Following A Cause Not A Company

This morning I was thinking about some of the conversations I’ve had with businesses and National Governing Bodies about their thoughts on social media.  One of the problems they face is why would people want to follow or like their brand or organisation?

It is a good point and one that many fail to think about.  If you are the FA for example why would people want to follow you?  Yes there may be some useful info on coaching or the England team for example but what else?

When someone follows or likes something it is an emotional decision.  They are happy to like a band or celebrity or club or player because they have an emotional connection to them.   For an organisation this is a tough hurdle to get over.  You will get a certain amount of hardcore people connecting with you but you will hit your max pretty quickly.

How can you overcome this?

The idea that I have trying to press home is that you have to give people something that can bring about that tie.  As an NGB you are the guardian for that sport in the country, you have massive amounts of content and thousands of people who enjoy that sport so why not design a campaign around that sport?

A recent example of a business taking this point to heart is adidas’s move to create a mobile app called MiCoach that “allows smartphone users to turn their phone into a personal coach with GPS pace-triggered voice coaching to colour-keyed pace zones, personalised and sports-specific training plans, workout calendar, navigator and workout feedback,” according to the sportswear firm.

This not only gives them the chance to interact with their key audience and show of their products but also utilise their key sports ambassadors such as David Villa, Andy Murray, Jonny Wilkinson, Reggie Bush, Derrick Rose, Jessica Ennis and Rebecca Pembleton as the App allows players of all sports to personalise their training.

Outside of Sport

Similar ideas for non-sports companies would be a toothpaste manufacturer setting up an oral hygiene awareness campaign rather than just setting it up as their brand name on Facebook or Twitter.  I think they call it ‘thinking outside the box’?

One company who did this very well recently was Proctor & Gamble who had the uphill task of marketing tampons to 12/13 year old girls.  Take a moment to think about how would you go about this…. 

Well they went several steps further and set up a social networking community called ‘Being Girl’ that encompassed all aspects of being a 13 year old girl.  It included chat on music, health info, parents and much more.  They have increased sales significantly, released the concept in 21 countries and found it to be 4 times more effective per dollar spend than traditional advertising.

The lesson to take from these examples is not to talk about what you sell but to listen to other people’s problems and find the subtle opportunities within them to talk about your product/services.

Back to Sport

Sports bodies need to take a leaf out of the private businesses world and seriously think about campaigns.  Nike and adidas have set up communities and campaigns around running but have UK Athletics done anything?  The same companies have worked this concept around football but has the FA contemplated the idea?

What we see are websites and social media pages that are titles ‘The FA’ or ‘UK Athletics’ without thinking about why anyone would be interested in what they have to say.

Create a campaign that can evoke passion within those who play or are interested in your sport and you open the door to a much wider audience who will be more than happy to engage and learn.  You do have to plan carefully, give a large amount of content and commit the time to make it work but why would you not want it to be successful?

For smaller organisations you can run campaigns based on your resources or why not team up with suppliers from your sport?  There are plenty of opportunities to make this work and come up with something truly special.

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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