Moderator: Mitch Germann (@MCG5) Vice President @EdelmanDigital, Seattle

Daniel Hour (@DHourUW) Manager of New Media & Recruiting Services @UWAthletics

Jeff Richards (@JeffRichardsSea) Director of Marketing @Seahawks and @soundersfc

Gregg Greene (@RealGregg) Director of Marketing @Mariners

Carrie Krueger (@carriekrueger) Director of Communication @seattlestorm

“Twitter is kind of like being at a party – the first and most important thing is to listen.” Gregg Greene, Director of Marketing with the Mariners, knows that in order to reach your customers and fans, you need to be aware of how they use social media to interact with your business. Your brand has a unique opportunity in the social media age to reach out directly to consumers through various digital media sources. Taking the approach of listening and then responding will not only meet your audience’s needs but will engage them in a way that can build loyalty and word-of-mouth growth. Be cautious of who your brand ambassadors are. When making posts or responding on social media, be fully aware that “Once it’s out there, even if you delete it later, it doesn’t fully go away,” advised Gregg.

A “Twitter fit” Carrie Krueger advises, should be handled right away and with a personal touch. If a fan is at your event and has a bad experience, it’s quite likely they will quickly be vocal about it on Twitter right in that moment. If you have a brand ambassador monitoring your feed and interacting with attendees, you can actually reach that fan and offer a solution immediately. “It’s important to be responsible and proactive, it helps keep people engaged,” said Carrie. Also, the proactive approach will impress your existing customers and you’re more likely to create brand evangelists because of your quick and thoughtful solutions.

As these sports marketing pros use social media to reach out to their audience, they are keenly aware of the impact they may or may not be having through their online interactions. When Mitch Germann, Vice President at Edelman Digital asked about the shift in marketing from traditional media to digital media, Gregg Green said, “Yes, we are shifting from traditional to digital media. The Mariners were the first team in the nation to have a website, the first team to broadcast online, and the very first team to sell game tickets online.”

The Mariners organization was quite innovative when compared to its peers in being willing to utilize digital media in its infancy. Gregg shared a great story about the first person to purchase the very first online ticket for a Mariners game. After the transaction was complete, Ticketmaster called the purchaser to ask what had made the individual want to buy their ticket online. The purchaser’s response? “I don’t like talking to people on the phone and I don’t like talking to you!” … and he hung up!

Digital media is providing many solutions for customers on many levels! Another fun idea the Mariners now offer during games is their @MarinersDJ Twitter handle that allows fans to send song requests to be played at breaks during home games. It’s free, easy to use, and encourages the fans to stay engaged! Striving for great concepts that you can utilize within your brand is key to standing out and staying relevant.

“Your branding through social media should be measured through a dollars and cents analytic,” advised Jeff Richards. “However you do that, it’s important.” Find out what your audience is and is not responding to and revise tactics accordingly. If certain posts aren’t getting much attention or very many “likes” — try a different strategy. Jeff is working on an idea to begin having the Seahawks and Sounders players make announcements through digital media and have them involved in breaking news to their fans. He believes that this select touch will help their organizations reach their audience on a personal level and will engage them as well.

Daniel Hour believes that the University of Washington’s website is different from many other collegiate websites in the nation. The focus is to use recruiting content as the base makeup of UW’s online presence. They want to reach out to the best student athletes in the nation and believe that by merging content to reach fans, as well as those athletes, they are able to effectively serve the UW’s sports programs.

As a large organization, Daniel also believes that when engaging with fans through social media, it’s important to maintain the voice of the “brand” and not the brand ambassadors personally. This has helped them stay focused on proper content and abide by the written policy UW has regarding the use of social media for its organization.

In all, these pros feel it’s important to add some “color” to tweets, have fun engaging your fans and followers, and pay attention to your content. Brand loyalty can grow tenfold using great and engaging content strategy and social media can bring a personal touch to your business or organization. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur, a medium- or large-sized company, or a giant organization — utilizing social media platforms to engage with your customers can have a brand-building impact that will have lasting results.

As a small business owner, I am finding that incorporating my personality into my social media outreach greatly benefits me in the same way that large organizations benefit from adding a personal touch to their brand interaction with fans and followers. In this game of life, though we interact via computers to a large extent, people are still human and crave personable interaction. I have found Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to be a conversational “at bat” I hit out into the virtual park and bring into home plate with an eventual in-person exchange.

It was a pleasure listening to these local sports marketing authorities talk about their social media game plan. I am happy to be not only a fan, but also a social media player.

Special thanks to Jill Hashimoto, Safeco Director of Private Event Sales & Marketing and the the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce for hosting this sports marketing social media event!

~written by Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography ~ Corporate & Special Event Photographer, Nationwide. http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

About trcouvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & head shots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

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