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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Online Marketing with the UCSD Sailing Team

Picture of the UCSD Sailing Team's Facebook PageIn the last post (from mid-February) about the sailing team I mentioned that social media and other online marketing media is used to promote the sailing team.  The sites strive to make people aware of the existence of the team and to connect people to it.  Since then there has been a continuation of pursuing those goals, with a few interesting results, and a decline in both views and engagement of the content.

Overall there has been a decrease in the number of people the Facebook page reaches, however there is only a very slight loss in the number of people who are engaging in the content.  Both of the twitter accounts have gained a slightly larger audience, but not a substantial one.  This has all occurred over the busiest part of the sailing season, correlated with an increase in the number of posts on the pages by myself and other admin.

Graph of declining engagement on Facebook
Since the last post there has been only 4 additional page likes, a drop on the total reach from over 2,000 people to hovering between 500 and 700, and a decline from the peak of over 120 people talking about the team page and content, to just 20 - 40 people engaging with the page.  On Twitter there has yet to be any sort of activity by external users, be it re-tweeting or making a post a favorite.

So what happened?  Mostly, there has been a failure to create content worth sharing.  While the quantity of engagement with the page is comparable to the type of engagement that was going on when the page was reaching well over 1,000 people, the types of engagement has been of lower quality.  Since the last post there have been no shares of content and only a handful of comments.  Instead, the content is only being liked by more people.  However, as my other research has confirmed, a "like" isn't as valuable!

UCSD Sailing Team Sails Fast
I believe there are a couple of reasons the explain why the page's content has become less worthy of shares and comments.  The first is that in the time period that the last post covered the sailing team had hosted a regatta involving lots of alumni, and that included an awesome fundraiser to help fight cancer.  Further we had also entered into a design competition that attracted a fair amount of attention (and which we got runner-up in!).  These events were more meaningful to the UCSD Sailing Community and hence generated more valuable engagement.  Since then the posts have covered the team's results and pictures of the team sailing and socializing.  While interesting and "likable", this content is not worthy of much other engagement.  The second reason I believe that the page has gotten less valuable attention is due to a loss of the viral factor.  In the social media world, winners win.  Once content gets a chunk of attention it shows up in multiple people's news feeds and elsewhere online.  This creates an upward spiral of attention which the team experienced in early February.  Since then the only significant virility the team has seen was due to a cool picture which got nearly 20 likes (see above).

What does this mean going forward? I believe that the current decline will be part of a natural cycle of activity, hopefully building an upward trend in activity.  The page will not constantly have shareable content, as a club sports team we are not designed to invest that sort of energy or resources into the online content.  However, with other exciting events, such as our Pacific Coast Championships coming up, I expect similar results to what was seen in late January and early February.  I also hope to have a contest later on in the year to generate additional interest and awareness of the team that will require sharing of content and add followers on twitter.

Then again, when our page has more activity than the number 1 ranked team in the country (Georgetown Sailing), I guess that's something to be proud of.

Please take the time to comment, I would love some feedback!

And check us out online!
UCSD Sailing Facebook Page
UCSD Sailing Twitter Page
Zombie Sailing Twitter Page

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