Think you have too many social media accounts? Try walking in the shoes of the social media managers of the NCAA with 31 different accounts across multiple platforms. I am sure the first question to pop into your head as you read that statistic is “Do you really need ALL those accounts?”

As crazy as it may seem, the answer is yes. They have accounts focused on individual sports with niche followings like wrestling or lacrosse. There are accounts which speak to specific audiences like the media or student athletes and others focus on specific events like March Madness and the Final Four.

As I listened to a presentation by the staff running the various programs they made a compelling case for each account. It was easy to see that a well coordinated strategy run by passionate people can create multiple communities for a single brand.

Every account has a purpose

The first thing which came through loud and clear was the need to have specific objectives before you launch a social media account. While some of the accounts are focused on boosting attendance and promoting ticket sales, there are others which are definitely more focused on building a community around a particular sport or being the “go-to” resource for data and statistics.
Particularly in niche sports, the accounts are designed to be the voice of the sport. Wrestling fans don’t need to be “sold”.  They are already committed to the sport and are hungry to be part of the larger wrestling community. They want more than just a running list of statistics. The managers for these accounts work hard to bring personality to conversations. These accounts tend to be highly interactive, with fans contributing photos and other content.
To be credible for these niche communities, the account manager needs to deliver the information from the perspective of a fan. They need to be knowledgeable, ready to answer questions and give opinions about what’s going on. They have to communicate with a passion for the sport or it would just fall flat.
In direct contrast to the niche sports are the statistics and research accounts which are a great resource for members of the media or anyone playing a game of trivial pursuit. These feeds are dry but very informative. Want to know the latest scores, or stats on a particular team? These types of accounts are where you will find that information.

Right content right place

At large events like the Final Four there is so much going on all at once. It takes advance planning to decide what type of information will be shared on which platforms. If the same content was posted in exactly the same way, eventually fans will stop following one or more of the feeds. The objective is to create reasons for sports fans to follow multiple accounts the same way you might read a newspaper and watch the highlights on ESPN.
And, at an event like the Final Four, there is more going on then just the games. As sports enthusiasts descend on Indianapolis, the NCAA wants to talk about what visitors can do between the games. Using social media to provide community updates and answer questions about the city enhances the overall visitor experience.

Should you implement a multi-account strategy?

In theory it sounds great, but for many of us just finding time to update one set of social media accounts is a lot to keep up with. Before fragmenting your time, consider the following:
  • Do you have multiple audiences? For a non-profit association with a strong volunteer base it might make sense to create an account dedicated to keeping volunteers informed of upcoming opportunities and special needs. While the average supporter won’t want to to see a running list of supplies needed or links to sign up for events, those who need the information will appreciate the easy access.
  • Do you have the resources to support multiple accounts? While you may have a number of different groups you want to talk with, if you don’t have the bandwidth to support each account they will all start to sound the same. One of the ways we manage the accounts at Roundpeg is that we assign different people to manage each of the social platforms.
  • Do you really have enough different things to say? A few years ago, I split my personal and company twitter accounts. We realized we had a lot of messages, and not all of them made sense coming from the same account. It took some planning, but we carefully divided what types of messages made more sense coming from me, and what needed to come from the brand. Now it seems so natural to have two accounts I can’t imagine going back.

The bottom line: Whether you have one or 100 social media accounts, you need to manage them well. Create a unique purpose, target your messages and measure performance.