Here’s an experiment for sports teams and organizations – Substitute the word ‘fans’ or ‘supporters’ for ‘customers’ and see how that impacts the thought process behind getting into social media and which departments should be involved or ‘own’ social media. Also, try replacing the word ‘players’ or ‘athletes’ with ‘staff members’ or ‘employees’ and then think how their participation could make a difference to your business operations.
If you remove the technology barrier from social media and accept that it is a new communications channel that lets you interact in a real, human manner with your customers then much of the confusion and fear can also be removed. Organisations know that customer service is the corner stone of any successful business so the ability to build better relationships with your customers and talk to them on a regular basis should be an opportunity rather than a threat.
There is a nice post here from Felix Wetzel asking some similar questions and looking at how sports teams need to realize they are businesses and that means aligning all your assets (especially your staff) for the good of the business…not the individual.
Sport is an unusual industry in that players have a very different role to play in the organization than in a ‘normal’ company, but they are still on the payroll…and clubs need to ask themselves what is more important, the team and players or the club. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive and if they work in tandem then the results can be far more powerful. Filling the ground isn’t or shouldn’t be the focus for sports teams. Most of them enjoy the luxury of being the local team and have the brand loyalty that comes with being the nearest place to watch live sport. With social media and the ability to connect and spread content to the community, they should be looking at how they can fill the ‘virtual’ stadium on a regular basis, how many fans can they reach on a regular basis?
Integrate Social Communications
Customers of corporate brands want to be able to interact with the people behind the company. Business is social, whether its B2C or B2B, it is about the people. The companies who are successful in social media have recognized this and are integrating social communications in as many customer touch points as possible.
Sports teams are at a huge advantage in the sense that their fans (customers!) desperately want regular interaction and the more authentic the better. They are used to reading the press releases and ‘official’ statements on the websites, if you can get more of the departments such as the playing staff, the backroom staff, the ticket office, the club shop etc active on these platforms, and not just the marketing and PR teams then, it extends the available resources…and takes the engagement effect to a totally new level.