Why & How to Boost Your Field Hockey Social Media & Internet Presence.

Social media is a free and easy way for all of us to carry the torch for the game and get involved in further raising its profile.

WHY ?

2012 has been a great year for field hockey. The 2012 Olympics, TV broadcasting of all the games and the GB Team success , and especially the women’s bronze has given the game unprecedented media attention. But, in my view, it is imperative for the game to use that success as a springboard to even better things and that it is everyone’s responsibility. There is no room for complacency and everyone ought to be involved and with social media it needn’t be time consuming. We should not leave it up to a few dedicated club members to do it all as so often has been the case in the past. Club members are a hugely valuable resource which can be tapped for the good of the club and the game and more an more people are getting on board. More and more players, clubs and teams are using it effectively, giving out all the right messages. It isn’t a fad, to be done because it is the “latest thing”  ; it is a free and invaluable marketing tool that I believe is vital to the future of the game. It is no accident that all national organisations, international teams and players use social media regularly as do the forward looking clubs. Social media is free , easy to use and is the means by which everyone can get involved in raising the profile of the game they love.

NB: Click on any of these images for a larger view.

I am actively engaged in PR, Media and Marketing & am associated professionally helping clubs, coaching camps and retailers with pro-active use of images & social media but also have an understanding that the game and players have so many marketable qualities. It is always worthwhile showing positive images of the game and those involved in it!

Overall the standard of play has improved significantly in the last decade making the game a more attractive spectacle and that requires even more commitment and investment to keep the momentum going. Hockey can be costly and local businesses squeezed so it appears harder to find one’s who will offer  support through sponsorship. Sponsorship for companies, however kindly, is a business choice and to be effective must be mutually beneficial. I know of examples where teams have been sponsored briefly, took it for granted and didn’t even say thanks – needless to say the business lost all interest in the game.

Recession is not or need not be  the killer it appears – it is a time when businesses have to try even harder and look for new ways to find customers and that can include sports club and team sponsorship if you have an effective internet presence that makes you a more viable investment.   At grass roots I believe that clubs and teams can do a lot for themselves, at little cost, to get themselves and the game more attention, increase membership, attendance at games and attract and keep sponsors.

For clubs to be successful in the  future they need to pro-actively market themselves and the game. Social media is the most effective way to put yourself out there and attract attention and  gain higher profile and it costs nothing but time. Do it well and in can attract inward investment.

FACEBOOK

Facebook is easy to set up and use and free.

*Do, clubs and teams , set up a Facebook Page ( not a Group as the page  has greater flexibility and advantages.)

Facebook “pages” also have the insights feature which shows you your statistics  -I write a lot but also post a lot of images. That spike proves to me and is proof if you need it that photos attract far more interest than text and often lead to a huge spike in views.

*Do avoid a “closed” Facebook group  – it gives off all the wrong messages about your club or team and above all the game. (In my view , a closed group  gives the impression you are exclusive, inward looking and unwelcoming even if you very much are friendly and sociable.)

Make sure you fill in all the useful detail you can in your Facebook profile including for example location , website link and a contact email. Make it easy for people to interact and communicate with you publicly and privately.

*Do remember Facebook is a form of publishing and marketing so do expect your members to be mindful of what they post because of how it represents the team, the club or the game. (Some “laddish banter”, for example, might be OK on a private night out  but can be offensive and off putting to women and parents of kids thinking of signing their kids up to events or teams.)

*Do make the broadest possible use of photographs whether from phone cameras or other devices. ( all conventional social media wisdom and research proves that images are by far the most important feature of any successful  Facebook in terms of attracting and keeping visitor interest and encouraging interaction.)

*Do keep a data base collection of action shots, portraits of individual players and current teams and include albums on your Facebook page and for other promotional uses . Do please include other than just first team stuff.

*Do include  images  of  club facilities including the bar and refreshments – take these when the place is busy!

*Do include images with sponsor banners in the background. (Images showing you have sponsor interest show that you are seen as  worth investing in)

*Do include close-ups of sponsor branding and send them links or comment on their Facebooks and Twitter accounts if they have them.

Build positive relationships with your sponsors and supply them with photographs to show appreciation but also which they can use too to help with their own marketing and on social media.

Twitter

A Twitter  account is easy and quick to set up and requires far less commitment than a website and anyone can use it.  Many websites require more “techie” knowledge and admin rights and  “Tweeting” is very similar to the everyday text messaging that the majority of us a very familiar with and does not require any specialist skills .

