4 Social Media Content Tips to Improve Your Sports Storytelling and Audience Engagement

Social media is a game changer, and has been since it first premiered to the general public. In our schools, it offers an opportunity to change how we tell stories in general, but especially our sports stories. In doing so, it’s helping us go beyond the game in a number of fun and easy ways. Here are the top four that revolutionized our storytelling and audience engagement.

1. Time for Takeovers
JEA Digital Media has posted before about why you need to start doing takeovers at your school. If you haven’t started, time to join in on the fun. These unique experiences, which can be done with Instagram or Snapchat (my staff prefers Snap), give followers a glimpse into the mind and motions of an athlete.

  • We meet with the athlete first to give them ground rules: no locker rooms, watch your language, don’t share the password and use a variety of post types (with proper spelling and grammar preferably).
  • Announce it on all social channels then check this website for likes and watch your followers skyrocket.
  • Have a password dedicated to each sport so that their is an assigned password different than the publication password when doing takeovers.
  • Give them a time frame–after school to post-game reflection work best for us.
  • Let them go. We usually have over 800 unique views on our stories with takeovers, and they’re oftentimes screenshotted and shared.

2. Building Better Consumers
Use social media to guide your readers to be better shoppers, especially as it relates to their sports.

  • Use Pinterest boards to style athletes for the season. These then can be brought into your print publication and website.
  • Create flatlays on Instagram and use the description to talk through where items can be bought and how much they will cost. It would be even more unique to have individual athletes do this and offer the audience a glimpse into the athlete’s closet and what makes them successful–it’s like MTV Cribs, but smaller and on social media.

3. Everyone Loves a Good How To
The rise of live and video is what is important here. Not only do we have a written version of a how to story in both print and online, we’re beginning to work with Facebook Live and our broadcast counterparts to develop video versions of the how to.

  • Have fun with all the possibilities: “how to run a certain route,” “how to shoot a proper layup,” “how to bowl a strike,” “how to swim a certain stroke,” or even “how to avoid getting a concussion while heading the ball.”
  • Let’s be real… anything can work in this category as long as you can get your readers to engage with them.
  • Here’s another chance to have the athletes be your guides. Unless your staff is full of athletes (I’m fortunate enough that nearly every student on my staff is an athlete), use the resources you have to tell the best, most credible stories.

4. Give it a Try
One of our favorite series that we do is “Tom Tom Tries.” Members of our school and community wait (sometimes impatiently) each month for what our staff will try next.

  • We send two to three people to participate in an athletic activity that is out of their comfort zone: football and soccer try field hockey and dance, field hockey and theatre try cheer, dance tries football… you get the point.
  • We heavily promote on our social accounts leading up to the event.
  • We use snap stories (and they get upwards of, and sometimes over, 1,000 unique views) to broadcast the attempt. Start with an introduction and end with a reflection on the experience.
  • Archive the footage for future videos, stories, and more. We started building the footage into our magazine stories about the experience in December using Aurasma.

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