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social media education


USC posted this photo on Facebook on October 6th. I love this photo. I wish more sports teams (and even businesses) would post this type of behind-the-scenes snapshots. This picture, this moment, speaks volumes. You can imagine yourself as one of the players, gearing up and getting psyched for the big game. You can imagine what might be going through their minds as they stare themselves down. We feel the intensity of this experience. We can connect with the guys on an emotional level, mostly because we’ve all had a moment like this wear we are staring ourselves in the face and putting on our ceremonial war paint. Very easy to connect with these two players emotionally. People are moved by emotions.

I hope other teams and businesses take a note from this photo and start posting more moments like this from their story. This is the type of content that reels us in. We want to know more. We want to cheer for these two players in particular because we feel like we’ve been standing right next to them, getting ready for the game.

Kudos to UCS for their awesome social campaign this year. And cheers to the photographer for capturing this powerful image to help shed light on the story of football.

I wish all the athletes who have games this weekend the same moment of intensity prior to their game. Take a good look in the mirror. You got this.

The Social Olympics: Is your Club medal-worthy?


As the Olympic Games in London unfolded, the world’s top athletes took to social media to share their experiences. We saw some wonderful stories develop and fun moments from inside the Olympic Village. We also witnessed one Greek and one Swiss athlete leave the games for inappropriate tweets. British diver, Tom Daley, US Women’s Soccer Goalie, Hope Solo, and even America’s sweetheart, Aly Raisman, landed in the news because of their online activity. These elite athletes taught us that not even Olympians are sure how to use social media beneficially.

The games served as a good reminder that the lack of new media training does not apply only to athletes. It’s an issue for many businesses, too. Private Clubs struggle with the issue even more.

Most every club has an executive team that is comprised of the GM, Membership/Marketing, F&B, Catering/Private Events, Member Relations, and the Executive Chef. All of these departments are essential to a successful team and performance. And each team member has a unique voice which can serve the Club well in communicating with members and prospective members online. But, just like in synchronized swimming, if one team member’s moves and timing is off, points are deducted and the gold medal will remain out of reach.

Social networks are simply communication tools that should be integrated into marketing and communication strategies. It’s essential that your Club integrate social media into your communication plan and decide what role department managers and staff will have. Establishing guidelines for the team to use as a resource is smart planning.

Determine the content each department will contribute. Make a content plan. This is critical so that everyone understands what and when they should post their news. Private clubs, social by nature, don’t need to have separate accounts for each department – personally signing Facebook posts or initialing tweets is acceptable, and actually makes your content look like a team effort. Make social media part of your weekly meetings where you discuss what your communication objectives are and how each member will participate. This will enhance your content plan so that everyone understands the strategy.

In Private Clubs, the responsibility for social media falls on the team. This is not an individual sport like archery or track & field. The Chef sharing food pictures and recipes is just as significant as the Catering Director thanking Mr. & Mrs. Smith for hosting their wedding at the Club. The members appreciate the team as a whole, as well as the individuals who fuel the dynamics. And that’s why the authentic voice needs to shine through. If the receptionist has been assigned as the lead on posting everything to social networks, then every post will sound like it comes from the receptionist. Private Clubs are in such a unique and wonderful position to share the ongoing story of the club and the value of membership. Each department has a special story to tell which enriches the Club’s brand message.

From top to bottom, all staff members should understand your brand identity and message, and take part in helping to achieve gold in the Social Olympics.

Everyone, despite their position or level of experience, can learn to communicate well and to serve as better brand ambassadors. Loyalty starts within your club. One rogue employee, like Hope Solo, can torpedo your brand.

It’s time to train your staff, your managers, and leaders to be good communicators and to serve your club and members well.

A Strong Brand Identity Recruits the Right Members


Membership Recruitment: A Strong Brand Identity Recruits the Right Members

This article originally was written for and published in the Club Membership and Marketing Magazine, an online resource for Private Club professionals. The article appears in full below, as the magazine is subscription only. The Magazine is a resource provided by PCMA, the Professional Club Marketing Association.
In a world that has gone almost completely digital, it is easy to get caught in the online current of promoting your Club through various social channels. It’s a natural tendency to advertise the Club’s events, golf tournaments and membership programs, to show the public how great it is to be a Member at your Club. Without doubt, Private Club Membership is rewarding on many levels. However, before you post another status update, craft that 140 character tweet, or share another photo, take a few steps to make sure you are recruiting the right Members for your Club.

Review your Club’s core values
Every Club most likely has a vision or a mission statement somewhere. Perhaps it’s written on a plaque which hangs in the library or it may be collecting dust within the founding documents box. Where ever that may be, it is time to find it and read it. Your Club’s vision is based on the core values of your Club’s brand. It’s a good idea to discover what those are, too. If you haven’t reviewed the Club’s core values and vision in a while, then it is time for a re-education. This is the heart of your brand. This is the foundation for all of your communications. And the Members you want to attract should connect with those core values. The Club’s values are the most significant component of your brand identity. Your Membership is the embodiment of your brand identity.

