We were strangers sporting matching merlot bridesmaid dresses. Nadine Babu and I met five years ago, when we both stood up at my brother’s wedding.
Before the reception, I’d learned two things – that I’d want to stay in touch with this girl and that she was into Minnesota Gopher basketball. Now I know better. Saying that Nadine Babu is a Gopher hoops fan is like calling the Gopher football team a little disappointing.
So why am I (a former TV reporter with a media consulting company) writing about her? Because what Nadine has done with her love for Gopher basketball is a social media model that my clients and everyone with a passion, business or product can learn from.
Nadine and the website she co-manages, Gopherhole.com, joined Twitter on March 23, 2009. At the time, Twitter was growing, but misunderstood and its users were dwarfed by Facebook and MySpace.
Now both GopherHole and Nadine each have over 1000 Twitter followers. She started slow by following other people. She says, “The key is really getting followers that are interested in the same things you are, and participating actively. You can tweet all you want, but if you don’t engage people, respond to them and read what they’re sharing, you’ll never fully utilize all it has to offer.”
Oh yes, Nadine is active. In the last 24 hours, she sent out 17 Tweets. This may sound like a lot, but follow her during the crazy college basketball weekends in March and I’m not sure when she has time to watch any of the games! I think her smartphone would explode if the Gophers actually made it through a few rounds of the tourney.
GopherHole uses Twitter when appropriate. Some days only a couple Gopher-worthy tweets go out, but tweets were flying on the day the new football coach, Jerry Kill, was hired. She says, “Our goal at GopherHole is just get the major Gopher happenings up on Twitter.” When GopherHole tweets a link to their website, Nadine says there is an instant surge in traffic. She says, “Beyond what you learn, it’s your way to get out any information to your followers, and their reach.” It only takes a few people to RT (retweet for non-tweeples) to get your link or information to hundreds, even thousands of people. If you can get a celebrity with a huge following to RT, the impact can be profound. Nadine knows this and enjoys seeing who will tweet back. So far, her biggest “get” is Khloe Kardashian – another girl who hearts hoops!
Through her active use of social media, Nadine became known in sports circles as a Gopher guru. In the last year, she’s blogged for the Star Tribune and you may have heard her on KFAN sports radio with Paul Allen.
Because of her social media prowess, Nadine has done something that I tell all my non-profit clients – become the expert at what you do. It doesn’t matter if your organization is a foundation or a homeless shelter or buys malaria tents for an African village, get active. Let your voice be heard and join the conversation – whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook.
If the traditional media views you as an expert, you have a good chance of being interviewed and showcasing your organization in a newspaper, magazine, on the radio or on TV. Media outlets, reporters and bloggers are on Twitter too – start following and see where your story will go!