How are minor league teams leveraging social media? This is my perception of that and is based on an e-mail I wrote. It has been altered slightly to make it more a blog post.
From the teams I am familiar with, as a fan and having talked to some people involved with local teams, the emphasis when it comes to online presence is e-mail marketing. They get people to subscribe to their announcement lists when they buy tickets online, do post game follow ups with people who attended to ask them to attend another game or survey their experience at the game. That’s really good with soliciting feedback, and getting people who just saw a game to commit seeing another one.
When it comes to e-mail marketing, some teams are more successful than others. Not all are as compliant as they could be in regards to US laws regarding CAN-SPAM. One team does not make their e-mails that viewable for people who don’t view images with e-mail; their e-mail announcements to subscribers contain just one big image.
Many teams use Twitter. The Chicago Red Stars, a local Chicago team in the women’s professional soccer league, live tweet their games. They also @ reply to people who mention them, often mentioning deals on ticket packs. Other teams are doing similar strategies with Twitter. The teams with a better, comprehensive social media strategy are duplicating or promoting the content from their other online presences on Twitter: They link to YouTube, Facebook, what their players are doing in the blogosphere, encouraging people to follow players.
Teams use YouTube to brand themselves. They have their own channels where there are interviews with players, clips from games, clips from television coverage of their team, commercials for the team, advertisements for team apparel, etc. The teams most successfully leveraging this space are ones that have detailed descriptions on their videos with keywords that will attract a wider audience. (YouTube is the second or third largest search engine out there in terms of volume of search.)
Facebook Fan Pages are also a popular tool used by teams. They have some content duplication with Twitter and Facebook but other content too. They mention training camps, opportunities to meet with the team during the off season, information on player signing. They talk about what players are doing during the off season, like playing for the national team or training/playing with other clubs. They might give health updates. They mention changes in the front office and other news around the league. They link to blog posts that
Teams are still using MySpace. (Facebook hasn’t killed it and the demographics for the site are different for both the US and Australia. It is the 13th most popular site in Australia.) Most of the updates that teams do are blog entries. Some of these are press releases. They are also using the space to upload videos and photos, sharing the same content from Facebook and YouTube. The better teams are making sure there is some original content on each network they use.
Some minor league teams are also creating, or their fans create, a presence on LinkedIn in order to network. The level of activity on these networks tends to be smaller. The goal is to allow fans to network. These groups tend to be smaller.
Those five networks, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, tend to be where most teams place an emphasis. It makes sense as these are the most main stream places to capitalize on the largest audience. People on those sites, with the exception of LinkedIn, tend to expect that there will be a presence for those teams. There are several networks that aren’t being leveraged that teams should consider and that they may not because most social media people define those places as the Internet and stop. These networks include Flickr, LiveJournal, bebo, Ning, orkut and tagged.com. Each has advantages that an online presence can help.
The teams that are most successful in using those networks are ones there they have the same style of writing across all their networks: Professional and friendly. Teams that are successfully using social media to attract and keep an audience that they want to convert into regular attendees to matches also brand their logos and colors consistently across the different platforms they use. If they can’t use their own background, like the case for Facebook and LinkedIn, the accounts have their own logos showing for all posts they make and wherever else they can brand. Teams successfully using social media are also updating regularly, even during the off season. There is generally new content on all their networks at least once a week, if not more. Those three things are important: Consistent writing style, consistent branding and regular updates.