Month: May 2015

Promote Your Club using Social Media

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[title size=”1″]Digital Communication & Social Media Ideas?![/title]

So many Softball games are happening up and down the country all the time… And you want to know about it no matter where you are or what you’re doing right? Well, keeping your Clubs Twitter and Facebook pages up to-date will make sure that everybody knows about what’s going on with the club Softball, representative teams – pretty much anything you can think about.

Softball fans are dedicated, vocal and emotional—sharing their passion on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks. For Softball teams and leagues looking to boost business, social media is a game-changer, delivering unprecedented, real-time engagement with fans eager for interaction.

Short sharp bursts of news – Post Softball club pics and video, talk about what’s happening in club Softball
Create a Club Hash-tag example – #SoftballIreland and get trending while posting game score updates, news, views and random stuff that you want to share
Social events, club videos, coaching tips, special performances & blitz’s
Share all club pictures, on and off the pitch. Help promote club events and attach your Hash-tag

Over the past few years clubs across the country have upped their game and embraced the power of Social Media. With this in mind, we have decided to compile a Social Media Info sheet to highlight just how clubs can update their members and fans on the latest news, photos, fixtures and results from their club.

While each Softball club now has Facebook and Twitter page, we have seen the engagement grow over the seasons. Clubs are having such a high growth percentage of Social Media engagement in such a short space of time.

Like pages are far more beneficial to clubs then ‘add as friend’ pages as like pages allows clubs insights to their current club follower base. Insights about your followers can be found on like pages and can provide a Softball clubs with information such as where they live, average age of your audience which can help the club make strategic decisions which may curb how they engage with current members and may help with decisions of how they should engage with new members/followers of the club.

Insight allow a Softball club to measure each post in terms of overall reach, likes, shares and comments. This not only can help a club in terms of the best times to post for when their members are the most engaged and active but also it can help a clubs gauge what content works best for their club. Like pages are also more beneficial as more people tend to like ‘like pages’ as they don’t have to divulge information about themselves as they would have to on and ‘add as friend page’. Also, Softball clubs can promote posts and put spend behind certain campaigns using the social information that a like page provides.

Every club is different and no one Social Media marketing strategy will work for all. Experiment with Social Media and get feedback from your members/followers to work out which options are most effective and useful for your club.
Here are just a few examples of the ways your club could use Social Media:

  1. Use Twitter to quickly advise members of a last-minute change of venue or cancellation due to rain.
  2. Let committee members know via Facebook when and where the next meeting will be. Use the RSVP option to find out who will attend.
  3. Set up events and invite members
  4. Get on Twitter and report live on matches, especially to fans, members and sponsors who can’t be there.
  5. Post videos of match highlights on YouTube for everyone to see (with permissions of course).
  6. Market club merchandise online via Facebook.
  7. Promote come-and-try days and team trials dates to potential new members with a Facebook ad.
  8. Drive people to your website where they will find more information about the club.
  9. Create your own video blog or YouTube Channel.
  10. Use Facebook to start a discussion about a particular topic or issue at the club. Remember, Social Media offers two-way communication. Be prepared for positive and negative feedback and use it to improve your club.

[title size=”1″]Key Pointers to increase Following [/title]

Social Media:
Your Social Media should be used as a place to drum up Softball club support rather than offer extensive information. Update frequently, particularly with photos and match results and always ensure content complies with club values and ethics.

Social Media allows your club to interact and engage with existing members and the wider public, including possible new members. It is an important complementary tool to your clubs website. Social Media offers your club the ability to communicate with your members/followers in the present moment) as well as becoming more connected and tangible to fans. members/followers are anyone who comes into contact with your club or has an interest in it e.g. players, members, volunteers, parents, coaches. Some of the most popular Social Media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Social Media by its very nature is public and has the potential to go viral; hence it is a good idea for your club to have a Social Media policy or a list of best practices that may include some of the following points:

Guidelines- It is important that those producing content for the clubs Social Media outlets have a clear understanding of what is acceptable and how the club wishes to portray itself. It is essential to clearly explain what type of photos, videos,links, posts etc are acceptable. Those in charge of social content should be acutely aware of what (club) information is confidential and should not be shared online.

Club Values – Interaction with any stakeholder on Social Media must be in line with your clubs values, for example you should not upload posts gloating or boasting over a rival. The benefit of Social Media, real time interaction, can be also be a pitfall. members/followers expect prompt responses but it is important not to respond too hastily because once the communication has been made it cannot be taken back and is represented as the clubs opinion.

Content is King! – Content should be interesting, relevant and updated frequently. Uploading content simply for the sake of doing so can have a negative effect as people view it as similar to spam; everything you post should have a purpose. A Facebook page, for example, should not be used to just post fixtures. Facebook is ideal for posting pictures in real time or a link to an article that may interest your club members, such as pre/post training stretches or healthy snacks.

Your website should be the hub of all your club information, including club history, contact information, FAQs, results and fixtures. Ensure you follow the ‘5 click rule’ to make your website as accessible as possible and include visible links to your Social Media sites. A club’s website is the main source of information for existing, new and potential members. A general rule of thumb suggests that visitors to your clubs website should be able to find whatever they’re looking for in ‘5 clicks’. Making your website easy to navigate and user-friendly will encourage users to visit and interact with our website more frequently.

