We are indeed seeing an increase in the number of community sports providers who are active on social and digital media and an improvement in the innovation and sophistication that many demonstrate when it comes to connecting with people.
But…for many clubs, leisure centres and other providers there are still a long way to go to become really connected to their customers and communities. They are still sceptical towards social and digital media and often feel ‘disengaged’ with their younger audiences, although our digital generation is the one we want to attract and retain at our community sports providers. The average 16 – 24-year old spends 30 hours per week online, so you go to where they are and speak their language
So here are three key lessons that you should consider and some examples you could learn from:
- Involve your Juniors – often they are often better at communicating with other Juniors
- Involved your players/athletes – they are closer to the action
- Get started and ‘learn by doing’
13-year-old launches http://www.cricketmum.co.uk
Angus Parsons, is a 13-year-old member of Callander Cricket Club, a welcoming and enterprising two-year-old cricket club, located in the region of Stirling, Scotland
“I made this website as I am young and play cricket, but whenever I go to speak to my mum about how I played, there was a lot of explaining, so she suggested I should make a website to help all the mothers who have a child who plays cricket and explain the basics for them!”
And http://www.cricketmum.co.uk http://www.cricketmum.co.uk/ was born! Angus says: “This site is for all the mums out there that have a son or daughter who plays cricket, yet you have no clue about the game or what your kid needs for it. I’m here to help.”
11-year-old boy produces a highly popular video about his sport, orienteering
In 2006 Alexander Lines (aged 11) made a short introduction to orienteering, which featured his brother Edward explaining, in their terms, what orienteering is about. This was just one year after YouTube was launched, so that was certainly an enterprising move.
In 5 1/2 minutes this video explains in terms, that even I understand, what orienteering is all about. Since then, more than 220.000 people have viewed this video on YouTube.
If you want to watch the video, go to: http://tinyurl.com/ojydmq8
But all these years later, Alexander Lines is now involved with York University Orienteering Club, which has one of the most engaging websites, with an entertaining and informative video.
Do you have an Angus Parsons or Alexander Lines within your club – then involve them
The internet and use of Social Media are at the heart of the growth, which has occurred at Glenrothes Cricket Club over the past four years.
At Glenrothes CC back in 2011 there was huge skepticism about sports clubs engaging online, committee members concerned that every miniscule member frustration would air itself in the public domain and portray their club in bad light.
GCC thought differently from the outset. A simple glance at the way modern media was adapting nationally and internationally convinced the club that shouting from rooftops about all that was happening in our club, was the best way to generate awareness and excitement for a sport that still lingers in the shadow of football by quite some distance.
Initially, it became about getting the website in order; publicising news, ensuring fixtures were detailed and concise and encouraging captains to add results, scorecards, photos and reports as soon as possible. Using all the features of the Pitchero website system ensured they quickly offered a very impressive website with regular and clear information about the club and calls to action for non-members and juniors could get more involved. Today the club website is ranked no.5 for visitors in the UK (no.1 in Scotland) within the popular Pitchero network, no mean feat for a small cricket club in Fife.
Twitter soon followed. That mainly based on the appetite for players in club’s other teams to learn what was going on at the other games, something only ever done by mobile phone previously. Our captains were encouraged to ensure commentary style Tweets and photos were done at all matches. This added a professional edge to club communications and proved immensely popular for members and the wider Scottish cricket community; many other clubs quickly followed our lead. Today we are one of the most followed Scottish cricket clubs with over 2000 following our Tweets and more importantly huge engagement via reJtweets and favourites. Many club members joined Twitter on the back of the club making use of the platform and as such tagging in member account names to photos, reports and selections. This ensures wider engagement and that more people in the local community are aware and talking about cricket and the club.
Their attention soon turned to Facebook, mainly due to the huge number of members and local cricketers from other clubs using Facebook personally; a bit of reverse to how we started using Twitter. Initially Facebook was simply used to replicate our Twitter feed but the character limitations of Twitter didn’t really lend themselves to Facebook, so a more concise strategy was developed. Commentary from matches would remain the domain of Twitter but we’d use Facebook to introduce the matches for the weekend ahead and at the same time encourage followers to visit our Twitter feed for commentary. Team selections, photo albums and links to club news items are all posted on Facebook. We also use photo tagging, which ensured friends and family of all our players become aware of the players’ involvement with our cricket club.Using boosted posts on Facebook has also become part of our growth strategy, especially with the junior (Gladiators) section of the club. Previously the club relied on newspaper and radio advertising plus flyers in the local schools to try and encourage children to come along to junior training. This approach was very scattergun and there was no form of niche targeting. Facebook by its very nature allowed us to commit a small budget to boost our Gladiators training posts to parents of children between 5 – 14 who live in Glenrothes (or within a 10 mile radius of the town) who have an interest in sport and outdoor activities. This approach helped us grow the Gladiators from zero children in 2011 to having over 150 registered with the club by the start of 2015.
In recent years, they have even made use of the boost option for adult cricket as well, in particular during the holiday season in July and August, when it’s been harder to get the 44 players we need on a Saturday and the 22 on a Sunday. These posts have been targeted at those who like cricket and live in or near Glenrothes.
Given their strong following online they decided to step things up further in 2013 by live video streaming of some of their matches. This proved popular and we now stream almost every 1st XI match live online via LiveStream.com with complete video and commentary. The matches are available on catchup and allow players from all teams to watch the action after the days play. To the best of our knowledge we are the first and only cricket club to offer such a comprehensive free live video streaming option.
The Internet and social media will continue to play a key role at Glenrothes CC.