One of the true marvels of our times has been what I like to characterize as “The Megaphone Effect,” the ability to let even just one voice have impact on billions of people almost instantaneously. From the Arab Spring to the presidential election in the U.S. to the latest phenomena on YouTube or Twitter, examples abound. However, despite what we have already seen from the “virality” muscle of social media, a case can be made that we are actually on the onramp of the learning curve in terms of harnessing this capability. Unfortunately, this can be for good or evil and for fun or malevolence.
We have seen the importance of better use of the megaphone in a business context with new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer making her first acquisition purchase of mobile social engagement company Stamped. That company is mildly interesting. If you are into this space check out Baltimore, MD-based SocialToaster. The company bills itself as a social media amplification company. They are about to make some noise that might make you want to virtually shout.
What it does and how it works
SocialToaster is all about leveraging the power of sports fans over the web, but obviously is extensible for a myriad of B2C and B2B apps to fortify your customer relationship management (CRM) efforts.
I like the visuals the company uses to help you get the picture. In fact, this is one very clever website.
Image via SocialToaster.com
This gets translated as:
STEP 1: Install the app on your site and Facebook page. They will even host it.
STEP 2: Start recruiting Super Fans to spread your message. You can also and should reward them. The platform is incentive program friendly. Indeed, they have been nice enough to give activities names. The first is Gamify which allows customers to identify top fan influencers and create incentives to motivate them to share more. And, the second is all important Viral Recruiting where engagement is cemented through increased incentive program rewards.
STEP 3: Push content to your Super Fans from the SocialToaster dashboard. All shared messages are controlled by the client to maintain the brand’s credibility and ensure message consistency.
STEP 4: Share that on your social networks. SocialToaster notifies loyal Super Fans via email that there is new content for them to share.
STEP 5: Watch the message spread. The message appears as if it were posted by the Super Fan, resulting in a credible third party endorsement and exponentially increasing further sharing.
STEP 6: Deliver results. SocialToaster uses unique URL’s to track website activitydirectly attributable to Super Fans’ share activity. Real-time reporting let you evaluate specific posts, identify top influencers, and gauge the effectiveness of your social media marketing campaign.
There are patents pending on the technology and pricing for the service starts at $379 per month for small and medium organizations and with larger enterprise pricing starting at $999 per month.
So what’s the news? There are two items of interest. The first is a tool called FANACTIVE, which can be demoed from the website. It is designed to “encourage fans to share more, engage more, and buy more.” As the company explains, “The typical SocialToaster professional sports team has 3,000 Super Fans who share content 72 percent of the time to a total average audience of 1.2 million people - a far more effective and affordable way to connect to fans compared to traditional cost-per-click marketing.”
Daniel Plumlee, Director of Interactive Media for The Indianapolis Colts notes that, “By using SocialToaster in conjunction with our Facebook page we saw our traffic increase five-fold.” And, as Mike Donnay, Senior Director, Brand Networks of Palace Sports & Entertainment and The Detroit Pistons explained, “Last season we had 40,000 followers on Twitter. Now we have almost 100,000 followers with the number of engaged fans per post constantly increasing. In fact, since we have started using SocialToaster we have seen a rise in ticket sales through social media and fan engagement. Super Fans are becoming the go-to person for our brand, and we make it possible for them to have exclusive content before anyone else.”
And , the list goes on. Brian Razzaque, CEO of SocialToaster gave the reasons, “Teams throughout professional sports are joining the ‘movement’ to drive revenue through their social media and brand sponsorships… SocialToaster replaces the cost-per-click model by enabling sports teams to control how often content is pushed out to their fans, as well as control the messaging…We provide the viral lift at a fraction of the cost.”
NFL and NBA Teams Reveal Their Social Media Secrets
In a world where it is rare that customers share the secrets of their success, the other news involves one of those rare instances where satisfied clients have been delighted to step forward. In fact, the Detroit Pistons, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens have identified four social media rules that extend beyond the confines of football or sports for amplifying you message. They are:
Create Content No One Else Is Making
The Pistons Donnay noted: “What we’ve learned by analyzing our social metrics is that fans want exclusive behind the scenes content that you can’t get from other media outlets like ESPN. Our Instagram feed, for example, is all behind-the-scenes photos that you can’t get anywhere else. But that’s not something we simply created from our plan, but from using social listening and monitoring tools to understand what fans want. We then use these insights to optimize our social strategy to deliver unique content to each of our social channels.”
Balance Quantity with Quality (Not Quality over Quantity)
“The rule used to be ‘do not overload your fans with too many posts,’” said Baltimore Ravens Super Fan and Social Media Strategist AK Stout. “Then Facebook changed their algorithms and now any given post only reaches about 16% of your fan base. The general rule for Facebook now is ‘post as often as you want’, up to 5 times a day – evenly timed. For Twitter, you can tweet 30 times a day and it’s probably ok…Users don’t have to follow everything a brand pushes out – they opt in to follow specific “boards” which allows them to tailor what content they want to receive.”
Don’t Use One Voice - Use Many
The Indianapolis Colts’ Plumlee believes, “Sports teams have a huge range in a fan’s age. Each age likes to consume media in their own way. You have to tailor your message to each channel. You have to provide content they will find valuable.”
Sharing Beats Stalking
AK Stout also shared these thoughts: “People don’t want to stalk brands on social media and just passively receive updates - they want to be able to share the team’s content…Brands can look at sports teams that use SocialToaster as an example. By using Super Fans to spread content about a sports team, SocialToaster empowers true brand evangelists while creating more fan engagement. SocialToaster is a game changer because it’s easy for both the brand and the user.”
I like the value prop here for the marketing folks. The real power of the megaphone in a B2C or B2B context will ultimately be to not just cast a net over all of your “Super Fans,” but rather the significant amplification of the 15 or 20 influencers that really move markets. Unlike punditry in this like tech and politics it historically has been hard to identify and incent those who can best amplify your message. Now they can be horse collared to enable you to make your competition social toast. This is certainly an interesting example where sports can imitate business rather than the other way around.
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