I’m sitting in a room in Coventry Rugby Club talking with Born Barikor, founder and CEO of Our Parks about posting things on Twitter that your mum wouldn’t like. We’re discussing social return on influence and what coaches can learn from this.
Recently, Born presented to the CSP Coaching Leads Conference the vision and philosophy behind Our Parks. The success is driven by the understanding and use of social media as a tool to target users (or ‘parkers’ as Our Parks refer to them).
Chatting with Born we talk about targeting local communities to start using their parks. “The first step is talking to people to understand what they would like to see” he tells me, “we need to understand why people don’t use the parks and then find ways to engage them and their friends, this enables us to gain user validation which is key to hooking more people in.” The philosophy behind this is simple, by identifying these people, and using social media to target them creates user validation, which in turn fosters participation. Our Parks will invest time in understanding hashtags that the community use and the people that they follow and then they use this information to create content that parkers will relate to.
Understanding followers, knowing when they are online and when they will engage helps the Our Parks team to start conversations. Showing followers that they are having fun and using positive reinforcement to engage them has helped to grow the influence that Our Parks has. Born knows that their social media followers live around the parks, and he uses social media to listen to what they are saying. “All feedback is good” Born tells me as he then goes on to talk about how they use social media to validate what their coaches are doing.
Our Parks are always evaluating what they are doing online and social return on influence is key to Born’s approach. Using tools to track social media impressions, engagement and influence people allows the Our Parks team to compare their reach to their competitors. “It’s always a competition” says Born, having learnt this as an athlete that was always looking to improve and transferring this philosophy to coaching and to business. It’s important to Born that the coaches he employs incorporate social media into their planning; 80% of the Our Parks social media strategy is people having fun, the remaining 20% is selling and it’s important for their reach that this balance is maintained.
Our Parks coaches are subjected to auditions before they can join the team. Born has suffered enough bad experiences of coaches who have been unable to deliver what their CV states so now insists on seeing how coaches can ‘perform’. “I’m always innovating, always thinking” says Born as he talks me through a standard audition “we want to see coaches turn up on time, deliver on time and to their peers, show us the range of skills they have and how they can adapt to any given situation”. Born feels this was one of the best decisions that Our Parks made and put the user experience at the heart of everything they do.
Looking into the future, Born is keen to continue to build on user created content. “Anything we do should be created by the user, it makes the engine go just by them signing up and creating content or posting photos” he says, and “through this approach we’re everywhere while I’m sitting in my office. We’re using the users to drive our growth.” Makes sense really doesn’t it? With over 8,000 followers on Twitter, even if only 10% are actively engaging, that’s a massive reach.
It’s important to Our Parks that their coaches don’t demand things straight away and that they build consistency through their sessions and social media activity. Through this approach their parkers know they are there for them and value it. Born finishes by saying that “influence can only be achieved when you consistently deliver something that people value”. Exactly.
Steven Bentall, Coaching Network Manager, sports coach UK