Clubs with poor websites are becoming increasingly rare  but invariably don’t make very effective use of social media and appear to be insular and unwelcoming. In my view a solid website is still valuable and necessary for the future and yet does not necessarily need to be updated very regularly ; social media is the main platform now to  demonstrate that your club or team are alive, kicking and successful. The traditional website can contain details of club history, galleries etc and a place where those who need more detailed information and news can go to. In the main players and club members are more likely to want to engage and interact on Twitter and Facebook rather than through a club website.

*Do embed  both Twitter and Facebook icons with a hyperlink on your club website home page )

*Do occasionally tweet a link to your website or Facebook account  URL address.

*Do use a tweet to ask people to visit and like your Facebook page.

*Do set your Twitter account to post your tweets on your Facebook wall.

Twitter  works best where you , your team, your club are seen not to be “incestuous” ( just keeping it in the immediate family of members )   and just self-advertising but prepared to interact with others and be mutually supportive.

*Do follow other clubs, teams and businesses  & hockey associated organisations , retweet their Tweets and where possible make positive comments of your own.

*Do follow support and help with retweets governing bodies  @englandhockey  @GBHockey2012 @scottishhockey @hockeywales

*Do include in , for example, @englandhockey  if it is something you would like them to see- it also helps their campaign t demonstrate that hockey has a significant and vibrant presence across grass roots

*Do tweet your fixtures  and results and post links to any match reports

*Do tweet any social events, coaching camps, Quicksticks and fun days and always

*Do always use the #hockeyfamily hash tag at the end of tweets to help show a united front

*Do get the retweet habit . A retweet takes seconds, a click of a button and each you do puts your name about and shows your commitment to the wider community.

why not interact with other communities, individuals and sports by retweeting other people’s items or content you find interesting or appropriate ?

*Do consider say  Retweeting   ten tweets a day it takes no time! If you have no new content on a particular day  just try RT a thing or two.

*Do where possible tweet links to your website and Facebook updates and especially any images of players or action or other things of interest of players or potential members.

Use an image or club logo and have a useful Twitter profile descriptor including a link to your website or Facebook. An anonymous egg icon and just a name gives off all the wrong signals

*Do have a photo or club badge  as a profile –  and include your location and a link to your website. (The egg and other free icons give off all the wrong messages.)

*Do always shorten links by using a free but reliable easy to use URL shortener  like http://goo.gl/

Shorten a long URL to a minimum using simple to use Google URL shortening program to enable economic word use and help keep under the 140 limit

To keep on the 140 word mark use “&” and numbers and where necessary remove “the” , “a”, anything you can leave out but still convey meaning

*Do use @ Connect to check  your interactions – you will be pleasantly surprised how people appreciate and reciprocate when you are helpful to them,

Do use @connect menu button to check your interactions.

TIPS ON PHOTOS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA AND PROMOTIONAL USE

*Do try to include sponsor banners in your action photography.

*Do vary the format of your photographs and turn the camera through 90 degrees to get portrait format images of individual players either standing still or running towards you so that they fill the frame. Also best when for example you are shooting a shot  for a stick sponsor  or sponsor whose branding is on a players shirt.

Don’t forget to include photos of bar and other club facilities in albums you post of social media and website.

Try and include positive images to help promote your club.

Try not to use images of the bar or other club features that are empty – you are a sociable place and photos buzzing with people mixing help get that message across.

You might  consider hiring a professional to take a batch of more professional photographs at your club to cover a game but also provide you with a range of images action, portraits of players, team shots, club house interiors, sponsor branding etc but most likely you might see that as a luxury and be most  concerned about the cost.

I bring a full range of industry standard photographic equipment , 40 years experience and knowledge of media and marketing and usually provide a team or club with between 300 and 500 very usable high quality images from one visit and I rarely charge more than £50 where hockey is concerned which is way below industry rates and in fact is an amount to cover my costs.

Those images may appear on my own business Facebook at lower resolution and watermarked for people to see but where I am hired I offer all the originals at high resolution, un-watermarked, on DVD to be shared and for personal, social media and other promotional use on a shared copyright basis. Such a large number of images can be used as a club or team data base and should last a season for adding website and social media content, for posters, brochures, gifts to sponsors, images to print and frame for club walls and to go with match reports sent to the press and other media. I see that as a one off amount and an sound investment for those serious about promoting their club , teams and the game.

Contact me any time to book this service by e mail johncoxon.com@gmail.com or call or text my mobile any time  (07989300104)

 

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