Imagine you're the social media manager for the Sacramento Republic FC, and on EVERY matchday you need to create content for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Tumblr and Snapchat. This is the challenge that Kelsey Price, Digital Content Captain (pictured in photo above) for Republic FC and her small team face each and every matchday.
Kelsey started with Republic FC in May of 2014, a few days before the first match, and hit the ground running! She is responsible for all digital content which includes the website as well as their social media pages. She agreed to meet over a beer (the preferred beverage of soccer fans around the world) to discuss the Republic's social strategy for nine social media platforms and counting...
Community is Number 1
Republic FC believes in making Sacramento a "better place to live, work and play." This concept is core to their brand and their social media content. Whether on their website, or their social media pages, you'll find posts, tweets, photos and more promoting community events, partnerships and more.
From year one, as we were starting to build our brand, we realized that part of it needed to be branding our city as much as anything else — which is why our crest [the logo] is so centered around the city motto. I think that sets us apart. I'm not sure you'll find a team that's as city centric on their content creation as we are. For example, featuring an entire story on the craft beers available at Bonney Fields. That's not to say other clubs don't have craft beer at their field, but the way we tell the story — that is definitely different with our club..
How has the Sacramento community responded to your outreach?
I don't think we would be where we are without all the support from the Sacramento community. That's why it's so important that we tell those stories and have that content. People like Dave [owner of New Helvetia Brewing Co.] will literally open New Helvetia for us to have meetings. Those relationships transfer over to social media, they transfer over to our audiences. So for us, these relationships are really where our success comes from at the end of the day. It's why we are involved with Concerts in the Park, Downtown Partnership, Brewers Guild and Camber of Commerce events. It helps us reach new audiences. but it also helps us all foster support for one another. Truly – small businesses won't survive without the support of one another.
What other types of community partnerships do you promote?
Our youth and adult club partnerships are also a big part of our success. We have dedicated sections [on Bonney Field] reserved for youth and adult league soccer players and their families. That's a relationship I think is a testament to our success. Per capita, the Sacramento region has more youth and adult soccer players than any other part of the country.
Content is Key
How much time a day do you spend creating content?
It really depends, but on average about one to two hours a day. Content is key, and not just any content— engaging content. I can post on social media everyday to buy a ticket, it doesn't mean anyone is actually going to buy one. We have much more engagement and click through on a post about a featured article.
So, besides promoting what's going on in the community, what other types of content do you look for when posting to your social pages?
With content, no matter what you do, it comes back to being compelling. That would be the big keyword. You can make something compelling and it doesn't matter what topic it is. It's all about how you position it.
Something that would be boring to you is actually really interesting to the fans. You'd be surprised how many people look at our Snapchat when we're just setting up the field on matchday — people don't see this side, so it's interesting for them.
What sets your content apart from other teams?
We like our social media to be organic. I'm a big proponent of that philosophy. What's going on on the pitch speaks more than any organized campaign.
And we tend to be a lot snarkier with our fans than other brands. A little more tongue and cheek.
I think the thing with social media is — you always have to be outside the box, because it's changing so quickly. You're outside of the box for 20 minutes and guess what, now you're back in it because everyone is using that idea!
What is your favorite part of social media?
I love the content creation. Telling someone else's story effectively and in a way that hopefully inspires others.
I love the story telling aspect. Not just the idea, but a brand's marketing as a whole. You should be able to read a brand's last 20 tweets and have an idea what it's about.
Is it easy for you to ignore what's happening on the Republic's social media or are you constantly checking?
I do check our social media before I go to bed and right after getting out of bed even before I go into the office. But, I do turn off notifications when there is a big project that we need to focus on, or an event taking place.
How Republic FC Engages With Fans
Can you talk a little bit about how you interact with fans over social?
You can learn a lot from paying attention. Through monitoring questions on social we realized we needed to be better at educating fans on where they could find specific information on matchdays. So, we created a dedicated landing page on our website where you can find where the food trucks will be located, what beers will be available, information on Bonney Field like where the bathrooms are — and it's all on matchday, the url never changes, although the content does.
We've seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of questions being asked on social media since the first year.
Do you have any trolls or followers you've had to ban?
