Lately as I’ve scrolled through my social feeds, especially Instagram, there’s been one thing on my mind: volume, volume, volume. I follow a lot of sports teams to keep up with the industry. And while it’s natural sports would take up a lot of the real estate, the volume of content has seemed high recently. Almost intrusive, really.
I see accounts with a million followers getting an engagement rate of less than 1 percent. Pair this with the volume of content that is shared and it’s made me wonder if at times in this industry we dilute our own product.
In the pioneer days of social the platforms were a tool to inform. Play-by-play was all the rage, and in a lot of ways, made sense in those “early days”. Fast forward to now and every fan can access scores and updates through an app or gamecast. Game updates — in the most dry sense — are not a problem.
But it seems that it’s been hard for the industry to shake off this idea that we have to publish and publish often. There’s an internal pressure to be everywhere. What will fans think if we don’t comment on every play? I know this feeling all too well. But in the process, we’ve created cluttered. Hurt our own reach. And, quite frankly, often diluted the quality of work.
It’s time to take a step back and give serious thought to content volume and distribution strategy. A less than 1 percent engagement rate should show a serious need to pivot (and no, don’t blame it on the algorithm).
This isn’t about reducing all posts by 75 percent. It’s about revisiting the approach as the platforms and landscape changes. Take a step back and ask some hard questions. Some points to consider:
Sports, it’s crowded.
The sports space is crowded. Thanks to social, leagues and teams are competing with fans, bloggers, the media, brands, etc. for attention. Sure, a team might be a fan’s go-to source, but they aren’t the only one. You have to provide something to different to stand out.
The crowdedness, allows us to pivot.
With so much content created around a team, league and brand, it’s important to understand the differentiating factor. What’s the main objective with the accounts? What do you want to provide to fans that only you can?
The point of differentiation is no longer scores, so throw that away. The angle is the brand, the team personality and the access you have.
We’re here to entertain, really.
Because scores are readily available, the days of teams needing to provide play-by-play are long gone. It’s not about dry and boring updates. A team’s digital presence should be about inspiring, entertaining, engaging and drawing people in. It’s the emotional connection to the team and the game. Espo said it best:
Exactly. You’re the color commentator not the play by play.
— Greg Esposito (@Espo) March 16, 2018
Entertainment and engaging fans can come in all shapes and forms, whether it’s tone of voice or stellar content. Think about what that means for your brand and start providing it to fans. This is how you build a strong connection with them.
Get rid of the pressure.
It’s hard to pivot in this industry, especially if we’re talking about reducing the volume of content. We feel this pressure to be everywhere, all the time. This pressure is often internal though. We put it on ourselves. Our fans don’t expect us to publish fifty times a day — in fact, I would argue that most don’t want it.
The first step to rethinking your publishing strategy is to get rid of the pressure to publish for the sake of publishing. This is the first step. And, it’s freeing.
Define the rules.
If you are going to pivot how much content you’re going to publish, it’s important to define lanes so you don’t fall into the same old habits. Write the rules of the road as a team. Define the expectations. Run through mock scenarios so the team gets a feel for the publishing strategy. A few things to think through:
How many times a day should the team publish to each platform? How do platforms differ? What’s the content strategy?
During game days, what’s the expectation and focus? How does the team balance “covering” the games versus entertaining?
Where are you placing the most value? Is it in quality of content or immediacy? This is a big question that teams should be talking through.
Focus on quality.
Somewhere along the line this pressure to produce all the time has made us care less about quality. I’m not even talking about high level production. I mean that we’re willing to push out a bunch of “stuff” whether it adds value to our fans or not.
Defining the rules should include a serious conversation about the quality of work that is expected. If it doesn’t add value, then why are we doing this? Your team should get tired of hearing this question, but it should always be asked.
Package content differently.
How team’s package their content has become as critical as the content itself. And, your approach to how you package your content can play into the volume you produce and publish.
For example, let’s talk highlights on IG. So many times I see teams sharing more than five highlights from one single game. At some point, all the highlights look the same as I scroll through my feed. And forget the fact they’re often showing up five days later thanks to the algorithm.
Instead of publishing five individual highlight posts, what if it could be packaged differently? What if after every game a team leveraged the Instagram carousel? They can highlight the “five plays of the game” and include design elements to make it unique to the brand. An example from the Panthers on how to incorporate highlights + design into Instagram:
This idea would take five posts and make it into one. Sure, it might have to wait until after the game, but the product would be stronger, unique to your brand and less intrusive to your fans.
This begs the question – is it about immediacy or about quality?
Listen to the metrics.
At the end of this day, this industry is all about being strategic but nimble. It’s a fine line, but the good news is we have access to metrics in an instant. It’s important to pay attention to how your content is performing and make the pivots as necessary.
You might go through this exercise and find that your team does have a happy medium. Or, maybe you need to make small adjustments. Either way, it’s important to consider how what we put out affects our performance. It’s easy to hit post, sure. But that does not mean we should do it? Let’s get back to a focus on quality over quantity. The volume will then take care of itself.
Do you think there’s a need for teams to adjust the volume of content? I would love to hear your thoughts below.