A significant mover in Shunt’s 50Mil Project is Golf Victoria, the governing and representative body for the sport within the state.
The 50Mil project has been tracking social media footprints across the Australian sporting industry since November 1, 2016.
From that time to the middle of August, Golf Victoria has seen follower growth up 41.26% on Instagram, Twitter increase by 14.27%, but the most noteworthy mover has been the organisation’s Facebook channel with growth more than doubling with a 117.2% increase in followers.
With Golf Victoria noted as a big mover on the index, Bullpen spoke to their Marketing & Communications Manager Greg Oakford who acknowledged while growth is one thing he elaborated that such increases can be attributed to a combined strategy of delivering engaging content, sharp campaigns encouraging play, live streaming of tournaments and the early success and recognition of their partnership with Golf Australia to produce the Inside the Ropes podcast.
Bullpen: Since November 2016, 50Mil data shows there has been more than a doubling of followers on Golf Victoria’s Facebook channel. Was there a concerted change in approach to Golf Victoria’s Facebook strategy?
Greg Oakford: “We did a little bit of paid campaign work around one of our major events which is the Oates Vic Open, we produced video content to promote that event.
“We also did another campaign which was targeted to Victorian’s only, around daylight saving and the ability to play golf after work. It was a play on words with the campaign which was called “#9After5.”
“Whilst we did paid work, we had additional organic reach with a lot of our Victorian clubs sharing that content as well. Those two campaigns certainly helped us see a pretty good increase in engagement and followership, particularly across Facebook.
“Twitter is probably a bit of a slow one and I think it’s a reflection of Twitter in general. Instagram’s been one that’s growing consistently for us, but we’re not necessarily knocking it out of the park with it. My personal feel on Instagram is that we probably don’t do enough scenic golf shots and beautiful imagery, in a way we’re maybe too grassroots with our Instagram sometimes.
“We certainly like to report on our kids that have had really good feats in a tournament, or if there’s news coming out of golf in Victoria we’ll certainly try to make that into a video or an image.
“I think we do need to do a little bit extra on beautiful golf imagery and if you look at a lot of good golf Instagram accounts that’s what they do, but we do have to somewhat stick to our identity which is the governing body of the sport in the state. The main purpose is to try to get people playing the game so that could be in any form such as mini-golf, driving ranges, traditional club membership, while having broad appeal from a five-year-old kid to an 85-year-old person in retirement.”
BP: It’s pretty various, new and lapsed players, hobbyists, current players and weekend hackers. What is the main call to action across your social channels?
GO: “It’s something that we grapple with all the time at our organisation and it’s all of it. It is difficult because our sport’s tagline is “golf is the game for life.” We appeal to such a diverse audience that a singular message is not going to cut through, a message to a 62-year-old is not going to be the same message that we’re sending to a 15-year-old girl that we want to play golf.
“It is a bit of a challenge in terms of how we organise our content and our competitions. We do a fair bit with targeted Facebook and Instagram campaigns.
“In terms of our organic content, it’s a mixture of reactive content in terms of if someone’s won a tournament or a special hole in one. Then we try to have some proactive news as well, such as having competitions, posting engaging, fun questions around who won this tournament or asking for the on course ruling for our rules nerds out there!”
BP: Not everyone probably plugs into certain channels, thus the diversity of players can pose challenges.
GO: “We see it as more of an opportunity because there is so many different people. Our Instagram audience skews a little bit younger than our Facebook audience for example, so we certainly use different copy for each channel.
“With Snapchat for example, unless you’re bringing in existing photography or videos with the white border around it you kind of need to be on the spot. We use Snapchat on average once a fortnight depending on what tournaments are being played. With the emergence of Instagram Stories that’s probably seen our views on Snapchat decrease slightly.”
BP: Is it a challenge engaging local clubs, courses or players in regard to sharing content or distributing content?
GO: “Absolutely, though I’m sure it’s not exclusive to golf but across the board for all clubs out there.
