By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Thursday, March 1, 2018
Since 2015, USA Swimming has recognized the best marketing and promotional efforts from its member teams at the #SwimBiz marketing conference. In 2017, the Marietta Marlins in Marietta, Ohio, were honored with the Best Use of Social Media award, and the Marketing Club of the Year for teams under 150 swimmers.
By promoting their team’s personality and tying their social media campaign to the 2016 Olympics, the Marlins were able to take their team to new heights.
“The whole strategy was to capitalize on the 2016 Olympics and encourage kids to come out and be a Marlin,” said volunteer head coach Ryan Zundell, who came up with the idea for the campaign. “Our campaign was called ‘Be a Marietta Marlin’ and we ran Facebook ads and targeted moms and dads and parents of swimmers. We tried to relate the campaign to the Olympians in some kind of way; the kids saw the names of the Olympians, and it sent the message that they can do the same sport the Olympians are doing.”
While Facebook and Instagram were the primary vehicles for the Marlins’ social media campaign, the team also came up with a creative way to feature its swimmers using a Go Pro – called Kickboard Confessionals.
“We bought a Go Pro and put it on a kickboard and took the first-ever kickboard selfie,” Zundell recalled. “I created videos called ‘Kickboard Confessionals’ and we filmed multiple episodes. While the kids did a kick set, they would answer different questions on video; we did one for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween – it was a fun way to showcase our swimmers’ personalities.”
Showcasing the many personalities of the Marlins swimmers is what made the campaign especially successful, and it’s Zundell’s biggest piece of advice for teams looking to up their social media presence.
“Show the personality of your team and group of kids,” he said. “Swimming is unique in a lot of different ways and there’s a tremendous spectrum of personalities that can be shown. Anyone can take a video of kids diving off the blocks, but it’s the behind the scenes stuff that really shows off your team.”
Zundell added that, whether producing videos or posts or photos, it’s important to be consistent with your social media effort.
“Be consistent; don’t take large chunks of time off,” he said. “You can’t post one video and then two months later post something else. You need to be consistent with your posting – at the very least, something every week, if not every day.”
With a creative and consistent social media presence, unexpected opportunities may arise for your team, as was the case for the Marlins.
“We had an opportunity to work with the Michael Phelps brand, and we posted a photo of a swimmer wearing the goggles,” Zundell said. “A sales rep reached out to us, and the next thing we knew we were doing a suit fitting and we ended up becoming one of the first teams to partner with the brand. It all started with social media posting. The swimming community is tight-knit; swimming has a familial feeling to it, and that really lends itself well to social media.”
For Zundell, the #SwimBiz conference was as a great way to explore new ideas and collaborate with others for how to better promote the Marlins team.
“My actual job is in marketing, so that conference melds my two favorite things, marketing and swimming,” he said. “I got a lot out of it – a ton of great ideas from other teams, and from the professionals and speakers there. It was tremendous. Everyone can get a lot of value out of it.”Make sure to register for this year’s #SwimBiz conference, April 8-10, to kickstart your team’s marketing strategy!
Also, we want to hear about the best and the brightest promotional efforts in 2017 from the swimming community. Be sure to nominate your club for the #SwimBiz Club Marketing Awards by March 15th!
- Best Use of Social Media
- Best in Sponsorship
- Best in Fundraising
- Best in Multicultural Marketing
- The SwimToday Award
- Marketing Club of the Year