Julie Delaforce, GM of social media and community relationships firm Quiip, asks what are the pros and cons of social media for sports teams and what is the distraction?
Let’s go down the rabbit hole from first steps to full-blown engagement and look at lessons the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could learn from Cricket Australia (CA) and the Socceroos.
1. Listen and learn
It’s a starting point you’ve heard recommended before, and PCB should pay heed. If you’re not ready to engage in social media yet, the very least you can do is listen. Set up the social media monitoring tool of your choice and check what conversations are happening online around your team, players and the Cricket World Cup.
The Australian Cricket Team is doing a great job of participating in the conversation by monitoring and using relevant hashtags. These include #CWC15, the official hashtag of the Cricket World Cup; #NZvsAUS and other game-specific hashtags and #GoGold amongst other Australian specific hashtags.
2. Engage your influencers
Perhaps you’re not ready to launch your own accounts, you can still get influencers involved and showing their support. You need not even mention social media, it could just be a positive side effect. Take a look at what happened when Cricket Australia sent Adam Hills a World Cup Cricket shirt. He shared a photo on his Twitter account and within three hours of posting it received close to 100 engagements. CA has tapped into the fans’ aspirations to become part of the team with this clever, yet simple, influencer outreach.
3. Create owned accounts
Cricket Australia has two official Twitter accounts: @CAcomms and @cricketaus. Both accounts have Twitter’s verified account tick, showing fans that this is where they’ll hear the official word about Australian Cricket. Additionally they have Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and even SoundCloud presences. We’re not saying PCB need the same depth of social media coverage.
PCB’s performance in the World Cup to date has been criticised. With such a focus on performing well, the support that social media can drive cannot be underestimated. There are two major benefits this offers sports teams – inviting fans to participate in an event they may not otherwise have access to, and leveraging existing support to drive greater awareness and encouragement.
4. Encourage popular players to interact directly with fans
Placing a blanket ban on social media usage is reinforcing a myth that it impacts negatively on productivity or performance. In sporting circles it can be blamed for scandals, however, it is most often the activities of some sports-people that are to blame for scandals, rather than the channel – social media.
Start by setting some guardrails in place – outline what players should or shouldn’t use social media for. They may not want to run their own public accounts, but social media is a great way for them to stay connected with family and friends at home
We’ve seen recently in the Asian Cup (Football) that sports-people interacting directly with their online audience helps to drive engagement both during matches and in the lead-up to games, creating buzz and inviting fans to become part of the sporting community.
The Socceroos’ Tim Cahill is a prolific social media user. He shares photos, commentary and ReTweets even during major events such as the recent Asian Cup, which Australia won – proof that social media didn’t impact on team performance. Many would argue he’s the highest profile player on the team and his social media activities haven’t impacted on his performance. #Cahilling drew a massive following once again after it’s popularity during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
We’re over two weeks into the World Cup, and although the social media ban made news, it doesn’t seem to have made an impact. It’s important to note that PCB haven’t removed links to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram from its website, and we see players such as Wahab Riaz are active on Twitter and being ReTweeted by the official account