You’ve been a diehard Panthers fan for decades, so it only makes sense that you want to get a large group of people together to watch the games and cheer loudly. Now that the Roaring Riot is here, you have something available that you didn’t have before: resources. Even though Roaring Riot is the unofficial fanbase of the Carolina Panthers, it has already received a lot of support from within the Panthers organization. Multiple executives have made public statements professing their love the loud and respectful manner in which we cheer, and Cam Newton has even mentioned being excited about Roaring Riot during press conferences! With everything that is happening at this incredible time in Panthers history, many people are asking themselves how they can best take advantage of this victorious season and grow their membership numbers. Here are some ideas of how I’ve managed to occupy the edge of the seats in Baltimore. Let’s face it, with the Panthers, sometimes the edge of the seat is all that is necessary!
- Facebook Groups – There are many facebook groups out there devoted to the Carolina Panthers. There are three groups that, when combined, offer you access to over 70,000 confirmed Panthers fans! The numbers certainly have some overlap, but I’m not sure how much, so we’re just gong to pretend we work for the government and go with 70,000 fans as a hard statistic! (Note: The government statisticians are hard working people, and I love my wife dearly.) Which groups offer you this type of reach? CAROLINA PANTHERS, #PantherNation, and PANTHER PRIDE PANTHER PROUD PANTHER GROWL. Join each of these groups and then you’ll have access to share your event invitations with them! Get right to the point when sharing it with these groups, because they are very large and you don’t want to get lost in the mix. I always start with, “Attention: BALTIMORE, MD Panthers Fans.” Add a one or two sentence description and then let the event graphic speak for itself.
- Like a panther, stalk your prey! Your event invitations may get likes without people joining your group or actually responding to the invitation. Try to go through the list of people that Like your post, and just do a quick check to see if they live in your area. If so, reach out to them personally. I’ve been working with membership and expansion efforts for over a decade now, and I can tell you that nothing ever works as well as a personalized invitation that comes from the heart.
- Directly target group members that live in your area. This one is more difficult due to privacy settings blocking your access to a person’s city of residence, but it’s worth a shot. Make your way into each of these groups and navigate so that you can view the Members list. (Hint: Sort alphabetically so that you know how far along you are.) Load all of the members by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on the “More” text. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t take an incredibly long time. Once they have been loaded, use the CTRL+F feature to search the entire page. My search terms were “Baltimore,” “Maryland,” and “MD.” Going through all three aforementioned facebook groups and completing these tasks only yielded me 20-30 results, but those were high-quality results that were confirmed Panthers fans living in my area. If you sell them on how much fun it is to join together and watch games, you’ve just reached your membership number in this one step alone.
- Search #KeepPounding – In every single social media outlet you use, search for any posts that have used the hashtag #KeepPounding. Scroll through the results to see if any of them indicate that they were posted close to your location.
- Use the social media accounts of your home location and the national Roaring Riot to your advantage! While you’re at it, use local media outlets to your advantage. Ask your home bar/restaurant share your event invitations with their followers. If you’re using Twitter, mention the twitter handle of your local news organizations or events/activities venues. In Baltimore, we meet at a restaurant/bar called Tin Roof. Our location is inside of an area called Power Plant Live, which is a conglomeration of six or seven different entertainment venues. When I mention @powerplantlive, they retweet me because I’m bringing business to their area. Do you have anything similar in your town? If so, use it to your advantage!While I don’t expect to get retweeted by news organizations, I mention them in some of my tweets because that means I will show up in the news feeds of their followers. I don’t have any hard numbers of success to share with you, but it certainly has not hurt us at all.
- Carolina Huddle – Use The Roaring Riot’s feed to garner some attention and meet like-minded people in your area.
- Alumni Associations – I’ll be posting another article in the near future that will make this step easier on everyone, but here’s the idea. The Carolinas are filled with colleges and universities. Students travel from all over the world to attend them. They graduate and then return home, or they move to a place of gainful employent that takes them away from their college. Heck, maybe your chapter is actually in the Carolinas and they decided to stick around! Wikipedia actually has a great list of all of the colleges and universities broken up by state. Look up the South Carolina and North Carolina lists, visit each university’s website, find their Alumni Association, and search to see if they have representation in your area. If so, reach out to their point of contact. Let them know that you are not selling anything (the primary intention is only to gather Panthers fans together, not to sell memberships) and that you are only going to reach out once as you know that their time is valuable. Share your meetup location and then next date/time that you will be meeting, and include a link to your facebook group so that interested persons know how to join you!
- Capital Riot Radio Podcast – Reach out to Keith Hall or Jayme (JT) Thysell and ask to be included on one of their podcasts to promote your chapter! They are wonderful guys, and would be happy to extend an invitation to schedule you on the podcast.
- Craigslist.org – Does your city have a roaring presence on craigslist? (See what I did there?!) Then you should definitely post your event invitations in any forum that’s relevant! Remember to highlight specific features of your meetup: family friendly, food and drink specials, pet friendly, etc.
- Business Cards – Get business cards printed that show your pertinent information; hand them out to Panthers fans you come into contact with on the streets. Believe it or not, this is much more effective than one would imagine. If you’re not local to the Carolinas, one of the best places to network is on your flights to/from Charlotte for the games! Here’s an example of our business card.
- Community Bulletin Boards – Whether digital or corkboard, let’s not forget about the good old-fashioned flyer!
- Paid Facebook Advertising –
Pro: You can target people on facebook that Like the official page of the Carolina Panthers, you can set a budget for your ad campaign, and you can elect not to have your ad displayed to people that you’ve already captured.Con: Return on investment can be rather low. In an attempt to explore this option, I set a max budget of $25 and ran an ad from Wednesday 6:00 AM through Sunday noon during a game week. I gained five new members that were very excited to learn of us, but that means each new member cost me $5. Of course, this figure will vary based on your specific circumstances.Recommendation: This seems effective in gaining interest when you feel desperate to inflate your numbers, but it probably isn’t worth the money for most startup groups.
- Chapter website – Everyone that I’ve talked to so far has one major goal in mind: appear in the results when a person that’s new to town Googles “Panthers bar.” This takes time and is best achieved through having a custom chapter website. Since this one topic is so large, Building a Chapter Website will be addressed in a future article.
Well, that ought to keep you busy for a while! I’ll try to update this information as time goes on and techniques change. Does all of this seem overwhelming? You bet it does! Keep Pounding!