The All Blacks are poised to kick off their social media game, with new Facebook and Twitter accounts leading the way.
The New Zealand Rugby Union’s online manager, David Barton-Ginger, says the Union is taking “baby steps” ahead of what could be a concerted social media push, signing up for Facebook and Twitter over the past two months. He says an existing YouTube channel will also be reinvigorated.
Picture courtesy allblacks.com
But the NZRU is also considering building its own social media platform that could comprise blogs, forums, chat and other features.
“Nothing is off the agenda at the moment,” Barton-Ginger says.
He recently took some advice from marketing guru David Meerman Scott, who he met at the recent Marketing Now! seminar in Wellington. In a blog post, Meerman Scott made this suggestion: “I really think you need to play up the Haka more on the site and in social media. I suggest you consider creating a microsite with photos and video of the All Blacks and the Haka. For many new rugby fans, the Haka is the first thing that separates the All Blacks from other teams.”
Barton-Ginger says the seminar made him more aware of the large role social media is now playing for many organisations.
“Organisations have to take it more seriously,” he says. “It’s a good way to communicate with fans and to take part in a conversation rather than sitting on the sidelines and letting that happen without you.”
He says he is also studying ways to integrate social media with existing platforms and programmes.
He says most of the engagement comes from expats, so it is likely the All Blacks will be the focus of NZRU’s social media efforts rather than its broader rugby activities.
He says the allblacks.com website receives a “hell of a lot of traffic” and would form the platform for any social media development aimed at increasing interaction with the brand.
Barton-Ginger says his early experiences with Twitter and Facebook have reassured him that the workload of maintaining social media activity and controlling it are reasonable.
“There’s a lot of self-moderating tools out there,” he says, adding that concerns about conversations degenerating into “slagfest” have not materialised.
“It’s educated debate and discussion from true fans,” he says.