I have just returned home from my first full day at the Juice Academy. There was a point raised by Sandy Lindsay in our opening session and it is still fresh in my mind:
‘…raise your hand wherever possible. Get involved.’
Perhaps it hit such a note with me because, if it wasn’t for that mantra, I may not have been sat in the room in the first place.
In September 2016, I was offered a voluntary social media role at Altrincham Football Club. I saw it as an opportunity to try a fresh, exciting line of work without diving in head first and committing to the profession fully. Working alongside a good friend of mine we found ourselves heading up the social media for one of the largest semi-professional football teams in the country.
We had no real social strategy aside from trying to make the club seems as modern, interesting and engaging as possible. We certainly didn’t receive any digital marketing plan to follow. The blueprint was entirely ours to write.
The first thing I set about doing was analysing the social feeds of the clubs around Altrincham’s level. I wanted to see what they did well, but more importantly, what none of them were offering to the non-league social circle. It became immediately apparent that everyone was taking themselves a bit too seriously. There was no real character to any of the content.
So, we started having some fun with ours.
Using dry humour where possible, without making a mockery of the news we were brought in to distribute, we struck an engagement gold mine. We are at a stage now where the club’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds combine to produce a Klout score that outperforms many Football League clubs, with monthly impressions on Twitter averaging at just over 2,000,000.
If I didn’t volunteer my time, I wouldn’t have discovered my potential to do this.
The amount of stuff I have learnt just by rolling my sleeves up and offering my time is no joke. The experience so far has given me a decent understanding of key analytics, cross-platform management tools, graphic design and internal communications.
Attending the Juice Academy Boot Camp was tense. However, being able to take a decent amount of experience to potential employers (without having paid a penny for the privilege) was a confidence builder for sure. Working with Altrincham lit a fire underneath me and they could see that. I got a strong feeling of appreciation for the experience I was able to demonstrate.
So, what can I recommend?
With regards to getting your foot in the door, plenty of local, or small-scale sports clubs are after help with their digital marketing. Some don’t even have a Twitter account. Even if you just see it as an opportunity to dip your toes in and find out whether a career in this industry is right for you, my suggestion is much like Sandy’s – get involved. If sports are not your thing then you can always offer your time to charitable organisations. Many need assistance with social coverage on the events they run, or day to day account management help. Further, I can’t begin to count the amount of businesses, bars and restaurants local to me that have a poor social media presence. You can be the person to help them with that. Just go inside and talk to them.
Free to use, web-based tools like Canva had a huge role to play in my ability to produce slick looking graphics without any prior training in design. Anyone in a similar situation should have a play around because you can develop a smart end product without the real know-how. They key to using this for a business or organisation is keeping it consistent. Decide on a font and colour scheme and stick to them.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface in the world of digital. It fills me with excitement to know that I’ll be gaining masses of new knowledge and experience in the coming year and a half. I’m looking forward to applying it all to my apprenticeship with Pixel Kicks, and continuing my role at Altrincham for many years to come…
Andrew and his Altrincham FC Social Media Team are on the lookout for a bright, social-savvy, preferably football-loving individual to help with on match days. To enquire, please email email@example.com