What does your club look like online?

More and more, communication is moving online. How does your club do it? Do you have a modern and relevant website with interesting and regular updates? Do you use social media? Think of your club’s online presence as being like the shop window that will entice people through the door. Clubs need to look attractive online and posts should be relevant to the audience you are trying to reach. 

The key place to start is your website. This should be the main source of information about your club, forming a permanent record. News, event write-ups, information about what you do, results archives and details of mapped areas could all be included. The information needs to be clear, easy to find and look good. If your website is dull, out of date or experiencing technical problems, it could be a good use of club funds to pay for a professional web makeover. 

Social media is more transient; it should complement the website, and provide a way for people to interact with your club and ask questions of real people (but remember not everyone uses social media, nor should they have to).

Using different channels should reach more people. Once you are happy that your website is up to date, and a proper reflection of your club, think about social media. First, consider which social media platform might be best for your club. 

What are you trying to achieve: better engagement with members; more event publicity; new members for your club; live updates from results at your competitions? Social media can quickly spread the word about your club to get lots of people thinking and talking about orienteering. Facebook and Twitter are the most commonly used sites and have different appeals.

Facebook page (e.g. www.facebook.com/scottish.orienteering) is public and lets you connect with people through posts and messages. Once your page is created, you need people to ‘Like’ the page and then they can ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ on and ‘Share’ any content (‘Statuses’) that you post. You can also create an ‘Event’ and then invite people to it, a handy way of advertising your next training or competition. Facebook can be used privately if you prefer, by creating a Facebook Group which can only been used by those who join the group, but you will reach a wider audience if pages are public.

On Twitter (e.g. twitter.com/scottish_o), the information shared is very concise – tweets can only be 140 characters long. You ‘Follow’ accounts you are interested in, and then their tweets will appear on your newsfeed; they might follow you back and engage with you. You can ‘Favourite’, ‘Retweet’ and ‘Reply’ to accounts you follow, as well as tweeting out your own updates. Items on Twitter are often fleeting, updates are in real time, and you need to look in frequently.

With both sites, it is essential to post regularly; the posts must be relevant and interesting, and rememberwho you are trying to appeal to; you can’t be everything for everyone. Content can be simple text or can include photos, links or videos, which are great to liven up your page. It is also important to respond promptly to anyone who directly contacts you. All of this requires some work; make sure there is someone willing to look after these pages. But it needn’t be a chore; sharing the role helps, and different personalities will give more varied content. Could you get your juniors involved? It’s also important to remember that building up your audience takes time, as well as creativity. You will get out what you put in; give it a chance to work.

So get online, give your website a spring clean, and for social media your first port of call could be to ‘Like’ the Scottish Orienteering Facebook page, or follow Scottish Orienteering on Twitter. See you on the internet soon!

For more information on social media, there is some great advice on the Club Matters website: www.sportenglandclubmatters.com/home/club-promotion/social-media.
If you have any questions on anything in this article, do get in touch with Johannes or Rona (details on the Contacts page), to see how we can help you.