Safely Playing the Social Media Game

Social media is a difficult game to play. There are very little rules, the boundaries are barely visible, and you rarely know your opponents. It doesn’t matter how fast they run, athletes can’t get away from social media.

It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.” -Amy Jo Martin

7910370882_e2d8bfd3b4_oIt’s an unspoken requirement for athletes to manage a presence on multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to Kevin DeShazo with Fieldhouse Media, the goal is to be yourself, engaging, and interactive.

Social media can allow fans to build personal connections with their idols, which leads to better ticket sales, sponsorships, and fundraising. According to a 2011 study, sport spectators are 55% more likely to purchase a product if it has been tweeted or written about on social media by one of their favorite athletes.

Athletes have to stay at the top of their game. Social media can be very rewarding, but it can also ruin a career with just one post going viral in a matter of seconds. DeShazo told student reporters at Oklahoma State University that says most professionals don’t understand social media’s power and reach. He suggests they keep in mind that each post resembles holding a news conference. The golden rule: think before hitting send.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel accidentally tweeted his cell phone number to Johnny_Manziel_in_Kyle_Fieldmore than a million followers last October. He claims he thought he was sending his digits in a direct message.

Former San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 in August 2009 for blaming “nasty food” from keeping the Bolts from the making it to the Super Bowl.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall sent out a series of tweets after American troops killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. After scolding users for celebrating the terrorist leader’s death, Champion dropped its sponsorship deal with Mendenhall.

Location, location, location. Athletes will unknowingly give out their location because the location services on their phone is enabled. A word from the wise: don’t tweet until the event is over and you’ve left.

It’s crucial for a sport organization to closely monitor all social media accounts affiliated with its brand. Educating athletes is the first step in preventing a mistake that could come with harsh repercussions. Darren Rovell’s “100 Twitter Rules to Live By” is a great launching pad.

Drive Fan Engagement with Marketing Automation

The formula is simple: engagement equals sales. Think you’re just a face in a crowd of 82,500 at MetLife Stadium while watching a New York Giants game? Think again! You may be surprised at the lengthy amount of information an organization is gathering about you. Are you proactive or a procrastinator when it comes to buying tickets for a game? Do you wait until the end of the second quarter to grab a beer? Do you consistently leave before a game is over?

There are several ways to not only manage data already collected, but innovative ways to gather even more. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with being greedy. In four phases and 12 steps, SimplyCast recommends the following methods to drive engagement and put more fans in seats:

Homeofthe12thManHow do you expect to communicate with fans if you don’t have the right contact information?! Make it a priority to regularly update the user databases. Focus on always maintaining the basics: names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Ask them their preferences. Do they prefer to get a message through text message over email? Ask them how many games they want to attend. A prize may have to be offered as an incentive to encourage fans to take the time to confirm their information.

When spectators visit a stadium/arena, take advantage of real-time data collection. Representatives can mingle with fans and gather basic and more detailed information, like “How often do you come to games?” and “Where do you usually buy tickets?”

Make fans feel welcomed and valued right from the start. It is as easy as sending a personalized welcome email. Nurture users by asking them to subscribe to a weekly digital newsletter for information about upcoming events, exclusives, fan clubs, how to purchase tickets, and links to news stories. Track the links they click and interact with them through social media.

When an order is placed, send a notification right away. Let consumers know you received their request and appreciate their business. In your emails, include information about parking, stadium rules, when gates will open, and frequently asked questions. This would also be a good time to integrate Facebook or Twitter and encourage fans to share that they are attending a particular game/event.

A few days before the game, send a reminder email. On game day, post informational and exciting messages on social media. Engage with fans by asking them to send pictures of themselves. The Nashville Predators use #PredsPride. Ask spectators to text in their votes for the player of the game.

Not all fans need to receive the same communications; there are different sales cycles. The Interested Phase is welcome messages and counting down the start of the new season or upcoming games. The Engaged Phase is a reminder for upcoming events and targeted content based on a user’s history. The Lapsed Phase includes surveys to gain insight, incentives to re-visit a website, and promotions to re-engage.

12245750054_5a3d3025e1_oMerchandise with a team logo or name is a free, walking billboard. Use mobile coupons and special email promotions to drive sales. Let the fans have some say in what information they wish to receive. Some people want details about parking, last-minute tickets, or a reminder to wear white for a White Out.

