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6 Things American Football Teaches You About Social Networking
By: Christine Geraci
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Ever try to get work done in your own home during the playoffs? If you've got a spouse who thinks your television doubles as an earpiece to his favorite team, then...well, you know it's a challenge. Especially if there's yelling AND unprovoked assaults on furniture (nothing was broken, thank goodness).
But as I tried in vain to concentrate during the nail-biting (and, as it turns out, couch-slapping) action of the NFC and AFC championships, I realized some valuable social networking lessons could be learned from the sport disrupting my otherwise peaceful home. Hey...if you can't beat 'em...
1. Nobody enjoys a blowout. Except, of course, the fans of the dominating team. But in general, people want a good game. They want to see both teams trying their best and challenging one another. So when you're formulating a social networking strategy, either for yourself or your business or both, make sure to plan for a lot of give and take. Give others a chance to play by sharing content from others just as much as you share your own. 
2. You need a ref. Or three. Otherwise, who's going to review the evidence when someone throws down a challenge? Make sure someone is always able to monitor your social media accounts to respond quickly to questions, moderate conversations, discipline policy violators, and offer support where appropriate. 
3. Nobody likes it when a team plays dirty. In the case of social networking, that goes double for YOUR team. Sure, unjustified rants from angry customers can be disheartening, but your response matters more; you either rise above...or stoop to new depths
4. You need a good strategy. I have to admit — I have no clue what quarterbacks are yelling prior to a snap. But they're telling the rest of the team what it needs to do, based on plenty of careful planning, intense study, and practice. Same goes for social networking: Without a master plan for your efforts, you're just shouting status updates at people. 
5. Good protection is important. In football, it's plenty of protective padding and a helmet. In social networking, it's a well-crafted set of policies and/or guidelines. If you see the need to boot someone from your network, or block a comment, you need the armor of a good policy to protect yourself from any backlash. 
6. It's always more exciting when you just go for it. You can feel the excitement rise when it's clear the team's going for a down instead of punting. So when it comes to social networking, don't be afraid to experiment! Try a new strategy, run a new promotion, explore the potential of a new social network. You'll never know what works if you don't try. 

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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