Photo credit: Womensprosoccer.com / Twitter.com
While most of us in digital marketing know that corporate use of social media is not, by any means, a popularity contest and the number of “followers” you have is by no means a measure of success, the Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS) achieved a milestone this week when its Twitter account, @womensprosoccer, reached 200,000 followers. In fact, they’re ranked fifth behind the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL for leagues with the most followers.
The overarching reason WPS achieved the 200,000 fan milestone is because they built social media into their communications program as a fan-engagement mechanism. Not everyone understand this concept. Here are a few ways WPS engaged their fans this year which I believe have contributed to their overwhelming success.
1) They participate.
As you can see from their number of @replies, re-tweets (RT’s), and #hashtags, WPS actively participates with and contributes toward ongoing conversations. This is not something every company, league or brand knows how to do or why they need to do it. Actively participating in conversations with your consumers brings you closer to them. You develop what we call relationships, by actually talking to people. Relationships and conversations, over time, turn into loyalty. Loyalty turns in to word-of-mouth… and, over even more time, word-of-mouth turns into increased sales.
2) They provide value.
Now, look at the content of the league’s tweets. It’s actually valuable. They’re not overtly pushing their own agenda, meaning, they’re not posting links to where consumers can buy tickets and pushing it down their throats everyday. Instead, they’re posting content that soccer advocates would find useful such as newsworthy articles about the league and information about the sports industry.
3) They’re human.
One huge win, in my opinion, is the fact that WPS shows who they really are as people and teams. They also do an excellent job of cross-promotion; the league actively promotes the Twitter accounts of various teams. In fact, sometimes, they use Twitter as a way to communicate between each other.
Couple cross-promotion with the fact that they’ve created Twitter lists for WPS staff, teams and players. These show that WPS respects and trusts its staff and players enough to allow and even encourage them to be online tweeting about the league. Suddenly, the world sees that WPS is a living, breathing institution made up of some funny, personable people. WPS clearly values its consumers and employees enough to talk to them and show their staff’s human personalities.
These tactics all work toward a strategy that was built into the league from the very beginning: engage directly with new fans through the online medium. As we can see from their recent milestone, I’d say they’ve achieved significant success. Congratulations, WPS!
Can’t wait to see you in my Twitter feed…
Update: Also, I forgot to add, WNBA has a great Twitter following as well, with 150,000. Stay tuned for a post on their significant efforts online later this week.