9 Ways Your Sports Club Can Use Twitter To Punch Above Its Weight
Is your sports organisation struggling to get noticed among the constant Twitter noise? According to Moz, the lifetime of a tweet is just 18 minutes. If your tweets are being ignored, it’s probably even shorter than that.
And yet, Twitter can be a brilliant place for sports businesses to build brand awareness. Sport is a popular topic on Twitter: it’s newsy, fast moving, up-to-the-minute and influencers from both sports and local communities are very active on there. With the right tactics and an integrated marketing plan your sports business can often punch well above its weight versus the bigger players in your field.
So how can you get Twitter to work for you?
Warning: Before you start, you need a clear of idea of your target audience. Whose attention are you trying to get? Male or female? What age? Do they play your sport themselves or do their children/friends? Are they fans of your sport or club? Where do they live? Where do they hang out on social media? Twitter’s demographic is pretty wide but regardless of which sport you’re working in, there’s no point being active on Twitter unless your audience is there.
- What should you tweet? If you follow other sports clubs you’ll have noticed that so many just broadcast endless promo posts about their events. There’s often no personality in the posts or even benefits as to why you should go along! Then you see they have zero likes, replies or re-tweets on those posts. People don’t come to Twitter to be broadcast at! They want to be informed, educated or entertained. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes — what sports content would you like to read? What do you want to know more about? What type of posts/videos make you laugh?
The content you post can be original (made by you) or curated (when you share a great post from someone else, just make sure you credit them with an @ mention in your post). There’s a huge range of content you could post about sport & related topics. Think about your sport and be helpful — why should people take it up, the benefits, the fun aspects, what do people get out of doing it, what they would miss out on if they didn’t play, tips on playing better, handling the emotions of sport, myths about your sport, share others’ sporting successes or initiatives. Think about which FAQs crop up about your club or your sport, feedback from your players/fans, maybe some behind the scenes posts or interviews? Test a variety of content and see what your audience engages with (see point 9) and do more of what they like! Just don’t always be posting about yourself.
2. How should you post it? You can and should vary the formats of your posts — always including a visual. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images (source: Buffer/HubSpot) and Tweets with images generate 3X more engagement than basic text (source: Social Media Today).
Not a graphic designer? Don’t worry! There are plenty of great visual apps on desktop and on mobile (perfect when you want to tweet on the go at a sports event). Experiment and see what your audience reacts to — you can simply post a GIF directly on twitter, or attach a photo. Infographics, sketchnotes, memes, slideshows and overlaid text can be really eye catching. Give these really user friendly Iphone apps a try: Wordswag, Ripl, Adobe Spark Post, Legend, Filmora Go. But always ensure you have permission to use the photos/videos.
Be succinct if you can! Research has shown that the ideal tweet length is about 100 characters — at least while Twitter still has its 140 character limit! This gives people the chance to share“quote tweet” your tweet with their own additional comment/take on the tweet.
3. When should you post? Now you’ve established that your audience is on Twitter and what to post, you need to think about the best time to post. Will you want to catch people on their commute, do you think they scan twitter at lunch time or multi-task while watching TV at night? Is 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon really a good time to post if the football is on? Would weekends or evenings work better? Facebook tells you when your page fans are online, but Twitter doesn’t.
If you’re running regular sessions (eg Saturday mornings), then use that great opportunity to post in the lead up to the event (eg post a GIF showing how you feel before it, or the latest local weather report). Do post during the sessions if you’re able to (images or action videos are great, but make sure you have permission to post them from the participants/their parents). Post afterwards to share how it went; even better if you can encourage your fans or players to post their own tweets on what they learned or enjoyed (user generated content is excellent for creating an authentic buzz around your sport). Whatever you decide, do commit to regular posting.
4. How often should you post? There’s a lot of debate about this, but to get decent traction you’ll probably need to post 6–10 times a day. It sounds daunting but as the Twitter feed moves so quickly it’s probably a good idea to repeat some of your posts 2–3 times over the week at different times of day. If you keep an eye on how your posts perform (see below for Analytics), you’ll get an idea of what works for you.
5. How to post regularly when you’re not there? Although they’re no substitute for tweeting in the moment, scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer are a great help, especially if you’re short of time. These can schedule tweets automatically for you. Both offer free versions to get you started.
6. How to punch above your weight vs. the bigger players? Through engagement! Engagement is so much more important than the number of followers, particularly as the social media platforms’ algorithms (how they control what each person sees on their newsfeeds) is geared more and more towards accounts which are actively engaged on a daily basis.
