I used to be old school. Want to get your message out? Create a flyer, do a mass mailing, put an ad in the paper, that sort of thing. However, after I created my first web site over 15 years ago, I started to broaden my horizon and adjust my strategy a little. It was then all about e-mail marketing, web site links, and search engine optimization. While there is still value in all of this today, and - funny enough - flyers and ads are still somewhat in use, new technologies have established a foothold and taken over in areas where other methods just fell short. Today it's all about being connected and getting your message out in a hip fashion - quickly and easily.
How does that all relate to tennis, you may ask. Well, what's good for personal and business connectedness, is certainly good for tennis, as well. Whatever you may do or plan, there's a new media network out there to get you connected. Here are my 3 favorites:
While I regarded LinkedIn for the longest time as a boring business networking community, it was only after I took a real interest and discovered the groups formed inside the Network, that I saw a lot of value. Yes, networking with your peers and their contacts has real business value, and I heard that hr managers now increasingly use LinkedIn to search out and find more about potential candidates, their interests and experience, and how they articulate themselves in public.
Their web site's Meta Name Description reads: "LinkedIn strengthens and extends your existing network of trusted contacts. LinkedIn is a networking tool that helps you discover inside connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners." For me, it meant creating a new network of contacts by becoming actively involved in some if the tennis groups. Most importantly the group "United States Tennis Association" helped me establish great international contacts and gain some credibility as far as showing my expertise and articulating myself.
One word describes Facebook for me: Fun. While it is likely that LinkedIn connects your professional contacts, meaning present and past colleagues and few personal friends, Facebook is more likely to connect buddies, long time friends, classmates, and maybe a few present colleagues.
The web site describes it this way: "Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, post links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet."
The atmosphere on Facebook is hip and fun. Some of the postings are outright hilarious. I swear one colleague of mine, let's call her A.R., should go into writing for a living. It's like "Sex and the city" meets :Saturday Night Live", but funnier. If she wrote for the LA Times, even yours truly would consider subscribing, haha. But Facebook always tries to provide new and more or less exciting quizzes and games. And there are also plenty of interesting groups to join, including a bunch of tennis groups. I have established a group recently, titled "California Social Tennis Network", with the goal of providing a home and a platform for adult tennis players in California. Eventually I am planning on giving other tennis networks a home under this group heading, and my ultimate goal is to create an organization of 1 million tennis players throughout the country. Maybe I'll call it "U.S. Social Tennis Network", who knows? At this point Facebook is one important piece in my Social Tennis Network puzzle, and I'm having fun using Facebook every day.
*Twitter's motto is: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?". A community of "following" and "followers", where your messages (tweets) can only be 140 characters long, is bound to be unique and, at times, outrageous. I've been in Twitter for about a month now and found that people either love it or hate it. For myself, I love it and use it for letting people know what I'm doing, reading, eating, thinking.
All my Twitter connections are tennis related, I won't follow anyone else, especially when they're trying to sell me product. I love tweets from the Brian Brothers or from Andy Roddick. Why? Because they're doing what I'm doing: NOT overloading the system with endless tweets every 5 minutes. I would block those right away. With rarely more than 5-10 tweets a day, I am surely not getting on the nerves of my followers, and that is important for me.
Now, using those three social networking tools, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, is, of course, part of a greater strategy of mine. I have a job (part of the USTA Tennislink Team for The Active Network), and I have a hobby (creating the largest social tennis network in the country and thus connecting one million tennis players). I think my professional and my private game plan complement each other pretty good. Both game plans can profit from each other's connections and both have similar goals. How am I utilizing the three tools to achieve those goals. Cross-marketing is the buzzword. The same way that my blog readers now found out that I'm on LinkedIn (Richard Neher), Facebook (Rich Neher), and Twitter (MrTennis), and that I started a tennis group on Facebook (California Social Tennis Network), my friends, fans and followers will see messages about the Blog, the Network, and my goals. The group will hopefully grow and become strong, Twitter will cause people to look at my other activities, Facebook buddies may be able to give me ideas and suggestions, and so forth. It all goes hand in hand. I have realized that not too long ago and I'm using the system as much as I can. Who knows what else is around the corner and can be utilized to achieve my goals? Whatever it is, I am ready.
See you all soon in TwitterFacebookLinkedIn Land?