Social media and social engagement are big things on the internet these days. One of the reasons why social media has become such a big deal is because it’s basically free advertising. Before social media if you wanted to get the word out about an event you had to pay for advertising. Well now with things like Facebook and twitter you can make a post and if it has value, it will get passed around by people who are interested. It’s almost like targeted marketing.
A couple years ago I was at the USTFCCA National convention and I attended a talk with Steve Miller, the CEO of the Professional Bowlers Association. One of the things that he said that stuck with me was about marketing the sport of track and field. When you think about the sport as a whole, your competitors are not your opponents on the track, they are other sports like bowling, arena football and lacrosse. The bottom line is that the sport of track and field has a marketing problem.
As coaches or meet directors, we tend to think about track and field from within track and field. We put on meets and other teams come. Well what about the public? What about the track fans that don’t know they’re fans yet. Who is trying to get them to the engage in the sport? It’s easy to be a fan of football or baseball. All you have to to is turn to ESPN and you get your fill of the latest news. Being a track fan is much harder. If you are not deeply entrenched in the sport, you need to actively search to see what’s happening in the world of track and field; you need to know what websites and what forums to hit up.
There is a hodgepodge of track and field websites out there and some of them are pretty good. Sites like Runnerspace and Flowtrack are on the right track. But these sites and track and field meet directors need to keep reaching farther into the community. Everyone involved in track and field needs to be a ambassador of the sport. We need to build communities, engage and cultivate them. If every Pac 10, Big 12, SEC and Big East track programs had the community engagement that the University of Oregon has, track and field in the US and in the world would be completely different.
With advances online and the advent of social media the marketing problem that track and field has can be attacked by smaller portions of the community. We need to use the tools and resources available to us to promote our sport, and not just to people who are already in the know.
Remember we need to promote the sport of track and field, not just an individual event. Take a look at the social media efforts done in conjunction with the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. Below is a link to a blog post on Almighty’s web site describing some of their efforts.
This week, a small team from Almighty flew from Boston to Greensboro, North Carolina to try something altogether new. For the fourth time in 12 months, we’re working with the Running and Digital teams at New Balance to create a fully-integrated activation in support of a national high school track and field event – on this occasion the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, the outdoor championships for US high school track and field athletes.