Twitter for Booster Clubs

Twitter BirdsYou probably know that Twitter is a public texting service that distributes 140-character posts to subscribers*. Twitter has facilitated national protests and broken the 4th wall for Justin Bieber’s fans (see the hilarious video at the end of this post). But you don’t have to be a revolutionary or a belieber to benefit from Twitter’s speed and openness. Booster clubs whose members own smartphones can take advantage of Twitter’s lightning updates.

Booster clubs might gravitate to Twitter for the same reason journalists have fallen in love with it: the platform’s ability to disseminate news. That news can range from major fundraising announcements to live game updates, to last minute logistical needs and rain-out announcements. In this post, we’re giving an overview of Twitter’s pros, cons, and beginner’s tips. Check out our other posts on Twitter lingo/etiquette(coming tomorrow), and 30 things to tweet your booster club (coming Friday).

Should your booster club invest in creating and maintaining a Twitter account?

We think Twitter is particularly useful for booster clubs who host live events like sports games, have large memberships who hold meetings, or whose majority of members already use Twitter. Like all social media channels, Twitter has its pros and cons.

* = required field

Twitter’s Pros:

Twitter_is_awesome

 

  • Instant communication: it’s faster and easier to read than emails, blogs, or Facebook posts.
  • Conversations, in real time: communicate with supporters or even groups of supporters.
  • Publish photos: quickly get photos up on the web.

Twitter’s Cons:

TwitterSucks

 

  • Requires relatively more time to manage. Because Twitter is all about instant communication, there’s not much point in having a Twitter feed if it’s only checked once a week.
  • Not everyone uses Twitter. Not everyone has a smartphone, either. If your supporters will only check Twitter from their computers, you might as well stick with email newsletters.
  • Not useful for reference information. Essential information like meeting times, performance schedules will be hard to search for in a Twitter feed. Same goes for reference documents like bylaws and training guides; they’ll recede into obscurity within hours.

Social mediaHow to Use Twitter Effectively

As we’ve mentioned in out social media series, one of the challenges with every platform is how to avoid wasting time, while maximizing communication. With Twitter, there are a few avoidable mistakes when starting out.

Follow these three tips when starting out on Twitter:
  1. Decide who exactly the account will represent. Is this an umbrella booster club, or does it belong to a specific activity? Will it be managed by an athletic director or a board member? Outline a plan for the account’s management and how it will be handed off over time. Don’t use personal accounts for booster club business, and do have multiple administrators with log-in information (such as a communications chair and a president).
  2. Make an avatar and a bio before you start following people. Accounts without avatars (profile pictures) look suspiciously spammy. Bios should clearly identify your booster club, city and state, and link to you website or Facebook Page.
  3. Tweet things of value. Value can be comedic, informational, inspiring… but “We made a twitter account!” or “Happy Monday everybody” doesn’t cut it.
Understand Basic Twitter Tools and Vocabulary

(For more detail and examples and more terms, check out our upcoming posts on Twitter Lingo and Etiquette…subscribe to the Boosterland blog to make sure you don’t miss any posts!)

# (Hashtag): keywords that organize content and code conversations. Some hashtags we pay attention at boosterland are #fundraising, #boosterclub, and #highschool. You can also create hashtags for games, performances, and announcements by creating a unique identifier like #NorthstarProud.

@ (mention): Use the @ symbol to mention a user by placing it in the middle of a tweet (see above). They will be alerted that you mentioned them, and your followers can easily click their handle to see their profile.

@ (reply): When the @ is the first character of a tweet, it becomes a “reply.” Replies are like regular tweets, but they are only visible to you, the person you follow, and the people who follow both of you. In general, avoid starting your tweet with an @username, especially if you want to share it with lots of people. (In the tweet below, the author tried to share a podcast, but instead of mentioning @ThisAmerLife, he sent a message that only the podcast publisher could see.)

RT (ReTweet): Instead of hitting the retweet button, you can quote someone or edit their tweet slightly by writing RT @username (their handle, so they are notified).

via: If you’re composing an entirely new tweet but want to acknowledge the source of a quote, statistic or piece of news, simply write “via @username.”

