Why it’s Important for Amateur Athletes to Use Social Media

Post by Stanford University Senior and Royal Intern, Danielle Frasier

If you are as sports crazed as I am, you probably already follow your favorite athletes on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Not only because they are good at what they do, but by following them on these social media platforms you can gain insight into their lives away from their sport. We not only benefit from this exposure as fans, but the athletes profit in more ways than one. Through social media, athletes have the opportunity to humanize their brand, engage with their fans, and influence the popularity of their sport.

As a professional athlete, one accepts the responsibility of being a role model to fans. “With great power comes great responsibility,” a wise man once said…or was that Spiderman’s uncle? This power that Uncle Ben was referring to, comes from being good at something and using that influence to inspire others. It is important for athletes to tell a good story through engaging tweets and visually captivating photos to allow their fans to get to know them on a professional and personal level.

Having a strong social presence doesn’t happen overnight. Especially in this generation, personal branding is becoming even more important starting at the collegiate level. Collegiate athletes have the chance to build relationships with their fans while they are affiliated with their university. They’re betting (wisely, I think) that these fans will carry over to their professional careers. Having a loyal and supportive fan base can be a super powerful tool, especially once one is able to make money off of their personal brand. Companies are much more attracted to athletes that have higher marketability and can be used to promote a specific product. Although college athletes have to comply with NCAA regulations, they still have the power to become huge influencers of their sport. The following are just a few of my favorite collegiate athletes who recognized that creating good branding on social media would not only help them in college, but as they are now transitioning to the professional level.

Three Socially-Savvy Amateur Athletes to Watch:

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@ShayneSkov – The former Stanford University linebacker knew that building up his personal brand in college would one day pay off. He has over 10,000 followers on Twitter and has proven he knows how to handle this social media platform. Shayne Skov spent four years in Guadalajara, Mexico and greatly identifies with his Mexican heritage. Shayne caters to both his American and Hispanic fans by tweeting daily in English and Spanish about football, as well as random things that happen in his life. He interacts with fans and other athletes by providing his opinions and participating in light banter. He continues to support his alma mater to maintain his affiliation with the place where it all began. He will use this network as he embarks on his professional journey and prepares to enter the NFL.

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@AaronMurray11 – Aaron Murray has an impressive number of followers on Twitter, with over 127,000 supporting him as he heads into the draft. He had quite the college career at University of Georgia becoming one of the most sought after QBs. On Twitter, he posts pictures of his family, girlfriend, and life on and off the field. He ensures engagement by tweeting regularly and promptly responding to comments from fans. He is quite charming and has definitely attracted a large female fan base. He shouldn’t have a problem as he takes the next steps in his career.

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@NicoleGibbs – Nicole Gibbs, also known as Gibbsy, has recently graced the women’s professional tennis circuit with her presence. She was a two time NCAA singles champion and decided to graduate from Stanford University after only 3 years. She has racked up sponsors such as New Balance from her firery passion on the court and her spunky personality off. She is no rookie when it comes to social media as she frequently tweets and posts insightful pictures. Her experience will be one to follow as she makes the transition to playing professional tennis.

SPECIAL OFFER: Are you an amateur athlete looking to “go pro” with your social media presence? May we recommend this Digital Royalty University course on Personal Branding? Use Promotional Code “GOING PRO” when you check out to get 50% off this class until April 10, 2014.

Integrity vs. Clicks

Post by @natevegas

Social media levels the playing field. Over the past 5 years, Twitter and Facebook have changed the way traditional media operates, and I think it’s fair to say, Joe Public is just as impactful on the news as Joe Media.

What’s becoming quite interesting is how the cutthroat mainstream media choose to compete for traffic against social media news feeds. From my very unscientific observations, traditional media seems to report real news just fine (reactive), but when it comes to promoting their interest-pieces, (dare I say, proactive?) I’m seeing some really interesting behavior that reminds me of checkout-stand publications. It appears that they’re more about money and less about real, fair, balanced news every day. Are news websites so hungry for ad dollars? And how do they get that money? Traffic, baby.

We respect that writers have to hustle in this day and age. Younger talent, especially, is understandably hungry for that big scoop and ultimately more ink or more air time (whatever the case may be). But frankly, some of the sensationalism squeezed into tweets and headlines is comical – meanwhile they’re just watching the bit.ly click counters to see if what they’ve said is relevant.

My skepticism doesn’t stop there. I think some “news” stories are purposely slanted to see how many comments they can get. Comments that are – yep, connected to social media sites like Facebook to increase reach and drive more traffic. Ever see a tweet or a headline that has very little to do with a story? I have. How many times have you seen something that says, “What do you think about [topic X]? Let us know in the comments below.” Constructing a hostile conversation is much different from actually listening to your audience.