Not really. If things get really heated in comments or personal attacks are being made, we step in and say knock it off. That's really all we need to do. And when it comes to complaints — we want our fans to be sharing with us whether it's positive feedback or complaints. It's about the response to it –proactively addressing that issue.
We try to respond to every question, every complaint, as transparently as possible, get a solution and then followup. Sometimes that requires taking the conversation offline and meeting in person.
Is it hard to find and respond to all the mentions of the team on social?
We will traffic a lot of keyword usage, more than just hashtags. From a branding perspective we use #RepublicFC, #SacramentoRepublicFC, #SRFC. Although we don't use #SacFC or #SacRepublic people will tweet about us that way. So, we'll search all types of combinations and see what people tweet, I'll do that once or twice a day to see if someone said they had a horrible time at a game. Even if they didn't tag us, we still want to respond to that.
What type of engagement are you looking for from fans?
I don't necessarily want our fans to be engaging on social media when they're at the match— I want them focused on the match as much as possible. So, our content is focused on what's happening on the pitch.
Nuts & Bolts
Here's where I asked all the geeky questions social media professionals are interested in:
Do you have any rules for the people and players that are using social media to promote the team?
We have very few dos and don'ts, and we train everyone on those before they start, so everything is pretty consistent. And we follow the golden rule of social— after two drinks, put the phone down....
How do you manage to create so much content with such a small team?
It's about being creative with your resources. If I know I'm going to be busy on the pitch covering the match, and the rest of my team is covering live Twitter updates and website update, I'll ask someone in the office familiar with Instagram to run around and cover the pre-game activities. If I know someone is good on camera, I'll ask them to do a behind the scenes video for Periscope with some of the players. We have a great team, everyone pitches in.
Do you used paid social?
We use paid for ticket sales. Unless there is a direct result for OB (outside broadcast), there isn't necessarily a need to boost that post. It's about being smart with your social spending. Most of our paid is tied to ticket sales and promoting our TV broadcasts. During the off-season your going to see very few paid ads. We're a seasonal off organization, and most content is organic enough not to need to pay for reach.
We may pay a small amount in Facebook to give things a little jump, and that gets organic going.
Do you have a favorite platform for your specific needs?
We use the right platform for the right audience. Until we find that a platform truly matches our audience, we're not going to just jump right on it. For example, with Periscope we experimented for several months before deciding to start a team Periscope account. We wanted to see what use, and what benefit it would bring to our fans.
Do you anticipate a time when you will have maxed out your potential growth on social?
There is always potential for growth. I'll give you a great example. Year one, I don't think anyone could have expected that bringing teams like the Glasgow Rangers FC (Scottish Premier League) or West Brom Albion (English Premier League) would not only help us see a dramatic spike in our website visits, but also our Facebook audience. And not just on game day, but stayed engagement with some of those fans. We have a couple dozen fans from other countries because of past events like these that regularly engage with our content — whether that is watching the live content etc.
What trends in social do you see playing a part in your campaigns?
Video is going to be huge. And it is a great way to capture something quickly.
But, the thing we're really excited about this year is Snapchat geofilters. Because now you can buy branded filters that are really cost effective, especially if you're an event based company. Every match our fans will be able to send snaps that have our crest with the "matchday" hashtag.
What's the future of social at the Republic?
I think the next big thing for us will be an app that creates geo-specific content. What content is displayed and to who will be location specific and audience specific based on who you are and your profile.
I'm excited because this actually allows us to use the data that social media has on our audience to provide useful content. Ideally the app will be able to tell what section you're in during a match and let you know what beers are available in your section. Or, if you're in Midtown and you're going to the game later, these are the restaurants that have happy hours and this is how long it will take you to take an Uber to our stadium. That's where I see the future of digital, especially with sports. Using your social and digital media to provide content and information that's actually useful.
We also want to be more creative with content creation. Doing things like inviting fans to take over our Instagram, you'll see more of that — engaging our fans to participate.
If you could give people out there one piece of advice on social, what would it be?
Find your organization's voice. Until you have that voice and establish who you are and what you are – people won't follow you.
Thank you to the Sacramento Republic FC for giving me permission to interview Kelsey for this blog, and special thanks to Kelsey for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my endless questions. I'm looking forward to seeing what Republic FC has in store for us during this season.
Note: Social Crows is not, and has never been, an employee or outside vendor for the Sacramento Republic FC.
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