From a desert, from the driest continent, from this land at the opposite end of the globe ...

... as remote as could be in the hockey world ...

... came one of the world’s oldest winter sports trophies.

A cool tradition, a dream of champions, and a story we owe it to our children to tell.

Legends of Australian Ice.

[ MARKETING ] UGC: do or do not

There is no try

There's a very famous scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker runs through the forest with Yoda on his back. In social media, most brands position themselves as Luke Skywalker. Instead, brands should position themselves as Yoda. He's the wise one, the mentor. When our fans become the hero, they pick us up on their back and carry us to incredible places — much further than we could ever go on our own. — Jesse Desjardins, social media manager, Tourism Australia

OUR LAST ARTICLE on marketing and design examined the exponential increase in relevance of user-generated content (UGC), mainly as a result of socio-technological changes. We suggested UGC works for creating brand awareness in the demographic that should matter most to ice sports. What's that in marketing-speak? UGC factors big-time in the purchase decisions of Millenials (Gen-Y) and, to a lesser extent, Baby Boomers (Gen-X). In our language, it means potential new hockey fans are more likely to be influenced by recommendations from strangers than by friends, family and colleagues. As strange as that might seem.

So, how can UGC be put to work for the AIHL and your club? Too many marketers in amateur sport just dive right into social media with a comp or perhaps a few hashtags — tactics — and no real thought about what makes strategic sense. We don't recommend you be like that. Get a strategy. What are you trying to do? Ten thousand more Facebook likes? Or 100 more paying fans? Five hundred more game day tweets? Or fifty more fan jersey sales? Just because you can get UGC doesn't mean you use it to chase likes and tweets. Balance what you hope to achieve with your brand's reality. Align it with your brand's market position and value system. Above all, map out where you want to be at the end of each season and determine the tactics you will need to get there. Before the season starts.

Growing an organisation's social platforms with a team of one is challenging, but quite possible. This strategic work will lighten the load and, in any event, it is essential to inform decision-making during the creation and deployment of your UGC promotions. For instance, you could give your fans a story to tell with the promise of posting 20 of the best on the same day each week. Construct a theme for the image posts with your brand message so your fans do the storytelling. Encourage fans to use your promo hashtag and post the photo to their own platform, instead of sending it in, hoping to see it published. Make fans a part of the team but accept content any way they want to send it. Look at what you get but also go online. Find your fan's images. Follow their discussions. Track the performance of your promotion. Using your hashtag.

Secure the rights to use the best images and post them once a week. In return, you will gradually learn what it takes to turn those stories into campaigns that spread brand awareness beyond the social media circles of your individual fans and visitors. Now, we really don't expect you to believe us, but you might believe Canadian expat, Jesse Desjardins. Because that's exactly what he has been doing for Tourism Australia for the past few years, and he now has a small social media team and 6.2 million fans on Facebook. We doubt the majority live here, of course, but that's the equivalent of over one quarter of our population.

People return to a club's social platforms more for the comment replies and the fan shares than the actual content. It's what happens around user-generated content that is valuable. What if your job is not to post familiar ice hockey pics, not to connect the dots in an epic retelling of each goal scored in your club's latest conquest? What if your job is to provide fans with a new way of seeing, a new experience? Like getting 100 likes a day for their image? Isn't that an amazing experience for a fan? You can often see this quite clearly at AIHL Fans. They mostly just re-post the content of others, but why so often with more success? The occasional douche canoe to lure onto their rocks? The menacing promise of another soul? It's the fan buzz around the content that matters.

Then there is GoPro — one of the undisputed leaders of user-created content. Their customers are smack bang at the center of their marketing. Customer content using GoPro cameras is aligned with the GoPro #be a hero tagline. They only publish the highest quality videos to their social channels from all the thousands they receive. Learn from the thought leaders in the UGC space. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

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