Take a temperature on your Club Culture
Is your Club culture in-line with the core values of the Club? If your programming has fallen a bit out of touch with the vision of the Club, then work with the executive team to get it back on track. Determine what events best promote the vision of the Club. Tweak some of the less successful events to better represent your values. For example, if your Club is founded upon being a family-friendly retreat and you have very few kid-friendly events, they you may want to add activities that kids will love to the appropriate festivities.

Be a good listener
Most of a Club’s advertising and promotions tend to be all about the Club and what the executive team wants or needs to push. But let’s change that focus to be more about what Members and prospective Members want and need to hear. Do your programs truly add value to their life? In what way? Does it offer a solution? Make their life easier? These are some things to consider. Your brand messaging should definitely be infused with your core values, but it should also address your Members’ core concerns. Online, it’s easier than ever to understand what people want. They talk all the time! This is a key step in finding prospective Members who have a need for your Club. Listening to what people want, need and are concerned about will help you reach out to them with all the great answers wrapped up in a Membership at your Club. Spend more time listening online to discover who is a match for your Membership.

Choose the right channels
While you might love posting every event and program to Facebook, your Members and prospects may be checking their LinkedIn profiles three times a day and Facebook only three times per week. Part of listening is also learning where your Members are living online. You will better connect with your audience if you find them, versus them having to search for you. Learn and understand your Members’ social habits to better promote your Club culture and find new Members who are a good fit.

When you and the staff are living and breathing the Club’s core values, you’ll find the culture warmly reflects this vision, the Members embody it and that your communications reach prospects who want and need what you offer because you address their core concerns. This is the strong brand identity that will recruit the right Members for your Club…and keep them.

Shanna’s private club experience includes an award winning role as Member Relations Director at City Club on Bunker Hill, a ClubCorp Club in downtown Los Angeles, California. Shanna is pleased to be presenting Private Club IPO: Go Public With Your Club Culture at the PCMA Convention in Las Vegas on September 25th, 2012.

Google Handwrite

Here’a a nifty little trick, highlighted today in Time Techland – Google Handwrite. It allows you to use your Android or Apple device to scribble your search term instead of the keyboard. The article goes through a complete tutorial for you. It’s a quick set up.

I enabled this feature on both my phone and iPad. It’s a little tough to write on the phone, but the extra room on the iPad is kind of fun. The coolest part about this feature is that your handwriting is not limited to the search bar; you can write anywhere on the screen.

The author of the article, Doug Aamoth, debates the usefulness of it, which remains a valid point for me. I’m not sure that I would opt to always handwrite my search term over typing the letters, but the feature allows you to do either. The auto search feature is still active when you handwrite, so you can simply tap the term when it pulls the correct words you’re looking up.

It’s always fun to find new little features that may make life a little easier, or in this case, just a little more fun.

Here is a photo from the post.

Please CLICK HERE to learn how to set it up on your device.

TK’s Twitter Troubles


I’m about to make a confession. I love USA Channel’s Necessary Roughness. Do you know the show? The lead character, Dr. Dani Santino is a psychotherapist whose main client is the fictional football team, the New York Hawks. She was brought on board after their star wide receiver was unable to catch any passes. She was referred to the team because, fresh off her divorce, she had a one-nighter with the team’s trainer. Juicy.

I was a little behind in this second season and finally caught up on last week’s show. (It airs every Wednesday night at 10pm for those interested!)  The episode guide for last week’s “Mr. Irrelevant” promises, “Dr. Dani works her magic on a world-renown illusionist whose next trick could prove his last. In addition, Dani tells the kids about her relationship with Matt as he learns to navigate front office politics. Plus, TK gets into a Twitter flame war with an all-too-familiar foe.”  Forget about everything except the last sentence.  Twitter (and Twitter used by athletes) was actually written into the episode!

I hadn’t read the episode guide before watching and so I was thrilled when Twitter became a part of the conversation, and then a main thread of the story.  Here’s the scoop, again from the episode guide, this time the full summary:  TK is irritated by his lack of “cred” on Twitter so he hires a celebrity Tweet Master to help him fight back against his detractors, including “The Minefield.”

