Facebook is becoming the de facto place to organize event information and share content within a circle of friends. While it will never rival the specialization of a soccer tournament website like TourneyCentral for registration, scheduling and scores, it makes sense that your soccer tournament is available on Facebook for your teams and their fans to find and connect up with you there if that is more convenient for them. It is an additional marketing channel you should not ignore.
However, you should always make sure the hub of your event is your tournament website. You publish content to your Facebook page in order to draw fans to your tournament site to support your sponsors, advertisers and centralize your communications to the teams to avoid confusion.
This post will walk you step-by-step through setting up a Facebook Fan Page to reach soccer coaches and teams to get them interested and keep them engaged in your youth soccer tournament.
Here’s how to set up your Facebook Fan Page:
Social media is a huge cloud of things like blogging, tweets, likes and status updates so it is easy to become overwhelmed and do nothing.
But you need to roll up your sleeves get in there. We’ll help you along the way with this “social media for soccer tournaments” series.*
Social media is becoming integrated into the online experience for most people, so if you have not learned to navigate these waters, you may be risking the reach of your tournament. Social media channels can help you reach coaches and teams where they live and help you keep them updated and interested in your event.
Do not assume Facebook and Twitter are for kids. The largest and fastest growing demographic for Facebook and Twitter is age 35-55. That means a player’s mom, dad or coach is more likely to “like” you on Facebook or “follow” you on Twitter. While most kids over 13 yrs old will have a Facebook account, they connect with their friends, not with brands. If they happen to take a cool photo at your tournament, they may or may not post it. But if they do post it, they will post on their profile, not your tournament page. It’s nothing personal; just how kids use Facebook. Their parents on the other hand, may be more likely to interact on your Facebook page.
Soccer tournament directors are aware of the ways that tournaments reward teams who place in their event. This is a story of one recent tournament where one small detail really damaged the reputation of an otherwise fine event.
A team of U13 boys played very well in a third-place game and beat a team they had lost to quite soundly the week before. The tournament was giving out water bottles as a third-place trophy.
It was not long after the presentation that one of the boys walked up to his coach and said, “Hey coach, look at this.” On the water bottle, the words, “BELIEVE, ACHEIVE,” appeared wrapped around the tournament logo.
Only the the word “ACHIEVE” is spelled incorrectly.
While the coach was proud that his players had paid attention to their spelling lessons in school, he was amazed and embarrassed for the tournament organizers. It was all anybody could talk about.
A few weeks later, the tournament sent t-shirts to the boys as a replacement.
Our Advice: Work with a trusted vendor. Somewhere along the line, a busy tournament volunteer rubber-stamped the artwork for the water bottle without taking a real look at it. Bad enough, but a true vendor partner would have questioned the artwork regardless of the approval signature. The mistake was more costly than just the price of the water bottle and the replacement t-shirts. It became the stamp of the tournament.
The vendor should have picked up the phone.
The vendor should have picked up the phone.
Newsflash: the NCAA Basketball Tournament starts this week. March Madness has become a stamp on the brains of the American public. Millions of people are busy filling out their brackets for their office pools and the bracket sheet will be their best friend for the next three weeks. On first glance, youth soccer tournaments don’t have much in common with this huge event. But if you look closer, there is much that soccer tournament directors can learn.
March Madness is all about Bracketology. The NCAA found magic in a bottle with their tournament bracket sheet, and has it the front and center of everything they do. The fact is that due to the over-exposure on TV and loss of talent to the NBA, interest in the college basketball season has waned. But the interest in March Madness has never been higher, because it goes beyond hard core sports fans. It all works because the NCAA figured out what it does well and spends all of its time talking about it.
Our Advice: Figure out what your youth soccer tournament does well and what you want to be known for. If it’s about your schedule, make it about your schedule. If it’s about your facilities, make it about the facilities. If it’s about the food, make it about the food. By focusing on your strengths and sharing them with your guests, you create an atmosphere that people want to be part of. The feeling that your tournament is “The place to be” starts with you, infects your volunteers and reflects on teams, sponsors, parents, grandparents and fans. Your own Mini-Madness will have them showing up and coming back year after year.
I was poking around the other day, checking out popular soccer tournament calendars and I clicked on the one that is usually listed in the number one spot on a Google search for Soccer Tournaments. This came up and was there for several days.
In the world of on-line soccer tournament management systems, you get what you pay for. There are services available for tournament directors that come at no cost. One of the most common goals of any youth soccer tournament is to make as much money as possible for the host club. This tempts some to use free services or to depend on a guy in the club who can, “do websites.”
Peak times, like Sunday afternoons, are when you find out that cheap and free are really damaging and costly. That’s when everybody, including the guy in the club who is now watching his kids play, wants up-to-date scores and schedules. You may have saved a few bucks or reduced your entry fee, but the cost to your image and your tournament’s legacy can be devastating.
Our Advice: A website is no longer just “something over there for the tech guys.” It IS the event.
Work with a tournament web site host who has the bandwidth, the experience and the people who are willing to monitor your website for maximum performance, during the tournament, before and after. Your soccer tournament now is a 365 day a year, 24 hours a day, 7 day a week event. You want to work with someone who also understands that. Preferably someone you can email or call to solve problems as quickly as they arise.
Free and cheap rarely gets you that.