MLS hosted a Business Summit in Columbus earlier in September, which offered a great opportunity for club and league employees to discuss ideas and align goals. Not surprisingly, social media was a hot topic of conversation, and I presented a session on trends we’re seeing in the space. I’ve reworked them a bit from that presentation to make them more general and posted a similar list here.
I’d love to learn what you’re also seeing in the social community. Anything in particular you’re predicting sports marketers should consider in their 2013 strategic planning? Welcoming all suggestions and feedback either in the comments below or on twitter @vandey01.
1. Social is visual.
Web design has changed dramatically in the last two years with video and photos figuring prominently, and it’s no secret that people really, really love photos. So with that, social platforms are rapidly changing to adapt. Here are some examples.
And we’ve seen the growth/emergence of new technologies and platforms dedicated exclusively to displaying and sharing visual content:
If that’s not enough, consider the $1 billion sale of Instagram to Facebook. That’s a significant investment in a solely-visual platform.
- Invest in high-quality videos and images.
- Show personality and give your brand a soul.
- Engage fans by crowd sourcing.
2. Social is mobile.
Mobile is big, and it’s getting bigger. Comscore reports that networking through mobile devices is the fastest growing use for smartphones, and the number of people using social networking applications on their smartphones has grown by 240% since last year.
Just check out the mobile calls to action on the landing pages of these popular social sites.
And check this Mobile Social Shoppers Report out, where we learn that 25% of shopping conversations are posted online while in-store.
So, as the popularity of smartphones and tablets increases and the number of mobile data users climbs, more and more people are turning to these devices for real-time engagement, answers, sharing and learning. You can’t even use Instagram without a mobile device!
- Ensure all content is visible in mobile.
- Engage in the second-screen experience.
- Research and understand the apps your demo is using.
3. Social makes money.
It’s reasonable for users to expect that “free” social sites will need to find a sustainable long-term revenue model beyond venture capital. This new wave of digital advertising services and products offer brands the ability to reach more members of their existing communities, while expanding their reach to new territories.
Here’s a look at some major social advertising platforms.
- Facebook: About Facebook Advertising
- Twitter: Start Advertising on Twitter
- Foursquare: Three reasons Foursquare Ads might work
- YouTube: YouTube means business
Business hope they can attract attention, find relevance, and build more effective communities through a more engaging social advertising program and social platforms are banking that businesses will make the investments to do this.
- Invest in a social advertising as part of the overall marketing mix.
- Test different ad types to see what works with each market segment.
- Be creative with your ads, a bit of personalization goes a long way.
4. Search is social.
Social continues to play a big role in search, and it’s growing every day. From Facebook integration into Bing to the +1 integration into Google Search, the personalization of search based on our social friends and interests continues to evolve.
Here are examples of how some top search engines are integrating social.
- Google: Search, plus your World
- Bing: Reinvents social search and discovery
- Facebook: Search engine on the way
- Twitter: How to find people
Check out this post by SEO Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, who programmed an entire track at SMX in San Jose last spring around Social meeting Search. That commitment to the topic speaks volumes to me.
- Search engines will only become smarter, more relevant and more personalized.
- Update your Google+ timeline and participate in #hashtag conversations on Twitter because these can be a real influences on the end user.
5. Social drives business decisions.
I wouldn’t say we’re entirely there, but with the rise of better analytics platforms on both Facebook and Twitter, we’re seeing decision-makers push marketing budgets away from traditional media to a more measurable (and impactful if you ask me!) commodity – social media.
Here’s a look at some platforms and how they work.
- Facebook: Insights
- Twitter: Web Analytics
- Twitter: Advertiser Analytics
- GetGlue: Dashboard
- Google: Social Analytics
We can learn so much from social analytics. I also think sites like Foursquare and Google+ (who currently offer very limited data) would be well-served to build analytics platforms. At the end of the day if a marketer can’t measure ROI, corporate investments simply won’t happen at scale.
- Social analytics will continue to evolve, so we as social marketers must evolve with them.
- Plan ahead by identifying key metrics and put a plan in place to track.
- Take time to translate the data and share your social media successes with executives so they continue to invest.
Those are my top five trends, but there are plenty of others and I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything endemic to sports that we should be paying particular attention to?