Synchronized swimming is a relatively small sport when comparing it to sports like hockey, soccer, speed swimming, and gymnastics. Synchro’s numbers in Ontario, in Canada and in the world are a mere fraction of those of the larger, more popular sports. So how does a small club, in such a small sport get noticed?
For the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club, located in Elmira, Ontario, the answer came to them this past summer. While most club’s take a break from everything for a few months in the summer, the Waterloo Synchro Club aimed to increase the club’s profile not only in the Waterloo Region, but across all 7 continents.
Erika Lindner, president of the local club, noted that at the beginning of summer 2016 “our follower numbers on Instagram and Facebook were low, and limited to current and past swimmers and their families”. In the pool, the local club is top dog, having earned the Provincial title of top club in the Province for 7 of the last 10 years. “We’ve always been trend setters and now that our club was on social media we wanted to set ourselves apart from others in this arena too”.
The club was very fortunate to have a dedicated parent volunteer running the social media campaigns during the 2015-2016 season. “Her creativity lead to the creation of the biggest social media campaign our sport has seen – #WRSCBalletLeg”. The concept behind the #WRSCBalletLeg challenge was to get as many participants as possible, from as many clubs, in as many countries as possible to submit a picture of their ballet leg (a common synchro skill) in unique places around the globe during the off season months. “We had no idea it would becoming as big as it did” says Mrs. Lindner.
The campaign started slow at first. “We found ourselves grasping for photos to post”. The executive sent messages out to their membership asking for them to send in photos on a couple occasions in June. A club coach and her daughters were the first to send in a photo from a trip to the Dominican Republic in June. This was followed by a club swimmer’s submission from a day trip to Grand Bend and then it started to blossom.
Erika admits, although it was slow to start, once it started to catch on, it became something bigger than they ever imagined. “Soon we were getting submission from swimmers from other Ontario clubs. They would send pictures from their backyard pools, their cottages around the province and even from out-of-province vacations”.
Over the first 4 weeks, the club received submissions from all over Ontario. By the 4th week, the club had their first submission from someone living in a different country (Thailand) as well as their first male submission (Dan Robichaud Photography). From there, many exciting submissions started coming in. Clubs from Australia, Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland, to name a few, were sending in their photos. “We even had our Canadian Olympic duet submit photos from their final days at training camp in Florida before heading to the Rio Olympics”.
When all was said and done, by Labour Day, and the end of the challenge, the Waterloo Synchro club received 175 entries, from 8 Canadian Provinces and Territories, 6 US States, and 24 Countries. A total of 341 people participated by doing ballet legs in the pictures, and represented 50 clubs from across the entire globe.
“We are so thrilled with the results of this marketing initiative. Our little club, from a small sport, is now known throughout the world”. The club gained hundreds of followers on their Facebook and Instagram accounts in those 2 short months, and has more swimmers this season than they have ever had at the club. At the Province’s annual general meeting in the fall, Waterloo Synchro’s social media accounts were used by a professional speaker as an excellent example of what to do when using social media to market clubs.
So, will there be another social media challenge this summer by the Waterloo Regional Synchro Club? “Yes there will” say Erika Lindner, “and we can’t wait to see where in the world our club is seen this year’!
Lessons for Others
Follow your instincts. Find your industry’s passion and run with it. Create something unique and fun that people will want to participate in and support. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t take off right away. Persevere and you too can shine.
Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club
Industry: Youth Sport
Name of Organization Contact: Erika Lindner
Authored by: Carey Brooks
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