When talking about companies & communicators jumping into social media, I’ve told (warned?) people that social media efforts should not be measured solely by the number of people who see the campaign. Social media is about building community. Yes, that means that you need a number of people to be part of that community. But more importantly, successful social media efforts should be engaging that community and letting it shape and share the content and the focus of the community.
In the same way, the impact of putting the 2008 PLAYERS Championship on Twitter can’t just be determined by the number of people who followed the updates or clicked on links between Twitter and PGATOUR.com. What I thought was successful about the efforts on Twitter (for external outreach) was how the community accepted and engaged with @2008PLAYERS. Internally, the ability to get buy-in on a brand new initiative set on an unknown platform in a very short time frame was also successful.
The golf community I found on Twitter is small, but active. 115 Twitter users followed @2008PLAYERS (more like 100 if you take out the PGA Tour and Turner Sports who signed up just to follow this account, but should really be tweeting more — @appgutt @davidplant @madamson @PatrickRegan to name a few). Our followers weren’t many, but they liked what we were doing. At least 20 different users used “@ replies” to share 2008PLAYERS with their own followers, welcome THE PLAYERS to Twitter, ask questions and give feedback about our updates. There were over 75 replies and a handful of direct messages sent to 2008PLAYERS in about two weeks, which I think is a great representation of how our community created the conversation. I made a conscious effort to respond to questions and thanked others for their feedback, even if I had to do so after hours — I was addicted to being a part of our conversation! Many thanks to @MrBusinessGolf @golfgirl @17fairway @danperry and @pabloherrero for that.
In comparison, @redsoxcast (play-by-play of the Boston Red Sox) gets plenty of replies from its group of 775+ followers. Through Quotably, I can see who, when and what those replies are. I can also tell that redsoxcast doesn’t respond to the replies, the questions or even the shout-outs from their followers. Red Sox fans are numerous and incredibly loyal, but the redsoxcast efforts are losing a prime opportunity to engage their fans on another level. I’ve learned, even more through this experiment, that Twitter followers can have huge amounts of passion and enthusiasm for the brands they follow. If brands are spending the time and energy to create a Twitter presence, they should be empowering their followers. See @RichardatDELL, @SouthwestAir, @hrblock, @comcastcares and @GMblogs for examples of how that’s happening in the corporate world.
Another reason that I’m counting the 2008PLAYERS experiment a success is that we got the PGA Tour on an emerging web platform. Almost more important than doing it well (which we did, IMO), was that we got on as Twitter is starting to gain more traction and momentum. I know that we won’t be first in many of our future social media efforts, but I think having experience on Twitter will prove to be more valuable later than we know now. It’s still a niche social network (200,000 active daily users) used primarily by social media geeks like me, but Twitter is starting to matter.
One little disclaimer: Sunday at THE PLAYERS should have been Tweeted much better than it was. I had technical difficulties with my technology (aka cell phone battery) and lost the ability to tweet from the course while following Sergio Garcia, espcially through holes 16-18 and the playoff. I owe a blog post on the experience of being there firsthand. I’ll post a link here when it goes up.