With seemingly every professional athlete now using a Facebook fan page, what do athletes — and their page administrators — need to do to get noticed?
And what can the rest of us learn from the best examples set by sports pages?
When athletes began using Twitter and Facebook to connect with their fans a few years ago, it was easy to get followers and likes, which as you may remember were called fans back then.
The reason was because it was so new to sports fans, that no matter who the athlete was, fans were enamored with the fact that they could actually know what these athletes were doing, thinking, and feeling.
Average NFL players like Nick Barnett were able to amass hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers by being early adapters and giving fans access to them in an unscripted, informal setting, contrary to the typical post-game interview where the player is essentially forced to say the politically correct thing.
Fast forward to today and nearly every professional athlete is using Twitter and Facebook to interact with their fans, which is great for fans, but bad for the players, as the saturation means that typical fans aren’t going to follow them just because they have Twitter and update their status saying what they had for lunch.
Moral of the story? If you are a professional athlete, you need to understand that in order to grow your Twitter followers and Facebook likes, you must stand out. How do you do that? It’s really quite simple, but requires you to follow these five basic steps:
1. Use Facebook and Twitter, but remember how much more powerful Facebook is.
Research not only shows that there are a great deal more people with Facebook accounts than Twitter accounts, but that there is an even greater ratio of Americans that use Facebook daily when compared to Twitter.
2. Consistently provide your audience with unique video and picture content, or you’ll blend right in with everyone else.
You aren’t going to get fans to pay attention to you by just posting text updates unless you’re LeBron James.
To captivate your audience and get them coming back for more, give them content that they won’t find on your teammates’ pages.
I highly recommend that all iPhone or Droid users download the app “Tout,” which gained popularity when Shaq used it to announce his retirement.
3. Ask your teammates, friends, and acquaintances to help you out.
They may not do it, but it never hurts to ask. When asking, it’s best to provide them with the exact copy of what you’d like them to say (including your pages URLs) so that it’s easy for them to copy and paste it.
4. When times are great and times are bad, don’t forget to post.
While we all sit on the couch watching players win a big game or lose a heartbreaker, these players are physically drained after either outcome.
Despite that, I think it’s imperative that players recognize that often the most opportune time to post is in these situations, because that’s when fans crave their updates most.
5. Sometimes your best post is what you don’t post.
There are countless examples of athletes posting controversial thoughts that have cost them both fans and money (see: Rashard Mendenhall bin Laden tweets).
My cardinal rule I tell the athletes I work with: If you wouldn’t say it on TV during an ESPN interview, then don’t post it on Facebook!
Guest writer Jeff Weiner is president and chief executive officer of ESBL Sports Management.