This episode was absolutely delicious. The writers of the show threw in a bunch of Twitter slang, as TK talked about how he needed to be trending, was panicked that his arch rival was trending, not him and constantly worried what everyone was saying about him. There is a scene where after he hired his ghost tweeter, his friends are reading what people are saying about him. Since he’s not the one actually tweeting, TK says at some point, “What did he say? What did I say?”  I may have even picked up a new term, as the character TK was talking about Twaters. Twitter + haters = Twaters. Don’t you just love it? All the panic and worry are all just to stay relevant. When his ghost tweeter starts posting photos of TK in all of the other team’s uniforms, the GM steps in and warns not to continue down that path. In the end, it turns out that he and his rival had both hired the same ghost tweeter and make amends. Imagine that!

As delightful, and a bit silly, as this particular episode was, we can actually gain some insight into what might go on in the head of a pro athlete. I’m sure there is great pressure to stay relevant, a huge desire to be trending and that it is all too easy to get caught up in smack talk. These athletes have a lot of pressure to perform during the game, and now in the digital age, to perform well in the social stratosphere. We’ve seen all too many pro athletes pop up in the news because of something dumb they posted on Twitter. When was the last time one of them made the news for a positive and influential tweet?

What also seemed outside the norm, was the interest the GM took in what was appearing on TK’s Twitter feed.  I’m sure there are plenty of teams who take a mild interest in what their players are posting, but how many GMs step in and reprimand their players for some of the stupid things they say on Twitter and elsewhere?  What would be totally awesome is if even the pro teams would come to understand that a social media education and how to use these networks effectively, sets a foundation for a successful PR game. Working with all the players, coaches and staff in pre-season builds the foundation for a strategic communication program, where everyone is singing the same tune. The team can spend the season building each other and the fans up, instead of getting stuck in Twaterville.

Are you Jim Boeheim or Dave Rice?


UPDATE: This video has been made private or removed by CBS Sports. Attempts to locate another version have turned up empty. If you have a link to this video, please leave a comment.

CBS Sports posted this video the other day. Several head coaches weigh in on social media and the attitude they maintain about their players using the communication tools.

Syracuse Head Coach, Jim Boeheim stood out with his response, “I don’t even know what it is.” Followed by, “It’d be hard to adjust that, wouldn’t it?”  He went on to comment that while he does carry a cell phone, he does not have a computer. It’s as though he was saying the topic is of no interest to him and he has no desire to learn or care.

Contrast that with a few of the other answers.

John Thompson III of Georgetown admitted that he knows that social media is part of life, but that he does not understand why it is important to post that you are at a pizza joint enjoying a slice of pizza. Understood. With some education and guidance, student-athletes can develop a purposeful content plan that is far more engaging than pizza slices.

Kevin Willard of Seton Hall wants his athletes to develop communication skills, so once the the team enters the building/practice facility, they must speak to each other and folks in the building.  Cells phones are turned off and no texting or tweeting allowed.  I’m sure everyone can appreciate those goals and rules.

“Teachable moments” is how Jim Christian at Texas Christian University sees social media.  He says, “As opposed to just restricting them, you know, sometimes they have to make bad decisions in order to learn. And I think that’s what college is all about.”  Here, here, Jim.  You have a good attitude.  We are working with young adults who are finding their way in this world, and who, unlike most of us in our college days, have any number of methods to shout out to the world.  They are human, and yes, they are bound to make some mistakes.  I’m glad to see that TCU allows the student-athletes to learn from their mistakes.

I was most impressed with Dave Rice, head coach of the men’s basketball team at UNLV.  He teaches his players to use social media for the positive. He wants his players to uplift their teammates, to talk about the great experience they are having at UNLV.  He is cognisant of the risks and the possibility that certain issues may need to be addressed, but ultimately, and this is why I appreciate him the most, he says, “I really believe in the importance of empowering student-athletes, making it a part of the education process and really using social media in a positive way.”

Can I get a WOO HOO?!?!  As a head coach or athletic director, you may fall in to Jim Boeheim’s camp and not have the first clue what social media is and how it works.  But I hope that you will adopt the attitude of John Thompson III and understand that social media is a BIG part of our world and a way of life for the student-athletes you are responsible for fostering.  Be like Kevin Willard and set reasonable policies and guidelines which allow the students to utilize these tools, but in appropriate ways and at appropriate times, with a desire to build good old fashion personalities and communication skills.

Be like Jim Christian and take a positive approach to these communication channels and work with your student-athletes to navigate difficult speed bumps so they can survive the experience and learn from their mistakes.

Finally, and most importantly, lead with integrity, like Dave Rice and provide a foundation of trust in your athletes.  Encourage them to develop good communication skills, craft good content and use social media for social good.  It can be done.  Educating and uplifting your students with supportive social media guidelines is absolutely essential in creating the best student-athlete experience. You’ll develop young adults with good character who care about their online profiles and take care to manage their reputation. Well-rounded and socially confident student-athletes better represent the university and are more motivated to be good representatives.

Who do you most identify with in this video? What attitude has your university adopted?

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