Thursday, July 23, 2009

San Diego Chargers and Social Media

We had a fun guest speaker last night, Joel Price from the San Diego Chargers. He shared with us how the football team has been using social media to get closer to its fans and create a "virtual tailgate party". Joel took us on a historical journey of fan interaction during his presentation.

Forums First
The Chargers started out with fan forums (message boards) a few years back. The boards are still in play and tend to be the team's most active and loyal fans (as well as mostly males). These are the people that know the players, all the details behind the players, even the back-up to the back-up quarterback. They are very responsive; ask a question of forum members, and you will get instant feedback (great for a regional market).

Die hard fans - 300,000 of them.

Facebook Comes In
The Chargers next started a Facebook Fan Page. These 75,000+ fans tend to be people who like to be affiliated with the team but are not as deeply into Charger knowledge as the fans interacting on the forums. Interestingly, these also seem to be people that were not being previously reached online. Demographically, they are about 60% male and 40% female.

These fans are more likely to come to games, and they are quick to react to new information. For example, just before coming to speak at the class on Wednesday, Joel posted about the throwback uniforms the team will be wearing at a few games this season. Within the hour, there were already hundreds of people who indicated they "liked" this information, with over 100 comments as well.

Tweet, Tweet
The most recent addition to the Chargers social media efforts is their Twitter feed, @chargers. With over 15,000 followers (and counting), the Chargers were the first NFL team to be on Twitter. In addition to the main account, there are several players that Tweet including @shawnemerriman and @kassimosgood. The latest Tweets are around items such as EA's latest Madden Football 2010 video game (who is in it, what are their ratings, etc), open practices, and the upcoming Chargers FanFest.

Social Media Goals
According to Joel, it is rare for an NFL team to communicate well with its fans. The San Diego Chargers want to break through that barrier and do their marketing by communicating closely with fans - and not in a "hard sell" mode, but in a fan appreciation mode. When asked how social media is currently being measured in the organization, Joel described it this way:
"How do we measure social media? How can you measure a hug? We are giving back to our fans."
Thank you, Joel, for giving back to us and speaking to our class. It was extremely interesting. Go Chargers!

(Photo credit: San Diego Chargers)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Class Has Begun!

What a great kick-off to the summer with my new class full of students last week at UC San Diego. We had a lively discussion around businesses using social media, what works and what doesn't, as well as a preview of this coming week's guest speaker Tim Jackson from Masi Bicycles. 

Tonight we will discuss blogs - what they are, why use them for business, and look at examples of blogs that work. We will also talk about how to market them and the best content to include.

Of course, our first step for blogging is - listening! :)

(Image credit: franckito)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Groundswell links

We are using Groundswell as our text book, and it is a great one as it focuses on social media for relationship-building, not just as a set of technologies. While you were reading it, did you see a great idea that you would like to dig into further? Did you read about a really cool blog that you would like to subscribe to (in a reader, of course)?

Here is a great resource for you which supplements the book. There are links to all of the blogs, posts, and websites from each chapter. The authors, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, also each have their own blogs where you can get more information and hear their thoughts directly about Groundswell as well as other topics.

Let me know if you find these additional sites helpful!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Learning about Facebook

We had a great guest speaker last week talk to us about the pros and cons of marketing via Facebook on the same day that Facebook turned 5 years old! Rodney Rumford went through a very detailed presentation, discussing with students various methods of advertising as well as the differences between Facebook profiles, pages, and groups. If you need help remembering the difference, here is a good, short post about putting your business on Facebook.

We also talked about why a company would want to be involved with Facebook, and we looked at the example of Ernst and Young (from the Groundswell book, our class textbook). Ernst and Young uses this social network as a way to recruit as well as a way to communicate with college students, interns, and E&Y employees. They have nearly 26,000 fans (people who have raised their hand to say they want to be connected to E&Y this way), and employees actively encourage and respond to questions from potential employees.

The question I left with my students last week was this: should companies use Facebook for marketing? I am looking forward to seeing their answers tonight. There are certainly many companies that do! Just this week, I joined the fan page for Barbie and for In-n-Out Burgers.

(Photo credit: junaed)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome to Blogging!

The topic for our second week of class tonight is blogging. I ask my students to start and maintain a blog throughout the remaining 8 weeks of class because it is a great way to learn about what it takes to keep up with a social media property. A common misconception about social media is that it is inexpensive. This is often true from a technology perspective, as many of the tools (like Blogger) are free. However, the real cost involves much more than just the technology.

For example, a blog requires time and personnel to write regularly, to research other blogs and news items on the topic desired, as well as to craft responses to comments. It is very similar to the effort it takes to maintain a community - or any relationship, for that matter. When we blog, we build a relationship with our readers, who often become a community focused around and within that blog. This is actually the fun part of blogging! For some tips on getting started with a blog, see my post from last term on things to keep in mind for blogging success.

Interestingly, my students are not the only ones starting up a blog. With the new presidential administration, there is now a White House blog. The blog will be written under the direction of Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House. He has written his first post about the blog, stating that it will be part of an ongoing conversation. He even invites us all to give our feedback via a form on the website.

Ideally, a blog allows a conversation to take place right at the spot where there is engagement - on the blog itself. That is not happening yet on the White House blog, and the critics are definitely discussing this. At the moment, the blog looks more like just a web page than a conversation. Things are still new, so I am sure they will work to talk with the readers of the blog, rather than talk at the readers, in the near future. Stay tuned!

Now back to San Diego. Tonight, we will talk about the why and how of blogging. I am also bringing in a guest speaker, Tim Jackson of Masi Bicycles, to discuss how using a blog, and other social media, has helped improve their business. Tim has been great about creating a real community following via not only his blog but also his Tweets on Twitter.

I am looking forward to hearing Tim speak and to seeing the new blogs from my students later this week!

(Photo credit: rusak)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Marketing via New Media - New Term!

I am looking forward to meeting my new students this week as our Winter quarter starts up. This is a nine week class focused on teaching businesses how to market using new media/social media. It includes a lot of hands-on activity, guest speakers, as well as valuable projects (the final project is creating a social media marketing plan for a non-profit organization).

This term should be a great class with new student blogs coming on board in the next week or so (usually their assignment in Week 2) and lots of great discussion early on about what IS social media? As you can see from the blogs on the right, many of my former students are still keeping their blogs updated and are creating conversation with them. Way to go!

As usual, our textbook is Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

I will be sure to share the student insights with you, so keep coming back for more info.

Onward to the new quarter!

(Photo credit: ArTG)