The cheerleading world is alive and well on social media. Throughout the season, there is a steady conversation from athletes, programs, teams, cheer businesses, influencers, and fans. While there are many who join in on the conversation, there are a few who dominate the conversation through superior content and strategies.

Here at Cheer Theory, we pay close attention to who and what dominates conversations, both on and offline. As we prepare for next season, we thought it would be helpful to identify who killed it online and give you some tips on how to mimic their strategies.

Over the past season (May 2016 to May 2017), we identified three programs who championed online conversations. Maryland Twisters, Rockstar Cheer Beatles, and Twist & Shout did a noteworthy job at following and documenting their journeys this season, each for a different reason. Read here to see why we think they did a standout job.

Maryland Twisters: Consistency is Key

Maryland Twisters champions the always-on approach to social media. From summer to Worlds season, they did a fantastic job at sharing engaging, entertaining social content. Not only do they regularly post, they also engaged with nearly everyone who mentioned them – making their social channels actually social.

Throughout the season, you could find them posting regular updates from practices, competitions, and everything in between. Of course, MDT has a solid fanbase built largely by their large senior powerhouse, F5. But, they deserve kudos for going above and beyond for all their teams.

They took advantage of competition showcases with Facebook and Instagram live videos. By hosting their own live video sessions on the most popular social media platforms, they were able to control the conversation for their gym. Not only are they creating a conversation, but also supporting the existing conversation around each of their Worlds teams.

Towards the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Maryland Twisters Blackout found themselves in the spotlight after winning the inaugural Cheer Alliance competition in the small senior coed 5 division. They were able to carry that attention from the beginning of the season to the end because we, as fans, saw regular updates, whether it was photos or videos.

In the case of Maryland Twisters, they already benefit from being a veteran popular gym. However, they consistently support and build a conversation around their teams and program as a whole.

What You Can Learn From the Maryland Twisters

Consistency is key and Facebook and Instagram /live/ videos are the future. Regularly post and interact with your program’s fans in a positive and unique way. People can’t and won’t talk about your program or your teams if they don’t know who you are or what to talk about.

To take advantage of their strategy, post regular updates about practices, competitions, and regularly tweet, call out, and talk with your fans. Social media is best when it’s about creating a conversation.

Follow Maryland Twisters online:

Rockstar Beatles: Building Hype

Last season, Rockstar Beatles we’re easily one of the most popular and talked about teams and it wasn’t by chance either. It started at the end of the 2015-2016 season when Beatles ended up in the top 3 after only competing in medium senior coed for a portion of the season.

For many reasons, a team’s individual popularity in one season doesn’t carry over into the next season. But Rockstar Beatles held on to their attention and continued to build on it for more than a year.

Rockstar Beatles maintained their popularity through consistent videos posted on their various social accounts. After they posted their stunningly perfect videos, an entire army of anonymous accounts would repost them on Twitter and Instagram. The individual reach of one video was incredible, no matter where you looked, you were watching Beatles’ stunt.

How does this build hype? Simple. The videos of Beatles always came straight from the source – their coaches at practice. And every time we saw a video, it was absolutely perfect. This helped build an expectation of perfection. We, as spectators, came to believe that every time we saw Beatles practiced or performed those stunts, it would be epic. And it was.

I sat and watched both the online reaction and real-life reaction to Beatles’ performances and it was “hype.” Fans had seen the videos of their stunts so much, they were literally marking them in the stands as they simultaneously sang their voiceovers. Cheer fans (and any fans for that matter) will respond well when their expectations are met. You never saw a video of Beatles that was either less than perfectly executed or uploaded in low quality. Both of those things matter when it comes to hype building.

All of that helped turn them into one of the most popular teams of the season. And not only that, they helped make medium senior coed 5 one of the most talked about divisions. Beatles had created a massive conversation that dragged all of their competitors along with them. Were Beatles going to be the next World Champions? Could anyone be more ICONIC?!