This is a global trend, and I often find myself asking if a story negatively impacts the perception of a major advertiser or maybe someone who came out on the wrong end of a political vote or a real estate deal. But if that were the case, it probably wouldn’t publish in the first place, right? Do we have proof? No. Just an educated guess.

Social Media Trends To Look For

 

 

 

Digital Royalty Founder and CEO, Amy Jo Martin, was recently interviewed by TechCrunch to provide insight on the 2012 social media landscape. Article written by Joseph Puopolo:

In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.

Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.

Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.

There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:

“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”

So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?

Social TV: Dialogue vs. Monologue

By: Amy Jo Martin

The Social TV entertainment offering is only limited by our imagination. Yesterday, Dwayne Johnson turned the trending tables on national TV and dictated worldwide trending topics. During a live broadcast, he declared that certain phrases would trend instantly. Within minutes, they did.


Dwayne Johnson instantly bumped the live broadcast into the #1 Social TV spot:

More than 250 million users are on twitter and the trending topic list garners more than 150 million impressions each day. It’s safe to say this social call-to-action generated new viewership. The timing and spike in ratings speak to the impact Social TV has on the bigger picture. Additionally, advertisers are spending well into six figures daily to earn a spot on this worldwide trending topic list. When a brand can make this happen organically, influence is proven.

For other Digital Royalty Social TV case studies, such as The X Factor, click here.

 

Social Media Finals: The Heat vs. The Mavericks

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!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 12.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} –>By: Kirsten Stubbs

As the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, two teams with intensely loyal fans and standout players, play game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals, it seems like the perfect time to evaluate their respective performances on a different court: social media. Here are our picks for the inaugural 2011 NBA Social Media Finals:

First Round: Audience

If this were a pure game of numbers, the Miami Heat would win in a blowout. With their 3 million Facebook “likes” and 216,000 Twitter followers dwarfing the Mavs’ 770,000 and 79,000, respectively, there’s not much competition.  The Heat also emerge victorious in a hashtag battle: In the last week, #LetsGoHeat has been used 7,949 times in comparison to #LetsGoMavs being used 1,952 times. But at Digital Royalty, we know that cold metrics (likes and follows) are only a part of the equation.

Winner: Miami Heat, plain and simple.

Second Round: Engagement

Like most Facebook Pages with large numbers of subscribers, there is little engagement in the form of comments and post “likes” from the Mavs and Heat. The Heat has instead taken advantage of Facebook polls to stimulate conversation.

However, on Twitter, conversing with fans through retweets, replies and mentions is much easier for both teams. While the Dallas Mavericks mainly retweet accounts associated with their team, The Heat reply to fans’ questions and comments and retweet followers’ content frequently. The Heat also use hashtags more effectively, using #HEATPlayoffs to track conversations on Twitter. The Mavs have dabbled in several different hashtags, making the buzz less trackable.

Winner: Miami Heat

Conference Finals: Content/Value Offering

When it comes to content and delivering value to fans, The Mavs and Heat excel in different areas.

Live Tweeting: Those stuck at work or without access to a television can easily keep up with the game by following The Heat’s Twitter stream. The tweets are not only fast-paced and informative, but portray the excitement of the game. The tweets are categorized with easily identifiable hashtags.

Contests and Offers: If you are observant and participatory enough, you could probably win a free Mavericks-themed wardrobe and free tickets to just about any game through their social media. The team is constantly featuring deals for Mavericks fans at restaurants and businesses as well as contests to win tickets and merchandise. It pays to be a Mavs fan online.

The Heat offer periodic discounts on merchandise and tickets, but nothing as robust as The Mavericks.

Exclusive Content: Both teams offer exclusive content on Facebook and Twitter, with The Heat featuring behind-the-scenes videos and quotes and The Mavs posting podcasts recapping the game.

Commerce: Each team has an iframe-based store on Facebook. While they are both convenient and functional, The Heat’s serves as the Facebook landing page and includes a social stream of tweets, a “Like” button and even addresses you by name. Kind of creepy, kind of awesome. The overall design is cleaner and more user-friendly.

Winner: Tie. The Mavericks would have taken it if it weren’t for the avatar generator I just came across on The Heat’s Facebook page.

Finals: Social MVP’s

To fans, players are the team brand. Being able to connect with a favorite athlete increases fan affinity as well as desire to attend games, buy merchandise and become a brand loyalist.

The standout social media players on The Heat and The Mavs, respectively, are Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion. Their tweet styles are as distinct as they are different. Wade is a Twitter professional – an eloquent tweeter, UberSocial user and fervent believer in hashtags. It’s not surprising he has more than 1.2 million followers. His tweets are often exclusive and always chockfull of interesting content.

