Doing social right: Part one of a ZILLION. (Read this if you share a lot OR you know you should and aren’t.)

Note: I didn’t intend to write a book here, but I realized after the first tip that we’re both probably already exhausted. So, I’m breaking this into a series. Enjoy :)

Where is your phone right now? Is it in your pocket? On the table next to you? In front of your eyes as you read this on it?

Chances are, you and your phone are in a serious, Facebook-status-worthy relationship. You take it to dinner, the movies and even places you wouldn’t shouldn’t take your dates (like the bathroom). You hardly ever leave it out of your reach.

This isn’t news, though. Who cares?

Well, the fact that your audience is also as committed to their phones and other screens as you are should be insanely exciting. The number of people you can reach and the ways that you can reach them is unprecedented.

If you’re not telling your story on social media, you’re missing the boat. In fact, you’re missing the ocean. Not only is your audience on social (yes – the audience belongs to you as much as it does to your series or local track), but they are also looking for you there. They are deciding whose shirts to buy, who to cheer for in the stands, and whose story they will share with friends, family and potential sponsors based on what they see on social media networks.

But as you know, there’s plenty of talk already happening. In fact, sometimes we make the mistakeof thinking we have to shout to be heard, which can make telling your story on social media really intimidating. Or go really wrong. With a steady stream of lunch photos, funny graphics and amateur press releases, it’s confusing to know how to do it right, let alone at all.

There are three potential outcomes that can result from your social media presence. You can:

  1. how to get a sponsor, sponsor marketingturn people on (mostly good, sometimes bad),
  2. turn people off (mostly bad, but sometimes amazing), or
  3. create no reaction (terrible).

Creating no reaction is what I dread the most. Because fans are on social media for one reason – they are looking for information about you, your sport and your competitors. And if you’re not showing up, you might as well hand them (and the money and passion that they vote with) right over to your competitors.

Many times, my clients are so afraid or hesitant to turn people off that they don’t do anything at all. I’ve even been guilty of this myself. Yes, it can also be bad to turn people off with your content. But if being honest about who you are and what you do will turn someone off, is that really your ideal customer?

I get it. You want to sell more shirts and attract more sponsors, and money is money, right?

Wrong. Think about a company or person that you would never, ever want to be associated with. Picture that person wearing your shirt, and bragging about how you’re they’re favorite driver. If you don’t want a type of person or company representing you, it’s not good to try to appeal to them whether on purpose or by default. Sometimes it’s okay to say: This is who I am. I don’t kick puppies. If you like kicking puppies, I’m not your guy. (The puppies thank you and I digress.)

So if your audience is deciding who to like and who to hate based on what they do (or don’t) see on social media, how do you do social right? 

I’m not going to start off with an attack on racers who are doing social media wrong, so don’t get too excited. Not today, Debbie Downer. What I will do is give you a list of things that we all should be doing to attract fans and sponsors on social media (and kick a little butt while we’re at it.)

First: Share what’s relevant, skip what’s not.

This is the absolute hardest part about social media – what do I put on there? You probably won’t be surprised when I say talk about who you are and why you race. But how do you do that? Show people what you do. Describe your experiences. Let people know how you see the world and what it means to you and your racing.

Be the things that we like about other people – honest, funny, informative, caring and inspiring. But most of all, be your version of all of those things. I don’t recommend that you behave badly, but don’t be dishonest about how you genuinely feel. People will see right through insincere messages.

Worried that feeling a certain way about politics, religion or another polarizing viewpoint will ostracize your fans? Don’t. Because you shouldn’t talk about things that aren’t relevant to your story. If being a staunch Republican isn’t relevant to your fans, don’t talk about politics. Unless it’s in the news as related to racing or you want to build a following that’s based exclusively on that view, it’s generally not relevant and you shouldn’t be talking about.

So what should you share, specifically? If you’re a health nut, share that you’re in the gym or the healthy meal you’re eating. Talk about your long nights in the garage if you’re actually the one working on the car. Talk about how grateful you are for the support you get, if you’re actually grateful.

Share your fears, hopes and dreams. Share your successes and failures, and show what you learned from both. Find conversations to join and people with similar interests – the more you do it, the easier it will be and the more fans and opportunities you’re likely to create.

You don’t have to perfect all the time, by the way. It’s okay to show that you’re eating healthy fish one night and joke about pigging out at a fish fry another. No one will judge you for working out 5 days a week and catching a Justified marathon on a Saturday. If you’re consistently putting your story out there, they know you’re not a couch potato. In fact, they’ll relate to you as someone who’s both inspiring and human.

If you’re hesitant to share on social media, let me give you this piece of advice: not everything you say or do has to be epic. Real relationships are not built by one life-altering status update – they’re built on tiny little nuggets of information and personality. I’m not telling you to overthink every single piece – just the strategy behind tackling the social media monster as a whole.

As advertising guru Leo Burnett once said: “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

With love,

Kristin

P.S. I know this is now a series, but if you’re looking to go really deep with social media strategy I would suggest picking up Gary Vaynerchuk’s books. I recommend all three – Crush It! talks about cashing in on your passion and the importance of storytelling and hustling, The Thank You Economy digs deep into how to tell your story and reach your audience authentically – but Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World is his newest and my favorite. It gives tons of examples of how to be generous with content on social media and ask for the sale when it’s appropriate. I love the layout and how he shows you exactly how brands and regular people do it right and wrong.

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.