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How curling clubs can use social media

June 15, 2011

People are armed with the ability to participate in social media.

They’re sharing status on Facebook; adding images to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter; giving reviews on Yelp; offering opinions on other review sites and brand sites; people are liking, voting, and tagging; adding connections, friends, and followers; they’re asking and answering questions on Yahoo, LinkedIn and Quara; offering long form ideas in blogs and video blogs; updating facts on Wikipedia; checking-in at the local curling club with Facebook or FourSquare… and much more.

People living in a world of active participation in the things they like. And while many of the tools above don’t apply to curling club, some already are. Chances are there’s already:

I could go on. And this doesn’t include the possibility that clubs already have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, etc.

Content management is a big issue for most businesses who engage in social media. Most survey’s you see about social media participation talk about the need for resources.

But resources aren’t the problem for curling clubs or brands. The problem is committing resources to a thing that doesn’t have a clearly defined goal. Lets start a Facebook page isn’t a goal.

But we shouldn’t talk about tactics yet. We need to talk about content. But if you decide to create content, you need to think about who will consume the content. So we should split curlers. (Note: this isn’t a curling thing, we can also split your best customers this way.)

Non-curlers/ 1-2 year members (New fans of the brand)
Getting them to be fans of the Facebook page, or getting their e-mail addresses and updating them is important. With new people, and new fans, the goal is to just get them signed up to something. Maybe a Facebook page. Maybe simply the addresses for the roster.

3-10 year members. (Fans who have tried a lot, and begin to love it)
The issue for this level curler is simple: there are few resources out there to learn to see one shot ahead. Watching curling on TV means watching players who are calling shots many shots ahead, based on scoreboard, ice conditions, rock conditions, opponent tendencies… You get the picture. It’s a different game. That doesn’t make it less enjoyable, but a 4th year curler can’t walk out and make the shots that are made on the TV.

To solve the issue, we can stream live club games on Ustream.com or JustinTV, for people from the club who want to learn strategy. It’s a sort of macro way to teach people how to think about what shot to call.

There are logistical issues: but streaming a game on Ustream is a simple as getting a camera and hitting a button. Ustream (and other streaming channels) have chat functionality where people can ask questions about the game. In real time.

10+ members
These are your advocates for the game and your club. In social media, these are the best customers because the terms used to describe actions in social media are Fan, Follower, Subscriber, etc. These people, by definition, are fans.

Regardless of your industry or category, the best customers are the potential content creators. If a club decides to engage in social media, the biggest hurdle becomes content creation. Who is in charge of making those pesky Facebook or Twitter posts? It’s not just hard for clubs, it is hard for brands. What is required is a plan. And the plan should involve the nest customers.

Starting with a communications strategy to get to these people (signage in the club, in e-mails, in member packages, training), begin to tell them what they should do.

  • Post their own scores (or reviews).
  • Post messages about how they did in the fun spiel up in Yorkton (or down in Boston).
  • Post pictures to the Facebook page.
  • Have the best customers tell the story of the experience.

Not because you want more people out of the club, but you want the people in the 3-10 range to learn that curling is about more than just Tuesday night mens, or Wednesday night ladies.

And, when you get committees to run spiels in your clubs, you assign a PR person to take photos and videos of the event for the Facebook page. There’s a good chance that we’re all carrying hi def cameras in our pockets — if not now, then in 3 years we will be. Each in-club spiel is a wealth of content for the club.

There’s more to this. In the coming weeks, I’m going to talk about content strategy on this blog. How to create content that people care about.

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