The possibilities of how to engage fans are endless. If you think you have a brilliant idea, give it a shot. Understand your fans and start engaging them today.

Protecting Privacy

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Beware! Big Brother isn’t the only one watching your every keystroke or click. Brands are also closely monitoring your online activity, gathering more than enough information to target you in their next campaigns.

What type of information is being collected? What are companies doing with the information? Are they trustworthy? How is that information being protected?

The Pew Research Center released a new study Tuesday that found there is widespread concern about government and business surveillance:

91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Ever Google your name? You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a celebrity, but you’ll still pop up in the results. One of the first links, Spokeo, will more than likely show your name, age, and where you live. That’s pretty scary!

CNN spoke to Don Jackson, a security researcher, in August 2012. He warned “data mining” can lead to hacking, identity theft, and stalking:

We have seen cases where just basic information, just very few pieces from social networks, can lead predators to potential victims, for example. That’s a common scenario, actually.”

Companies need to be transparent in their quest for information about consumers.

Facebook updated its privacy policy on Wednesday. The social Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.14 AMmedia website also released an easy-to-read, interactive guide for users to learn what information is being gathered and how it is used and shared. It’s still pretty complicated to understand.

SnapChat, a popular photo-sharing app, is also taking steps to make users feel safe. CNN Money reports the company will:

Warn you if another app on your phone is saving your pictures. Snapchatters using third-party apps will be forced to change their password. If they refuse, their accounts will be locked.”

AT&T stopped using hidden “super cookies” on smart phones on Friday. USA Today reports the change came after consumer pressure.

Online tracking isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it will only become a bigger issue. There is no way the federal government can regulate because the problem is universal. Privacy really starts with the user, though. Only share information you don’t mind being blasted to the world. What if consumers got paid for their information? Would that make it more acceptable?

Branding: It’s All About Who Knows You

How many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know?” Well, brands wanting to find success online are learning, “It’s all about who knows you.”

Companies are using tools like PeerIndex and Klout to reach powerful thought leaders who can help promote the brand.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 11.27.10 AMA user registering for a Klout account will be asked to link their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, YouTube, Tumblr, and other social media accounts. The service generates a score from one to 100 based upon follower metrics, amplification, and popularity. For example, my Klout score is 53 and I’m influential in business, shopping, and Kentucky. Amazon has the highest influence with a score of 98.86.

Businesses pay to release “perks” (free services or products) to users based upon their scores, locations,and areas they influence. For example, I once received a $10 gift card to McDonald’s to try the McRib. In exchange for the free sandwich, the fast food restaurant encouraged me to share my thoughts on the meal with my social media community.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 11.27.01 AMPeerIndex is similiar to Klout, but it’s mostly a pay-for service that doesn’t release free offers. My score is 33, however, it would only connect with my Twitter account. This service includes a little bit more data than Klout, like measurement of engagement, approximate reach, and quality of followers. PeerIndex says I’m influential in cell phones, government, and mobile. The website also shows my best posts, the accounts I’m influenced by, and the users I’m influencing.

Segmentation tools like these two services are valuable to use, but brands shouldn’t completely rely on them. Although both websites say I’m influential in different areas, they are a great starting point to search for people generating conversations about a particular topic. As one blogger stated:

Klout needs to adjust their algorithm to differentiate between 50 and 100 Klout. My 53 is not exactly half of the Yankees’ 96. In fact, my 53 should be about .0001% of the Yankees’ influence.”

Sport brands can use PeerIndex and Klout to their advantage to directly communicate with powerful thought leaders. For example, teams could invite influential followers to a meeting where the organization will share that ticket prices will increase next season. The team would hope the folks with social media authority would be able to explain and convince the public that the increase is needed to recruit better players and make upgrades to the stadium. An organization could also send out hats or t-shirts with a new logo or catchphrase to influential people in the community to wear and encourage others to buy one. ESPN Magazine and Red Bull offer free publications to influential users in hopes they like the product and purchase a subscription at the end of the trial.

The ripple effect of online voices is strong. Klout says more than 200,000 businesses are using the website, giving out more than one million perks. Brands should monitor these services to connect with social media leaders to grow into a more powerful position in the marketplace.