Recently, the PGA Tour has gone beyond telling professional golfers to be active on social media. The Tour developed and uses a swath of resources to help players grow social engagements in a significant way. In the past 20 months, all PGA Tour golfers have increased their overall social engagements by 82 percent and social video views by 157 percent.
Preston McClellan, senior brand marketing manager of the PGA Tour, has been one of the central figures at the helm of this movement of upping players’ social stats.
“The PGA Tour is a membership organization,” McClellan explained. “So, at our core, our mission is to serve our players and to help them in all sorts of different ways. That includes growing their footprint in an increasingly digital age.”
In 2015, when McClellan came on board with the PGA Tour, he and the Tour’s marketing team spent about a year and a half encouraging the many pro golfers on board to join platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Once players understood the basics of what each platform was, McClellan and the Tour’s four-person social team moved on to helping players create their own unique content with the help of Opendorse. Since the PGA Tour brought in Opendorse, players have shared over 5,500 posts featuring images and video.
Mostly, McClellan finds that golf fans are happy with content that provides a simple peek behind the metaphorical curtain.
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) November 13, 2018
“Their fans just want to see them hitting golf balls, working on their swing, and just doing other golf-related things. That type of content is very simple to make for these guys. So, we just empowered our players to create more content. Opendorse has really been a huge vehicle for that success in terms of being the mechanism of distribution and helping us strategize around what content works best with athlete audiences.”
Another unique tactic that the PGA Tour has employed to help players grow their social audience has to do with the distribution of video highlights. As is not the case throughout most of the professional sports world, PGA Tour golfers have the legal right to distribute video highlights of themselves natively on their social channels. As a result, players produced more than 200 million video views and grew their cumulative audience by nearly 10 million followers.
— Tony Finau Golf (@tonyfinaugolf) September 20, 2018
“The unique thing with us is that our players are all independent contractors, so they’re really their own brands,” McClellan said. “But our theory is that a rising tide lifts all ships, and that if our players are getting followed by more fans and engaging with more fans, and the Tour is engaging with more fans, then the Tour’s audience is going to grow as well.”
That theory was correct. As PGA Tour players raised their collective social audience to over 52 million people, the PGA Tour’s social following across all platforms is now above six million.
“We identified this as a great opportunity to extend our brand with the fans. Opendorse has really been a great partner both in content creation strategy and the actual distribution as well. It’s really helped us have a consistent presence in the game of golf.”
While the Tour has also started bringing in influencers to promote the game and events, it is clear that players will remain at the core of its social growth strategy.
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