EXTRA COVER: 21 ways a cricket club can use Twitter (with lessons for organisations)

3927614158_c53c151264_oCricket? That’s pints of beer, the smack of leather on willow English summer days, isn’t it?

When I played for a 4th team in the North Staffs League it was also vicious grudge matches, a batsman who could only score fours and sixes and cows at cow  corner.

My greatest contribution? Probably to persuade the club to be one of the first in their league to adopt Twitter.

Mostly, this blog is about digital communications in local government. Now my son has started to play for a team himself I’m more thinking about how a team can best use the 140-character platform. There’ll be lessons for all organisations, of course.  Stick with me if cricket isn’t your bag. It’ll be back to Facebook and PR next week.

So, isn’t Twitter just people talking about their dinner?

If you want it to. You can just use it for people talking about bacon sandwiches. But you don’t have to. When you buy the Sunday papers you end up throwing most of it away. You may be interested in five or six subjects. Twitter allows you to search on those subjects to find other people interested in them. As well as experts, bloggers and magazines that talk about them.  Social media is a conversation and Twitter is one way of chipping into that conversation.

Three things to think about:

Be social. Talk. Contribute. Listen. Check your replies and replay back. It’s far more social.

Be timely. Things work best in realtime. As they happen. Not six hours after they have.

Be a champion. For any cricket club to make it work you don’t need a digital native. You need someone who loves the club, loves cricket and has a mobile phone.

21 ways you can use Twitter as a cricket club


1. You can use the #cricketfamily hashtag to connect with other cricket people

A hashtag is quite simply a word with the # symbol added to it. On Twitter you can create one on any subject that you like. But you’ll find a whole bunch of people talking about the subject. During the Ashes, you didn’t need to listen to Test Match Special if you were away from a telly. You could check the #ashes hashtag to get an instant idea on what was going on.

A year or two second XI skipper Marcus Charman saw the plight of Langwith CC who were down on their luck and the #cricketfamily hashtag was born. It’s a hashtag where the good and positive side of cricket could connect with each other.

Marcus and Langwith CC’s tweets about club cricket flew back and forth, earmarked through #cricketfamily and other clubs began to use the hashtag to ask questions and swap ideas.

As is the way with the astonishing speed of social media, the growth of cricket clubs on Twitter (which has mushroomed in 2011/12), led to hundreds interacting and helping, from fundraising to friendlies.

You can read the full story here.

2. You can tell people when the teams are picked

3. You can tell people where the fixtures are

4. You can arrange fixtures through the @sundaycricketer Twitter stream

Back in the day if you wanted to arrange a friendly you had to rely on your brother-in-law’s mate who played for a cricket club. You’d send a text. You may get a reply. There was also an 84-year-old in Old Hill who used to act as an unpaid fixture arranger. But tweet the @sundaycricketer Twitter and you can arrange a last minute friendly or a tour game.

5. You can tell people score flashes on matchday

You’re sat at Endon playing for the 4ths and you need to know what the 1st XI are doing in a must-win match. There used to be text. But what happens when the textee is out at the middle? Twitter allows you to post score updates as the game progresses. Twitter works really well as a place to post real time information.

6. You can celebrate individual performances

So, when one of your players has played a blinder you can celebrate the fact with a suitable tweet. Even though they get bowled next ball.

7. You can promote events that are taking place

Post a flyer onto Twitter to share the events that are taking place that you’ve lovingly organised.

8. You can celebrate what younger players are doing

Good teams have a decent youth set-up. With the permission of parents you can add a picture of the next generation to keep parents informed and the children a pat on the bat. You’ll need parental permission of course.

9. You can tell players about meetings

Nets, AGM, EGM and all that jazz. The sort of things you’d like players to go to. You can stick it on Twitter as another way of reaching people.

10. You can tweet what your ground looks like

Trying to tempt people down to enjoy a drink / play / make the tea? Maybe a shot of the ground in the sunshine may be a way forward. Here’s a shot from a Sydney ground.

11. You can tweet weather flashes

With your ground under water and the covers on the temptation is to shut-up shop. Heck, no! Post a picture and show the world the puddles on the outfield.

12. You can remind people they can come and enjoy watching cricket at your ground

It’s baking hot. It’s a lovely summers day. There’s a new barrel on. So, why not tell people and make them welcome down at your ground? Yet, very few clubs really open the door to the rest of the community when their ground is the best place to be anywhere in England.

13. You can recruit new players

When you are down on numbers a shout on Twitter can help you track down a new opening bat, a six-year-old who fancies a game or maybe an overweight purveyor of dibbly dobblies who can hold down third man and long off.

14. You can arrange nets

Every Thursday there’s nets staged at an indoor sports centre in Tividale in the West Midlands. It gets arranged every week via Twitter if there are enough people. Sometimes we remember to add the #jiminycricketnets hashgtag.

15. You can be part of the community

If the social club, community centre, charity or football team  in your town, village or estate has an event and posts details of it online then share them. That way you are being part of the community and they’ll share what you are saying too. Everyone loves a sharer.

16. You can market events and fundraisers – if you are not too salesy

Nobody likes junk mail. That stuff that gets pushed through your letterbox. It’s not very social. Nobody likes the car salesman who is trying to sell cars to his friends and family when he’s out at the pub. So don’t do it. Think about a balance of things you’d like people to do and buy with some interesting content they’re going to find engaging. An 80:20 split weighted towards the interesting and human is fine.

17. You can post audio to the Twitter stream

Wollaton Cricket Club have a brilliant soundcloud stream where they grumpily interview each other as to how the game went. Soundcloud is an application you can download to a smartphone. It’s very straightforward to use.

18. You can post coaching tips to the Twitter stream

There’s a stack of free content that’s out there on YouTube already. Make the most of it. Here’s how Michael Vaughan used to carry out the cover drive like a young Dan Slee.

19. You can livestream a game

It wouldn’t be right not to round-up suggestions for Twitter and cricket without mentioning Wray v The Rest of the World which was livestreamed thanks to John Popham and others. Initially, this was a demonstration of how broadband could be used in a rural setting. But after Stephen Fry supported it it got global coverage. The story is here. But it does beg the question why cricket clubs can’t livestream footage on a Sunday afternoon. With applications such as Bambuser they can.

20. You can talk about how good the cricket teas are

Seeing as nothing brings people together like cake there’s plenty of room to expand on this. With pictures too.

Twitter works best when you realise that this is not a sales machine but a conversation. You can contribute to the conversation. That’s the case whether you are a cricket club, a company or an organisation.

21. You can post pictures

Of the game that’s being played and the idyllic summer sky. Then in winter you can look back and in the words of The Kinks’ Ray Davies, prove that summer existed.

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