Thursday, February 25, 2010

PGA Tour can learn from John Daly's social skills

Although the PGA Tour "communicates" with its fans through online giants Twitter and Facebook, people who follow don't usually receive much of a personal response. Two-way conversation is crucial to opening the doors of social media.

Twitter logo
With social networking still in its infancy, the potential for growth within these two vastly contrasting formats is enormous, providing that the PGA Tour is willing to adapt its style to meet the demands of both.

Executive producer of PGA Scott Gutterman feels that by extending reach to Twitter and Facebook, fans will experience a "direct connection" that they crave but admits that "their audience numbers are not as high as the Tour would ultimately like." Guttman understands that "two-way communication of social media doesn’t happen overnight."

ESPN sports analyst and former NBA star Jalen Rose believes that "interaction" is the key to more fans and followers.

"The PGA needs to talk with the fans who are posting on their wall. They need to interact with people talking about golf on Twitter, and even have golfers give live lessons on Ustream! It’s time for the PGA to build a culture where golfers and golf fans come to the PGA’s social media accounts when they want to talk or find out more about the sport."

Various internet studies comparing Twitter and Facebook mention that, although many users have profiles in both communities with some interconnectedness, some celebrities grow a much larger fan base due to the scope and ease of communication through one social medium over the other.

Coincidentally, social media trends indicate that although most Fortune 100 companies have some type of social media presence, Twitter is becoming more popular.

For now, the PGA Tour seems to have a better connection with its Facebook group probably because this social media option is more like its current website.

Facebook logo
The allure of Facebook is long-term community-driven status with the ability to apply pictures, information and a "face" to the Tour while Twitter followers appear to be more chatty and unreserved, wanting information in more immediate, quick bursts. is almost an offshoot of the website so, even though there were 4.4 million uploads of golf videos as well as over 128,000 visits to the site to date, it can hardly be considered "social" media.

Taking into consideration that the PGA Tour has more than double the number of Facebook fans (45,000) over Twitter followers (about 21,000) and that the PGA of America maintains that there are 27 million golfers in the USA, the Tour should be asking what can be done to grow their visibility on both platforms as well as internationally as golf is a worldwide sport.

One way to reach fans en masse and in person? How about on-course during an event: go to where the fans are and seek them out. Although cell phones are considered a "no-no" at events, perhaps the PGA Tour could set up special tents with Twitter on net books close enough to the action where fans could post tweets in exchange for giveaways. The winner gets tickets to a future event or an 'inside the ropes' activity. Sign up as a "follower" and see your name on one of the big boards around the golf course!

Six events are set up for the West Coast Swing alone, which puts into play two Arizona golf courses and four more in California. Followers could be increased by reaching out on-course as opposed to solely through internet strategies.

The list of "fan-friendly" PGA Tour golfers can perhaps also use their power of persuasion by adding the @PGATour link occasionally during a tweet. The connection between professional golfers and the Tour would benefit because the PGA Tour has the more statistical analysis while the golfer could add 'pizzazz'.

John Daly, one of the most vibrant "tweeters" in the world of social media, (@PGA_JohnDaly), currently has over 44,000 fans on Twitter, more than double the number of followers than @PGATour yet falls short on the number of Facebook followers with slightly more than 14,000 fans.

John DalyDaly keeps in touch and keeps it "real" and so he appeals more to Twitter fans. When someone asks a question (and he's available) they can expect a response from JD.

John involves the fans with regularity from mounting a Twitter campaign as the Golf Channel's next "Haney project" to offering autographed copies of his new CD. Now that's the way to market yourself!

Of course Daly's eclectic lifestyle makes many fans want to keep track of his larger-than-life status but maybe the PGA Tour should take a tip from JD when it comes to Twitter because communication and putting a face to the tour really helps in adding value to the brand.

Adding fan base may as simple as having a a few surprise celebrity "tweeters" on @PGATour or following a few of the hot golf bloggers to stir things up a little (like @golf4beginners for instance?)

Other PGA and LPGA Tour golfers are enjoying celebrity status on Twitter rather than on Facebook and finding it easier to jot down a quick note while practicing or even just after winning an event.

Ian Poulter, @Ianjamespoulter (7,004 Facebook/ 977,239 Twitter fans) just won his first event ever in the US, a match-play event and, at 2:01am after the event tweeted, "Evening friends, What a day, just sitting on my bed in palm springs, doing cobra commercial tomorrow. 6.45 start, so happy after winning." You can't get much closer to your golf hero than that!

Michelle WieMichelle Wie, @theMichelleWie (2,716 Facebook/14,984 Twitter) told her fans what she was doing on Valentines Day: "spending valentines day writing a paper and listening to Metallica in my hotel room. haha so ideal...not. :)" Who would have thought Michelle Wie to like Metallica!

Stewart Cink (2173 Facebook, 1,226,058 twitter) asked fans about some of their favorite songs: "Just listening to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on the way to practice. One of few songs I like that include a countdown. Your favorites?"

All of the examples above have both Facebook pages and Twitter accounts but less time is needed for a 140 character update than the investment of time required with Facebook.

With the ability to have tweets directly imported to Facebook, MySpace and other social websites, fans still feel connected but the connection originated with Twitter. Facebook also looks and feels like any other website, with the ability to put up a "wall" separating the fans from personal connection.

That being said, both social media platforms are tools for communication, each with its own unique functionality. Whereas Twitter has become more of a quick way to meet friends and network, Facebook prides itself on a deeper level connection.

Both forms of social media are necessary in order for the PGA Tour to grow on an international level. If only the Tour could find a way to "humanize" itself and add a bit of the celebrity mix which people seem to gravitate towards, it would marry both its online business concern with a more approachable presence.

Written by Stacy Solomon
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Jake Rosen said...

Great post. I think you hit the nail on the head. For the PGA Tour to truly connect with fans in the way they say they want to they have to infuse personality. Personaility is the reason people love John Daly, as you said, its they reason they graviate toward Anthony Kim and its why so many people are glued to the Tiger Woods saga. Its human, its real. The PGA Tour has to expand beyond score updates and tournament announcements if they want to create a large community of active participants.

Stacy Solomon said...

I have been considering social media and the PGA Tour since our tweets about successful brands creating an approachable face.

Keith Kanzel said...

Wow that is a great post. So relevant to what is going on in all social communities. In my role as a community manager for the National University Golf Academy, I see the importance of "two-way" communication. Without it you cannot build a vibrant online social community.

I encourage all golf enthusiast to get involved in social media communities. More that one is ideal. See which ones are responsive and genuinely two-way. Those are the most fulfilling.

Our Academy is on Facebook and is growing rapidly.

I would encourage golfers to check it out. Right now is the perfect time too. We are hosting a Swing Challenge. The Challenge will allow golfers to upload their swings for evaluation and to promote their swing to their friends on Facebook. Winners can get a $1000 scholarship and also swing lab sessions. And its FREE.

Check it out. Tell us what you think.

Keith Kanzel
National University Golf Academy

Anonymous said...

Too many loud mouthed corporate, inept, slow moving fourballs, bawling and shouting into cell phones. They should all read 'Preferred Lies'- Andrew Greig' a journey to the heart of golf in Scotland.
Pepper JW