By Caroline Nobles
Social media professionals and sports fans alike are eagerly awaiting Super Bowl XLVI this Sunday night. Debates have already blossomed around the showdown between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Will the event be a rematch of Super Bowl XLII or a sequel to the game in 2007?
Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl bash or curling up on the couch to watch the Patriots, Giants or the highly publicized Volkswagen commercial, social media will certainly be abuzz with Super Bowl fever. As many of us are professional and personal users of social media, we can learn from athletes and teams using the same channels. What are they doing to get results, and how can we do the same?
Be engaged and active.
Athletes and teams who use social media successfully are constantly adding and updating content. They talk about upcoming games, chat with other athletes, promote special events or banter with rivals. Their goals may differ, but successful users are continuously linking, updating, following and talking.
Think outside the box.
When NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement from basketball, he didn’t follow the norm and hold a press conference. Instead, he posted a 15-second video to Tout, thanking his fans and informing them he was stepping down from the game. Last fall, to engage people via Twitter in the Battle for the Golden Egg between Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State painted #HAILSTATE in one end zone. “Hashtagging” the end zone was an innovative way to marry sports enthusiasm with social media. Generating ideas and tactics that might be slightly outside your comfort zone just may provide the inspiration needed to start conversation.
Follow athletes in and out of your sport.
Athletes follow other athletes via Twitter in their own sport and outside of their sport. There are always opportunities to learn from others in and out of your field. Eli Manning, quarterback for the Giants, doesn’t only follow his teammates on Twitter; he also follows NBA star LeBron James, quarterbacks Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, and ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols. Use social media to keep up with colleagues, competitors and industry news. Untapped ideas, pitching opportunities, marketing tools, story ideas and other useful content is always available.
Sports teams and athletes use social media to talk about themselves, their products and their brands. With the Super Bowl quickly approaching, players on the Patriots and Giants aren’t talking about The World Series. Sports bloggers aren’t blogging about the U.S. Open. No, athletes, writers, reporters and sponsors are tweeting, posting, liking and blogging about the Big Game. So, use social media to your advantage and promote yourself. Promote a new product or brand through Facebook or YouTube. Blog about awards or recognitions your company, client or product earns. Launch a Twitter campaign to increase website awareness. The possibilities are endless.
Avoid the penalty flag.
While many sports figures maintain a professional image when using social media, there are athletes who abuse the privilege. Once you start using social media, you place yourself in the public eye. A seemingly innocent status update or tweet may be misinterpreted and result in the loss of a client or sponsorship. Champion dropped its endorsement deal with Rashard Mendenhall, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, after an ill-timed and controversial tweet. Proofread and edit your content, and don’t post in frustration or anger. Maintain a professional image – one that demonstrates your expertise and mirrors your values.
Set goals and break records.
Whether you’re trying to break into the social media scene or become more engaged, set reachable goals. We can’t all be like Tim Tebow and set a record of 9,420 tweets per second. We can, however, set objectives such as tweeting at least three times per day, posting links and updates to Facebook once a day, blogging two to three times per month, and building our LinkedIn connections. Consistency is the first step to a winning effort.
No matter how you spend your Super Bowl Sunday, social media will play a key role in event coverage. Make a conscious effort to observe how other athletes and professionals use these online tools to generate coverage and awareness, and decide what strategies and tactics you can employ to get the most out of your social media.
How do you plan on using social media on Super Bowl Sunday?
Caroline Nobles is an assistant account executive who can be reached at @carolinenobles during the game.