Website versus Social
Our latest piece for FC Business Magazine has dropped this week, in which we discuss why, even at a time when sports rights holders have more ways than ever to connect with fans on social media, that having a website is still crucial.
At Sotic we’ve been working with sports rights holders on digital for 16 years. There’s been a lot of change in that time, not least the explosion of social media in the past 10 years.
I remember well my days, pre-Sotic, as a busy Comms Manager at a club wondering how on earth I was going to also manage to maintain a presence on the new-fangled Twitter and Facebook channels in addition to my website, my forum (remember those?) and all the offline elements of my job – there just simply wasn’t enough hours in the day.
Ten years later there’s still a lot of plate spinning, but social media in now ingrained and an essential part of the marketing mix for any sporting organisation.
But should you focus all your efforts on social at the expense of a website? Do you need a website when you can reach fans directly through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?
At Sotic would wholeheartedly advise any rights holder to embrace social media, but would caution against doing so at the expense of your website.
You don’t ‘own’ the relationships cultivated on social media
You may have hundreds of thousands of followers on your channels but it is important to remember that while you may establish and cultivate your relationships on the network, you don’t actually ‘own’ your channel. Imagine if Facebook or Twitter decided to change its revenue model and charge you for every friend or follower you had?
Unthinkable. Is it?
These social channels also impose terms and limitations on us, as users. Every single social platform has a unique and complicated set of terms and conditions. Have you read Facebook’s terms and conditions recently? If not I suggest you check them out, particularly the section regarding the rights you give Facebook whenever you upload content.
And while social platforms do seem to have a steady roll-out of new features, do bear in mind that they are businesses themselves and that the purpose of new features is often to serve their own commercial needs by serving ads and aggregating data, rather than making the platform work better for us as users.
Your website offers much more flexibility than social channels and is a real powerhouse when it comes to customising the online experience for fans. You can create unique landing pages, guide the fan through a journey and invite them to opt-in for future communication. In contrast, with social media you have limited functionality, have to share your branding with that of the platform itself, can be restricted on word count and are subject to a rigid layout format.
Think also about where your fans may be located. If you are engaging with fans all over the world then where they live may determine what channels you engage on and in that case, leading back to one central place that is an authoritative home from the brand or organisation, makes sense.
Search & Sales
And it’s not just imagery and layout that you can control more effectively on your website. You also have control over the content and copy. Good quality, well written content can help your website climb the rankings and if you’re aiming for the top of the results page you’ll reach more customers through organic search which means you can move them to the next step of your sales funnel.
Website versus social?
So, it’s not, a case of website versus social.
Social media, the website’s younger sister, is a terrific way to engage with your audience and an extremely important part of the marketing mix for sports organisations. But it shouldn’t be the online ultimate destination for your fans.
Swiss Army Knife
I’ve heard a website described as the Swiss Army Knife when it comes to digital marketing and I think it’s a great analogy for what is a very powerful multi-tasker.
I’d urge you to think strategically about how you leverage social. Use it to build momentum and optimise the work you are doing to establish and nurture relationships with your fans on social media by bringing them back to your website where all your calls to action such as ‘BUY’, ‘JOIN’, ‘SIGN-UP’, ‘LOGIN are located.
Authenticity & Legitimacy
Your website is an important symbol of authenticity and legitimacy, it’s also where many of your commercial partners, sponsors and advertisers are paying a premium to feature.
Your website should be the central hub and main representative for your brand’s online presence because it offers levels of functionality and control for your sports organisation that just can’t be matched by social media.
Whether you’re a sports club, governing body, federation, league, tournament or event organiser, if you’d like to chat to us about what we do at Sotic and how we could possibly help you please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org