Will snakes be a problem for Glasgow 2014?

When Team Scotland’s photos of the Commonwealth Games athlete village made it into the media, word spread instantly via online and social media.

Now with the Games finished, nearly 2’000 people have ‘liked’ an article claiming that keeping the Commonwealth Games death toll to under 3000 should be regarded as unqualified success.

Meanwhile, as news broke that snakes have been displaced from the Delhi athlete village to more suitable urban accommodation, London 2012 actually received positive press for the potential legacy of the Olympic Park.

As attention now turns to Glasgow’s efforts to run a Games free of embarrassment and benefitting communities for the long term, one thing is for certain – any mistakes or problems with snakes, will be highlighted and archived by the power of online and social media.

This interlude to your afternoon is a blog post on Sports Marketing Scotland by Simon Turner.

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Are Big Name Brands Coming to Scotland?

News broke this week that the management company behind the O2 Arena in London has been appointed as the strategic commercial and sponsorship partner for the new National Arena in Glasgow.

AEG Global Partnerships have deals in place for the O2 in London with brands like Lastminute.com and Adidas and will seek similar partnerships for Scotland’s National Arena along with a naming rights sponsor.

As the NBA prepare to stage a game on October 4th at the O2 in London between the LA Lakers and the Timberwovles of Minnesota, news that Scotland’s showcase facility will be tapped into the same business network as other world-class arenas adds to potential legacy of the Glasgow 2014 Games.

Perhaps Kobe Bryant will be seen strutting round the east end of Glasgow come 2013.

But will AEG be able to attract the same big budget brands to the Scottish sports industry?

Are Big Name Brands Coming to Scotland? is a blog post on Sports Marketing Scotland by Simon Turner

Can Scottish Sport Governing Body staff be trusted to answer the phone?

Of course they can.

So why aren’t those same staff answering queries on social media websites?

Today’s sports consumer is empowered through technology to challenge sport organisations to up their game in customer service. Facebook status updates, questions posted on twitter, comments on forums are all examples that challenge sport to respond and engage with the support base.

It takes empowered staff to meet this challenge.

If Scottish Governing Body staff are waiting for the phone to ring before responding to queries then damage may already have been done through social media sites or the dreaded “Reply to All” emails.

In a crowded sport and leisure marketplace, sports organisations are increasingly compelled to take a proactive approach by engaging with their customer before they experience the sport and after.

Simple practical steps:

  1. Search twitter and Facebook for your sport and location. Respond to questions and post ‘thank you’ comments using profiles under your sport/organisation name.
  2. Target key staff (e.g. competitions or youth development officers) for basic training in social media and encourage them to post short daily updates.
  3. When making a controversial decision, proactively post the decision and rationale onto your Facebook page or an online forum and invite an open discussion.
  4. Then be sure to monitor it daily and quickly respond to any negative comments. Those comments are going to be made somewhere online anyway so you may as well be part of the conversation and have a chance to reply.
  5. At a national event, give staff camera to take photos of participants and supporters, plus take their name. Tell them the photo will be on your Facebook page to encourage them to ‘like’ you if they haven’t already. Post the photos then tag the people concerned.

If empowered to make decisions and given the right technology tools, Scotland’s sport staff can create solutions at the same speed that today’s connected consumers can pose questions.

Prior experience with social media on a personal level has prepared many governing body staff to step up their customer service on behalf of the sporting organisations they work for.

The question is, are Scotland’s sporting organisations set up to empower their own team to engage with their community?

This is a blog post on Sports Marketing Scotland by Simon Turner

5 Best Practices for Sports Teams in Social Media | The UK Sports Network

This excellent post by Ed Hartigan on The UK Sports Network site gives practical insight into social engagement with sports followers:

5 Best Practices for Sports Teams in Social Media | The UK Sports Network.

6 Steps to Putting Social Media into Practice for Scottish Sport

These 6 steps will help any sports organisation get started with social media:

1. Initiate

People are talking about your sport online now. Therefore initiating social media activity should be a priority. This guide will help you get started with Facebook.

2. Benchmark

Send an online survey to your existing members to establish the measures to be used to track the progress of social media initiatives. Ask them if they use social media like facebook and Twitter and whether they would become a fan of your Facebook page if you had one. Alternatively, use the basketballscotland data (from the marketing toolkit) as your benchmark.

3. Profile your social media users

Use the Forrester Technograhpics presentation and Consumer Profile Tool to gain insight into the likely level of social media activity among your members. This will provide a guide as to what proportion of your membership are likely to be broadcasters, connectors, mavens and potential influencers.

4. Self-assess

Consider organisational capacity to implement a social media strategy including available time, staff experience with social media, budget, ability to create content (including video). Also consider carefully whether you want to allow people to post on your wall. Are you ready for a negative post about somebody on your team?

