Start engaging. Learn how to efficiently engage with your fan base. Not everyone’s fan bases act in the same regard online as they do otherwise, so understand what information will be most valuable to your customers online. I always like to use the acronym “K.I.S.S” (like the band, yes) because if you Keep It Simple Stupid and act as you do IRL (in real life), your engagement will be clear, transparent, and most importantly human. No one wants to talk to a computer, see the same pre-meditated corporate response in their streams, or only see product related posts. Be authentic. Be real. Be yourself (or the voice of your brand) and show your fans and customers that there is a person behind the brand.   
  6. Follow influencers and advocates of your brand. Do the research on the front end and follow, friend, or subscribe to the people you already know are influencers for your brand. This will greatly impact your influence as well, since people will become more aware of your online presence and see that big names and faces are following you back, so they should too. You are a fan yourself; so connect with other fans, leagues, teams and marketers who influence you and your company.
  7. Incentivize and reward your fans and customers. A simple thank you goes a long way in the social media world, and you will definitely make your fans day by simply following them back on Twitter, highlighting their fan photo on your Facebook page, or giving them a short but sweet shout out on your YouTube channel. It’s important to respect each of your fans’ opinions, but even more important to reward those who are loyal to you so they feel respected and appreciated by your brand. Want a real life example? Check out WVU’s Ultimate Mountaineer Fan contest on Facebook.
  8. Use social media methodologies, learnings and technological advances to your benefit. There are a vast number of social media methodologies and schools of thought on what works or not for everyone using social media, but the key is to remember that everyone is different. Find out what methodologies work for you by staying up to date with the latest happenings in social media and sports world by reading about other successes and failures from marketers from all industries. Follow those people whom influence your brand. Take a webinar on your lunch break. Act as a sponge and make the world your oyster baseball glove.
  9. Track your success. Use free online tools to put a tracking structure in place that will help you create a successful trajectory path so you can achieve your goals (from step #1).
  10. Rinse, repeat. Social media is forever changing, just like your fan base. You may have success doing something one time, but try it again and it may not generate the same results. Step out of your comfort zone as marketers and try new ideas. Gather insight and feedback from your fans, and take notes to make every campaign or promotion a success, even if it didn’t feel like one. This will help you track your success, as well as determine what works and what doesn’t for your specific fan demographic. Then, give it a go and continue to stay on top of what’s happening in the social world so you can re-evaluate and evolve your strategy as need be to stay up with the times.

Trust me on this: your fans, teams, executives, partnerships, advocates, and everyone that touches your brand will benefit from the education and integration of social media that you put into your everyday marketing efforts.

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