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Beyond Viral: Expanding Networks and Shareability

Going viral. It seems to be the only thing anyone on social media wants to achieve these days, but how exactly can it help you as a sport organization.  It seems straightforward; going viral can bring your organization or athletes to the next level in terms of social media status. However, where we see the value of something like virality actually lies in the reality of a much further reach than traditional means of communication. Knowing that a tweet, video, or photo has the potential to go viral doesn’t mean that you should strive for virality. There’s nothing less viral-worthy than an inauthentic post that isn’t in line with an organizations values and is painfully obviously trying way too hard to please the masses. Rather, look past going viral for a second and realize that some of the most viral campaigns and content are completely accidental and actually capture an authentic moment. The key point to emphasize on this subject is utilizing the concept of virality to understand how far your content can transcend your traditional networks. And from there, understand how to take advantage of this unique feature that is possible due to the nature of social media and its immense sharing ability.

Creating shareable content is how you can maximize your networks potential and reach beyond who has chosen to follow you. This is where your creativity comes in, and we don’t necessarily mean that you need to have amazing design skills or search the depths of the internet for content ideas. In addition to our social media toolkit which provides tips on creating content that is more likely to be shared across your followers’ networks and beyond, consider your channels. How can you maximize your reach using your social media channels? This is the time to get creative and put yourself in the shoes of not only your audience but imagine yourself as your social media channel. How will you speak to your audience on Twitter vs. Facebook? What will your brand voice be? What new channels or features within an existing social media platform will you use?

Here is an idea to get you started on a creative brainstorm of content ideas and how to start mobilizing them:

Perform a trend analysis: Don’t be intimidated by the term analysis. This means take a moment and just think about the social media trends you have observed recently. Is there a specific type of content that has been popular? A certain channel or feature that is growing in popularity? An aesthetic trend?

  • Practical example: Instagram stories. These are huge right now and allow your account to reach your followers and beyond even with the algorithm which can cause your feed posts to be missed.
  • Use Instagram stories to post videos and photos that will establish some kind of emotional connection between your organization and audience. You can have one of your athletes do a takeover and take your followers through their day from waking up to game time. These B.T.S. (behind the scenes) moments are a really fun, authentic way to connect with your audience while adding an element of disclosure which people love.
  • For a living example of this type of authentic disclosure check out the UBC Women’s Rugby team Instagram for funny player bios, game day clips and more.
  • When considering ways to create a piece of content that will be widely shared and viewed, think about exploring a controversial topic and presenting it either factually and with emotion, or creating a satire like in this viral video example: https://youtu.be/7_2oOfzjEw4

Hopefully after reading this, you have some ideas of your own on what kinds of trends are relevant to your sport and how you can actually begin using these in your everyday social media strategy. Remember to look past going viral and think more about the value of an expandable network and the shareability of social media content. Focus on connecting to your audience on an emotional level and fostering authenticity as part of your online presence. Get creative with how you present information about your organization and try out new features or mediums. If you need additional tips on how to use your creativity to come up with engaging and intriguing social media content check out this toolkit module. Remember, you can keep the thought of going viral at the very back of your mind but put your energy into creating genuine content that you can boost across and beyond your networks for maximum reach. With a stroke of luck, you may just get your wish and go viral!

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