5. Set Objectives

Examples: Positively influence member perceptions by identifying and engaging with hard-core participants and opinion leaders. Increase participation in girls’ programmes by providing content that is regularly commented on by girls aged 15-19 years.

6. Track results

Review site measures (e.g. Facebook stats) monthly, and before and after publicity initiatives.

Utilising Peer Influence for Scottish Sport

The old marketing adage that 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your business holds true with social media.

In fact, the technological ease of peer-influence in social media means this rule of thumb is even more pronounced. Research in the US by Forrester concludes that one particular group, called Mass Connectors, make up 6% of the adult online population but influence 80% of site impressions. Meanwhile another group, called Mass Mavens, comprise 13% of the online population but create 80% of social media posts.

Clearly, identifying and communicating with these influential groups should be a key component behind social  media strategy.

Forrester's Peer Influence Model

Three Target Groups

But targeting online influencers in your community requires more than a one size fits all approach. Further research has identified three  key types of social media user, with each requiring a different marketing approach.

Social Broadcasters occupy the elite top tier of the Peer Influence Pyramid. They are the creators of online social content such as blogs and podcasts about your sport. They are likely to be a small number in Scottish sport but have a disproportionately large influence in the community.

Social Broadcasters are generating awareness of your sport through their own, independent efforts and so have significant power to influence perceptions of your sport. They should be engaged in an inter-personal way and given exclusive access to senior management staff and inside information on (selected) future plans.

Mass Influencers dominate the online discussions about sport. Advances in scale and technology allow these influencers to be the ‘loudmouths’ of social media. They are the critics who contribute to discussion forums, comment on their friends’ Facebook status and post ratings and reviews. Mass Connectors are the social glue that binds the sporting community together online, while Mass Mavens are the self-taught experts and accumulators of knowledge about your sport.

Connectors will respond to opportunities to join your sites, share content (e.g. with Facebook and Twitter) and comment on posts.

Mavens will be engaged by content that is unique to your social media sites or posted online before wider release, e.g. updates from key events, scores, statistics and selection announcements.

Potential Influencers are the majority of social media users. They join social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and take a spectator role by reading blogs, listening to podcasts and reading comments and peer reviews. They are well trusted by the people in their network and have the potential to be create positive word of mouth.

Simple, easy to use social media efforts like Facebook pages and twitter, backed up with quality content will engage Potential Influencers and begin the process of moving them up the peer influence pyramid.

Social Media for Scottish sport – why, what and how

Why is social media important to Scottish sport?

Right now people are talking about your sport online. They’re chatting about your staff, blogging about your events, searching for your clubs and deciding whether to choose your sport.

Your reputation is being built online—outside your control.

Social media represents a unique opportunity to join the conversation about your sport.  But, while many organisations are asking “what can social media do for us?”, the more pressing questions is “what can social media do to us?”

Through websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, sports clubs and governing bodies have the power to take their message to their communities and start a dialogue.

Social media initiatives will allow your most loyal customers/fans to spread messages about you more easily. But social media is not just about getting your message across, it’s also about listening – monitoring the buzz and chat between your customers.

It’s also about engaging and supporting – joining the discussions, answering questions and asking for the ideas and opinions of the connectors in your sport community.

Sport is competing in a crammed marketplace for the affection of consumers and social media is playing a primary role.

So, what is social media exactly?

Social media is a groundswell movement –  “A social trend in which people use technology to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations”

Sport carries the unique advantage of stirring our emotions and creating lasting social connections. These social connections make sport an ideal candidate for the use of social media. After all, the purpose of social media is to connect people with a common interest.

How does it work?

Social media activity is likely to engage existing fans of your sport and pull them closer together in a community of common interest via online tools. Social media is less likely to directly replace the traditional methods of generating wide public awareness of your sport, although it will have an indirect impact on awareness through the creation of positive word of mouth that comes from engaging your hard-core fans and turning them into advocates of your sport.

The prevailing wisdom is that social media can have a significant impact towards the lower end of the marketing funnel (see insert).

As one important element of the marketing mix, social media can play a key role in engaging participants more fully in the lifestyle associated with high involvement in your sport and in influencing decisions over competing sport and leisure opportunities.

What’s the bottom line?

Cutting through the hype, Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs) and clubs are now challenged to make the decision over whether social media investment is really worth it.

Although social media has the appeal of low monetary cost, it does require a significant investment of time. Time-poor SGB staff and volunteers should be wary of the promise of something for nothing, or they could find themselves with a profile that they can’t effectively maintain or grow and therefore lose credibility with the very people they are trying to engage.

If an internal self-assessment reveals a dedicated team with personal social media experience and a willingness to produce engaging content on a weekly or daily basis, then social media can prove effective. If this energy is coupled with clear objectives that link key messages to targeted groups, then social media can prove itself and provide significant return on investment for Scottish sport.