Social media isn’t new—Facebook and Twitter are a decade old, Instagram and Pinterest are celebrating their five-year anniversaries. The next wave of social media apps, like Vine and Snapchat, are gaining popularity too. Millions of people from all generations share, like, post, pin and tag multiple times a day. Industry leaders take notice of the things that attract people’s attention, television commercials being the most obvious example. Businesses quickly glommed onto social channels as a new avenue for targeting potential customers. Every major brand is using social media to increase mindshare and attract the next shopper. And many successful small businesses have found a niche with the help of funny tweets or stunning Instagram pictures. Social media is a fresh, relatively inexpensive, way to connect your product or service to the world. And it fits perfectly in sports.
The concept of social media has been unnecessarily complicated by people looking to take advantage of tech newbs. Experts that ask small business owners to write big checks for the simple creation of a Facebook page and Twitter feed are akin to Old West peddlers hawking fake potions and fool’s gold. Social media tools are just another way to connect people—a website to share family pictures and life updates or a smartphone app to meet new people or pass along funny videos. The application in sports is simple; the execution is not.
A new profession was born when Facebook and Twitter hit the business world—titles like Social Media Director, Social Media Specialist, Digital and Social Marketing Manager were unheard of a decade ago. But what are these people doing? The work is often done in a loop: build, produce, grow, produce more, grow more. First, build a social media presence: Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest boards and whatever else makes sense for the company you work for. Use a consistent, relevant name for all accounts; the flow across spaces should feel seamless. Once necessary accounts are established become a pro at creating and curating shareable content. But talk to company leaders first so the things you put on the Internet are on-message and on-brand. Share semi-lengthy business updates—sweet deals, customer stories—on Facebook and photograph new products on Instagram. Tweet links to interesting articles and info graphics from around the Internet and post funny video clips on Vine. Produce and share clickable content that will engage customers and attract them to your brand. In this space quantity is nearly as important as quality. You’ll get exposure and grow your audience by posting often and staying interesting. Study SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to understand what words and hash tags bump you up the Google ranks. Think about the types of articles you read and links you click. That’s what other people want more of. And check out popular social media brands to learn what works. Visit bad ones to find out what doesn’t work. Your ability as a social media expert to increase followers on Twitter and get Facebook Likes will determine your success in the field. Be up for the challenge.
The social media space is evolving and popular platforms will continually churn. Today it’s Vine, tomorrow it’s Meerkat. Simply learning how to write a smart post on Facebook or craft a witty Twitter tweet won’t keep you growing in the field. How do you become a social media guru? Internships are an excellent way to gain experience and build your resume. Companies in the sports industry are always looking for cheap or free resources to handle social media accounts creating a win-win situation. Also, check out free online courses that teach you how to “engage people, build an audience and express your personality” through social media. If you work in the marketing department for a company with a limited or non-existent social media presence offer to take on extra responsibilities—create the job you want. There are a growing number of full-time social media management programs across the country. But you should explore other ways into the field before investing that kind of time and money. Learn about social marketing, follow experts in the field and use the tools themselves to become a star.
Love starting a conversation? Enjoy building a brand? Ready to become a social media professional in sports? The career is changing along with the tools its professionals use and that makes it challenging and fun. Be adaptable, stay current and do the hard work needed to get what you deserve—an amazing job in sports!