A little social media makes a big impact
Thursday, August 23 2012
LAST week Friday I gave ball-by-ball updates of the WICB Women’s Regional T20 Tournament from my Blackberry, while shopping at the mall. Generally I have interviews and updates on the West Indies Women’s team right before or after matches, no matter what part of the world they are in.
Caribbean Women Entertainment Sport Network (CWESN), is an online media company, which covers women’s sports. For the past 18 months I have used my Mac, iPad and Blackberry to power my company. I can run my company on my Blackberry.
With limited capital and just those devices, I have been able to create a huge following of sports fans from around the world and satisfy a hunger for women’s sports coverage that is sadly not adequately met by the more popular press.
CWESN.com peaked at the 104th most visited site in Trinidad and Tobago and 247,000 on the world in just six months after its launch. I also recently launched a digital magazine, which has gathered over 100,000 views – 13,000 in only the first day and over 73,000 in less than two weeks.
Recently my effort on CWESN was rewarded when I was given the National Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation award at the National Youth Awards 2012. It is only just the beginning though. What I have created is more than a company -It is a concept.
It is meant to be more than just the coverage of women’s sports. The idea of CWESN is to become a platform for the empowerment of women in sports. It is to give a voice to West Indies skipper, Merissa Aguilleira, TT professional footballer, Ahkeela Mollon, 100 metre sprinter, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, three-time Olympic shot putter, Cleopatra Borel - it is to create an identity for these women who work just as hard as their male counterparts but are not equally remunerated.
It has been a huge success thus far, reaching a global audience of enthusiastic sport fans. From Sri Lanka to China and back to TT – CWESN is virtually everywhere. I wish everyone in TT had an iPad though, I really do! My magazine looks awesome on it!!! I wish everyone had the latest smartphones – my cricket updates (laced with my sometimes brutal honesty) are entertaining, if I must say so myself and CWESN’s Facebook page is converted into a virtual, international sports bar where fans from all over the world converge to support their team, particularly during cricket.
Most people integrate social networks into their company as an after thought – CWESN is built on social networks. It was what drove the magazine to over 100,000 views – my own network is not that large. But a huge online following still has its shortcomings in the real world.
During the West Indies Women’s Sri Lanka tour in May for instance, I was denied access to the players by QPCC staff who said they were given orders to do so as I was not ‘recognised press’.
On that same tour, right here in Trinidad, where it seems the rules had changed, I was denied access to players I interview regularly through the proper channels, players and a team which CWESN has without a doubt given an identity to for nothing in return.
I was told that I should seek interviews from players based on my “personal relationship” with them and not as “press”. CWESN by the way is a very legal media company registered in TT.
But that is the society I conduct my business in – you, reading this article right now must see something on the TV or in the newspapers for it to be legitimate. I have news for TT though – the world has long evolved beyond traditional press.
Someone once told me ‘‘you have to use people’s last names when you give match updates,” – No I don’t. I make my own rules! It’s my company and its purpose is to make a change, so doing things the way they are usually done is not in my best interest. Developing CWESN has been an interesting journey, particularly coming out of a local media house, where I first started my trade as a writer. You just don’t do things on the Internet, the way it is done in a newspaper. The dynamics are much different – the internet does not have your average newspaper readers.
Creating an environment that people constantly want to come back to is a skill you must develop through trial and error. Having your opinion of women’s sports, highly regarded around the world can be intimidating at times.
But like any company, particularly a new one, staying afloat requires the ability to adapt to obstacles and changing circumstances.
In a company that is innovative and not the norm, it requires a lot more than being able to adapt though – it requires great creativity every day, from doing ball-by-ball updates when I have to be on the move; acquiring those updates when they are not readily available and building relationships to changing the face of women’s sports coverage in the world with nothing but a blackberry and an iPad.