Marion, in contrast, is a spur-of-the-moment tweeter, consistently tweeting personal thoughts from “Step Brothers” quotes to daily good morning tweets and sock TwitPics, conversing with his 75,000 fans, and shunning common English mechanics to create a personal, unrefined voice all his own.

Winner: Shawn Marion (Dallas Mavericks). His breezy style and endearing potpourri of personal content gives him a slight edge over Wade’s quality, yet sometimes ‘salesy’ tweets.

Bonus points also go to the Mavs for a stellar performance from owner Mark Cuban. The social media savvy Cuban is a frequent tweeter, blogger and commentator of all media. His authenticity is undeniable and refreshing. Plus, he has his own Facebook game called “BattleBall.” Cool.

Champion: Miami Heat

Both teams have well-executed social media campaigns, but overall, the Heat edge out the Mavs by going above and beyond standard online presence and community engagement. From their comprehensive e-commerce Facebook tab to captivating live tweeting of games, The Heat has improved since last year. In a league that stands out in the social media world, teams and players have to actually engage in order to stand out themselves. The Heat have prevailed during their moment in the spotlight

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First Social Media Incentive Program for Athletes

By: Britt Johnson

The NBA, NFL, and other professional sports leagues are all too familiar with handing down fines to athletes (and owners/coaches) who violate their social media policies. The UFC has no interest in collecting money from its own athletes. Instead, they are doing the reverse in handing out the cash—$240,000 annually to be exact.

This week UFC president Dana White announced the first-ever incentive-based social media program for fighters during the UFC Summit in Las Vegas where more than 300 fighters were required to go through Digital Royalty University social media training. The allotted money will be dispersed as quarterly bonuses to fighters who make the most impact with their personal Twitter accounts.

Competition was in the air as the program was announced to more than 300 fighters at the annual UFC Summit at the Red Rock Casino in Vegas. Thousands of fans, fighters and media outlets followed along here using the #UFCSummit Hashtag where thousands of tweets were exchanged real-time throughout the week. Mashable and Sports Business Journal also covered the news.

The UFC understands the power of social media. The goal for the incentive program is to encourage the athletes to embrace these new communication tools and increase fan engagement. The UFC and related Twitter accounts are already known for their fighter-to-fighter interactions. The heightened engagement will strengthen the organization’s network, allowing for quick message delivery, more fighter-to-fan interaction and most importantly it provides exclusive value to new and existing fans.

Starting June 1st, Stikeforce and UFC fighters will be divided into four groups depending on their number of followers. From those groups, three winners will be named in the following categories, each receiving $5,000 for most followers gained, highest percentage of followers gained and most creative campaign.

A social media powerhouse himself, Dana knows the influence Twitter followers carry. Factor in a few hundred additional social media-savvy athletes, and you have a force to be reckoned with.

For more information about Digital Royalty University, email Info@TheDigitalRoyalty.com

Is company-wide training part of your social media strategy?

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By: Alana Golob

By now, most brands have had their “ah-ha” social media moment and have realized that in order to build equity, see return and create conversions, a clear strategy must be developed. Hours need to be invested. Many marketing and public relations VPs are scurrying to fill a social media manager type of position to take their existing presence to the next level. Additionally, “Find us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” messages are being stamped confidently on all advertising creative.

However, do the legal, human relations, sales and operations departments know how social media is impacting their aspect of business and how it can improve their bottom line? HR could be saving dollars from hiring outside recruiters and decreasing staff turnover by using these new communication tools to recruit talent, monitor employees and evaluate candidates. Does the president of your company, most likely the single most influential person behind your brand, have a social media presence? Humans connect with humans, not logos.

The social media landscape continues to do what it does best . . . evolve and grow quicker than anyone seems to realize. It’s a way of life and more now than ever, consumers are turning to their Facebook and Twitter pages for value in the form of advice, breaking news, exclusive content, customer service and entertainment. Consumers expect brands to be online with an attentive ear. If you’re not actively listening, engaging and responding to your audience, it’s similar to not answering the phone or unlocking the doors for business. And, it’s very likely your competitors are listening to those tipping point consumers who are trying to get your attention.

For social media to be truly successful and for that transparency to be apparent, social media must be embraced by every level of the brand from the executives to those who interact with the consumer on a daily basis. There are several challenges. First, no one is going to embrace and support something they don’t understand. Second, the employees who do embrace and support these platforms on a personal level may not feel empowered to use it on a professional level. And last, it is a powerful tool that can be misused in untrained and uneducated hands. That’s where company-wide training comes into play.

