How to Stay Relevant During the Offseason

Do you run social for a sports team, sports league or perhaps a media outlet focus on sports? If the answer is yes then there is something we need to talk about:

The Off-Season.

With the NBA and NHL Playoffs coming to an end, almost all of the major professional and college sports will be on hiatus.  (Have fun, Baseball!)

For players and coaches, that’s great—time to relax, rejuvenate, and get ready for next year. For you and your social media team, it means engagement on your social channels is likely going to drop. No games means no jaw-dropping touchdown catches to Tweet about or NBA Playoff games to hype on Facebook.  

You could resign yourself to the fact that numbers will be low and content sparse during the next few months or you could take the time to master social listening to help increase off-season engagement and gain practice in important strategies that can be leveraged year-round for positive results.

The key to staying relevant is taking advantage of what is happening on social and making it work for you. Below are a few listening tips  to help you stay hot this summer on social.

Listen To Your Followers

Your fans aren’t going silent on social media just because it’s the off-season. Perhaps they are sharing less content about your team and talking about your sport less but they are still actively engaging on all the usual social networks.

Regularly checking in on what your fans are talking about not only helps you understand what matters to your audience, but the data can also give you ideas on how to get involved in the conversation.

Follower Topics in Intelligence allow you keep track of what your fans are talking about at any given time.

In the last 24 hours Seahawks fans have been talking the Much Music Video Awards, the Mariners and National Running Day. A strange but interesting mix that should give the team a few ideas on how to engage around topics their audience is already discussing.

Understanding trends among your own followers (instead of simply national or local trends) will help you prioritize your content creation strategy.

You are no longer guessing if your fans care about something, you actually know they are engaged and thus it would be worth your team’s time and effort to create assets specific to these trends.

Use Last Year as a Guide

As the saying goes "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it" You’ve lived through the off-season before and you are going to do it again, year after year. Making the effort to learn from your past mistakes and your past hits will help you be more prepared for success this summer.

13-Month Historical View -  Intelligence data goes back 13-months, making it easy to find and leverage insights on past social performance.

The image above shows what Lakers fans were talking about during July 2014.

You can see three distinct spikes in the conversation. All three corresponded to the World Cup. This information is useful because the Women’s World Cup is taking place this summer in Canada.

Based on this data,  the Lakers would be wise planning ways to join the World Cup conversation. You don’t have to guess whether or not something is interesting to your audience because you can actually go back and see whether they were engaged by that topic before.

Additionally you can conduct searches to see what your top content was during the off-season last year. Knowing what worked well for you in the past will help you find easier social wins this time around.

Monitor your Competitors and Peers

You are not alone in navigating the silence of the off-season. Any social team that covers or touches sports will be looking to generate content and keep engagement high. 

That is why it’s important to keep track of what your competitors and peers are sharing on social.

Topic Groups in Intelligence can help you organize saved searches and keep track of relevant social conversations you are monitoring on a regular basis.

In the example above, NFL teams’ practice content has generated a solid response for both the Raiders and the Miami Dolphins. Has your team planned to share practice content? Is there something you can do to go above and beyond what your peers are doing?

The reason to monitor competitors and peers is to be aware of their social playbook as well as what is and isn’t working with their fan base. There will likely be takeaways that can directly impact the content you are planning.

Keep Track of what Athletes are Sharing

Just like listening to your fans is important during the offseason so is keeping tabs on what athletes, of all sports, are sharing and talking about on social.

Twitter Lists can be leveraged in Intelligence to provide easy access of the people you care about tracking.

A Twitter list will be able to surface the most engaging content from any athlete or set of athletes during a specific time frame. During the off-season this can help inspire your own content ideas.

Take a look at a few of top tweets by NFL players last month.

Top Tweets Intelligence quickly surfaces the best content for any search: by topic, author, list, location, and more

These athlete Tweets could lead to a number of different ideas. If you run the Patriots account you could reach out to the high school kid who received Gronkowski’s cleats and feature him on social. The Packers could use Clay Matthews Tweet as a jumping off point for a video series highlighting pranks or fails by Packers players. And if you are the Bears perhaps a simple response to Long reminding him what city he’s in, “It’s all about Rose in Chicago @Ky1eLong!”

Mastering Twitter List topics will also impact your success in-season. During a game, whether you are a team, league, or broadcaster, this type of topic will help you find any athletes tweeting about what matters to you. Whether you are retweeting it, featuring that content in an article or on your website or responding directly to that athlete on social, you’ll be able to leverage content faster with Twitter lists.

Just like athletes use the summer to get back into top form, you should be using the summer to master techniques that make you an all-star next season. 

Intelligence can give you an edge in the off-season. Want to learn how you can increase your team’s agility with instant access to smart social insights?

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Kate Radway is a Team Lead for Spredfast's Product Coaching Team. She's focused on helping marketers unlock the power of social data by removing obstacles in their process. Kate is an advocate of moving social data out of the silo and into broader organizational decision-making.