This is a guest post I did for Lewis Howes’ Sports Networker. I am re-posting it here for your convenience, and so that it can be archived with my other content.
Using the framework set forth by Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth (and expanded on by Valeria Maltoni) I’d like to continue the mini-series on using social media for sports marketing. Last time we talked about how to involve, and for this post I’d like to discuss how to begin the second phase, creation.
Creation boils down to making relevant content for communities of interest. Re-read that line, it doesn’t say make relevant content for your own interest, though I suspect the most successful bloggers are certainly interested in their niche and the value they can bring to the community.
If you take one thing away from this post, it should be that it is about your fans, and your customers, not about you. Read the Cluetrain manifesto to help you understand what the market wants.
So where does creation start?
There are so many different communication channels, and different mediums to produce content on that sometimes it is tough to know where you should start. Personally, I think a blog is the best place to start because it is a great hub from which you can branch off to other platforms. My friend Andy Drish likes to say that your blog is your home, and Twitter is happy hour, and I like that analogy.
Twitter is certainly the hot tool right now, but there’s only so much you can convey in 140 characters. Why not create content via your blog (or video i.e. YouTube), and then connect with people, promote your content, etc. via Twitter, social networks, Digg, etc.
Starting Your Blog:
Determine what you’re passionate about and where you can contribute the most value. See if there’s a hungry audience (or a market) for the kind of content you want to create. Start writing. If you’ve been taking the time to get acquainted with what is already out there via the involve stage, than you probably already have a good grasp of these things.
If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’re very passionate about Sports. That’s great, but the chance of starting a really successful general sports blog is tough because there are already so many out there. You really have to find your unique value proposition and do something innovative.
Look at what Lewis has done with Sports Networker. He found a niche and has done a tremendous job exploiting it and providing value where there was a gap in the content currently being produced. Nobody was talking about sports networking, just like nobody was talking about Awful Announcing before that blog came along.
Pumping Out Content:
I know this sounds silly, but don’t sweat the quality of your content right at first. Start pumping out content as often as you can and let your readership grow, and then react. React to the kinds of things people are responding about, leaving comments to, and extending the conversation about.
For example, the first post I wrote on this blog about Twitter, and there was a huge response. I get it, I know people love Twitter, but remember that Twitter is a lot like Happy Hour. It’s a lot of fun, and you can go to it quickly and connect with a lot of people. After quite a few interactions you can start building real business relationships, but at some point you have to go home, and that’s your blog. Twitter should be a compliment to your other social media initiatives, not your one stop shop.
I know all of this, which is why I have tried to steer the conversation a bit, but I will inevitably go back to Twitter (most likely in my next post), because I know that’s what you guys want, and that’s invariably what is most important.
Re-Evaluation and Refinement:
After a few months, you will probably be a lot more comfortable with the content you’re creating via your blog. You will know what appeals to your audience, and where you can provide the most value. Hopefully, you’ll have a well-defined unique selling proposition that you can use to market your content to others moving forward.
This is the perfect time to take a step back and determine which route you want to go next? What is working? What isn’t? Do you want to keep writing about this particular topic? Do you want to quickly accelerate your readership?
It is important to periodically include this step in your content creation process because it enables you to hone in on what your goals are, and what steps you can take to achieve them.
Feel free to reach out to me in the comments section about any questions you might have about creating content to build your sports brand. I will do my best to answer every single one. And stay tuned for our next installment when I talk about the 3rd phase of using social media to build your sports brand, discussion.