I wasn’t there, but I heard at one of the Group Y events last summer, marketing execs were saying that Action Sports (probably more specifically Action Sports apparel) Brands can’t tap into and experience the full potential of the web and social media/news. I don’t know about you but in my experience, Action Sports and the web go hand-in-hand. In my opinion, it isn’t about the scary new thing called the internet, it’s about knowing how to tweak what you’re already doing in order to take full advantage of the webs potential.
1.) Understand the concept and the demographic: There’s Social Media and there’s Social News. Social Media is all about connecting on a personal level with your audience. The stuff they don’t get to read about in the mags. It makes them feel like they are a part of your crew. FaceBook, Twitter etc. can all help with reaching out and communicating with your following.
Social News on the other hand is all about sharing photos, videos, articles, etc. It’s the sensational side of what you’re doing and getting your peers to share and promote the content via sites like, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Twitter. Think Ken Block busting gaps, Shaun White killing it in slopestyle, Bruce Irons perfect 100 at Wiamea, Travis Pastrana busting double backs on his dirt bike.
2.) Don’t sell out, just tweak the approach: A lot of people think they need to do something risque or something that doesn’t represent their brand in order to do something viral. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What good is a viral campaign that projects your brand image in a light that you don’t really want to be seen in?
In Action Sports especially, there is so much going on that’s already viral in nature just the way it is, you just need to package it right and know how to share it. When Ken Block hit up DC Mtn Lab in the snow in his Subaru, we were one of the last to cover it here on 5ones. But no one submitted it or promoted it via social news, so we did it almost a month later and received over 90k unique visitors in less than 2 days. Don’t you think Subaru and especially DC would have loved that exposure instead of us? (were not complaining though)
3.) Personal communication/blogs and twitter: Have your FaceBook page grab your Twitter feed, and have your Blog link to your FaceBook and Twitter accounts. We plan on releasing a blog post specifically talking about Twitter and Blogs in action sports and how to connect them all so this will be brief. I was just cruising over at Shaun White’s blog and it has some super good stuff on there. He’s on Twitter as well and he would get a lot more followers (which is personal branding for Shaun) if his blog linked to and promoted his Twitter profile. Also, every time you write a new blog post, make sure you announce it on Twitter. Interact on Twitter too, imagine how stoked a grom would feel if he/she got a reply in blog comments or on Twitter from their Idol rider. That would be a fan for life.
Brands can hold contests on Twitter to interact with and attract new followers, PacSun just did this and I think it worked really well. Also, brands that have riders bio’s on their sites should link to those athlete’s blogs and Twitter profiles. It’s building personal relationships with each individual customer and it’s very effective.
4.) Hire someone with good social news accounts and background: Please hire someone to take your Blogspot blog and move it to a Wordpress blog that is hosted on your own domain. Please hire someone to design your blog in PHP/HTML and not Flash. Please hire someone that knows what they’re doing and has powerful accounts at social news sites or knows other people that do. Until you do, we here at 5ones we will continue to reap huge traffic rewards from submitting your cool news ourselves.
There are a lot of PR firms that say they understand social media but they don’t. There are a lot of your current employees that say they have a FaceBook profile and can easily fill that slot you have to run your social media campaign but they can’t. You don’t sponsor a rider just because they own a board. You want someone who can represent your brand and build an online community around your brand and athletes with the same ability that your top riders promote you through their shredding. You need a social media shredder. They are out there and who knows, maybe it is a current employee, if it is you need to lighten their load that takes them away from social media and let them be creative and let them be involved with the web team and let them talk to consultants. I CAN’T EMPHASIS THIS ENOUGH, LET THEM HAVE A DIRECT EXPRESS PASS THROUGH LEGAL. So many companies get held up because of legal departments. Social media waits for no man. Social users digest hundreds if not thousands of articles, videos, and pics a day and if yours is old news then don’t even bother. Make sure those people in charge of your social media campaigns get a “pass go and collect 2 hundy” straight in and out of legal.
5.)Test and try. Rinse and repeat: If you get a ton of traffic to a rider who is busting out, then make that a common bit of content. If you get positive traffic, links mentions, or comments from a behind the scenes video of an athlete, interview, or contest, then work that into a regular schedule. The best thing about web business is analytics and knowing exactly what works, why it works, and when it works. It’s unlike any other business in that regards. Use Google Analytics, or BLVD Status, and if you have dough, Omniture Analytics.
7.) Set up alerts: Google Alerts, RSS Alerts from Google News, Google Blog Search, Twitter Alerts, any and all other alerts. If someone else does an interview or awesome article about your brand or your athletes, it’s your job to find that and promote it. I absolutely loved the Fast Company article on Shaun White. I loved the business side of it and the little bit of insight into his team and his business decisions as I have often questioned his leaving Volcom and going to Target (that is for another post). However, I see no links to that article from any of his sponsor’s sites or even his own personal blog?
Use alerts to monitor your brand as well so you can watch what is being said about your brand. That way you can interact and comment and take control of the conversations that are happening ( and they’re happening whether you’re a part of them or not). I consult with huge companies concerning Online Reputation Management and one of the biggest things I can never emphasize enough is; being responsive and being transparent.
8.) Tweak the press release: You are all press release whores, submitting your news to Transworld, Surfline, and other more traditional outlets. Press releases are fine to post on your site but you should tweak them for the social audience. If you mention Kelly Slater won the world title for the 9th time, then also show his winning wave and his victory walk onto the sand and embed a video of all his perfect 10’s from that year. If you’re sending out a press release about an acquisition of a company or a new product line, tweak it for your site with a demo video or pictures. Then use that URL to promote socially, not the PR News Wire text heavy and picture lacking URL.
Social Media is an incredible tool to promote your brand and engage with your audience online. And it can be very easy to play in after you have tested it out for a while and you understand how it works. You will build strong, loyal followings and a sense of community around your brand with social media. You can reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new people that you had not reached prior. We’ve had single articles on 5ones that have been viewed over 100k times thanks to social media. To me, social media and action sports are a match made in heaven.
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Check out our ongoing list of Action Sports Twitter Accounts and add yours if its not on there.