YouTube & Facebook& Blogs; Oh My!

Any race that is looking to grow its participation and not using social media is going down the wrong road.
The Boilermaker has been committed to social media for many years and has recently hired a person to support this powerful tool from a marketing perspective (see Adam, I told you I was going to give you a shout out!).
Why social media?
Social Media folks are your folks!
Look at your race demographics by age, if you haven’t been tracking that (as well as where your participants come from) we need to talk.
In general the ‘sweet spot’ you will see is most of your runners range in age from around 17 to their mid-30’s. Guess what, these are the heavy users of social media tools. In fact some of them don’t even remember that there was life prior to the internet (which became a usable medium around twenty years ago). I still remember when we had a black and white TV in my house that could get three channels (two of them well, three if the rooftop antenna was aligned correctly).
Races by their very nature are a kaleidoscope of great photographic moments; share what you have. With the omnipresent nature of smart phones with video capabilities you have the chance to empower hundreds of first person reporters to showcase your race.
It’s cheap- in fact it’s free!
Assuming the majority of your participants come from your community could you afford to pay the print, TV or radio to get the word out in a meaningful way?
If you are an event that is dependent on sponsor dollars to help defray costs (and who doesn’t) a strong digital presence promotes them 24/7 365 (actually 366 this year as 2012 is a leap year). They know that runners are a desired group boasting a high education/ net income and can be a loyal bunch.
A big caution
Remember I told you it was free, well that was a bit of an exaggeration. The cost is your time to keep up with the care and feeding of your website/ social media.
Keep it fresh; nothing is worse than a stale website (except perhaps stale cereal). One you decide to jump into the digital pool you need to jump in the deep end!
One thing you will quickly learn is that if you have a popular event you will quickly build a circle of Facebook ‘friends’. You will also as quickly learn if you have 100 friends they may have 150 opinions about any subject!
Don’t have thin skin, not everyone will love your event as much as you do. If complaints on Facebook are legitimate consider then a chance to ‘make right’ and show you are a good listener. Should the writer be unreasonable and appears to be complaining for the sake of complaining frequently others who have ‘befriended’ you will act as your ally.
Regarding blogs, the first one is very easy to write; the twentieth not so much so. I use a simple test when I begin composing a blog “does anyone besides me even care about this subject”? Many an article has ended right there.
How ironic that perhaps the oldest of human sports born from the flight vs. fight syndrome Let me run from something/ someone that wants to eat/kill me or let run after something/ someone I want to eat/ kill has transformed into a 21st century endeavor where we barcode our runners, instantly send text messages on course conditions and digitally send them their results.
I better tweet someone about all this!

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