If you’re one of the fortunate folks like myself who have the opportunity to work with social media on a professional basis, you probably spend your days trying to enhance the profile of your company or your clients, pondering new ideas to help create a return on investment.
At a certain point, it’s easy to lose what attracted us to social media in the first place: the opportunity to have a deeper connection with the things we love and are passionate about. But in examining social media from a non-vocational viewpoint, we can uncover concepts that translate into digital success in the business world.
Take sports as an example. Beyond the raving narcissists like Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco), a number of professional athletes have taken to Twitter and, without a publicist or PR person looking over their shoulder, embraced it like a newfound freedom to express themselves.
While this often proves controversial (@charliesheen, anyone?), it’s also very personal and real. How cool would it be to be retweeted by your favorite basketball player? It happens all the time. Or they’ll announce a meet-up or a charity event they’re involved in that you too can be a part of. But it’s not just the athletes. Coaches get involved too.
Former University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer (@CoachUrbanMeyer) and University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) routinely offer up little nuggets, like announcing honors for players or throw out updates on recruiting.
From the fan perspective, this is fun way to engage with our favorite sports brands and figures. The teams, companies and players become more human to us, we become bigger champions of them, and in return we watch more sports, buy more memorabilia, and buy more tickets. This is social media participation that provides us with an experience, not just a Twitter stream with the latest stats or scores, or a team having an online account for the sake of saying they have one.
NFL PR czar Brian McCarthy (@NFLPRguy) is an active tweeter as well. Some of my favorite feeds to follow are reporters. I logged onto Twitter during the Heat/Knicks game the other night and ESPN.com’s Michael Smith (@mrmichael_smith) was livetweeting the game. All of a sudden, my experience changed and I was now watching the game with one of my favorite sports commentators.
What could be better than that? Actually being a commetator yourself. I looked up my favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers on Q&A site Quora.com the other day and saw the question, “Why are the Lakers underperforming this season?” So I crafted an answer (if so inclined, find it here) and responded as though I was working for SportsCenter.
Other people can now see and comment and add their own opinions to my post. Thanks to social media, I’m now part of the dialogue. It’s better than boxscores in the morning paper and, sometimes, even catching a game on TV.
When I think about social media for companies and non-profits, I consider the enjoying experiences I have in my personal life online. If we create this for a client, will people use it? If so, how often? How will audiences use it? When?
Don’t just jump onto the latest social media buzzword hoping it’ll help you move more widgets. Instead, consider the ways it can create an enjoyable experience that people will want to come back to again and again. Do it right, and your returns are guaranteed.
- Thomas (@thomasmcdonald)