Social Media, shoestring marketing budgets, and water polo…

Official logo of the 2008 Summer Olympic GamesImage via Wikipedia

The irony here is I was about to post about how the Social Media revolution was over-hyped.  I had just gone out to lunch with an SMB b2b analyst and we talked about how no SMB buyers were on Second Life or LinkedIn. As a matter of fact, they weren’t not online that much at all. I had this big negative post all ready.

Then, something happened.

Our US Women’s Olympic water polo team has an exhibition match on July 10th against their arch-rival Australia before they head to the Olympics in Beijing.  The game is being played at Stanford which has a large pool venue. In the past (the Stone Ages…pre-facebook’s advance), we would do word-of-mouth…some email, etc.   The goal is to: 1.  Get people to the event 2.  Get people excited about the event so that they come ready to cheer.  In b2b lead generation terminology: both lead gen as well as education and branding.  Water polo is very tough as very rarely do people NOT involved in the sport go to its events so the key is to hit a very narrow target market: people involved in the sport, families with kids wanting to expose their kids to the Olympic movement, and people who used to play.  All of this on a meager budget.  Here is what we did:

Facebook:
There was a late decision to throw up a facebook page supporting the event: [here].  And POW, the page took off.  Kids started RSVP’ing, commenting, and inviting their friends.  Then something really cool happened: the national team players started RSVP’ing and commenting. All of this killer publicity: FOR FREE.  Everyone involved (all aged over 30 minimum) learned the power of Facebook over the last week as we watched the page take off. Facebook may have deals with the NBA and other big organizations but it’s a niche organization like ours hitting our target audience and becoming believers.

We also did some “comment spam” against a number of the water polo groups on Facebook.  Comment spam is the “art” of posting comments with leading links back to your page.  The term spam is inappropriate here  because it is a welcome notice as water polo events are typically few and far between.

We posted a video which we hope to have kids and others forward along.  See Below

YouTube
We still believe we could’ve done YouTube better but something was better than nothing.  We might get a small attendance spike from this, but as importantly we believed this would add enthusiasm for the event.  Watch the video here.  We don’t just email everyone and put fliers up at Jamba Juice, we put up a Facebook page and dropped a video on YouTube.  The local coaches are telling their kids to watch it and forward it to their friends.  We are posting out on Facebook and sending it to bloggers. See below.

Blog Outreach
We hit up the blogosphere. (if you are working online social media channels, you know the deal here) and got our site posted on theirs.  For example read this.

Net, the event hasn’t happened but we have already seen a large number of Facebook RSVPs from outside our core base of people and 10X the number of pre-ordered tickets.  In the next Olympic cycle, we will have online ticket purchasing so we can watch the effectiveness in real time.  The greatest part of this experiment is how we could reach a wider net of our extremely targeted audience fast and inexpensively.  I’ll have to save my negative social media article for later  (or never)…

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Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/craigrosenberg the funnelholic

    Update: The pre-sale tickets on this event SOLD OUT. This has never happened before.