“It just comes down to whether you have people in roles at clubs. Often in golf clubs, website and social media accounts are managed by the operations manager and it can become a relatively low priority.
“I think overall some of our golf clubs are quite proactive in this space, but some are not, some of them are way behind the times. Having said that, often it’s just a reflection of the top down attitude, if the club president, captain and club manager don’t believe in social media and still think it’s nice to have rather than being essential it’s very hard for staff below to be empowered to do what they think is right for their club.
“Sport can often lag behind other industries, where emphasis is placed on things that were more effective 10 years ago rather than today, such as e-mail newsletters. E-mail newsletters are great but open rates are dropping through the floor.”
BP: Of course, because people get bombarded with that stuff all the time.
GO: “And I think it’s legacy as well. Someone might have been doing the same thing for five years, every Monday I do an email newsletter, it’s just tunnel vision and that’s what I do. And often it takes a talk that they’ve seen on YouTube or a conference they’ve been at or someone they spoke to question what they’ve been doing has actually been effective or achieving the result they wanted to achieve.
“We’ve been actively talking to our Victorian clubs about shifting the mindset of the managers, there is some really progressive ones out there, but as a collective trying to shift the perception of social media and digital media.
“I don’t think many people would launch a business these days without having a website, especially to make transactions. It’s just that it’s kind of history repeating itself. Ten to 15 years ago if you said to everyone you need a website some people would scoff at you. The same thing is happening with social right now and paid digital media. The organisations, clubs and sports out there that get ahead of the curve with this are going to benefit in the long run.
“Our job at Golf Victoria, through my department particularly, is to try to educate our club’s as best as we can and do our best to promote the game with limited budgets.”
BP: The message is to promote the game, increase the game’s footprint, encourage new players at all times but that requires a bit of buy in across the board from the local clubs upwards?
GO: “It does, because we’re selling one message through our content that golf is not just the game for old white people which there is that perception out there amongst non-golfers or regular sporting fans. You ask 10 people on the street you may get three or four responses yet this is something that golf doesn’t need to shy away from. We should be tackling that perception upfront.
“Considering all of that, it’s not necessarily the truth. I’ve been working in golf for five years and there’s a hell of a lot of young people who play the game. Overall we do have an older demographic versus other sports.
“One unique advantage the sport has is that you can play it to a high standard as you get older. Top footballers or basketballers can’t do that but you might be playing the best golf of your life at 65.”
BP: Let’s move on to the Inside the Ropes podcast and it’s Facebook Live broadcasts. Tell me about, it looks to be getting good engagement and traction. Has that actually contributed or benefited Golf Victoria’s social channels?
GO: “I think it’s a classic case of getting the right host. And Andy (Maher) knows his golf obviously and he’s got cut-through with other sports. Overall, the podcast is for the enthusiast but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have wide appeal.”
BP: The new summer of golf is on the horizon, is there any campaigns that we should be looking out for?
GO: “They’ll probably be a few. One of the campaigns again that we’re working on with Golf Australia will be around nine hole golf. One of the challenges we have in golf is obviously it’s a quite a long commitment to play 18 holes. There are shorter forms of the game. There’s been many other trials such as Lightning Golf, six-hole golf, (speed golf). Some are probably fads, some are not. The one that we think has got the best opportunity and easiest for the clubs to manage is nine holes. It can be played in roughly two hours.
“We’re looking at doing a campaign and some content around playing nine holes. We’re going to roll with the hashtag ‘#Play9’. The idea is to encourage people that have existing golf memberships that might have young families or they’re just pretty time poor that maybe can’t give up four hours on a weekend to play a full round but have two hours available in the morning or can play nine holes after work when daylight savings comes around.
“There’s a lot of various forms of nine hole goal that golfers can play and we do know that time is a barrier for some people. Next step is to create some messaging and some storytelling around that.”
*All photos credited to Justin Falconer/Golf Victoria and all screenshots to Golf Victoria.