I think I’m going to get kicked out of Massachusetts for saying this—but I’m not a sports fan.
I don’t follow any of the Boston teams, and I grew up in the Midwest where sports weren’t a big deal in my family.
So when I sat down with a panel of sports social media experts during Social Media Day at Boston University, I was skeptical—what could I learn from them?
A lot—it turns out.
The panel included Christy Berkery, Social Media Manager for the New England Patriots; Peter Stringer, Senior Director of Interactive Media for the Boston Celtics; and Meghan Ryan, Social Media Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox.
Here are 10 social media marketing tips from professional sports teams that can apply to small businesses and nonprofits.
1. You don’t have to be on every social media platform
The Patriots use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. “The goal is to be where the majority of fans are,” Berkery said. “We try to focus on a small number of platforms where we can reach the most people.”
2. Experiment with your social media profiles
The Celtics created a Pinterest presence six months ago, and Stringer wasn’t sure what content the team would post. It has become a place for Celtics merchandise, behind-the-scenes photo galleries, and fan photos—including a Celtics cake board. “We’re trying to see how it makes sense for the fans and what works for us,” Stringer said.
3. Find out what your channels do well
Twitter has been a great place for the Red Sox to sell tickets and merchandise. “If I had to choose one platform, I would choose Twitter. It provides the best opportunity for us to sell to the community,” said Ryan. “But I see a value of being everywhere. There are fans that like other platforms.”
4. Use data from your social media presence to learn about your fans and followers
The Celtics use the data they capture from social media to target messages and find out what content is interesting to their community. “We can have six million fans on Facebook. If we don’t know anything about them, they’re not valuable to us,” Stringer said.
5. Success isn’t the same across all social media platforms
“What success looks like on Twitter, might not be the same on Facebook,” Stringer said. “So it’s tough to compare.”
6. You can share the same content on different channels, but present it in a way your fans want
The Patriots’ Twitter profile is focused on news, and Facebook and Google+ are fluffier and entertaining. “We mix and match—there’s some duplication, and some common content. We’re listening to the fans to see what they want,” Berkery said.
7. You can’t be all things to all people
The Celtics have focused their attention on the channels that get the most traffic from fans. “We’ve backed off on Google+,” Stringer said. “The regular content updates—they’re not reading them en masse. There’s no manpower for everything.”
8. Make sure you’re analyzing the numbers and the conversation
The Celtics evaluate their success by looking at analytics and the fan interaction happening in their communities. “There’s a lot of different metrics you’re going to be looking at, but ultimately, you’re going to need a human eye,” Stringer said.
9. Not everybody is going to love you
Make sure you have a strategy to deal with both those who love you and those who aren’t quite so fond of you. The Red Sox social media staff keeps an eye on negative comments, but that’s as far as it goes. “I don’t respond to negative comments. Nine times out of 10, negative comments are reactionary. We do keep a watchful eye on them though. We keep track of buzzwords and keywords from fans. If it’s a customer service issue, we want to respond,” Ryan said.
10. If the fans take it too far, take back the control
The Patriots have a policy in place for their Facebook Page. “We delete obscene and offensive comments,” Berkery said. “We want our Facebook Page to be a place where fans come and talk and interact with other fans.”
Want more tips on social media marketing? Check out our Social Media Quickstarter to get started!