Social Media 101: Best Practices

By Glenn Gray

Did you know that 62% of US adults receive their news via social media? In our dynamic and ever-changing digital-first world, it’s important to learn more about these communication channels and determine which platform works best for you.

I’ve outlined each social media network’s role below and provided some useful insights.

The Big Four

Facebook is best used for longer-format content and to build lasting relationships. The average user is 41 years old and, for many, Facebook is the only online network they participate in. As the one-stop-shop, this is perfect if you want to connect with colleagues, friends old and new, alumni and your favorite brands. From STMA to Nike, every respected brand has a Facebook fan page. Simply “Like” a page and see all the news appear in your timeline.

Twitter’s platform is the go-to for real-time news and conversations. Posting with higher frequency than Facebook, the goal is to feature relevant content to catch followers while they are sifting through their feed. Keep it short (140 characters or less). When not conducting a back-and-forth conversation with someone, be sure to try and always include an image.

Lara Froelich, Twitter’s head of sports partnerships, said the platform “highlights the game around the game. Twitter complements the TV viewing experience and evolved naturally from the way fans were watching.”

LinkedIn is the professional network where users go to learn more about brands and search for new job opportunities. This is a platform that often gets under-utilized, but can be extremely powerful as you search for opportunities to get hired or doing the hiring. Posts should focus on industry news and professional development. To find your next job through LinkedIn, send messages to other professionals and join groups that peak your interest.

Instagram is all about visuals. With beautiful sports facilities being manicured each day, posts are most popular when pictures are artistic and as original as possible. Great images and videos will engage the audience. As the “Directors of First Impressions,” STMA members have an incredible opportunity to present your facility to a broad audience.

Adweek states that one in three Instagram users follow sports, athletes or engage in real-time during sporting events. Why not take a photo of your field and showcase it to the world?

With the general platform overviews out of the way, take a look at a checklist below to guide you through the clutter and ensure your post reaches the most users possible.

#SportsTurf social media checklist

  1. Paint a Picture

Always include hi-res images (1 MB or so) with your posts; they help tell your story and receive higher engagement than content without images. Feel free to use filters to accentuate certain colors or aspects of your field.

  1. Short and Sweet

Keeping posts concise and “to-the-point” will engage your followers more effectively. The average person only has an 8-second attention span, so make them count!

  1. Frequency

Post frequently to keep your followers engaged by adhering to the suggestions below:

  • Facebook – five posts per week
  • Twitter – one post daily (minimum)
  • LinkedIn – one post per week
  • Instagram – three to five posts per week
  1. When to Post

Knowing when to post is crucial to your success.

We recommend posting around 9 am, lunchtime and after 6 pm to maximize your reach.

  1. Industry Hashtags

Using industry hashtags will help others find your posts and interact with them by “liking,” sharing or commenting. Suggested sports turf industry hashtags include:

  • #SportsTurf
  • #TurfExpert
  • #TurfSafety
  • #TurfTips
  • #TurfJobs
  1. No Man Left Behind

Make sure to tag friends, colleagues, organizations and teams to increase visibility. How can the @Cubs know you supported them during their World Series run if you didn’t tag them?

Don’t forget to tag the Sports Turf Managers Association’s Twitter handle, @FieldExperts, for posts pertaining to the sports turf industry.

  1. Stay Classy, #SportsTurf

Professionalism is a must, especially on social media. Be sure to double-check your spelling and grammar for errors. As a good rule of thumb, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want featured on the front cover of The New York Times.

When in doubt, take the high road!

  1. Seize the Tweet

Now that you are an expert, it’s time to put your new skills to the test. This is an excellent opportunity to advance the sports turf management profession, both on and off the field. Your posts, images and videos might even be featured by STMA to other industry colleagues and employers.

Common questions

  • What is a handle? This is your account username. If you want to communicate directly with someone, use “@” followed by his or her username.
  • What’s a hashtag? These are used to mark keywords or topics, such as #STMA2017 for the Annual Conference. These are searchable on social platforms.

Glenn Gray is Vice President of Buffalo.Agency, STMA’s agency of record since late 2013. Based in Reston, VA Buffalo is the first full-service, integrated marketing solution dedicated to the sport and lifestyle segments with 60-plus clients, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. You can follow Glenn on Twitter at @glenncgray.