Sinking the Putt at the Junior Invitational

Mario-Cuadros-2016-smalljpgBy Mario Cuadros, PR Rep/Social Media Specialist

It’s easy to create engaging content during a golf tournament. The challenge is creating the same quality content during the other 51 weeks of the year.

For the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, the most prestigious junior golf tournament in the world, it’s no different. The tournament takes place two weeks after The Masters in Graniteville, S.C., a small town near Augusta. It brings the top 54 junior players in the world for a week of comradery, fun and intense competition.

Jackson was tasked with maintaining and growing the Junior Invitational social media presence starting in August 2016, exactly eight months before the tournament. Our biggest challenge was finding ways to get our audience—which wasn’t very interested in the tournament so far in advance—engaged for those eight months.

Our strategy incorporated many different aspects. One was to shine a spotlight on Junior Invitational alumni Justin Thomas, Emilian Grillo, Curtis Luck, Matthew Fitzpatrick and others. These all are players who now are having successful careers as professional golfers, and we wanted to show that even though they have already played at the Junior Invitational, they remain a part of the tournament’s prestigious history and the Sage Valley family.

Another strategy we used was to share industry news. Even though the tournament wasn’t happening for some time, this was a way to keep golf fans engaged. We shared USGA rule changes, equipment updates, highlighted the best golf courses around the world, tournament results and, of course, Tiger Woods news. By sharing these updates, we became a source of information rather than a page solely focused on sharing Junior Invitational news.

As the tournament approached, we began focusing more on the players who would be attending, the course and features on our website such as past champions, ticket sales and how to volunteer. We announced each player by sharing a graphic on the Junior Invitational Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages that included the player’s name and image, nationality, favorite athlete, graduating class and college commitment or social media handles.

Joaquin Niemann Austin Eckroat

Player announcements were shared from March 1 until April 10. As we were sharing these, we also began building some anticipation with 18 days left until the first round of competitive play. On April 2, we began a daily countdown starting with the 18th hole until we arrived at one day to go with the accompanying 1st hole image.

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Once April rolled around, our focus shifted from sharing industry news and occasional Junior Invitational information to sharing all Junior Invitational information. We made our trip down to Graniteville, and once we got there, we began sharing information in real time. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at our disposal, we went into the week with a structured plan for each platform.

Twitter was the designated platform to share news and updates. We began live tweeting players warming up, playing practice rounds and other player activities. This also is the platform we used most heavily when the competitive rounds began. We shared play-by-play commentary of featured groups, highlights of the top two groups on the tournament’s last day and pictures of the awards ceremony.

On Instagram, we used a couple different tactics. The first was to continue sharing high-quality images to maintain the page theme. We didn’t want to use Instagram as another form of Twitter where we posted every 5, 10 or 20 minutes. At least not on the feed. Most updates on Instagram came by using the Instagram Stories feature. This allowed us to use images that were not up to the quality we would share on the feed, but were still relevant to what was going on during the tournament. It also allowed us to share what a whole day at the tournament looks like, from players warming up to the last group coming off the 18th hole. We used Instagram’s livestream feature on the last day of the tournament to show the final two groups teeing off as well as walking down the 18th hole with Joaquin Niemann, the eventual champion, We then livestreamed the trophy presentation.

Facebook was our least-used platform during the tournament, but that was by design. We wanted to use Facebook as a place where we could share photo albums at the end of each day. This would act as a place where participants, family members, attendees and others could scroll through the pictures of the day and share or download them.

As expected, overall engagement and impression numbers were significantly higher in the month leading up to and the month of the tournament. Below is a quick recap:

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In order to execute a successful social media strategy during the tournament, we created a plan that clearly stated the intent for each platform and any additional ideas which helped us implement the overall strategy and reach our goals. Staying consistent with posting and messaging during off months helped keep our audience engaged, but the work we did during the tournament is what ultimately allowed us to significantly grow the pages and sink the putt for the win.