Day 4 – Social Media

Over a six month period between October 2015 and March 2016, , funded by Sport England, which explored innovative ways to recruit, develop and retain women different backgrounds in coaching, activation and leadership. Each day this week in honour of our birthday we will be presenting some of the findings to you!

Six Ways to Make Social Media Work for You

Over a six month period between October 2015 and March 2016, sports coach UK supported seven projects, funded by Sport England, which explored innovative ways to recruit, develop and retain women different backgrounds in coaching, activation and leadership.

More than 70% of adult Internet users have a social media profile, so using it to promote and run your project is a no-brainer. But to get the most out of social media, you need a strategy. Here, we share some basic advice, and a few tips from projects that are already up and running.

Spend some time searching for existing local women’s groups with a social media presence, says Abi Bond, Marketing Officer for Team Beds & Luton, which has set up a ‘Me Time Leaders’ project. ‘We found quite a few in the area “liked” their page and shared some of their posts. And then Michelle (Michelle Morris, Team Beds & Luton Coaching Development Manager) contacted the groups and went to meet them, taking along some information.’

Also, identify people on social media who are influential in promoting women’s sport and physical activity in your area. Build relationships by engaging in their conversations, sharing or retweeting their posts, and posting links to content and pictures that might be of interest to your target audience.

It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. The recent surge in popularity of image-only platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, suggest that visuals are becoming increasingly important in social media. There’s also a huge amount of research suggesting that striking images, particularly in colour, are far more effective than just words in grabbing attention and increasing recall of content.

It’s particularly important that photos reflect the demographic you want to attract, says Abi. The Luton and Bedford area has a high Muslim population and, she says, ‘I found a generic image of a Muslim woman stretching out in fitness wear. That turned out to be the image that gained us the most “likes”.’

It pays to think carefully about hashtags, and use them on Facebook as well as Twitter. ‘When we use a hashtag, we have twice the engagement and reach as when we don’t use one,’ says Abi.

Firstly, you need to create a main ‘brand’ hashtag and use it consistently across all social media sites. It should convey what your project is all about, be memorable, easy to spell and not too long. You can also add hashtags to key words in your post, such as #netball, or to locations you mention.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on trending topics on Twitter to see if there’s anything that’s connected to your project. An obvious current example is #WSW16. You can then post an update including the trending hashtag to bring your project to a much wider audience. Be aware that trending topics can change fast, so you’ll need to act quickly to secure your 15 minutes of fame.

Advertising opportunities on Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are good value for money. You can target your audience by choosing from a range of options such as location, age and interests, and sites allow you to track the success of your adverts using a variety of measures. You can also set a daily budget for your advert, which will allow a certain number of click-throughs. The tweet or advert will then stop showing once that figure has been achieved.

The south-east’s cross-regional Project 500 found that Twitter provided the better return on investment. ‘We created three different tweets to attract more followers,’ explains Kent Sport’s Louisa Arnold, who oversees the project. ‘One was aimed at prospective coaches; one at existing coaches; and one at promoting our weekly discussion topic. Over a three month period of advertising we’ve added 278 additional followers to our twitter account.

This pays dividends as it helps you to tailor your posts and make them more effective, says Louisa. Site analytics can show you which posts are bringing in the most traffic, and also identify the times of day when your target groups are likely to be on social media. You can then set up a publishing schedule at the beginning of the week, which will publish your posts automatically.

The south-east project’s monthly analysis has also provided ideas about the direction it can take with social media in the future. The top interests of current followers are the Olympic Games and sports news. However, new followers who have come through the advertising campaign are more likely to be interested in comedy, pop music and celebrities. ‘We’re now thinking we could aim for some retweets from famous people in these areas to raise our profile still further,’ says Louisa. ‘The whole thing about the Reach project is that we’re trying to bring in a wider range of people. For me, sport is everything, so I would just look to sportspeople as ambassadors. But for other people, sport or coaching is just a tiny part of what they do and we need to think about how we can utilise their wider networks.’

As well as promoting your project, you can set up social media groups, such as a closed Facebook page, to enable participants to promote events, post questions and advice, and share photos and videos. A simple way of doing this where members aren’t all on social media is running a group on WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform.

Social media can also help foster a group identity which is important for motivation, says Louise Evans of Active Devon. ‘Feeling part of a group is something that will help women continue with an activity. It’s not just a case of it being on at a certain time every Tuesday, it’s that message the day before saying “Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow” or “Well done for tonight, you all did brilliantly”.’