Top 9 Social Lessons
Learned from Soccer
By Deirdre Walsh
I'm no stranger to the soccer ﬁeld. My
dad, whose college nickname was
Elep (Pele backwards), spent many
weekends teaching me the sport and
cheering me on at games. While it has
been many years since I've played,
I’m still able to take the lessons
learned on the grass and apply them
to my role as a social strategist.
1. Master the
• Just like players need to
understand how to dribble,
pass, and shoot, community
managers must develop a core
set of skills.
• These talents include content
creation, project management,
and relationship building.
• Once you master these
competences, you can move
on to advanced techniques like
analytics, and platform
2. Listen to Your
• A strategic, passionate coach is
a key to winning.
• Community managers must
also have an executive sponsor
who is vested in the success of
the team. This leader authorizes
funding and resources,
approves key policies, and
champions the success of the
program among the e-staﬀ.
• Most importantly, the executive
sponsor has the strength to
empower cultural change.
3. Have a Game
• In sports, every game plan is
unique. Similarly, each roadmap to
online community success varies.
That’s because businesses use
communities to accomplish a wide
range of goals, such as customer
support, strategic alignment,
partner relationships, etc.
• Despite the variety, community
managers must have a well-
documented plan with measurable
objectives, strategic use cases
and technical features prioritized
on potential impact to the
business and ability to execute.
4. Be 100%
• Good soccer players are
dedicated 24/7. They practice,
watch what they eat, and live
and breathe the game.
• The same applies to social
professionals. It’s an “always
on” job. There are no customer
service timeouts or Twitter
• When conversations spike or
news breaks, the community
manager has to be available.
5. Play with
• As with anything in life, you are
more successful if you’re
• Luckily with both soccer and
social that zeal comes naturally.
6. Keep a Level
• Just like soccer opponents try
to slide tackle you, online
communities are full of strikes
on the brand.
• It’s crucial for community
managers to help alleviate
tense situations and not fuel
7. Find Strength in
• Many of the world’s leading
soccer scorers have
contributed their success to the
pinpoint passing skills of their
• Likewise, good community
managers rely on strong
collaboration with individuals
across the organization.
• Everyone from legal to
marketing has a position to
8. Appreciate Your
• Every soccer team has a set of
rabid fans, but so do strong
• That’s because these online
networks are more than just
vehicles. They are made up of
people who have a shared
passion and shared “why.”
• Renowned community
managers put their fans ﬁrst;
empowering, amplifying and
9. Celebrate Your
• In both soccer and social,
• Nothing is more rewarding then
From kids playing in the streets of St. Louis to
professionals duking it out in Brazil, soccer touches so
many lives. In the same light, so does social. I’ve watched
as the role of community manager has evolved from
something delegated to the intern into a respected
profession sought out by the world’s most powerful
brands. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of either,
know that you are part of something big.
Director of Social Strategy
For more community management insights, visit The Jive Community.
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.