Scaling social separates the autobots from the individuals.

Automation is easy.

Tools make it easy to automate tasks. We can set up schedulers for recurring meetings, cue up sales e-mails, preset blog post tweets, and so forth. I even have a weekly reminder to keep my business bookkeeping on track.

People are not tasks.

The problem arises when we conflate automation and personalization.

One of the challenges with scaling social is moving from 1:1 to 1:many while keeping the intimacy intact. Your voice. Your message. The connection that comes with conversation.

U.S. Soccer is scaling social.

It’s no secret that soccer (or football as the sport is known outside the U.S.) isn’t top-of-mind in the United States. U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer have a smart strategy to grow the game—but it will take time. The World Cup, however, gave U.S. Soccer the opportunity to jumpstart the conversation.

U.S. Soccer began by collaborating with ESPN Films on Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil. The result was to showcase team members and familiarize a broader audience with the players and their coach. It set the stage for scaling social.

Here are 5 ways that U.S. soccer is scaling social:

1. Connecting fans with each other. Use #OneNationOneTeam and you’re bonded to others. The motto signaled a shared community, and it became a de facto online rallying cry.

One Nation. One Team.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Embracing the “Group of Death” moniker so that people had a shared experience in rooting for the underdog.

3. Amplifying the buzz. From the Take the Day Off letter to tweeting photos of massive viewing parties, U.S. soccer tapped into the conversation, joined it, and amplified the buzz.

4. Keeping the conversation going. A day after the U.S. was eliminated in the World Cup, Coach Jurgen Klinsmann went on Facebook to answer fan questions.

Klinsmann on Twitter

5. Saying thank you. Sure, U.S. Soccer used a software algorithm to generate thank you tweets, but it did so in a way that recognizes that people are not tasks. U.S. Soccer not only recognized that it ought to say thank you (which, sadly, many organizations do not), but someone figured out how to do so in a personal way.

Thank You Tweet from U.S. Soccer

Scaling social is hard work.

U.S. Soccer has a marketing team making all this happen. You may (or may not) have a big budget and lots of people working to scale social for your business. Even if it’s “just you” (or “just me”), however, what simple steps can you take to move beyond automation in how you connect with your customers, clients, members, or fans?