Use Instagram to build, develop, and keep your roller derby fanbase.
IF YOU HAVE A ROLLER DERBY LEAGUE and you’re not on Instagram, get on there! Why? (insert Dr Evil’s voice here) One billion people use Instagram every month. That’s a ton of 8-40 year old’s waiting to hear about the awesome things happening, to get to your events, and to recruit for your league. Plus, roller derby is a great visual sport, perfect for Instagram.
There are many things to think about when using Instagram, but the following are some helpful tips and tricks.
FYI: I won’t get into Instagram stories or IGTV, just the standard posts and account creation.
COME UP WITH A GOAL FOR YOUR INSTAGRAM
It’s important to have a goal for your social media channels. This will help you lean your posts to that goal. Goals might be: Brandawareness (just so people know you exist and start recognizing your name), Get people to your events, recruit players to your league. Actually, you’ll probably use all three of those goals at one time or another. The idea being, if your goal this month is to get people to your bout, then more of your posts should be talking or sharing about the bout.
Other goals for a standard business Instagram account might be: Build a community of advocates, drive sales and leads, research and development, and enhance public relations.
CREATE A GREAT DESCRIPTION
In your business profile, add a description of your league in 150 characters and give someone a reason to follow you. Think about what you might do if you’re on Instagram. Someone follows you or likes your image, you click on their account and their profile is blank. You move on because why would you follow?
So, at a minimum put something in the profile. Truthfully, roller derby is pretty cool already, so making sure to say roller derby in your description is a good start. Also, what makes your league different than any other league in your city? What makes your league especially awesome?
For example, a league description might be: The original women’s flat track roller derby in Albuquerque, NM. Ranked 105 in the world! See our link for our next bout. (That last sentence should refer to your link to encourage people to click on it.)
CREATE A LINK TO SOMETHING
There’s a space for a hyperlink in your profile –where do you want people to go? You can link them to your Facebook fan page, your website, or directly to your next event. This is also based on your goal for Instagram. If you want people to come to your next bout, your link should go directly to the bout ticket sales page. Just make sure to change the link when the event is over.
MANAGE THE INSTAGRAM WITH MORE THAN ONE PERSON
If you’ve got only one person running the account, what if that one person leaves? Then there’s a scramble to get someone on the account and keep it going. Make sure to have two or more people available to manage the league account. Create a posting schedule so that you’re not over-posting. There’s an algorithm in Instagram that can hurt your posts if you post too often – it also feels like SPAM to followers if they suddenly see their feed filled with your photos. When creating a posting schedule, consider having the admins agree to either post only on certain days or to divvy up the images in a way that makes sense.
BATCH YOUR IMAGE TAKING
Go to practices, scrimmages, and other roller derby events with image taking in mind. Take as many as you can. I know that can be a pain if you’re also skating, but take time when you can to get those photos and videos. Consider hiring a professional to come to take photos of your skaters. Don’t just use those for your website, use them on your Instagram account. Plus, organize the photos on your phone. If you have an iPhone you can create a folder with “League” photos. Take great photos. Not all photos are going to be gorgeous, to attract attention to your image. Here are some tips:
- Get closer! Digital zoom can make images with less quality, so if you can get closer without using zoom, do it.
- Clean your lens before picture taking.
- Don’t use the flash if you can help it.
- Try taking photos from different angles.
- Turn your phone horizontally (FYI: photos don’t have to be square for Instagram.)
IMPORTANT TIP: Create A Business Instagram Account, Not a Personal Instagram Account
A business profile lets you see Insights. Insights will show you what posts did well, what your reach is, the demographics of your followers, and more. You find insights by going to your account on your smartphone, clicking on the hamburger (those three lines) on the upper right, and selecting Insights from the list. Also, with a business profile, when you add contact information, a Contact button appears near the top of your profile. When people click that button, they’ll see options like Get Directions, Call and Email, depending on the contact information you provided. In other words, it’s another way for people to connect you quickly and easily.
MAKE A PLAN
Spend a little time planning – when will you share that video of someone jumping over a cone? When will you share the images from the latest bout? It doesn’t have to be on a calendar, although that helps. You could make a list on a notepad with the date you’ll share the image.
TELL A STORY
Research has shown that people tend to open the text on a post and read the whole thing! That means, don’t be afraid to share a story, background, what all’s happening in the photo, etc. Maybe share a story of someone’s rise in roller derby, or how long it took them to get to the next stage in their derby career.
Why use hashtags? If someone’s searching your local area for great photos, say #Albuquerque, that’s how they’ll find you. My suggestions for hashtags: #rollerderby #skaters #athletes – those are great, but also use local hashtags. Not sure what to use Search accounts in your city and see what they are using. And, organize those hashtags. Create a note on your smartphone that lists all the hashtags you might use. That way when you’re ready to post, you can go to that note, copy the hashtags and paste them into your Instagram comment for that post.
But don’t be one of those jerks who follows someone then instantly unfollows as soon as that person follows you. Social media is about being there, being connected, answering your fan’s questions, etc. Why follow others? It’s the quickest way for other accounts to know you exist!
HOW TO DO IT:
Find accounts similar to yours – another sporting group, tattoo shop, or something else in your city or town. Follow their followers – only 60 a day or Instagram will put you in Instagram jail, and nobody wants that.
NO COMMENT LEFT UNTOUCHED
Like comments and reply to comments. The more comments you get, the more your image gets seen. Hint: If you have league mates on Instagram and you have a really important image that day (like your bout poster) ask them to comment and like the image so it gets seen more. However, don’t say things in your description like “please like and comment.” Algorithms tend to knock those posts down a notch.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Remember when I said you should check insights? This is why – you should use the data to see how you’re doing and make strategic plans for the future. Are you reaching your local market? If not, what new hashtags are locals looking for – don’t know?Ask around. What posts did really well? – Do them again. Not everyone who follows you saw that awesome post so don’t worry about sharing it again a month or so later.
TAKE IT STEP BY STEP
I know there’s a lot in this article, but try not to feel overwhelmed. As a social media consultant I spend about an hour a day on social media for all my clients. You don’t have to spend that much time. Set aside fifteen to twenty minutes or so to get your posts done and walk away. Come back the next time, check comments, post your next thing and move on.
What to Post on your League Instagram
- Bout Posters: Not too much text though
- Equipment: Close-ups of helmets, and skates, especially if you have an equipment sponsor
- Practices: Drills, skills tests, etc.
- Activities: Like, what training your league is up to at RollerCon, your end of year party, etc.
- Skaters: Either on the track playing or posing for the camera
- Bouts: Your vendors, the location, the photographers, the skaters, the goodie baskets, the refs and volunteers!
- Your logo
- Your logo on merch
- Be sure to warn your league when you start your video!
- Practices: Drills, skills tests, etc.
- Scrimmages: Especially when that jammer is fighting through the pack
- Skaters: Either on the track playing or have a quick interview about why they play derby, etc.
- Bouts: Do a quick interview with a fan about derby.
- About derby: Short videos that describe how roller derby is played.
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