The Youth Soccer Match Guide To Social Media Strategy

by · May 1, 201214 comments

Social media has been around long enough to start evaluating how effective your strategy is at delivering on the goal. This is important. But the big question is do you have the right players on the field? Have you established the right frame work for success? Or does your social media strategy resemble a 5-year-old’s soccer game?

Soccer seems to be that entry-level sport for many kids. Both of my boys played soccer when they were five and I remember watching the games while hysterically laughing on the sidelines. The kids are running around the field, unsure of why they are there and so easily distracted. One of my sons was the kid who scored every time he got the ball, but in between he would sit down and play with the grass. My other son was a force to be reckoned with, even that young. He had focus and determination on getting the ball to the goal. But he would also survey the field and pass to his team mates when they were open. As I started thinking about where we are in the social media adoption scale, it seemed that a 5-year-old’s soccer game would be a good analogy that we can have a little fun with. So here it goes.

To get started think about the players you have on your social media team. Are any of these kids your social media strategist?

The kid who eats the grass

This is the kid that is sitting at the end of the field, clueless to all that is happening around him. He’s eating the grass, filling his hand full of dirt, and watching the game on the next field. His parents are yelling at him to pay attention, but he’s focused on anything but the game. One of my sons was this way. He was only interested in the game if he had the ball, if not, he was perfectly happy to sit and play in the grass until it was “his turn” again.

In social media, this is the strategist who doesn’t understand anything about business, but understands social media channels. It may be your Twitter expert who can rock out an awesome tweet and sit and talk with your followers all day, but the minute you start to talk about being strategic her eyes gloss over. It’s probably someone that was selected because she had an enthusiasm for social media that helped you get the job done faster. She feels like a leader because she helped create the presence you have, but as your social media presence grows you are realizing that she isn’t the right person to drive the strategy.

She is a great community manager, but will never understand that social media isn’t only about tweeting on the fly. If this person is your “social media strategist,” you will find yourself battling about whether her efforts are delivering any return to the business over … and over … and over. She can’t develop strategies that will deliver a return because she doesn’t understand business. She understands Twitter. Remember, just because someone developed a successful personal blog, or has a lot of followers on Twitter, or fans on Facebook won’t mean they understand how to apply their success to business.

The kid who chases the pretty girl in short shorts

My kids played on co-ed teams and there was one kid who was fascinated by the girls. He was also oblivious to the game; his only focus was that pretty girl at the other end of the field. At one point this girl had the ball and was going down the field for an awesome score. At this age anything that looks coordinated is a success! As she reached the goal and wound her foot back to get the game winning score, BAM, he tackled her.  He stood up laughing because he was just playing a game. But the girl was crying. For her, they weren’t playing chase and she didn’t sign up for football for a reason.

In social media, this is the strategist who gets distracted by shiny things. They are the true early adopters who have tried every social media platform, they have the latest technology, and they have a need, a true need to fit your company into every social media network that exists … because it’s cool. They stand in line for the new iPad, even though they have the two versions before it. This is an important person to have in your arsenal because they are going to find the next Twitter or Facebook long before anyone else does. However, you will have to balance their need to discover with your need to focus on the channels that have potential today. If this person is developing your social media strategy, you probably don’t have a social media strategy. Rather, you keep hearing that social media is moving too quickly to develop a strategy. It’s true, it is tough to develop a strategy if you are busy trying to keep up with 12 social networks. Unfortunately, only 2 of them may have relevance to your business, right now.

The kid who is focused on the goal and scores every time

This kid is probably your star player. His skills are far more advanced than his other team mates. He gets the ball and he takes it down field and scores … every time. The parents are thrilled because this kid literally wins every game for them. But eventually, they start to get angry because he never passes the ball. He only knows how to do one thing: score.

In social media, this is the strategist who looks at social media in the context of social media. They are great at developing a strategy for Twitter to grow followers or to grow fans on Facebook; however they are disconnected from the rest of the organization and other departmental goals. They tend to develop strategies that other teams can’t get behind because they were never involved. Their strategies are singular in focus and many times the focus is misaligned with what the business is trying to achieve. Growing fans and followers can be useless if your company’s goal was to generate more leads and the strategist hasn’t provided a way for them to convert from the social channel.

This can be the phase when social media is seen as being only a marketing channel, rather than having the ability to change the way business is done throughout the organization. It’s the difference between someone who can develop a singular social media strategy and those who can affect change to transform the organization into a social business. Sometimes this is more about the organization than the strategist. However, many strategists have a difficult time envisioning where social fits into the entire organization.

The kid who understands the field, where his team mates are, when to go for the goal and when to pass

You know this kid. She’s the one that the parents are in awe of. She is only five but she is an orchestrator on the field. She understands the game. She scans the field as she’s bringing the ball down. She tells other kids where to be and when. She sets your kid up to score, and he does. When the other team is all over her, she somehow manages to keep the ball and take it down for the tough score the other kids couldn’t get. All of the parents talk about how she is probably going to be a pro player when she grows up, because she just gets it.

In social media, this is the strategist who has a view of the entire organization and understands where social media fits. She understands where it can be the most successful today and where she is growing it to be successful tomorrow. She has the entire executive team on board because she can clearly demonstrate where the return on her strategy is and has even been able to grow the budget to levels you thought were impossible. Her strategies are completely integrated with other departments’ goals and supporting marketing channels. She views social media as a tool that can be used to accomplish what the business has always tried to accomplish. It’s a tool in her tool belt and she knows how to use it. She is transforming your organization into a social business one initiative at a time.

So back to the question, does your social media strategist play like a 5-year-old soccer player?

Would she be able to recognize it if she did play like a 5-year-old? Probably not, unfortunately this is something that every single person will say: She will be the last to “get” it. But as a business owner or business executive you have to be able to look at your team and know whether or not you have the right players. This doesn’t mean you fire your social media managers or strategists if they are one the first four types of players. Those profiles are important to have represented on your team. But it may mean you need to take a look at who is driving the ship, because that’s the most important position.

What do you think? Does your team have the right players on the team? Are the players aligned with the right positions? Let us know about your team and what you think of our analogies in the comments.

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/adrianoarwin Arwin Adriano

    I have a lot of fun reading your post and making social media compared to kids activities.

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  • http://www.anandmpatel.com/ Anand Patel

    Wow, this is an amazing way of explaining the different types of social media strategists. I feel as if most are grass eaters or girl chasers but what soccer role do you think the average social media “strategist” play? 

    • http://twitter.com/Nichole_Kelly Nichole Kelly

      Anand – Thank so much! I’ve seen all of them in action.The most common is hard to say. What have you seen the most of?

  • http://twitter.com/MomScribe Beth Gaddis

    Fantastic analogy!  As a soccer mom and as a social media strategist, I can totally relate.  Now I just need an article about what the coach should do about all of these different types of players.  We have a few of each type on our team!

    • http://twitter.com/Nichole_Kelly Nichole Kelly

      Beth – Thanks so much! I thought about going into coaches here too, from another perspective. You have the mom who is there because she loves the kids, but has limited experience with soccer and then the mom/dad who played soccer all through school and was semi-pro. :-) But I like your angle better…how do you coach these players? A lot has to do with putting the players in the right positions where they can be successful. 

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  • http://twitter.com/StaceyHood Stacey Hood

    What a great article, Nichole. We’re a soccer family with ties to former European players. It ties everything up quite well. Thanks for sharing! 

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