Master the hashtag for booster club meetings and events.

Ever had a big meeting where everyone talked over each other and wanted to ask questions at the same time? You might have passed out index cards so that people could write down questions and then hand them back to a moderator. You can do essentially the same using Twitter instead of index cards. Announce a unique hashtag for the meeting. For example, let’s say you’re having an elections meeting for the Waterloo Sports Booster Club. A short but probably unique hashtag could be #WSboosterMTG. Moderators can select tweets to discuss. But, even better than the index card system, no question really gets thrown away, and they can be discussed on Twitter even after the meeting. Members who aren’t there in person can submit comments and questions remotely. (This is most effective when they can hear the meeting via live-tweeting (transcription), an audio feed, or Skype).

Game commentary can function the same way. Let’s say the Waterloo women’s volleyball team is playing. using the hashtag #WwVolleyGame, your club could tweet scores and updates. More than that, supporters could use the # to create a conversation around the game. When the girls go the the locker room for example, a parent could tweet “Lunch at Bob’s Diner post #WwVolleyGame?” and the coach could reply from the locker room. “#WwVolleyGame lunch will be potluck at my house.”

* = required field

 What to Write

There’s always something to tweet at your booster club. Three examples below; here are 27 more examples (posting later this week).

  1. Photos of participants, volunteers, and sponsors

  2. Game commentary: score updates for those off the field, statistics for those in attendance (e.g. “Sarah just scored her 10th goal of the season #awesome #SFbulldogsgameday)

  3. Last-minute club needs: volunteers, extra tables, fundraising requests.

Who to Follow

Booster clubs can use Twitter to collect information and keep their finger on the pulse of the community. Follow too few people and you’ll miss out on information. Follow too many people and you might be unable to sort through the flood of tweets. Vertigo on your own feed isn’t the only problem. A very inefficient thing to do  is follow hundreds of random people. Following alone won’t help build your community or fundraiser more, at least not directly. In fact, following lots of people before you’ve attracted followers of your own might make your account look like spam, and dissuade your core audience.

You want to increase engagement, so follow people who want to talk to you and who you want to hear. Here are the key audiences you’ll want to follow at first:

  • Club members and parents.
  • Local institutions like schools and community groups. For example, follow feeder organizations; groups who teach/direct/coach younger kids who might participate in your club in the future.
  • Businesses, especially those who have supported your club in the past. Start following your local Chamber of Commerce to learn which businesses are on twitter and to cultivate new relationships.
  • Tipsters: yes, we’d like you to follow boosterland on Twitter. We often tweet booster club tips and links to grants, scholarships, and other prizes. But we’re not the only ones. Other great tipsters are on twitter, too.

Examples of great Twitter feeds

Here are a few more examples of what works well. Remember how we mentioned that the bio is key? @AMHSFOOTBAL1 has a great bio. It identifies the club and the city and state. It also alerts viewers to a hashtag for discussing the club. The icon is clear, and background photo is a personalized touch.

The Wilson Cheer Booster’s Twitter account might be lackluster in the bio department (no background photo, no link to website or schedule). However, the tweets themselves are very well maintained. They make an extra effort to RT and mention members of the community, and there are plenty of photo updates.

 

The Mustang Booster Club’s fundraising posts are infrequent, concise, and explicit.

 

Thus concludes your intro to Twitter for booster clubs. Remember to check out our other posts on Twitter and social media in general.

Here’s the funny Justin Beiber Twitter fan video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9UbElONRb0

We know  how it is when someone retweets you, and doesn’t follow you. You’re excited, but you feel like you’re gonna throw up.

Does your booster club use Twitter? Follow us @boostertweet.

We’ll follow you back, and retweet your most interesting tips, questions, and booster club insights.

*Depending on your settings and the way you structure your tweets, the content can be public or private. We’ve focused on the public aspect of twitter because that’s what’s probably most useful for booster clubs. But you can learn more about private tweets and direct messages on the Twitter website. 

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