If you haven’t taken the next step yet it’s time to go “all-in” by providing your staff with the proper education needed to build a cohesive social media communication strategy for the entire company. Digital Royalty University (dRU) is our education division comprised of curriculums that are delivered both in-person and via webinar series. These education sessions are customized for brands ranging from thousands of employees to five employees.

DoubleTree by Hilton is an example of a large brand that has embraced social media and invested in training to provide the necessary resources for each of their 250+ locations around the world. They’re now able to develop and execute a localized social media strategy. In addition to working with the brand, Digital Royalty University (dRU) is leading a six-week webinar series for more than 500 DoubleTree by Hilton employees. The training is broken down into five separate customized curriculums that cover everything from account set-up on a variety of channels, to best practices and tips on how to build an engaging online community. Additionally, training is a way for DoubleTree by Hilton to bring their deep-rooted CARE culture to life through social media.

When supported by the entire company, social media can also be an effective culture-building tool. Take Tony Hsieh and Zappos for example, social media isn’t just a strategy, it’s part of the company culture. Too often companies focus too much on which employee should be responsible for their social media presence, when they should be focusing on who doesn’t have a presence online and developing a strategy to get them onboard.

For more info on Digital Royalty University (dRU), email: Info@TheDigitalRoyalty.com

— Note, since this blog post was written, dRU has added Google+ to the curriculum.

Geo-Targeting on Facebook

If you’re in California looking to buy a new purple unicorn and the national company that you like who sells purple unicorns posts a special Facebook offer at their stores in New York, what happens? You become an annoyed purple-unicorn-less Californian.

Geo-targeting is a helpful tool available on Facebook Pages. With a few simple clicks, you can customize posts based on country, state/province, city and language.

Just a few examples of how you can use geo-targeting:

  • Sharing information sensitive to time zones
  • Offering information in different languages
  • A/B testing by region or offer (compare conversion and engagement rates)
  • Localized stunts or events

And here’s how you do it:

  1. When posting a status, link, photo or video on your Page, select the ‘Everyone’ drop down menu below the text box and click ‘Customize’.
  2. Enter the country of choice (and optional filter by state/province and city).
  3. Enter an optional language of choice. Press “Okay.”
  4. Post your geo-targeted status to be seen only by those specified in preferences. After you finish posting, the custom preferences will clear and subsequent posts will display to all audiences unless otherwise specified.

Interested in learning more best practices on social media outlets? Learn more about our education division, Digital Royalty University, by emailing info@thedigitalroyalty.com.

The Power of Listening

Something very common happened recently on U.S. Airways Flight #544 from Vancouver to Phoenix. But what happened afterwards is something truly noteworthy. I left my very beloved iPad at seat 15A. Besides the iPad being a gadget many people would love to get their hands on, mine also contained sensitive information. That is when I went from a customer to a customer that needed service.

In a state of panic and with a tinge of hope, I sent this tweet:

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Reaching out to US Airways on Twitter might, just might, get me my iPad back. Afterall, as a loyal Southwest Airlines customer and follower, I’ve seen customer service in action via Twitter. In fact, @SouthwestAir was actively assisting their customers throughout the day on that Sunday, while @USAirways had not sent a tweet in four days and hadn’t responded to a customer-service oriented tweet in five days.

What happened next was less expected. Hundreds of people started responding to my virtual distress signal. People were sending me phone numbers to US Airways and to airports customer service departments and giving me advice on how to get it back. Kind friends from Dallas (where the plane was headed next) volunteered to drive to the airport to retrieve my iPad. While dozens of others reached out to the @USAirways account on my behalf.

In the middle of this outpouring of generosity, came one tweet-in-shining armor under the handle: @This_JustIn_. And this Justin saved the day. A couple phone calls on my behalf and the news came in: my iPad would be riding with the captain back home to PHX where we would be happily (and gratefully) reunited.

There are many lessons to take from this story. For one, don’t leave your unlocked iPad on a plane. (It’s now password protected, by the way.) But one of the most valuable is the power of humans helping humans. There are huge opportunities (thanks to powerful communication tools such as Twitter and Facebook) for ‘titans of industry’ such as US Airways to humanize their brand. Imagine if @USAirways was listening-around-the-clock (since they do fly-around-the-clock) instead of only “listening during regular business hours” (as their bio line says). They not only had the opportunity to give amazing customer service but to do it in front of hundreds of people who were actively listening. People were literally rooting for them to succeed!

And the kicker? It was such an easy win for @USAirways. Why? For one, they had a Captain flying the plane who cared enough about his passengers to temporarily take custody of my iPad and return it to me personally at the Phoenix airport.

So where did they go wrong? They weren’t listening. It is no longer up to the brand where or how they want their customers to communicate.  Imagine if US Airways decided they didn’t want to use the phone as a communication device and stopped answering the phone for five days.