I am currently in the final few days before running my first ever marathon, the San Francisco Marathon on July 31st. Here are some content marketing tips I have learned by being ‘engaged’ in this great event.
#1 Be Clear
The San Francisco Marathon site’s design is nice and clean. Big visual banners call the site visitor to action and a lot of thought has gone into the site architecture.A surprising amount of information has to be communicated for a marathon. For runners, they might be asking how hilly the course is, how they should taper training in the week before the run or what they should be eating the night before? Spectators might be asking where to stay or what are some of the lead up events? Volunteers could want to know how to get involved and friends might want to donate to a charity.Whilst violating a few rules (the “Race” menu has 26 choices), the overall visual design and layout is very effective.
#2 Stay in Touch
Everyone is busy. Despite best intentions and the lingering fear of running 26.2 miles, people don’t pay attention as much as they should. For me, the San Francisco Marathon’s Facebook page has been invaluable for keeping me in the loop. A couple of updates a week has accelerated to 1-2 a day as we near race day.
Their Facebook fan page gets prominent billing on their home page, inviting you to “Like” them. There are 25,000 runners in the marathon, and they have over 13,000 “likes” on Facebook. Not bad!
But not everyone is on Facebook or necessarily paying attention to it. So they have also effectively used selective email newsletters, with emails sent 1-2 times per week. Their Twitter feed is also no doubt helpful if you don’t follow quite as many people as I do.
#3 Fill Your Events
Events are still the most meaningful way to build a relationship with your audience. A typical Facebook update from the marathon read:
“Don’t forget to join us for the Eat for a Cause: tacos for San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center event tonight at tacolicious! 6:30pm-11pm!”
Getting people out of their routines and to something new is always hard, but worth it. Get your events noticed and get as many of your audience as you can to them.
#4 Promote Your News Coverage
The public relations team for SF Marathon are out there getting the good word out. When they succeed, it is worth highlighting the stories far and wide. An example is a phenomenal story in the San Francisco Chronicle of a war widow who intends to run the marathon twice (52.4 miles!) in honor of her fallen husband. This was posted onto their Facebook page where I picked it up, and no doubt many more did as well.
#5 Guest Writers Build Credibility
Guest bloggers with personal stories build credibility. Their expertise matters less than their personal stories and connection to the topic at hand. Whether it is Libby Jones writing about violating the taper in her lead up or Bridget Batson’s recipe for carrot zucchini muffins, this authentic and personal writing is better than any canned copy.
#6 Mix Up Your Content Types
People learn in different ways – some are visual, some are auditory and some prefer to read. If your goal is to educate and inform your audience, then you need to deliver content in multiple formats.
Certain topics also lend themselves to different content types. I found the videos of the course map exceptionally helpful. And don’t underestimate the printed word: the Runners’ Guide PDF provided a lot of useful information in a ready-to-print format.
#7 Run Competitions to Generate Content
A recent Facebook update from the SF Marathon said “Let’s kick off race week with a contest! First 5 people to post pictures of their PACKED bags for traveling to San Francisco this weekend win a sweatband! Make sure to tag us in your post. Better pack fast!”
What better way to generate some activity than invite your audience to submit relevant photos for a competition?