As communities continue to grow and develop in the digital space, brands are able to connect with target audiences in intimate ways that were never possible in the past. As a result, social media and community managers have become absolute necessities for companies seeking to cultivate long-term relationships with their customers.
We interviewed Daniel Frankel, Director of Media Relations for the Newark Bears, a professional baseball team in New Jersey and a member of the Can-Am League, to learn more about the intricacies of such a position—and more importantly, how to successfully grow a digital community. Only at the helm of the Bears’ media relations for four months, Frankel has charted impressive returns for the organization. As a social media strategy expert, he is proof that organizations can turn on a dime with proper implementation of digital marketing tactics—and he’s willing to share his secrets, too.
What are your primary responsibilities as Director of Media Relations for the Bears?
“I manage the team’s social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Yelp—on top of handling media relationships and press releases for the organization. I also do play-by-play broadcasting on the weekends.”
Tell us about your social media strategy.
“From a social media perspective, we focus primarily on Twitter and Facebook, but we have recently been incorporating Instagram and Google+ into the mix to pack more of a punch by reaching different market niches.
We use Twitter primarily to push out real-time game updates, but also to provide information about promotions and events. Strategically, we utilize connections in Newark as well as key word searches to connect with the local community. We employ the use of two primary hashtags: #BrickCityBears for outreach and #BrickCityUpdate for in-game news. Additionally, we focus on engaging with positive Twitter feedback from fans to encourage future participation.
Currently, we have more Facebook fans (3,172) than Twitter followers (2,261). This is because Facebook is a more personal way to connect with fans, whereas Twitter is used more for breaking news and game updates. We’ve had great success with our recent “Cap This” campaign on Facebook that takes a funny picture from the game and asks fans to add captions. Interactions like this foster engagement with community and help humanize our brand.
We also run promotional campaigns through all social media channels to increase engagement with fans and drive loyalty. We do free giveaways for active followers with stuff like flat screen TVs, signed merchandise and even VIP concert tickets. Winners are added by email to our Campaigner loyalty program with over 20 thousand contacts. From there we nurture our contacts to convert them to regular customers.”
What social tools do you use to do your job more effectively?
“We use TweetDeck and HootSuite to schedule posts, but I prefer TweetDeck because of its simplicity and functionality for viewing audience engagement. We’ve had difficulties in the past linking HootSuite to Facebook accounts since we have a profile and a fan page. We also utilize the mobile app Unfollow for Twitter, which can be set up for multiple handles and provides the ability to sort and monitor the accounts in order to keep your newsfeed clean and efficient. Finally, we’ve received plenty of positive feedback on graphics and collages created with Pic Stitch across all social channels.”
How do you measure success for your community building campaigns?
“Social media is the new way to participate in sporting events and engage with the team on a personal level. It sounds cliché, but we measure success by the number of followers and engagement levels across our social channels. Since the beginning of the season in May we have increased our Instagram following from 50 to over 500, grown our Twitter following by 35% and brought in 50% more fans on Facebook. Ultimately, we hope to produce loyal customers by fostering these relationships over time, so attendance at the games and promotional events are a consideration as well. If we continue to increase the number of attendees at games, we know our social strategy is working. Every game we get new faces in the ball park and we always know they will be back as long as we can maintain a relationship with them in the digital space.”
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?
“I’ve learned that managing a social community is not as easy as it looks. It takes a good deal of effort and dedication to ensure you are contributing content with a purpose and reaching the right target audience. You also must know how to use social media tools to your advantage. Social media is very delicate with fans—you can lose them just as quickly as you can gain them.”
Do you have any advice to offer other digital community managers?
“You need to be persistent—never give up on your online community. At times, your interaction levels will be soft, but you can’t get down on yourself. A positive attitude goes a long way. If your social strategy is strong, you will see small signs of success almost immediately. Keep after it and you will eventually see a snowball effect.”
You may not work for a professional baseball team, but you can still turn your organization around with the proper digital marketing strategy. How are you managing your organization’s digital community?