Everyone is a storyteller. That’s the world we live in where smartphones and social media connect people in real time while bypassing all of the traditional gatekeepers of content.
Teams are essentially their own networks, with their coaches, athletes and alumni — i.e., brand ambassadors — serving as local affiliates who often have a collective social audience that is larger than the team’s own.
“It’s crazy to me that sports organizations and their athletes are still relying on the middleman to get their message out, instead of embracing the power of social media to run their own broadcasting network of channels,” says Jim Cavale, CEO and founder of Influencer (INFLCR). “Television’s Nielsen Ratings have been replaced by social media followers and engagement that everyone can see for every team and its individual athletes… on their phone.
“The reality is that everyone is a storyteller today. And that’s why Influencer exists — to serve storytellers.”
Here’s the problem:
- Teams are investing time and resources to create more content than ever to share socially.
- Players, coaches and alumni want to receive this content so they can share it to their audiences but there isn’t an efficient way to do so.
- There isn’t a good way for teams to track what happens with that content or to measure the lift that they receive when they distribute content to those brand ambassadors.
The INFLCR software is the solution, allowing clients to store, distribute and track their digital assets — photos, videos, story links, GIFs and more — through a cloud-based INFLCR account as they flow through the social accounts of student-athletes, coaches, staff and prominent alumni.
“INFLCR allows you to partner with your brand ambassadors to tell their story within the context of yours,” Cavale says.
Don’t have a brand ambassador strategy? Here are 10 reasons you should:
- Recruiting. The best way to share your story is through the teams, coaches, athletes and prominent alumni who live it. Your recruits are following your players and former players. In fact, recruits you don’t even know you will recruit yet are following your players and alumni. Your players are going to share their story with or without your help. It’s better to give them great content you are already creating, especially when that content that features THEM.
- Expand your recruiting. You’re not just recruiting student-athletes. You are recruiting STUDENTS, period. And fans. And potential ticket buyers. And potential donors. Who follows your athletes and consumes their stories? Potential students. Potential fans. Potential ticket buyers. Potential donors. Their touchpoints with those brand ambassadors may be their introduction to your university. What they see can influence their opinions of your institution and conference.
- Engage your prominent alumni. They’re among your most powerful stories. Get them good content and an easy way to share it, and you’ll be better able to involve them and feature them while growing relationships.
- Develop your players. There no no downside whatsoever to your brand ambassadors becoming better on social media. If they make the pros, it’s worth money to them to have built an audience in college. But even if they never play a second of professional sports, building an audience of engaged followers — particularly among your alumni — will help them in their careers. They are spending hours a day on social platforms anyway; it is in your interest — and theirs — for you to help them be good at it.
- Build a community. You can tie your fans, alumni, staff and student-athletes together as a community in powerful ways. This also gives you the opportunity to mobilize that community around key initiatives in organic ways.
- Grow your audience. Your ambassadors have a much larger collective audience — and a different audience — than you have. And these are people you NEED to reach.
- Boost your livestreams. One of the major challenges all schools face is making their fan bases aware of their livestreams. It’s an unending battle. A potential audience comes from your brand ambassadors’ followers. And here’s the catch: Their followers don’t follow YOU. Your best place to reach them is by providing this content to your brand ambassadors to share. And those brand ambassadors WANT people watching. It is to everyone’s benefit to use the most efficient means of reaching potential audience. And their audience is exactly who you need on these livestreams. Your diehards are at the games. Your diehards know where to find the stream. The casual, convertible fan is connected to your brand ambassadors, not you. Every single athlete competing for you has their own following, their own support group, their own hometown, their own extended family, their own fans who want to follow them and are interested in you because of THEM.
- Sell tickets. The best way to drive awareness to interested people who may not have tickets is by getting to the audience of your brand ambassadors. They are engaged but probably are not diehards with season tickets. This is your opportunity to build a relationship through the stories in a way that builds loyalty and transcends the transaction.
- Find your footing on mobile. Your audience lives on their mobile phones. If you are not getting your story to their phone screens, you are not reaching them, PERIOD. The wider your net, the more you’ll catch. And remember that people follow people, not brands. This is especially true among college-age people. Some stats: 94 percent of people ages 18-29 own a smartphone and 28 percent of those are entirely smartphone dependent with no broadband at home (Source: Pew). 96 percent of people who discuss brands online to not follow the brands’ social accounts (Source: Pew). If you’re not going beyond your own channels you will have virtually no chance to reach this crucial audience.
- Shore up where you are weak. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared socially than non-visual content (Source: HubSpot). You are investing significant resources to create visual content but your best distribution opportunity is through your ambassadors. This audience does not follow YOU and may never do so. Your brand ambassadors’ highly engaged audience happens to be via social platforms where you are weakest: Snapchat and Instagram. Among the 18-24 demographic, 78 percent have Snapchat accounts and 71 percent have Instagram (Source: Pew). You should arm them with this great content you create so they can use it to tell their own story within context of yours.
Want to learn more about how INFLCR can help? Schedule a demo here.