We are a few weeks into college football season and this fact has been repeatedly bashed into my brain. Why? I live in the southeastern United States. In the past it’s been difficult to ignore college football in the South (and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to have a conversation with….well, anyone). Today, it’s impossible to ignore if you spend time on a social network (this might not be interesting to 35% of you). Beyond the fans having conversations on Facebook and Twitter, the teams themselves are also well-versed in the social space. Here are a few data points.
- The Oregon Ducks have received a lot of praise in the press for their QuackCave, a social media command center (http://tiri.co/RxnVnY).
- Northwestern just launched a social media hub, dubbed the Wild Cat Way, which aggregates YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr activity from the team and the fans (http://tiri.co/Rxp7rI).
- The Bleacher Report wrote an article called “College Football: Social Media Monitoring Is What Every School Should Be Doing” (http://tiri.co/PWz2lV). In it, they argue that collegiate athletic programs (if not the administration offices) should be monitoring student activity in the social space. Kentucky and Louisville are cited as examples of schools already doing this.
- According to ESPN (http://tiri.co/PWz0L1), college football coaches “are embracing -- or at least accepting -- what has become an inescapable reality in sports culture.” They are signing up for Twitter accounts.
All of this increased activity, from the students to the teams to the coaches, presents an issue regarding defeat. How do you handle a cadre of angry, upset, and disappointed fans when your team suffers a defeat…especially a big one?
The same principles that can be applied to a big loss can also be used during a business crisis. Show empathy and make your fans (or customers) feel connected. Let them know that it gets better. I think this quote from Sam Laird writing for Mashable (http://tiri.co/PWB3ib) sums it up best.
“Fans are used to updates via Facebook, and obviously know about an important loss. Hearing directly from a coach can help the team control the story and make fans feel connected, valued and informed. That’s likely much more valuable from a branding and engagement standpoint than simple radio silence from a team’s main social portal after a disappointing defeat.”
To summarize Sam’s quote (if I may), have an escalation policy in place and be prepared to act. In my experience, every status update at or about your brand is an opportunity regardless of whether or not it is positive.