Last week I wrote about how much fun I have with St. Louis Cardinal baseball and social media. This week I’m talking about how to put it to practical use.
I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan since the days of Brock, Gibson, Torre (as a player) and just after Stan Musial. (For the non-fan, that’s the mid-60s.) I’ve been a social media fan since I first started on Twitter in 2007. I love it when these two worlds collide.
Here’s how to catch a bit of Cardinal Fever for your brand or organization:
- Provide a number of ways to interact. I connect with my team via Facebook, Twitter and a variety of blogs, which provide background information, opinions and analysis and add to my enjoyment of America’s favorite pastime. The team’s website includes videos, interviews with players, game highlights and information about Cardinal activity in the community. Take full advantage of the today’s multimedia Web.
Application: multiple outlets reach your audience where they are.
Caveat: don’t just broadcast — you must be present and interact within each space. Tailor updates to the particular audience associated with each unique channel.
- Capitalize on the event’s inherent excitement. Is it a championship game? Big rivalry? Ace pitcher returning after weeks on the disabled list? If needed, give background for the uninitiated: what is at stake for the winner and loser? Remind them what the ace brings to the game and why it’s so exciting to have him back.
Application: why should your audience care about what’s going on with your organization? Help them see why it’s important.
Caveat: be sure it’s about the reader, not about you.
- Create a forum for exchange of opinions. Twitter especially shines here, with Facebook close behind. Fans exchange 140-character quips and comments about batting streaks, bad pitching, umpires and whether or not they agree with the manager’s decision to bring in a pinch hitter. Or just commiserate about the fact that Albert Pujols’ bat seems to have grown cold of late.
Application: Be sure your followers know that there is actually a voice, a human presence. They’ll be more likely to interact if they feel there is a human on the other side of the keyboard.
Caveat: Know that there will eventually be negative feedback and be ready to listen and respond without becoming defensive.
- Encourage live tweeting. If you have knowledgeable and connected fans, encourage them to post updates, photos and video during the game. Let your fans follow the action even when they can’t be at the game and they will feel more connected.
Application: Offer free admission for a paid event for a trusted fan who can provide regular updates on the action. I did this for my church for last year’s Leadership Summit with excellent results.
Caveat: Be sure the person you choose can represent your organization well.
- Create an official hashtag for your team. Flash it on the scoreboard at the games. The Cardinals have two: #stlcards and #stlcardinals. I keep saved searches on both, but it’s even better if you can establish it up front and stick to one. That helps fans find one another and discover new related streams to follow.
Application: Display the hashtag prominently at the event and in printed materials.
Caveat: You still might have to explain hashtags to some people, but it’s worth a few minutes’ orientation.
Whether or not you’re a baseball fan, you can leverage some social energy for your business or organization. Find the parallels in the examples above that fit your business or organizational needs. What applies? What doesn’t?