One tangible by-product of this conversation was the pseudo-rivalry between Beatles and The California All Stars Black Ops. Beatles were one of the few medium senior coed teams missing at NCA Dallas where Black Ops were crowned National Champions. When Beatles competed against Black Ops in Anaheim, CA in late March, it was the first time the two would go head-to-head, and everyone was on their toes anticipating the results. FloCheer even made a series of videos following the rivalry – which created even more buzz for Beatles and the medium senior coed division.

Beatles uploading consistent videos of the SAME stunt helped gain them all this attention from fans and content creators alike. The impact of it all followed them all the way to Worlds when they had one of the loudest crowds of the weekend. If there’s anything to learn from all of this is that social media has a huge impact in gaining attention online AND in real life. Watching it manifest over the course of the season was pretty incredible.

What You Can Learn From Rockstar Cheer

Uploading consistent videos, often of the same thing, can help your team or program gain attention. Like in the example with Maryland Twisters, you have to give the people something to talk about.

In the case of Beatles, they took advantage of the hype and attention they’d gained in the previous season with regular updates. Beatles did a grade-A job of not only creating conversation but controlling it. It’s nearly impossible to say anything bad about a team who only gives you perfect performances (even though we all know no one has perfect practices every single day).

Of course, you need an epic stunt sequence (or other skill) to make this strategy work. But, the more important lesson here is that there is a specific way to control the conversation that will benefit you in the long run.

Follow Rockstar Cheer on social:

Twist & Shout Diamonds: First-Mover Advantage

Twist & Shout Diamonds dominated conversations last year in one of the most crowded divisions. And not only that, they were in a division where the conversation between two teams, Brandon Senior Black and California All Stars SMOED, is all anyone wanted to talk about.

In the quiet early competition months, Diamonds uploaded a video of an epic elite stunt section that had everyone talking. While most programs and teams lay quiet, Diamonds suddenly had the stage to themselves.

Throughout the season, Diamonds remained one of the most talked about teams, largely because every time they stepped on stage, they too produced nearly perfect routines. They were poised and near-perfect, just like their original video. Even other coaches like Courtney Smith-Pope talked about how technically perfect Diamonds stunt section was. It was different, fun, and new. But most importantly, they were the first.

Of course, Twist & Shout already has a popular fan base already, so Diamonds were in a good position to become a popular team. The teaser video proved to be all anyone needed to jump on a new fan bandwagon.

What You Can Learn From Twist & Shout

It’s important to be active all season long and it may be advantageous to release a sneak peak or a new video when the majority of the industry is quiet. Twist & Shout, maybe without even knowing it, released a video of Diamonds at the perfect moment that helped put them at the top of everyone’s “must watch” list.

Like the other tips we’ve mentioned above, it’s important to post all year long – not just during the busy competition, Nationals, and Worlds/Summit season. If you’re paying attention to the conversation going on around you, you can better decide when to post and release something you want to release or announce.

Being first to the popularity train isn’t easy and it’s a bit serendipitous. But, you definitely won’t catch it if you’re not actively contributing to the conversation.

Follow Twist & Shout on social:

Conclusion

Your gym isn’t going to create a fanbase without a little strategic work, especially when other well-known gyms are putting resources into their online presence.

Often we hear that the conversation is dominated by a few select programs, including the three named above. But, what we can learn from them is that although they have the attention, they’re also doing the right things to contribute to the conversation.

While social media popularity may seem arbitrary in and of itself, there are several advantages to having people’s attention. The gyms who dominate conversations online, also get the crowds’ attention at competitions. While the crowd’s reaction doesn’t have a place on the scoresheet, we all know it’s more fun to perform for a lively crowd. And that in term helps athletes perform and get excited.

Building hype also builds brand awareness which is invaluable when athletes are deciding where to cheer next season. Whether it’s existing athletes deciding whether to stay or hop to another local gym or attracting new, young talent (even outside the cheerleading realm), your social and online strategy can help facilitate that decision.

Want to learn more about how social media and content marketing can help your cheerleading program, team, or brand?

Shoot an email to [email protected] and we’ll conduct a social media and website audit for free.