How do individuals and organisations avoid the pitfalls and maximise the perks of social media? Kathleen Hessert, President of Sports Media Challenge, a consultancy that has worked on media campaigns with the Olympics, PGA Tour, ATP, NFL, MLB and NCAA, offers her advice.
Tip 1: Vary your message
Variety is the spice of life, and you're going to look lifeless if you are too niche on social media platforms. Ensure you engage with your audience on more than one level.
"Don't just post about your sport or business of sport," says Hessert. "A good balance of content is one-third sport, one-third other interests and one-third related to current events. Show people you're more than one dimensional."
Tip 2: What would your mother say?
Numerous high-profile sports stars and industry stakeholders have fallen foul of the most basic rule in the social media book: think twice before you post a potentially controversial comment.
"Remember the Mother Rule," says Hessert. "The rule is that the world literally can see your posts. If you don't want your mother to read it, don't post it."
Tip 3: Seek a cool-down period
You need to show your true colours, but knee-jerk reactions that are read within seconds can be inflammatory and costly. After all, people remember the post-match interviews with an irate sports coach, and not always for the best reasons...
"Sports are emotional so share the passion, BUT not when your emotions are at their highest or lowest," says Hessert. "Give yourself at least a 10-minute buffer period to ensure appropriateness."
Tip 4: Provide value
You won't engage with the public if your posts are repetitive and forgettable. Give people a reason to check out what you are saying. You might just build up a following as a result.
Hessert says: "Ask yourself: did you add value to your community with that post and share with flair? Did the post convey your distinctive personality? Make people know you're real and make them want more!"
Tip 5: Join the conversation
It's called social media for a reason. You are part of an online community so make sure your strategy is not purely a one-way conversation.
"Put your ego to one side," says Hessert. "Make your social media the conversation it should be. Shine the spotlight on fans regularly by commenting on their posts. People like recognition and they'll remember you because you remembered them."
Top Tip: Create a strategy
Setting out in the world of social media can initially prove an entertaining and rewarding pursuit, but in the long run it has to tie in with a plan and clearly-defined goals.
"Don't embark on random acts of social media," warns Hessert. "Develop a social media strategy that aligns with your business goals. It can definitely be fun, but it's not a game."
Since 1988, Sports Media Challenge has been at the forefront of media training, providing cutting edge, high quality services. SMC has built a track record of training athletes, coaches and other sports professionals to maximise public exposure while minimising risks.