Guest post by James Gordon of JDG Media Ltd, Sports content provider and publisher.
Running a sport club’s social media channels is easy after a win. It’s what you do after a loss that matters most.
In truth, that first bit isn’t strictly true (as you’ll spot later on). It’s easy to run after a win if you know what you’re doing. You still need to have that same thirst for content, the same motivation to update and the engagement to make it worthwhile.
But after a defeat, any content you put out is at the hands of a baying lynch mob, angry for whatever reason following a defeat.
“The players aren’t fit to wear the shirt.”
“The club should refund tickets.”
Those are three real life examples. All from clubs who’ve lost perhaps lower than 25% of their games in the season to date.
Without doubt, the best rugby club at social media is Leeds Rhinos.
In my opinion, it is mere coincidence that the club with the biggest social media following and the best content has been the best club on the pitch for the best part of the last decade.
Last season, they had their most successful season to date, winning the domestic treble.
Their head of Media & PR, Phil Daly, has spoken at Digital Sport UK events, rubbing shoulders with peers from global superpowers including Liverpool FC.
The way Leeds have tackled their online strategy is to be admired, particularly under the financial constraints that rugby league suffers.
All clubs should take note. It’s about engaging fans and most importantly getting them through the turnstiles.
A full analysis of what Leeds do on social media is probably worth a series of blog posts in its own right, but the reason I’m writing this one isn’t to highlight that.
It’s to highlight how they’ve reacted to an extremely poor start to 2016 on the pitch.
In their second Super League game this season, Leeds were thumped 56-12 by Widnes, a team tipped by a number of pundits including former Rhinos stand-off Garry Schofield, to finish bottom this season.
Here is how their Facebook page looked in the hours after the defeat:
and match highlights.
No doubt a similar process to when the Rhinos win.
No shying away. No hiding from the critical comments. No doing things different because of a defeat.
Just doing things the right way on social media.
And this fosters respect. It fosters trust. And it shows a successful social media strategy in action. 166,000+ likes can’t be wrong.
Compare it to their opponents that day, Widnes. A thumping of Leeds is a significant victory for the Vikings, and one that is sure to get some attention from casual fans in the town.
Their Facebook response?
Well, we’re still waiting for it.
There was no post on Facebook until 16th February (two days after the game). And it wasn’t about the Rhinos game.
In fact, the Rhinos game hasn’t been mentioned anywhere on the Widnes Facebook page since this preview piece on 12th February.
Missing a trick? The Rhinos certainly aren’t.