Episode 118: Jessica Kleinschmidt Helps Cut4 Bring out the Fun in MLB and Connects With Fans Through Authenticity

Listen to episode 118 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Jessica Kleinschmidt, Writer/Social/Content Producer for Cut4 and Major League Baseball.


64 minute duration. Show format contains separate parts. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or listen on Stitcher

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Content and Marketing are Not Mutually Exclusive: See How the San Jose Earthquakes Do It

It’s a new era and there’s no turning back. The attention of fans can’t be taken for granted. The saying that continues to stick with me years later, from James Royer – then with the Tampa Bay Lightning and now with the Kansas City Chiefs – is that we must earn the right to our fans.

Some preach this more than practice it, but the encouraging reality of today is that most have come to realize that more quality content leads to more engaged fans, who are more receptive to ads. More marketing dilutes the message, so content must lead the way.

This is the path the San Jose Earthquakes are treading, as they seek to foster and grow a fan base, while selling tickets, of course, and building a soccer community in San Jose. Quality content is the ‘bait,’ so to speak (though bait fans enjoy, regardless), and fans are driven to their website or social media posts, where, the Quakes hope, they convert. They notably use their real estate more so for messages from the team to their fans, as opposed to selling it to ads or sponsors.

““We rely heavily on web ads for our website. We have the leaderboard banners…(with) ticket-based ads (as opposed to selling that space to sponsors),” said Paul Dewhurst, the team’s Digital Marketing Strategist, who I recently spoke to for an interview. “It could be click here for the match guide, for tickets…On our website, we really drive fans to a match guide, a ticket link, a four-pack – to make sure they’re informed…”


But Dewhurst also discussed the falling traffic coming straight to the website, while seeing increased referrals from social media. However, when fans are consuming on social media, as opposed to the Quakes website, they’re not getting easy access to ticketing nor salient messaging from the club. This brings up a conundrum many teams will face — how much to ‘give away’ on social media with native content consumption versus driving fans back to your own real estate, your website, to consume it there.

“It’s a balance of both. We do want to provide readily (consumable) content for our fans…We also see the benefit of driving people back to the website for ticket opportunities and more information on the web that they won’t get on social media…,” said Dewhurst.

So when the Quakes unveiled a new feature content piece for this season, What Would Jimmy and Joe Do?, featuring former players and now team personalities Jimmy Conrad and Joe Cannon interacting with players, the club faced that very question of providing it in full for native consumption or giving fans a snack on social, and driving them back to the website for the full meal. Twitter’s video length limit, too, made this a fairly easy call, as the Quakes released a shortened version of their first episode on social media, and drove fans back to the site for the full version, where they’d also be exposed to the match and ticketing info the Quakes want to get in front of their fans. The nature of Instagram Stories and its swipe-up feature also fit the philosophy well, as Dewhurst noted the success there.

Dewhurst explained: “That’s definitely a big conversation for us is taking original content pieces, cutting it down, and redirecting fans back to our website [for the full piece]…In an effort to drive more fans to our website, where there’s so much more information that can help them out.”

Why do we create content? It’s a question that’s taken for granted, but there’s a reason for all of the social media posts, videos, interviews, GIFs, and graphics. Sure, it’s to inform and entertain, but it’s really about developing fans and driving those fans to take actions that ultimately lead back to the bottom line – business, sales, marketing.

Celebrate the viral posts, the content that gets great reach and engagement, but engineer pathways to the end goals. It’s not going to happen on a linear, direct path, but it’s not going to happen if you don’t help lead fans in that direction. So, yes, earn the right to market to your fans with great content and engagement, and then, well, expose them to marketing. The paradigm has changed and we’re all better for it.


Paul Dewhurst and the MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes are building a brand and driving social and digital ROI

On episode 117 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Paul Dewhurst, Digital Marketing Strategist for the San Jose Earthquakes MLS club.

What follows are some snippets from the episode. Click Here to listen to the full episode or check it out and subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.

