This is my first case study post, the first of many, as I locate the best and worst examples of social media application and strategy within the sports related industries. These may be anything from activity centres, sports brands and manufacturers, sports retailers and anything else that warrants a bit of time and consideration.

The first brand I've chosen to look at is, at the very least, pretty aptly named - PLAIN LAZY a funky and humorous street-urban lifestyle brand, that also resonates well with the mtb, surf and snow communities. But we are interested in how they are using social media to create brand engagement, increase their brand equity and generally create some buzz around their products.

And on the face of it, they do this really well. When you arrive at the Plain Lazy home page you are greated with bright colours and a fairly simple layout. Nice features, such as the countdown to the weekend stand out immediately, as well as some nice photography.

One of the simplest web 2.0 features implemented on the main page is the "Add This" social bookmarking add on. It is the same as we use throughout Fidgetstick/ and gives visitors a really easy way to share your link or content with others.

Getting under the skin a little bit, the site has an area dedicated to promoting the brands social networking presence; thos sites listed include Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, Bebo, Mpora, Flickr and Fidgetstick/.

Now, I wouldn't neccessarily say this is Plain Lazy, so to speak, as it has to take hours to make the most of all of these platforms. The reality is thatthere will be a lot of duplication of content and cross promotion of the different sites. This is no bad thing, but it does make it harder for followers to distinguish between the channels that would be most valuable to them and also makes following the brand in multiple channels irrelevant, in some cases.

The main challenge is ensuring that, within their Social Media strategy, they recognise that Social Networking is not a one size fits all solution. In order to ensure that their investment is not wasted, Plain Lazy have to distinguish what the user base of the different sites is actually interested in and how that relates to their brand and their target audience.

For instance, Plain Lazy have recognised that video media is an important and ultimately valuable asset to have and promote, particularly where viral distribution is achievable. Step up Youtube of course.The same content can also be leveraged through more niche orientated media hosting web community sites as well and so Plain Lazy have also established a presence on Mpora.TV.

The fine line between success and failure in these cross channel strategies comes down to quality, originality and relevance. So long as Plain Lazy ensure that the common media content they put out there onto the likes of Youtube and Mpora is of high quality, then it will prove an effective method of combining mass-market distribution and targeted niche exposure, without over investment on their part.

It is questionable whether Plain Lazy can sustain their current Social Media activity levels and there may come a time when this strategy may be "streamlined". Will their music affiliation be enough to warrant a continued Myspace presence or is the link to the brand less tangible and is the tool right for them? Well, ultimately time will tell, but they seem to be having quite a time figuring out which path is for them and as they say, if you don't try, you'll never know.

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