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Building & Leveraging Online Communities: A Case Study


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See how the Columbus Marathon has built, sustained and leveraged a vibrant, interactive online community. By providing a hub for marathon participants and supporters, the marathon has used social media to achieve the event's overall goals.

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Building & Leveraging Online Communities: A Case Study

  1. 1. Building, Sustaining & Leveraging Online Communities #SMIATL Heather Whaling • @prTini [email_address]
  2. 2. Columbus Marathon: a social media case study
  3. 3. Priorities <ul><li>Communicate with marathoners/supporters when & where they want </li></ul><ul><li>Foster engagement with & between marathoners </li></ul><ul><li>Take the “scare” factor out of marathoning </li></ul><ul><li>Sustain Columbus Marathon community year round </li></ul><ul><li>Improve customer service </li></ul>
  4. 4. Nail the Basics nail the basics
  5. 5. <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Off season: Update 4-5 times per week </li></ul><ul><li>Training season: Update twice daily </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on facilitating conversation among marathoners </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>@cbusmarathon </li></ul><ul><li>Limit: 3-4 scheduled tweets per day </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on being conversational, providing moral support </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy use of lists & local search </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ Maintenance mode” during off season </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging team provides real-life perspective. </li></ul><ul><li>Bloggers include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Board member/sponsor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local media personality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mom walking to lose pregnancy weight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First-timer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2-3 posts per week </li></ul><ul><li>30 Tips, 30 Days ( see here ) </li></ul>
  8. 8. after you nail the basics, add some sizzle
  9. 9. RunFest <ul><li>Kick-off training season with family-friendly, outdoor event </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Entertainment, food, training clinics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Added social in 2010 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook event </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook ads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogger outreach </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Virtual Scavenger Hunt <ul><li>Drive traffic to the new website </li></ul><ul><li>Establish new connections with potential marathon runners/walkers </li></ul><ul><li>Offer positive reinforcement for participants, in the midst of grueling training </li></ul><ul><li>http://bit. ly/CbusMarathonHunt </li></ul>
  11. 12. Ask the Race Director <ul><li>Live broadcast on Ustream </li></ul><ul><li>Solicited questions on Facebook,Twitter, blog & enewsletter </li></ul><ul><li>45 minutes, over lunch hour </li></ul>
  12. 13. day-of interactions
  13. 14. Results <ul><li>2010 race sold out faster than ever </li></ul><ul><li>2011 registration pacing ahead of 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>37% of traffic in 2010 was referred by social media </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook referrals increased 95% from 2009 to 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Improved customer service by responding to 25+ Facebook questions the week of the marathon </li></ul>
  14. 15. <ul><li>Heather Whaling • @prTini </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>@CbusMarathon </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>subscribe to my blog: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Collaboration. Integration. Social Good.