Posted by Neil Horowitz

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What UMBC Athletics Reminded Us About The Genesis, Growth, and Importance of Voice On Social Media

Think back to the early days of social media. When trade announcements sounded like mini press releases. Compare that to the free agent signing of Michael Crabtree by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens announced in a tweet with an emoji of a crab and an emoji of a tree.

So, yeah, things have changed.

And this was manifested marvelously by the performance of the @UMBCAthletics Twitter account, led by Zach Seidel, as the Retrivers captured the country’s attention, becoming the first 16-seed to ever defeat a #1 seed in the Men’s Basketball NCAA Tournament, stunning fans of March Madness. Seidel didn’t ignore the haters tweeting skeptically about the UMBC team, didn’t ignore what was playing out in front of him and millions watching, and, most importantly, didn’t speak like a formal press release.

The evolution on Twitter (where voice is most defined on social media for sports teams) from PR to personality has surely been gradual, but most veterans of this space will point to one seminal tweet and one magical title run that started it all. It was the spring of 2012 when the Los Angeles Kings ousted the favored Vancouver Canucks in an opening playoff series. The Kings took the opportunity to sarcastically (snarkily) tweet “To everyone in Canada outside BC, you’re welcome,” addressing fans all over Canada that didn’t feel to fondly about the club in Vancouver. It struck a nerve. It was different. Many didn’t know how to react – was it okay to showcase a bit of tongue-in-cheek personality? Was this befitting of a professional team and its official Twitter presence speaking on the organization’s behalf?

Articles were written, discussions were had, but, as is quite evident today, it only progressed from there. Soon, several team Twitter accounts were trying to elicit laughs and smirks, and trying to create copy that would strike a similar nerve and get fans to feel like their team was cool, and they were cool by association. Over time, more emotion was infused — teams were smartasses when things were going good, they weren’t sugarcoating an awful loss, they exhibited the same ups and downs and jokes of the fans — they were talking and experiencing with them, not at them.


So what happened when UMBC realized they were doing what no one thought they could or should be doing? When all the attention was on their team and their school? They chose not to ignore the obvious, not to appear oblivious to what madness was clearly happening on the court and all around them, including their website. When CBS College Basketball Analyst Seth Davis tweeted his trademark “Sharpie” (game over) right after tip, they fired back because it’s what their fans would’ve wanted to do – and UMBC doesn’t need to adhere any no-cheering-in-the-press-box like rule when it comes to Twitter.

When TweetDeck started showing a ton of fans mostly saying ‘Who the heck is UMBC?,’ they didn’t shy away from it, trying to act proud enough that people would and should know them. They seized the opportunity to connect, to engage, and to even introduce themselves to the world. And when their website went down, likely as much a source of pride as frustration (too many visitors is a good thing!), they didn’t offer some PR-laden statement like “We are aware of technical difficulties and working to resolve…,” they acknowledged the issue like a human, demonstrating authenticity, playfulness, and even smart messaging reinforcing the long ‘line’ of fans trying to get onto umbc.edu.

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UMBC Athletics suddenly became the life of this March Madness party, on and off the court. More fans followed, more Googled UMBC, more became enamored with a personality that talked to them like a human, that reacted to the madness ensuing in front of them.

It conjures, for me, some of the work I do with teams at Hopscotch who welcome automated score alerts — Final Score: [Team Name] x, [Team Name] x. But others choose to do them manually – they want to convey the epic comeback or sold-out crowd or identify the hero.

As artificial intelligence and increased automation becomes possible, it’s important to appreciate the value of the human voice, and the capacity to express emotion. Some Messenger bots are getting smart, sure, but no bot could’ve reacted to the moments like Seidel and @UMBCAthletics did.

A social media presence can’t be devoid of emotion,

Nathan Rauschenberg is Driving Fan-Team-Player Connections and Social Media ROI for the Seattle Mariners

On episode 115 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Nathan Rauschenberg, Senior Digital Marketing Manager for the Seattle Mariners.

What follows are some snippets from the episode. Click Here to listen to the full episode or check it out and subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.

Posted by Neil Horowitz

Follow me on Twitter @njh287 Connect on LinkedIn