social media

Social Media in the sports trade

Why Social Media?

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to sell a pallet of tennis balls.

a) You could offer them in the checkout as an impulse purchase, but the internet is full of tennis balls and how can you get attention for yours?

b) You could run some Google ads. But with costs per click as high as £1.40 its tough to justify the spend on such a low price/margin product.

c) You could try getting your website to the top of Google for the phrase “tennis balls” but it’ll take a long time and, unless you’re really committed, you might not get there.

So what about using Social Media?

Why not contact a popular blogger and offer her a dozen tennis balls as a prize for a reader competition? – get people to guess how many tennis balls are in, for example, a car!

Take the key elements of social media – liking, sharing and following and piggy back the bloggers authority and visibility to get attention for the seller.

As entrants begin to like and share the competition post, the word is spread and momentum builds. Friends of friends start to get involved, retweets appear on twitter and the audience grows.

I recently read of a similar approach with a competition to win some glass jars (with a retail price of £12.50!) and within one week the competition had attracted a whopping 3,000 entries and the client grew their Twitter following by 20% generating hundreds of Tweets and Retweets along the way!

To generate such a buzz for such a low cost I virtually impossible in any other marketing channel and hence the appeal of social media to any business should not be underestimated.

How big is the opportunity?

We have all read how big the audiences are for the various social media platforms with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instragram followers in the hundreds of millions, however perhaps the most exciting opportunity is not the total number of users, but more the number of users in each and every little niche area.

I have written many times before regarding the importance of exploiting your business niche and finding your point of difference from the competition.

The strength of using social media is that it can further enhance this approach and be used to your advantage.

Perhaps the biggest mistake we see within the social media world is the “scatter gun approach”.

Whilst content is indeed king, to simply blindly post content with no wider strategy is a simple and common mistake.

By all means have some fun with social media, however if you follow a simple process for your business you will find that the results will have a very measurable impact on the bottom line.

1.Set your campaign goals

The first step of any social media campaign is to plan your goal.

What do you want to achieve?

Have a clear map of your objectives and a clear timescale.

Make sure your goals are measurable.

Examples of strategies could be:

Gain insight into your community/customer -You can run all the customer surveys you want, but some of the most interesting and progressive market research can be found within the social communities where your customers interact, share information and make recommendations. Tapping into the streams of dialog is a great start to engagement and social participation with your brand.

Build brand visibility and authority– You’ve heard it before, “Conversations are happening online about your brand, with or without you.” You might as well participate and do so in a way that pays close attention to the interests and needs of your customers – providing them with information and interactions that further support your brand.

Influence and promotion of products/services– Providing information to educate customers about your products in the formats and media types they prefer can go a long way towards building the kind of buzz that results in new business. By promotion, I mean advertising on social media sites.

Link building for traffic and SEO– Building traffic and authority is one sure way of ensuring that your social media campaigns are successful.

2. Create a Channel Plan

Once you have established your goals you can begin to create a channel plan.

In simple terms think of the channel as three layers;

Layer 1:

The top layer represents major events and/or focal points that are happening within the broader scope of your business. We are lucky that, in the sporting goods industry, it is relatively easy to find these – they could be sporting events for example.

Select the appropriate events that are relevant to you and place within your plan.

Layer 2:

The second layer represents that specific activity that you intend to focus on around the top layer activity. It may be, for example, that you run a special promotion around Wimbledon (if you are a tennis retailer/brand) or The Open (if you are a golf retailer/brand).

Think about the social media activity wrapping around the top layer event i.e. activity should happen before, during and after the event.

At this stage it is worth noting that before and after event activity is arguably best suited to Facebook whilst during events Twitter activity will be more effective.

On this basis make sure that your channel strategy, i.e. which platform you intend to use, is also integrated into your overall Social Media Plan.

Layer 3:

The third layer is the “fluid” element of your plan.

This is the day to day reactionary element and whilst some pre planning can be undertaken it is important that you leave flexibility.

One can, for example, plan for two outcomes from an event e.g. something happens if X wins and something if X loses. It is reactionary, as far as the consumer is concerned, even though the actual content has been preplanned.

If the first and second layers of your strategy are put in place and, if you intend to use third party software such as hootsuite to autopost these strategy elements, then the third layer can be the “bonus” elements if your strategy.

In real terms we often find that clients are able to spend time forward planning the first two layers and thus we can implement a successful strategy on their behalf on this basis. However it is when they find the time to complete and implement the third layer that the results often improve.

A successful campaign.

So what makes the difference between a good campaign that goes viral and a bad one that has little impact?

The reality is that success is based on the same parameters as all the other elements of the marketing mix:

Ensure you have the right message targeting the right market and using the right methods of communication.

To measure your success you must first understand where you are and where you end up.

Use the tools available from all the platforms to assist you with this and set some key performance indicators.

The analytics available will help you shape your future campaigns as well as allowing you to review your past programmes.

There is, of course, an element of tweaking and changing but don’t give up.

Continue to review your goals and objectives and continue to recognise that social media is just another element of the marketing mix and you will find that it can be become an integral part of your business development.

Good luck!