Facebook is the most famous and most used social media platform. It provides various tools that can be used by local clubs to help them to achieve their full potential.
Facebook is divided into individual profiles, group and fan pages (follow this link to see the difference between a group and fan page http://www.facebook.com/blog/blog.php?post=324706977130)
The choice between a group and a fan page is an important one in that a group page is a closed membership with an ‘invite only’ philosophy designed for organisations who want to restrict their information to members only. Fan pages on the other hand are designed to expose the organisation to the outside world and gather fans.
So if your club is interested in communication tools only, we recommend you set up your team’s page as a ‘group page’ to ensure you have greater control over who joins and contributes. To set up a group page you have to have an individual account.
For all the information on working with groups, follow this link http://www.facebook.com/help/162866443847527/
Creating and Maintaining your Club’s Fan Page
A fan page is a serious marketing tool as well as communication tool for your club. After creating a fan page, the club gives its fans, sponsors and supporters the opportunity to like and join the page by putting out a call to join.
When a fan ‘likes’ a club’s page, there is an automatic notice posted in the ‘Likes’ section of the fan’s page which can be seen by all the fan’s friends. So the club’s page is exposed to more and more people each time a new fan likes the club page, this is called “reach”. The more fans, the higher the reach of any of the messages the club posts on their fan page.
This concept is very important to potential sponsors, as they will be very interested in how far a club’s reach is. Clubs that have many fans – a high reach – give potential sponsors an avenue to reach more potential buyers. Therefore, having many fans is a powerful achievement for clubs and one they can use to secure sponsorship.
What Tools are Available to Clubs on Facebook
The comment box is where all the communication occurs. Club Administrators can enter status information or create an event invite, post a poll or post photos.
Facebook provides a template to allow clubs to send an invite to it’s fans. This is a great way to advertise upcoming matches, club functions, presentation or any other special event coming up. It also allows recipients to RSVP helping clubs attain a confidence level with possible attendees.
Clubs can also post photos or videos onto Facebook. Doing this helps attract more likes from appreciative parents and relatives and is a great way to promote sponsors (Make sure you have the permission of those photographed or videoed to appear on the Facebook page).
Sales of Merchandise
This requires significant expertise but most clubs have facebook savvy people within their ranks that can set up a retail store on the facebook fan page. There are also ‘Apps’ that are set up to achieve this http://www.wikihow.com/Set-up-Shop-Tab-on-facebook-Fan-Page
Setting up a store is a great way to attract more likes and further enhance your club’s reach and brand.
Polls , Milestones and Questions
Polls, Milestones and Questions are available from the comment box and are a great way to invite engagement and interaction from your fans.
Applications or “Apps” are pieces of code that allow users to customise their page without the need to know complex HTML coding practices. There are literally 1000’s of apps available (to access the apps store http://www.facebook.com/appcenter/?from_bookmark=1 .
For some great tips on Apps – check out http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/customize-facebook-fan-page/
The Key to Successful Facebook Pages
Here are some critical things to consider while designing, promoting and engaging with a facebook page of a club:
1. Relative Page name of Club or Association
Once you acquire 25 fans, you can choose the name of your facebook page. Choose the page name carefully, as once it is chosen it, there’s no way to change it. So, make sure that it is something easily recognizable by your target base of fans.
2. Unique Profile Picture
In your page, you should provide and show an appealing profile picture that is unique in nature and at the same time related to your club. The picture should be at 180 pixels wide and 530 pixels in height. Club’s logo, motto, slogan, headshot, tagline, or short listing of benefits the club provides, along with your web site URL can be displayed in this image.
3. Be Unique and Keep Updating
There’s nothing more boring than a silent Facebook page. Put lots of personality, information, latest news, games fixtures & result and fun to the page and obviously post them in a regular basis. You’ll see that popular pages keeps updating its status and gives new information on their services and activities. Always try to offer something different and unique so that the fans and supporters keep coming back, instead of letting them wait for updates from you. If possible, some unique applications should be made just for the page. Engage with your fans by commenting on their observations and seeking their views.
