By: Chase McCaskill, @itsmechase
Front Office Sports had the privilege to speak with Stuart Drew, Social Media Coordinator for Orlando City SC. Stuart, a recent graduate of Auburn University, began her foray into sports media while still in school at Auburn. “I wanted to do internship with Auburn during my senior year, so while in my junior year, I reached out to the Director of Digital Media to have a sit-down informational. I wanted to get an idea if that would be something I’d enjoy."
Although Auburn did not have any opportunities at the time, three weeks before her senior year began, Stuart’s initiative earned her an internship offer to produce social media content, design graphics, and execute game day initiatives for Auburn Football. Stuart parlayed the season-long internship into another internship the following semester, covering basketball, baseball, softball, and gymnastics -- just to name a few! With graduation around the corner, it came time for Stuart to pursue full-time opportunities.
“I reached out to my current boss at Orlando City through an email address that was on LinkedIn. I sent him my resume and a cover letter, which really got the ball rolling. Fast-forward to the end of May, I had received a job offer and was moving to Orlando where I’ve been working ever since.”
With the evolution of Twitter and how each tweet is utilized, social media and graphic design are beginning to go hand-in-hand. For example, we’ve moved from the generic “photo,” to the “meme,” and now the current fascination of the “GIF.” While at Auburn, Stuart was able to learn some of the basics of Photoshop. However, now at Orlando City, she works daily with the graphic design team to produce content.
“I’ll approach our graphic design team with an idea and give them a brief layout of how we envision it being presented. They will then shape the idea to fit our brand-specific guidelines so that it looks clean and presentable.“
One of the difficulties in running a high profile social media account is learning to navigate through keeping supporters engaged, all the while not coming off as over-bearing. When asked about maintaining this balance, Stuart gave some great insight!
“We have a content calendar organized by day and club (Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando Pride, Orlando City B). I’ll go in each morning to type up what I want our day to entail.”
A normal day for Stuart’s posts could be a tickets post, then a few stories, and maybe a few ‘pump-up’ images.
“I want each of our posts to be intertwined with each other.”
One of the things she will guard against is the trap of forcing content to be produced.
“If something isn’t ready to go out, or there isn’t a lot going on, don’t force something if you can’t come up with a good piece of content.”
Planning content and graphic design aren’t the only skills needed to run a social media account. Multi-tasking is one of the key skills to handling the craziness of an operation that is constantly in motion. Stuart shed some light on this saying, “Usually I’ll have eight different Mac screens up at once, swiping in-between each one. We’ll have the content calendar, Internet browser, Photoshop, TweetDeck, Adobe Bridge, etc all running at one time!”
In addition to multi-tasking, you’ve got to be on top of the current social media trends.
“You have to know the current trend and if it would apply to your audience. If it doesn’t apply then don’t force it.”
One of the ways she does this is through her personal social media account.
“I follow a lot of other teams whom I think do social media really well and find inspiration on how they interact with their fans. I look for content they are putting out for their fans that would also work with our fans.”
Finally, for Stuart, good Social Media Coordinators are constantly learning.
“Social media is always evolving, there is always a new app, or new platform. Being consistent is really important.”
As always with jobs in sports, time commitment is key. You need to be content with working long nights, giving up weekends, and even some holidays. However, even more than time commitment, Stuart wished she’d have known the full benefit of a good social plan.
“Social media can definitely be spontaneous, but if you have a good social plan going into the season, you can still maintain consistency.”
Stuart maintains consistency by interacting with fans on a constant basis. This is one of her ‘secrets’ to social media.
“I love interacting daily with our fans, I don’t want them to ever think its some robot running our Twitter account or Facebook page. I want our accounts to be interactive. I have no problem poking fun at other teams or their supporters interacting with us. I like to give them a playful jab right back. I think our fans really appreciate the interaction.”
As you can see, Stuart has taken the experience she gained at Auburn and parlayed that into her, now, full-time roll at Orlando City. When asked for one overall piece of advice to give our readers, Stuart encouraged those to, “Get involved -- reach out to your University’s athletic department for direction, participate in social media sports chat on Twitter (that is where I made a lot of connections). Reach out to anyone in the industry. I love helping anyone who takes the time and the courage to reach out because I know how intimidating that can be. I think anyone in the industry clearly notices that someone is interested in a position when they take the time to reach out.”
We want to thank Stuart for taking the time to give us a look at what it takes to run social media for a professional sports organization. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here or follow her on Twitter here. You can also check out what Stuart is doing with Orlando City SC on Twitter here!
This interview is another edition of "Winning Edge Wednesday" in congruence with our partnership with the Winning Edge Leadership Academy. Every Wednesday we will be featuring the story of a woman or minority working in the sports business industry. If you know of a professional you would like featured, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.