    A club’s website has several key objectives/functions:

    Values and Ethos – The entire website should reflect the clubs values and ethos. however, a section devoted to the club’s history and future goals is an ideal, specific section to devote to your clubs core message.
    Information/FAQ section – This section should answer any questions a new or potential member might have. Including – the structure of the club, such as the number of men’s and women’s teams, as well as the youth system in the club, training information, kit information, fees, committee members, contact information etc.
    Update Regularly – It is essential that the website is kept up to date, particularly with fixtures and results. Having frequently updated news and stories, as well as events, scorecards, can draw visitors to your website more frequently. Your website can also act as a portal by which members can sign up for your Club Newsletter.
    Social Media – The website should offer links to all the clubs Social Media pages.
    Promotion – Your website can be used to promote the clubs benefits to the local community and any sponsorship deals it has. Likewise having a website that has a high number of unique visitors will appeal to sponsors and increase your clubs sponsorship opportunities.
    Sales Tool – Your website can act as a sales tool for your club merchandise or club programmes. The website can also facilitate a payment system to make it easier for members to pay registration fees or other club costs.
    Pagerank- It is important to think about your website’s page rank. A site’s page-rank and score relates to how high up a search page it will appear, meaning if someone Googles Clubs’ then you would like your club to appear as high up the results page as possible. Suggestions to increase your sites pagerank include using key words, have relevant links, a well-structured and labelled/named site, and pictures.

Press and PR:
Build a relationship with your local media and get to know their print deadlines to ensure information is relevant at time of publishing. Send them match round-ups with high-resolution photos to increase chances of publication. Building a relationship with the press can have huge benefits for your club. Increased press coverage can help build awareness of your club, increase the reputation of the club, enhances the value for sponsors and thus increases sponsorship opportunities, and raise the profile of Softball as a whole.

    PR/Media Officer – It is necessary to appoint a club PR/Media Officer to act as a point of contact with the media. The appointed member should have a clear understanding of the roles duties and responsibilities. They should ideally have PR experience, or at least aspire to work in the industry.
    Building Relationships – It is beneficial to build up and maintain a good relationship with your local media, as well as at a national level when necessary. Regular mentions and updates in the media help maintain a link with the club’s community and, ensure that locals feel connected and aware of the clubs achievements and events. The club member appointed to the role should familiarise themselves with print and news deadlines to ensure the club’s stories and results/fixtures are relevant for the time of publishing. It is also an idea to invite the media to important matches or club events and inform them of any significant happenings, such as a club member receiving an international cap or a high profile new coach. If your club finds it difficult to gain media coverage then try writing brief stories and posting or linking them on Social Media. Tagging journalists, media outlets or asking for retweets may help build a relationship and recognition.
    Local Media – While it is important to build up relationships with traditional media agencies, it is also useful to gain contacts on a more focused and local level. Clubs may have a better chance of getting featured more frequently in local newspapers. Local papers and radio stations can be great for building goodwill towards the club and its achievements, as well as recruiting new members.
    Sponsors – Media coverage offers many benefits to a club; attracting new members and increasing local goodwill towards the club, but it can also make the club appear more attractive to sponsors. A club that is regularly featured in the media will be far more appealing to a sponsor as they can use the opportunity to increase their brand awareness while also associating their company to the values of the club and the benefits of sport.

Internal Communication:
Set up a club database with members email addresses and phone numbers to simplify club communications. Create a regular online club newsletter with exclusive content as well as recent news, results and fixtures.

Superior external communication should spark the public’s interest in your club, but it’s important to maintain good communication once they have joined the club. Internal communication is key to keeping your members engaged and committed to the club. Communicating with members on a regular basis and in a meaningful way will help them feel more connected to the club. It is important to remember that most clubs have a wide array of members/followers that can require different forms of communication. It is not as simple as communicating with just your teams; you need to consider that there are coaches, volunteers, junior members, parents, and players of all ages and ability. A one size fits all approach won’t work for all communication and it’s important to tailor the communication channel when necessary.

Database – Establishing a database of members information is a necessity to build up strong communication links. The club should have contact information for all members, with phone and email addresses being imperative. Members should be assured that their details won’t be used for any purposes other than club communication. Details should be kept as up to date as possible and updated at the beginning of every season. While communicating with members who have moved on to another club and don’t wish to be contacted is something to consider, there is huge potential for members who have left the club due to unforeseen circumstances but still feel a connection to it and may be eager to attend events/matches or just support the club in general.

Facebook Group – Your clubs Facebook page is both an external and internal source of communication. However, it might be an idea to have a specific Facebook group for your clubs committee, for example. Having a Facebook group makes it easier for members to communicate and arrange meetings. A Facebook Group is also private and only accessible by those invited to the group so can be used for internal communication and is separate from your clubs public Facebook page.

Direct Mail/Club Newsletter – Creating a regular newsletter is a great way to keep members up to date with news, fixtures, results, events and club activities. The success of your Club Newsletter will depend on the size of your clubs database and the quality of information being included in the newsletter. The frequency at which you send out your Club Newsletter should be judged appropriately and will depend on your club, for example the club might have enough interesting information to send out an Club Newsletter once a fortnight or your may prefer to make it a monthly communication tool. The content of the Club Newsletter should be relevant with some unique information in order to keep open rates high, it is not enough to regurgitate information already on your clubs website or Social Media platforms.

Keep in mind… Social Media Issues for Sport
Social Media when used most effectively is a conversation between users and is therefore open to comments both good and bad. However, sport is now dealing with an ever increasing number of incidents where online discussions and posting of online content have caused distress to individuals or groups of members of sporting organisations.
There have been recent examples in the media of members of a team using a club’s Facebook page to attack a coach or another player. This is not acceptable. Your club’s Social Media Policy should promote guidelines for responsible Social Media use and outline disciplinary processes for dealing with offensive or discriminatory comments.

For additional information or help with your clubs Social Media presence contact