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Social Media – Football – Keep Your Eyes Downfield

The basis for this social media sports analogy is represented in the following video. You may be a Tebow-hater, and he definitely hasn’t acquitted himself well with either the Jets or the Patriots, but he led the Broncos in an exciting season with his unorthodox style.

Tim Tebow attempted very few passes (and made much less completions) in the 2012 football season. However, some of those pass plays were beautiful to behold if you love improvisation. Mobile quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Michael Vick are also masterful at this type of pass. They use their feet to get out of danger while keeping their eyes downfield for the potential big play.

So how can we relate with our social media strategy? Here are the three keys we need to follow:

1. Move Your Feet

The mobile quarterback can “feel the pressure” when his pocket of protection starts to collapse. He then relies on instincts to either shift slightly in the pocket or sprint to open space to avoid the tacklers.

Social Media – We can use resource agility, and social media tools, to find both threats and advocates (tacklers and blockers in this football analogy) in social media. Find where the customer is talking about you, and then join the conversation using tools like Mantis Pulse Analytics and HootSuite. Your timely and courteous response is an example of “moving your feet”. Over time, you will also learn to “setup your blockers” so that your advocates become your proponents in thorny conversations with a customer. This isn’t meant to become an “us-vs-them” battle; instead, it becomes an “engage and resolve” exercise.

2. Be Aware of the Line of Scrimmage

The video in this post perfectly illustrates this point. Notice the blue line on the field that marks the line of scrimmage. It is illegal for the quarterback to cross this line and still attempt a forward pass. Tebow sprints towards the line, but then runs parallel to it to buy more time prior to attempting the pass.

Social Media – The internet is fast and easy. That means we can very quickly over-commit and/or oversell our capabilities with a few keystrokes and a mouse-click. It takes discipline to acknowledge our circumstances, to be aware of our limits, and to not cross the line. If you think the Internet is fast and easy, watch how quickly your fabrications can blow out of proportion if you get caught in a lie! You do not want a costly penalty to your team and company brand because you crossed a line.

3. Keep Your Eyes Downfield

Chaos reigns all around the quarterback, and he has to scramble to avoid the immediate threats. However, he has the presence of mind to keep his eyes up and downfield. He continues to look for opportunities beyond his current circumstances.

Social Media – We can use a myriad of social media tools to find and neutralize threats and find advocates. That keeps you from getting sacked, but it doesn’t get you any closer to winning. In fact, if your focus is purely survival then you are just burning up the clock. The ultimate goal of the game is to win! Track a combination of hard metrics (financial bottom line, conversions, and level of engagement) as well as trends spotted using monitoring tools (number of mentions for specific topics per digital channel and perhaps sentiment analysis). Keep your eyes downfield for strategic opportunities versus simply reacting to current market conditions. I strongly encourage reading Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard. He does a great job of taking you beyond simply measuring engagement (which is still important) and encourages tracking metrics specific to your business.

So do you have what it takes to be a mobile quarterback? Can you scramble and improvise to respond to current threats while keeping an eye on your long-term strategy? I would love to get your comments. Of course, I am always open to demonstrating how Mantis Pulse Analytics can fit within an overall digital marketing strategy ;)!

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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6 Comments

  1. Brian, aloha. Your analogies are always so terrific and this one is no exception. These are the two lines that spoke to me the most:

    “He continues to look for opportunities beyond his current circumstances.”
    We always have to be looking beyond where we have. Flexibility and a willingness to take chances are key in successful endeavors.

    “The ultimate goal of the game is to win!”
    It’s not about how you do one thing rather it is how you do everything. One “good move” is not likely to be the only contributing factor to achieving your objective rather it is the combination of all of them–the fitting of all the pieces in to the Big Picture.

    How nice that you can be enjoying watching the games while mentally writing your blog posts.

    Sending you sunshine and smiles, always. Aloha. Janet

    • Thanks, Janet…and for the sunshine wishes! It is 63 degrees outside, so hopefully the snow will finish melting in time for the snowstorm scheduled for this weekend ;). One good point you bring up: Willingness to take chances. Broncos lost to the Chiefs last week, and you can attribute it to Tebow being skittish throwing the ball into tighter coverage. A more seasoned QB would have thought nothing of it.

      We need to take calculated risks/investments with our social media strategy, also. Since the goal is to win, we can’t always be defensive/reactive. We also do not want to copycat because we need to separate ourselves from the noise.

      Thanks for stopping by, Janet.

  2. Love #2! Powerful analogy! If you cross the line before the customer says, “Hike,” you’ll be severely penalized!

    • Nice one, Doug ;). I will add that to my blog backlog -> what happens if you try to anticipate the snap count.

  3. And, as much as possible, don’t drop the ball!

    • Ah, you must have read my post Bruce ;)!

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