7 ways sports clubs can win on social media
By Kath Middleditch, Publicity Officer for Olney RFC
1. Choose where you want to be
A year ago we started using our social media accounts a bit better and now they’re a key part of how we communicate with members, supporters and sponsors.
- Twitter: quick and simple, Twitter’s a passing conversation useful for sharing news, sponsors and links to your website. It can connect you to governing bodies and similar local clubs. We have over 1,000 followers here.
- Facebook: more in-depth and perfect for sharing photos and videos, and spreading the word on events. In the past year we’ve doubled our ‘likes’ to over 900.
- Instagram: favoured by a younger crowd, it’s entirely visual and good if you have great photos/images/videos. Since we started here in Autumn 2016, we’ve gained 350 followers.
Once you’re set up, post regularly, link to your website, tag people and look at what works best in the ‘Insights’ or ‘Analytics’ sections. For instance, here’s how our Twitter account is looking:
2. Make it look good
When people are scrolling through social media, an image stands out and people are more likely to ‘like’ and share them – so see if you can recruit some photographers in your club!
A tool I use for visual posts is Canva – it’s free and easy to use and has Twitter and Facebook templates, and you can add text too:
I post videos directly into Facebook rather than linking out to YouTube, as they get better prominence this way (bigger thumbnails for instance).
3. Create a community
At Olney RFC we use #WeAreOlney and encourage people to tag their posts with this. It’s an easy way of tracking sentiment – and you can then retweet or repost things, comment on them – and by doing this, show your sports club is a community. You also want to have an authentic ‘voice’ on social media. We’re sports clubs, not drab corporates, so a bit of banter and personality is definitely appropriate!
4. Ask questions, give it emojis
Make your posts stand out by asking people a question – at New Year’s we asked people on Facebook what their highlight of 2016 was, which was great for encouraging a feel-good factor! I also sometimes raid the archives and post #throwbackthursday photos of previous teams – people love guessing the year.
Use the emojis that are available on social media – it shows personality (e.g. thumbs up at a win!). People are more likely to like and share these posts.
5. (hash) tag away!
Social Media is a great way to build your relationship with sponsors as well as players and supporters. What about highlighting a sponsor with a post that tags them? A local cider company sponsors man of the match so when we post images of this, we tag them in. A benefit of this is that your sponsors may share these posts – another great way of reaching new people.
As well as using your own hashtag, you can also look out for common hashtags around the sort of sports you’re involved with – a hashtag generator like this one is a good starting point. I found #grassrootsrugby #rugbygram and #saturdayisrugbyday work for us.
As well as tagging other people and companies in, take a look at people ‘geo-tagging’ you, whether that’s them checking in to your sports club on Facebook, tagging in other clubs at away games, or adding their location on Instagram – this can lead you to more shareable photos, and increase your club’s exposure.
Most people check social media first thing in the morning and after work, so schedule your posts for these times. You’ll be able to see in the Insights/Analytics section of your platforms what time(s) your followers are online – it’s clear our best time on Facebook is between 6pm and 9pm, so most of my scheduled posts go out then.
Of course it’s not just about promoting things at the right time – it’s about making time to do it, which is tricky for many volunteers.
I use Buffer to create a post which is used across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It saves a lot of time, and you can schedule posts and re-post them at a later date if you need to – my habit is to make time on a Sunday night to upload a number of posts for the next week or two, which takes the pressure off a bit!
7. Just do it!
Don’t be afraid of social media. Although for some it’s intimidating, younger players are digital natives and it’s important to be in this space – but you can choose what platforms will work best for you, and how much you can fit in.
Giving it a go is the best way to learn – much like sport!