If you want lots of followers, you could engage in unscrupulous follower buying or follow me — follow back practices, but this is frowned on by Twitter and though your vanity metric of follower numbers will look impressive, your engagement levels will be non-existent. A great guide as to how engaged and “real” a twitter account is is to scan down the latest posts and see how many hearts and replies/re-tweets the posts are getting. As mentioned above, many sports organisations have large numbers of followers but aren’t posting regularly let alone joining in discussions or sharing useful posts!
As a minimum, try to set aside say 15 minutes a day at least to engage — preferably at an optimum time for your audience or the influencers you’re keen to talk to. Like, share, comment on posts using the tone of voice or personality of your sports club. Tips to increase engagement — participate in local or sports specific tweet hours, join in discussions on relevant hashtags (especially national sports championships/games/major sports award ceremonies) or national days, comment on influencers’ posts, ask your followers questions, maybe run a Twitter poll? A bit of humour goes a long way too, not to mention a few emojis to show your personality! But make sure you’re “on brand” and using the appropriate tone of voice for your club. And if someone shares your post, do thank them!
7. Who should you be talking to on Twitter? On top of your target audience, there will be a number of key influencers in your field/local area. These are people who are passionate about their sport/where they live and they have an engaged audience which ties in with yours. Basically it’s a good idea to be seen in the same sphere as them. But nurture any relationship — don’t dive in feet first and ask them to RT your event or @ mention them excessively! (Yellow or red card offences!). Be generous with your comments and engagement.
The list of sports influencers is huge. It’s worth putting together a list for your niche — journalists, media, national (& international) organisations/associations or charities, specific campaigns (#ThisGirlCan), celebrities who play your sport. On a local level, you should be looking for sports clubs/gyms (both your sport and others), local community groups, media and if targeting parents, then local parenting groups, schools (some PE departments have their own twitter accounts) etc.
8. How do you keep tabs on all these influencers & potential customers? Twitter Lists! Perfect to quickly reference people you want to be engaging with on a regular basis. Create a list for each area that is important to you — you could make one for your customers, local sports clubs, national organisations, etc. Lists can be private (only you can see them) or public ones. Give the lists a great title (eg with expert/guru in the name) as people get notified that you have added them to your list. It’s worth checking if any of your influencers have their own lists which you can subscribe to. Brilliant for your 15 minute stints of engaging. Twitter lists mean you don’t need to check your ever lengthening news feed for these key people.
9. How do you know what’s working? You’ll get a pretty good idea from the notifications of your likes, replies and retweets. But it’s worth delving a little bit deeper into Twitter Analytics which you’ll find under your profile picture on the top right of the page. Click here and you’ll be taken to the Analytics Home page/main dashboard which lets you see over the last 28 days the number of tweets, how many people saw your posts (impressions), how many visited your profile (profile visits), how often your twitter account was mentioned (mentions) & your number of followers. It shows you highlights of your top tweets (most seen and most engaging).
To see more detail, click on Tweets at the top, then Top Tweets (about one third down the page) to see your best performers. Why did some do so well? See if there are any patterns to your success (did you use a great hashtag? did you tweet in the moment? use an image/video? @ mention an influencer?) Look at both the number of impressions and the engagements (total number of clicks/interactions with the posts). Take a look at what performed poorly too so as not to repeat your mistakes — you can see these in a spreadsheet if you click “Export Data” at the top right. Luckily, Twitter analytics are fairly straightforward to work with, so it’s worth testing, measuring then reflecting on what works and what doesn’t on a regular basis (ideally weekly, if not at least once a month). Refine what you’ve done previously, test and repeat the processs!
A. Remember to include your Twitter account on all your collateral/correspondence, website and especially emails. Do ask your friends, family, players and fans to follow you on Twitter and encourage them to like/share your posts. Every little engagement helps!
B. If your tweet is too long, remember that you could always get your message across with an image with text overlaid (use Wordswag (mobile), Canva or Pablo by Buffer (desktop) as Twitter doesn’t count photos as extra characters. You can also tag individuals on a photo instead of @ mentioning them in the text. But only do this if you know them!
C. Big event coming up? Craft a great visual, linking to your website and “pin” the post to the top of your profile to increase its visibility. (you’ll still need to tweet the event regularly and encourage shares of the post).
Overall, Twitter is an excellent platform to build awareness of your club and probably the best place to engage with your influencers. For even greater success, combine Twitter with your offline marketing plus other digital routes including your website, email and other social media platforms as part of an integrated campaign.
I love seeing sports clubs and initiatives encouraging more people to take up sports, so I hope this has given you a few useful ideas to get your club thriving on Twitter. I’ll be posting more social media tips for sports shortly (content, engagement, visuals, analytics etc) — so please watch this space!
If you enjoyed my tips, I’d love it if you could give this a clap below. If you liked the ideas but are too busy to implement them yourself for your sports club/organisation, please get in touch with me via Twitter or LinkedIn — I’d love to see if I can help!