4. Tag Fans/club members in Photos
You should tag your fans/members in pictures of new events. You can also ask them to tag themselves in the photos in which they are interested as a part of a game or contest. This gave a real good publicity as the update on being tagged appeared on the fans’ walls and friends of fans can see it.
5. Rewards for fans/club members
Encourage loyal supporters to join your Page and reward them. Tabs or badges like ‘member of the month’ that can be placed on their profiles for visibility can be awarded to them. A happy supporter on Facebook can get you lots of attention of other visitors. Remind users to Like and Share information about your page, certainly in a balanced well matter. Don’t force them by any means. When their friends see the updates on the News Feed, it’s highly likely for them to do the same.
6. Engagement Strategy
Once you have fans, you need to determine a strategy for keeping them engaged. You can offer them the opportunity to tell other fans about their hobby, interest, their thinking about the club, current activities and interesting incident about the particular sport, history, business, e-zine, or blog on your page. Just hold a standard for posting in the page e.g. all posted content should be relevant to the sport the page dealing with. If you hold a tele-seminar, ask the participants to go your page and introduce themselves. Give your fans a reason to return.
One very convenient method to get your fan base involved is to ask questions. Multiple choice questions as well as open ended questions both works fine. In addition to asking questions, Polls and quizzes are fast and proven ways for people to interact with your page and other fans with each another.
The quiz should be very brief, only about 5-10 questions long, so that people don’t get bored and it should be catchy. It should feel like a fun and entertaining thing to participate in the quizzes and polls, rather than a survey. There are huge amount of tools and plug-in/add-on’s you can use with your facebook page to create interesting and entertaining polls and quizzes.
To lift fan engagement to a totally ‘out of this world’ level, your clubs’ facebook page should host a contest with an attractive and surprising prize – a tipping comp for example. There’s absolutely nothing that generates fan engagement quite as much as a good contest.
Organize the contest in a creative and innovative way so that updates about whoever is winning is posted on the club’s facebook page every night or in a specific time interval to generate even further interest.
Instead of just keeping your status updates club related, try asking your readers random things about their regular personal lives and activities. “What did you want to be when you grew up?” or “Have you seen Avatar yesterday on Movie one?” can help build rapport and commonality, even when they have nothing to do with your target topic.
7. Post Multimedia materials
With the increasing speed of internet, people now prefer to listen and watch rather than reading. Moreover, scientifically, the human brain can grasp more data by listening or watching than reading. So, putting some videos about your club and some audio, may be a crazy supporter’s reaction on winning the last match, would be good to catch the attention of the fans.
8. Participate with other Pages
Find other Facebook pages related to your club, using Facebook Search, and start actively commenting on those pages’ posts & updates. This is a great way to build relationships between clubs and even adds credibility to your page. If you’re willing to offer free advice on communities and discussions, it will encourage people to check out your page.
9. Integrate Facebook Social Plugins to Your Website
Clubs can place the facebook ‘Like’ symbol embedded on their website so when a user clicks it they are taken directly to the club’s facebook page where they can like it. See http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/
Clubs can also integrate more complex facebook Plugins into their website like a live stream to show the latest comments on the club’s facebook page. See http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/activity/
10. Don’t just post for a specific age group
Although Facebook has many young people who belong to the age group 16 to 25 using its services, there is an increase also in the number of people from other age groups who use facebook on a regular basis. According to Pingdom, 61% of facebook users are over 35 years old. In fact, the 26 – 34 age group rivals the 18 – 25 age group in both the US and the UK as well as in the rest of the world. So, make sure to communicate with your audience in a manner by which you can draw the attention of people of all age groups.
Using Facebook Responsibly
With everything there are positives and negatives. Facebook is a non-controlled environment where club members and fans can cut loose and damage other members and the club’s reputation with irresponsible, hateful and spiteful comments. A monitoring and punishment policy is essential, and the club should make it a priority to have a social media policy – respect, appropriate conversations and codes of conduct still need to be adhered to online as they do in real life.