5 Lessons for Social Media Marketing from Cricket (Yes, the Sport)

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I was really excited to find a blog dedicated to social media and sports analogies. I have always been a cricket fan and even though I don’t watch all the games now, I still follow the updates.

This was originally published on that blog and if you are a sports fan you’ll find a lot of other interesting posts there.

I came across this blog a few weeks back and loved the idea of relating social media with sports. I don’t know how many of you follow or understand cricket but Brian agreed to publish this and I am hoping you will share your feedback in the comments. Even if you don’t like what I have here, do say ‘hi’ if you love Cricket or would like to learn more of it.

Comparing social media to a five-day long game of cricket seems a bit odd but that’s what I am going to do. There are so many similarities between the two that I had to limit myself to writing only from a batsman’s perspective. So here we go.

Social media is like test cricket
Originally uploaded to Flicker by fiverlocker

1. Prepare to bat long, really long.

One good innings of 30 or 50 runs can change the balance of a T20, but this rarely happens in a test match. If you’re playing test cricket, you need to concentrate and prepare to bat long. The best in the business are considered best for they have done the hard work, and played long innings that didn’t always look attractive or glamorous.

You can’t build a following or generate leads on social media in a matter of hours or even days. It takes time, so don’t start with the goal of creating ‘viral content’. Tweet everyday and often, and don’t get disheartened if your follower count isn’t increasing quickly.

2. Adjust to the pitch and conditions.

Pitch, weather, size of the ground — all these factors can affect how easy or difficult it might be to play your strokes. A good batsman is someone who can assess the conditions and adjust quickly.

You are going to fall on your face if you take the slam-bang approach in social media. Listen to what your network – your prospects, industry experts and even competitors – are talking about. Understand who you are talking to and adjust your messaging accordingly. Start a conversation or jump in to a conversation just when it’s the right time.

3. Respect good deliveries.

Even when you are in form and well set, you can’t hit every single ball out of the park. Great players respect good deliveries and punish the bad ones at the first opportunity. Some of the best and most successful test cricketers were known for their ability to leave the good deliveries.

Appreciate when someone has something good to share — retweet a piece of good advice or a different (but valid) valid point of view, thank others for their contributions or for mentioning you, and importantly, acknowledge mistakes and say sorry.

4. Breakdown the target into small chunks.

Imagine you need to score 300 with more than a day’s play left in the game. You can’t get all 300 in one session (one third of a day’s play) and if you keep that as the only target in mind, you will be overwhelmed. Break it down in to smaller chunks, look to bat through one session at a time — one ball at a time.

You need x number of followers or y level of engagement to justify the time you spend on social media, but it takes time to get there. Take it one tweet (or a blog post) at a time and don’t fret over how much value it generated. Short-term targets are better set in terms of ‘efforts’ and social media is no different. Statistics show that the more you tweet and more regularly you tweet,  the more followers you get.

5. Deal with breaks, and concentrate hard

You might be hitting the ball well but that session ends so you need to come back after the break and get your eye in again. Playing conditions might be very different towards the end of the day vs the next morning when you resume the innings. Ability to play through sessions and deal with these breaks is essential for a batsman to score big in a test match.

You can’t spend 4 hours at a stretch on twitter, once a week. It will be more like half an hour or an hour every day — even that might be in smaller chunks or spread across the day. And during this short time, you need to continue the conversations you were having, listen to what others are talking about and get your (brand) message right. This might come naturally to some but rest of us need to work at it, else we usually end up spending a lot of time without getting any output to justify that effort.

But short isn’t always bad.

Purists love test cricket and look down upon T20 as only entertainment. But no one can deny that limited-overs cricket (T20, and also ODI’s) has done a great service to the game of cricket in terms of innovation in game strategy and higher standards of fitness and fielding. Not to mention it has brought new audience to the game and made it an attractive career choice for youngsters by generating more money.

I hate the contests and silly hashtag promotions that brands use on social media, but can’t deny that there is space for that too. I will not go as far as to suggest you should do contests, but tweet-chats, Facebook chats, or hangouts are a good way of increasing your social media reach and engagement in a short time. Maintain a steady presence and use these tactics once in a while to increase engagement with the existing network and also bring in new audience.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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About Nilesh

Nilesh has worked in the IT industry for nine years, and is both a PMP and an MBA in marketing. He has worked in and with small businesses, managing projects, leading teams, and improving business processes.At Markitty, Nilesh translates requirements into tasks and timelines. He jumps into whatever is needed, whether it’s marketing, design, or technical architecture. He also keeps the others sane with his intermittent wisecracking.

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