How Great Social Marketing is Like Football
By Mike Stiles on Aug 30, 2013
With apologies to our international readers…specifically American football. The air is charged with excitement and anticipation right now. The long months without the epic battles football provides have ended and our teams are once again hitting the field. I don’t have a football blog, but it did occur to me how much of what I write about social marketing can be compared to aspects of the sport we love so much.
This is when teams determine which players on the market will best shore up areas of weakness. Or they might be drafted to position them for big contributions in future seasons. Social marketing managers should stay aware of who the hot prospects are and do the courting necessary to get them on the team. You aren’t doing content creators and social marketers a favor by hiring them. Everybody wants the good ones.
This is where players are conditioned and learn the plays. In social marketing, there’s training to be done in terms of making sure everyone on the team knows the strategy, policy, rules and goals. You don’t draft players then just say, “Okay, now go play.”
During training camp, players who don’t pan out wind up getting cut. In social marketing, I’m not talking about cutting people as much as about being willing to cut practices, tactics or tools that just aren’t working. You might be attached, it might not be easy, but it’s what you need to do if you intend to win.
In football, there’s a head coach. But there are also coaches with very specific responsibilities. Offense, defense, special teams, quarterbacks, kickers…all have specialists obsessing over their peak performance. Each player also focuses on a specific role and specialty. The more you staff specialists instead of “oh, that’s the guy that handles all our social media for us,” the more of a competitive threat you’ll be.
Beyond overall strategy, policies and goals, your social marketing players must have detailed knowledge of the plays you’ll be running. Not only should each person know what they’re supposed to do, they need to know what everybody else is doing. In football it’s teamwork. In social marketing we call in integration.
Teams watch film of their competition and film of themselves. Execute, measure, analyze, adjust, and execute again based on what you learned. Analytics is how you get better at what you do and prep for the next game.
Quarterbacks can see how the defense lines up and change the play from the field if the original wasn’t going to get them anywhere. When the results of your posts aren’t getting engagement, you’ve got to be nimble enough to shift tactics ASAP and try something that hits the right chord.
Driving Toward the Goal
There are several ways to get the ball across the goal line, i.e. running, passing, and kicking. Of course, you’ve got to know where the goal line is and every player must be working in tandem to get there. There are several social strategies you can use, but there’s got to be a goal. You then use whatever combo of tactics gets you across it.
The Right Gear
From the helmet to the cleats, everything that’s on a football player serves a purpose that contributes toward achieving the goal. In social marketing, not having the right publishing, listening, monitoring and engagement capabilities will put you at a distinct disadvantage against your competition. You could get hurt.
There are few places where you’ll find a higher level of passion than in the stands of a football stadium. Fans so closely identify with and feel like a part of their teams their very emotions are tied to how the team does. They’re proud to wear the team colors. They’ll tell anyone what team they root for. They’ll gather with others based on their love of the same team. And they’ll scream themselves hoarse to give their team the home field advantage. In social marketing, we can only dream of igniting that kind of passion, engagement and emotional connection to our brands.
But it’s a worthy victory to strive for. So suit up, get fired up, and leave everything out on the field.