Wednesday 8 February. Write that date down – it was the start of a new grassroots conversation for U.S. Soccer.
A new niche avenue online for people to share their experiences about the sport while linking with fellow fans across the country kicked-off last night. #SoccerSoapbox arrived for one hour, asked 4 questions and then what transpired was informed and passionate responses about the current state of soccer and more importantly ideas and insights into how it can be improved for the future.
For something that was announced 24 hours prior, and given the feedback we here at Soccer Support received at the chats conclusion, it was a pretty successful first outing for #SoccerSoapbox. The conversation ran smoothly, respondents were courteous and engaging, and best of all, new contacts were found in an ever increasing U.S. soccer family!
To kick off the first event we thought the theme should be an easy introduction rather than a prevailing and contentious issue that exists in the game today. Therefore ‘Soccer and Social Media’ was chosen for the first ever #SoccerSoapbox.
Each week we will provide a summary of the chat for those that missed it including the top 3 posts from each question. We will also announce a weekly ‘#GrowTheGame Tweeter of the week’ who will be featured in this summary and will go to the person Soccer Support feels gave the best insights and responses during the hour and embodied what #SoccerSoapbox is setting out to achieve.
WEEK 1 SUMMARY
Q1: How can we optimize our grassroots fans impact on soccer through Twitter?
@Longshoe: #SoccerSoapBox Events like this give grassroots fans a voice, access to major stakeholders in US soccer, strength in numbers
@soccerstreets: #SoccerSoapbox Twitter has increased awareness of @soccerstreets and led to program partnerships, donations, and volunteers.
@joshhakala: If teams AT LEAST used Twitter/FB, it would be easier for media (like @USOpenCup) & blogs to cover them. Very easy & costs $0 #soccersoapbox
We then asked participants a supplementary question – looking for examples of how Twitter has led to new partnerships being formed and projects being established.
@FlashSoccerCEO: Recent example: met an architect in Kansas City who may be helping with our plans to build a SSS in San Diego #soccersoapbox
Q2: Who do you believe is the most influential online voice for soccer in the U.S. at the moment & why?
@chandrimatweets: @klout some names pop up frequently- broadcasters for sports networks. They get the message out to the masses! #SoccerSoapbox
(cont) which is helpful when advising how to #growthegame from a fan and developmental standpoint.
@backseatgaffer: Q2 I think @duresport and @jeffkassouf have been instrumental in exposing the WPS kerfuffle and promoting women’s soccer. #soccersoapbox
We couldn’t have asked for a better segue than that for Question 3…
Q3: Could social media have played a bigger role in saving the 2012 #WPS season?
@futboldaddy: Social media will play a role for #WPS, but league leadership has to help drive and focus it. #soccersoapbox
@PenaltyHick: A change of attitude toward women’s sport in general is needed in the US #SoccerSoapbox
@JeffKassouf: Business problems are way bigger than anything social media can do, regardless of how influential it is. We’re talking $ #soccersoapbox #WPS
#SoccerSoapbox always opens up Q4 to the fans. This week we see @PenaltyHick offer the following thought provoker…
Q4: Why dont US pro soccer players get social media training? Role models are best 2 promote the game right?
@backseatgaffer: I’d say the teams are the best to set min. standard for SM usage and educate players, thus should take lead. #soccersoapbox
@chandrimatweets: @futboldaddy really? I missed that one. Still, it’s keeping it REAL which is what makes twitter unique. #SoccerSoapbox
@chandrimatweets: Teams have asked players to delete tweets for less. Certainly players’ wives have 😛 #soccersoapbox
As you can see from the above dialogue we witnessed a free flowing and constructive conversation about online influence and the potential power of it to drive real outcomes for soccer in the U.S.
Could it have made a difference in saving the #WPS season – not entirely, but it could have flagged that it had issues and signaled to supporters and sponsors that they needed help. As for media training for players, this is definitely one to think about for those that draw up the professional contracts but as @chandrimatweets mentioned, it’s the real conversations that make social media so great. The last thing fans would want from their idols are 140 character standard responses from a clubs PR department.
#GROWTHEGAME TWEETER OF THE WEEK
And so that brings us to the #GrowTheGame Tweeter of the week…this week we had to hand it to @backseatgaffer who was there from the start of the chat to the very end. Commenting on all questions put forward and receiving/giving out a healthy amount of replies in the process. The prize is the chance to promote a particular blog, website or team and Scott can redeem his prize by emailing email@example.com or sending @SoccerSupport a DM through Twitter with the details.
TIPS FOR FUTURE CHATS
A number of tweets were lost to participants of the chat by users not using the #SoccerSoapbox hashtag. We encourage users to use TweetChat.com to enhance your chat experience due to the ease of reply, retweeting and the fact this third party app even tags your tweets with #SoccerSoapbox!
UNTIL NEXT WEEK…
#SoccerSoapbox returns next week (2/15/12) at the regular time and day of Wednesdays at 4:30pm PST and 7:30PM EST.
The conversation doesn’t stop there though. Fans across the country are encouraged to use the #GrowTheGame hashtag during the week to be linked with other like-minded and talk all thing soccer.
If you would like more info on #SoccerSoapbox, Soccer Support or our #GrowTheGame project or perhaps to submit question 4 for next week email firstname.lastname@example.org
See you all next week!