Today marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year: baseball season. Oh, the season actually began yesterday with a few games, but in my world the season isn’t officially underway until my beloved Phillies take the field.
So with half my brain focusing on baseball and the other focusing on my work, it’s only fitting that I take a look at the parallels between Social Media and the game of baseball.
1.The team/players – Like baseball, a business needs to decide who is on the Social Media team. The players are each chosen for their unique set of skills and abilities. Some are known for pitching, others for hitting home runs, and still others for their speed on the bases. But those who are most successful all share a passion for the game. As you assemble your Social Media team, look for people who have a passion for both Social Media and your brand, and also exhibit useful skills. Everyone on the team contributes in their own way. This is why I say that Social Media is everyone’s job, and not just a task for one person. From the managers and coaches to the starters and bench players, everyone plays a role.
2. The tools – When you head out onto the field you need to use the proper tools. Baseball players use different bats, a variety of glove styles, and other tools so that they can play the game properly and to the best of their abilities. In Social Media the tools can be the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc) or even the apps we use to access and update those platforms (Seesmic Desktop, Tweetdeck, etc), and the list of platforms, apps, and third-party solutions goes on. Choose the right tools for the right job, but remember that sometimes a better one comes along.
3. The stadium – This is where the fans congregate. It’s your community; the people who gather together on forums like Facebook or Twitter to cheer you on. Certainly they have varying levels of commitment to your brand, but the large majority of them are there because they “like” you. They buy your products as evidenced by the number of them wearing your merchandise. But some are there because they have season tickets and live and die with the team, while others are there just because a friend wanted them there. And don’t forget, not all of them are your fans. Scan the crowds and you’ll see a few hats and shirts from the opposing team. A small percentage are there to support the competition; they’d love to see you fail. But if they start talking trash, your community may just step up and come to your rescue.
4. The fans – I mentioned them in the previous point, but it’s worth stating that your fans aren’t just a community, but are a community made up of individuals. Each of them has their own story and own reason for being there. Some have been your fans for years, while others are new to you. In the end, it comes down to how well you do. You need to engage them and keep them coming back. If you don’t give them what they want, they’ll stop buying tickets, and you’re sunk. And while they are there, engage them at all times. This is why I love our smaller local baseball teams. There is always something going on for the fans, even in between innings. But remember, while your fans are normally there for you, they can turn on you fast (remember: I’m a Phillies fan…)
Put together a great team that uses the proper tools and the appropriate platforms to build a community of fans that rallies around you and your brand and does your marketing for you. And in the end, the ones who succeed will be the ones who are there because they love the “game” of Social Media, not just because they are punching in and punching out to earn a paycheck.