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By the Numbers: Tracking social media around WPS

A recent seminar I attended, delivered by Edelman’s Gary Grates, did an incredible job at pointing out that a company’s approach to new media must be holistic and unified.  Simply posting a link on Twitter or Facebook is not sufficient.

In this “age of engagement,” as he referred to it, fans are looking for more interaction and for their opinion to be heard.  Word of mouth has become the strongest form of advertising as anyone under the sun can create a blog or Twitter account.

In order for Women’s Professional Soccer to continue on a path of success, it must create a plan in which social media is fully integrated. This means that even more so than before, convergence will play a large role in this development.

Every aspect of the leagues marketing and public relations approach must agree with each other, meaning information shows up on the web, the television, in print (yes, it still exists), and social media all at once and with the same message.

It seems the league has some nice plans in store for 2010, and that is a good thing to hear.

“Some ideas that are being bounced around include fan voting for awards or best goals of the week – something like that – fan feedback like player ratings, having player tweets appear on screen during TV games, a Twitter aggregation section on the league home page,” said WPS Director of Communications Rob Penner.  “These are just some of the things we are looking at and we’ll roll these out as we get closer to the season.”

All of those ideas, should they come to be, sound great.  Aggregating Twitter content and even using the website as a device for player ratings further exposes the league to new fans.  If every vote is delivered through the @womensprosoccer method, the league will be mentioned on hundreds of public timelines every week.

Each of those fans then has unique followers of their own, and the chain of people exposed to the WPS account just keeps on going.

The numbers below show that there does not seem to be a set formula to obtaining large amounts of Twitter followers.  Some numbers indicate that following a lot of other accounts will boost numbers of followers, but the National Football League puts that idea to rest.

With 1,353,132 followers (as of 12 a.m. on Nov. 20), the NFL is second only to the NBA in number of Twitter followers for a sports league.  But unlike others, the NFL account is following just 39 accounts.  That is incredibly selective, and shows that brands that already carry big names will be followed naturally.

It is also important to remember that the social media world does not revolve around Twitter, although it may be the poster child of the bunch.

FanCorner has been an area of interest for WPS from day one.  It allows fans, players, coaches and team and league executives to post blogs and multimedia all in one location.

It is a vital in-house social media network, and it should be new and improved by the spring

“FanCorner engaged some fans with great topics for discussion and also provided insider reports from league officials for the more hard core WPS fan base,” Penner said.  “Next year, the league is moving to a new platform that will provide even greater fan feedback, forums for discussion and community areas. That should be rolled out sometime before the 2010 season.”

Check out the accompanying article to this blog post here.

That will be interesting to see, and it is a vital component to the league’s new media plans that should continue to increase the awareness of the WPS brand.

Here is a breakdown of each team’s followers (below).  The Chicago Red Stars lead the pack of nine teams, and peculiarly, the Atlanta Beat have not formally set up an account.  General Manager Shawn McGee is the only active Tweeter for the Beat.  All numbers are accurate as of 12 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2009.

@womensprosoccer – 93,513 followers (following 488)

@DCFreedom – 1,182 (79)

@WPSPhilly2010 – 522 (208)

@BostonBreakers – 1,231 (290)

@skybluefc – 814 (28)

@ATHLETICAsoccer – 1,727 (1,988)

@chicagoredstars – 2,622 (2,886)

@fcGoldPride – 929 (420)

@LosAngelesSol – 1,323 (111)

@AtlantaBeatGM – 210 (57)

So, does following more people account to more followers?  It is tough to say.  Check out a couple of great blog posts on the subject of social media here:

WPS Web Coordinator Amanda Vandervort on hos no two social media strategies are the same

Tips on how to obtain followers from Are You On the Ball, a blog on women’s soccer

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