I apologize for the lack of updates recently - I took on a new job a few weeks ago as social media manager for eWayDirect, which offers multiple marketing services on a single platform built around a robust reporting structure. The job is definitely a challenge as I'll be helping them 1) build their branded community platform 2)work with clients on how they can use it and 3) help build their own brand online, but it will be fun. I still plan on staying up-to-speed with things in the world of sports and providing information about the intersection of sports and social media. Please continue to feel free to contact me if there's anything I can help you with.
I wrote this about a month or so ago- some of the numbers may not be exactly correct now, but I think the overall message is still accurate.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) runs some of the most exciting and accessible events in the sports world. If you've seen an event live, you know what I mean. Beach volleyball players are some of the most athletic people on the planet and the AVP's events have a cool festival/party community atmosphere.
So, the AVP has great events, awesome athletes, cool content, passionate fans and some good sponsors (Crocs, Barefoot Wine, Russell Athletics, Bud Light, etc). There's a huge opportunity for the AVP to leverage social media to connect with their fans, build their brand, increase traffic to their website and extend their sponsorships. Here are some social media tools and platforms they're using (based on some quick research), along with some opportunities for ways they can get more out of their efforts. But I really think they need goals and strategy (if they don't already have them) to maximize their social media efforts.
The AVP's Twitter account is difficult to find (it's not linked to on their main website). It appears that the AVP started their Twitter account on April 3rd, but they haven't really utilized it much (only have 2 updates and 168 followers, and they are following zero people). The biggest benefit of Twitter is that it allows brands to show their human side and share interesting content to build trust and relationships, so the AVP has a lot of room to grow here.
The AVP's Facebook page has about 7500 fans and appears to be updated occasionally with pictures, videos and links to AVP content. They have done a good job at including their 2009 events in this page. However, I think they could do a better job at posting interesting content (AVP-related and other volleyball related stuff) to become a resource for all volleyball fans. And they should look at ways to reward their fans on Facebook to give them a reason to connect with them there.
The AVP links to this YouTube account on it's Facebook page. However, there are no videos on this YouTube account. With all the great videos and content the AVP likely has, they're missing a big opportunity here to syndicate their content to YouTube, create original content and involve their fans and sponsors.
As we know, social media isn't just about off-site tools and platforms. On-site elements and features can be utilized to enable audiences to easily share content with their friends and empower them to create their own content (or let them be involved in the process) to give them a stake in your brand. Here's some of what the AVP is doing on-site.
I was excited to see that the AVP links to their blog on the front page of their site in a very visible location. However, I was disappointed to see that the blog hasn't been updated since August 2008. The blog also lives on wordpress.com, instead of on avp.com, so the AVP doesn't have full control over the creative design of the site and they are missing out on capturing the traffic that comes to the blog. On the plus side, it was nice to see that AVP pros such as Jake Gibb and Todd Rogers had been contributing content to the blog. But a blog needs to be updated at least weekly to be effective, and they should have a content strategy in place to ensure that what is written is relevant and engaging.
The AVP has a nice video section on its website that features a variety of videos and channels. They appear to be professionally done and they include some great content. People can share these videos on other sites such as Facebook, Digg and StumbleUpon by clicking the "share" link under each video. I'd probably look at making this more visible by including the logos directly under the video and I'd also add a few sites to this list to really give people an opportunity to share this content with their friends.
The AVP has some very passionate fans, but the organization is missing out on capturing this conversation and soliciting feedback on their website. It may make sense to build a community for fans, similar to what other leagues and teams have done. This would most likely increase time spent on the site and page views. More time spent with a brand = stronger fans = more revenue. There also are ways to integrate sponsors into a fan community to add value and generate additional revenue.
If the AVP is going to be successful with any community efforts (on-site or off-site through other social media tools/platforms), they probably need to hire a community manager who is very passionate about volleyball and the AVP. This would be someone whose job is to facilitate conversations, content creation, fan evangelism and feedback and help grow the AVP's brand and community.
Of course, the AVP really needs a strategy before doing anything. They need to figure out what their goals are, what they will measure as indicators of success, how they will achieve these goals, and what tools/platforms they will use. Once they do this, they will be in a much better position to leverage social media to help them engage fans and build business. What do you think?