Football on a pitch

3 Social Media Strategy Lessons From The Social Posts of Sports Organisations

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 20 Jun 2019 by Simon Badman
Digital Strategy | Social Media

During 2019 three sets of posts from sports organisations have revealed some dos and don’ts that should feed into your social media strategy.

Before I start, I should mention that rugby union and football are my favourite sports and I’m based in the UK. So, the examples that have resonated with me are from those two sports and all are UK based. But I’d love to hear from you if you’ve discovered examples from other sports and other locations.

So, let’s kick-off (pun intended).

1. Know your tone of voice

As part of your strategy, we’d always encouraged you to think about two-way engagement and look at opportunities to link your content to wider news and issues if relevant. However, always work out the risks first and this includes your tone of voice.
Several brands are currently rocking the sassy, confrontational tone including Burger King’s trolling of McDonalds.

But does this work if you’re a football club that decides to go head-to-head with a pizza chain?

Pizza Hut had in fact started the sparring, reaching out to Leeds United on twitter on the back of allegations that the Championship team had been spying at the training grounds of their competition.

Pizza Hut tweet about Leeds spying on their Chef

Reasonably funny, reasonably topical?

Yes, but for Pizza Hut a little behind the news which Leeds pointed out in their reply. In turn, Pizza Hut responded with an even more savage tweet about their lack of success as a football club.

Pizza Hut v Leeds tweets


Also, the team at Dominos must have been surprised at a spike in their twitter mentions. The Leeds tweet in which they featured sparked a host of replies from individuals complaining about Dominos, to which they responded with some uninspiring standard customer service responses.

There are brands on social who get their tone right and stick to it but this spat left me wondering “was that really worth it?”

Would Leeds have been better off to ignore or just like Pizza Hut’s original tweet?

Engagement around the tweet was high but did people buy more Pizza Hut pizzas as a result?
Well, probably not in Leeds……

2. Create conversations and engagement

Social media quite rightly has its share of haters. There’s some pretty awful stuff on timelines and some equally awful and tragic things that happen as a result of posts.

Principality stadium tweets about leaving the roof open for a spice girls concert


There is, however, a beauty in connection and conversation that still happens from time to time. Social media being truly social. It was therefore hugely uplifting to see the chat happening between several rugby unions as a result of the Principality Stadium’s tweet on leaving the roof open for the Spice Girls’ gig. With the opening/closing of the roof a controversial area during the recent rugby Six Nations tournament, it’s not surprising that Ireland, Wales and Scotland Rugby Unions among others joined in, resulting in a pun-fest of Spice Girls’ song titles and lyrics.

Individuals naturally got involved in the conversation also, tweeting their puns and comments.

3. Tell stories and be flexible

Within your strategy always target key milestones, events and happens but don’t forget to build in flexibility for that unexpected moment.

Colchester United storytelling on twitter

Thankfully the social team at Colchester United took that flexibility on board when they had an opportunity that doesn’t usually come around too often. A burger that had been carried into space by a weather balloon landed at their training ground.

When I say “too often” I really mean “never”.

Burger in space

The team took to twitter and unfolded what has happened tweet by tweet. including the burger owner being repatriated with his belongings and eating the space burger.

So learn from the good and not so good from sports organisations to help with your social strategy, Know your tone, story tell, create conversations, engage and be flexible to create opportunities.

Have you seen any sports clubs or organisations using social media well? We’d love to hear from you.

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