“My kids, if I ever accidentally have some, will not go to school. They will start twitter accounts and learn from the people.”– Paul Bissonette, Phoenix Coyotes
It’s tweets like these that have made Phoenix Coyotes’ enforcer Paul Bissonette generate a healthy following on social media. And there is something to be said about how athletes engage on social media.
Most sports fans know their favorite athlete’s height, weight, jersey number and noteworthy statistics. But that trend is changing as more and more athletes dive into social media and fans around the world subscribe to their every tweet.
Just like in business and other industries, professional sports organizations are seeing the vast promotional potential of social media. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White has even announced that he would dish out $240,000 towards improving his fighter’s followings. How’s that for incentive? Paid to socialize, sign me up.
So what is it about social media engagement that fans really enjoy?
Accessibility: Fans want to gain access and connect with athletes. Social media has made that a possibility. Whether it is a brief exchange about last night’s game, insights into fitness regimens or injury updates, all of these provide something meaningful to the fans. People connect with athletes through social media to learn more than they would get from the radio and television. Takeaway: Be accessible to your following. Make them feel special.
Be Human: The public sometimes forgets that athletes have significant others, children, and even a life outside the game. Interacting with fans via social media shows a human side that online communities desperately want to see. My personal favorite is Paul Bissonette, the professional hockey player mentioned above who has amassed a following of 211,686, despite only tallying 5 career NHL goals. If you’re looking for personality, he’s your man. Takeaway: Crack a joke, admit you were wrong, or thank your social followers for pointing something out. Show you are human.
Insight: Just like someone who works in law, business or education, athletes have a significant level of insight about the sport they play and can build their community up by educating their audience. Takeaway: Whether you work for a sports related brand or not, share your knowledge so the rest of us can take it in.
Relationships: Social media gives athletes and their fans a chance to connect and deepen relationships. Your audience is constantly evaluating the strength of their relationship with you so take the time to show them you value their support. Takeaway: Show them love and it will come back 5-fold in long-term support.
Regardless of who you are or what you do, make your audience feel valued. Give them access, show your personality, and provide any insight you might have. You can manage the relationships by consistently WOWing your audience. For Bissonette, that is providing humor and insight that fans don’t expect to get from professional athletes.
To learn more check out the top 100 tips to live by via @darrenrovell. Can you think of any other methods to engage with your following? Share below! This post originally appeared on the Radian6 Social Strategy Blog where I contribute to the community engagement team.