There were two different sessions at the conference that specifically focused on the subject of social media. The first featured Jonah Lomu, former professional rugby player from the New Zealand All Blacks, and Christian Hernandez, Head of International Business Development for Facebook. I don’t have any amazing insights to share from this panel, because it felt more like a confirmation of many of the typical social media tactics that most teams and athletes already implement, such as:
- Social media is the ideal way for athletes to take ownership of their brand – it all comes down to effort.
- It lets fans see a personal side of an athlete that they can relate to, such as their upbringing, family, personality, etc. Fans learn what type of person they are based on what information is shared.
- Personal tones in Facebook messages resonate stronger than statements tied to a corporate message.
There were a couple of specific details that deviated from the standard social media discussion. For example…
- Jonah Lomu initially decided to join Twitter because someone was imitating him. This could be an interesting way of “encouraging” a particular athlete to join the conversation.
- Instead of creating a dedicated “Jonah Lomu Fan Page” which he could still manage himself, he actually opened up his personal Facebook account to connect with everyone and share more. There are some functionality differences between what you can do with a regular account vs. a page that can add value to this approach, but it does mean the athlete has to sacrifice the idea of using Facebook in a private manner with family and friends.
- I also learned that the English Premier League has rules in place to prevent their players from using Facebook and Twitter (I’m surprised I hadn’t realized that). As a result, their official pages aren’t as effective because they are run by player management, making them less personal and less engaging.
The other social media panel was actually a breakout session with Christian Hernandez specifically discussing Facebook and sports marketing. Two specific statistics that I found to be quite interesting were:
- A typical Facebook page update will be seen by 5% of followers.
- 200M out of 500M Facebook users play a game at least once per month.
The first statistic shows that even the best updates will only reach a fraction of your audience, so there is a definite importance to frequency of communication in order to maximize your effectiveness (as long as you do not sacrifice quality with frequency). The second shows that games are a very viable engagement option to complement the standard Facebook communication options. It may take resources to pursue that option, but the results could be well worth it.
For more insights from this session, check out the three videos below:
Engagement through Facebook Games vs. Basic Facebook Functionality
Facebook and TV Integration in Sports
Facebook Pages vs. Using Microsites: