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As the weather finally starts to cool in the Midwest, most of us turn our attention to the most important season of the year: football season.

College football and the NFL are back in full swing, and it’s no surprise that with that comes a surge in social media. More and more, young fans of our favorite teams are turning to social platforms to get information related to their favorite pastimes.

Once, a fan might have relied on traditional news sources for in-game updates as well as pregame hype and post-game analysis, but more and more teams athletic departments and front offices are becoming the source for all things in the social universe. Teams saw that their fans were using the platform regardless if they supplied the information or not, and therein lies the lesson for your brand.

Most companies are operating at least a minor social presence. A Facebook page at minimum has become the new Yellow Pages listing. The bigger issue is regardless of your efforts, your audience is talking about you on social, and you leave that conversation unmoderated at your own risk.

Nothing has a bigger effect on steering the conversation on social like putting the information your audience is talking about out on your own terms. Supplying topics of conversation and actively listening to your audience can help to moderate the conversation going on and keep things more level than they would be on their own.

It’s not always simply about correcting misinformation, though, that is crucial. Nobody can be a better source of information about your brand than you can. An active, honest internal voice can do more to effect the public perception of your brand than nearly anything else.

It’s also about knowing what your audience is talking about and how you can help them that can win you big points in the social sphere. Nowhere was this more apparent than in dealing with the host committee for the Indianapolis Super Bowl. Active listening provided guests in the city with timely information on everything from the line at the zip line to a great place to grab a bite to eat, and this trend does not only apply to huge events. Every day, brands are helping their customers find the information they are seeking, and it’s no real surprise that the audience appreciates this effort.

You don’t have to have a Big Ten-sized athletic department or a Social Media Command Center to get these kinds of results on social; you simply have to be willing to provide your audience with the information they are seeking and engage in good conversation.

So next time you tweet about why in the world the coach decided to go for it on fourth down or lament about that missed field goal, remember that somewhere, there are similar tweets going up about your brand.

image via Flickr user RonAlmog