Episode 84 Snippets: Greg Mize is Injecting Engagement and Strategy into Atlanta Braves Social

On episode 84 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Greg Mize, Digital Marketing Director for the Atlanta Braves.

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

Episode 85: Greg Mize is Optimizing Atlanta Braves Social with Moneyball and Gut

Listen to episode 85 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Digital Marketing Director for the Atlanta Braves, Greg Mize.

episode85

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

Posted by Neil Horowitz Follow me on Twitter @njh287   Connect on LinkedIn

What Takes Sports Tech From Emergent to Mainstream

Many of us live in a bubble. If you’re reading this, then terms like AR, e-sports, and wearables likely don’t sound so foreign to you. But the average person would likely be left with blank stares at the mention of such jargon.

A new idea or tech isn’t mainstream when it hits SportTechie, it’s when it hits the masses (whether that’s TV, New York Times, or your favorite team) that tech has really taken off.

It can be easy to take for granted that most people aren’t informed or aware (or care to know about) emerging tech in sports tech and digital/social in sports. Joe Schmo hasn’t tried VR, probably doesn’t know what AR stands for, and would be wide-eyed learning about all the big data and insights penetrating all facets of sports and teams.

The teams can drive the awareness and adoption. The Internet of Things, VR, AR, big data, and the like can be effectively introduced to the masses by the millions of sports fans. It’s when Joe Sports Fan starts to understand and to care that tech or an idea can from curiosity to perceived reality.

“As teams start to capitalize on [using new tech for fan engagement]…is where something can find success,” said Diamond Leung, Managing Editor of SportTechie. “When it starts getting into the Average Joe’s world view…it can be successful.”

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Leung went further saying that, because so few of us own virtual reality headsets, augmented reality has the better short-term outlook. Why? Because we all have smartphones already. But whether it’s AR or VR or MR or advanced statistics, or whatever, it’s ultimately up to the teams and the media to create the content through which fans will utilize such new tech to consume. Awareness of AR and VR may grow, but without the content, it’s just an idea. And it’s through an app, but mainstream distribution. For now, this means social media and television.

“When you put it on TV, that’s when it gets mainstream,” said Leung, specifically referring to the gradual integration of advanced stats into game broadcasts. I think as some of these next-level analytical stats get measured (with wearables or other trackers)…I think if you can provide that information to broadcasters and that information becomes something valuable to a fan and be looking at it through AR…

“I think that’s where it really takes off; easily accessible. Something that gives you that next-level access to what’s going on on the field – I think that works for both players and fans.”

This also means teams and media must be able to realize value, a real or perceived ROI on the investment in resources and tools to create such advanced content and present such advanced data to fans. If media and leagues and teams can’t make money off live-streaming VR or creating AR, it won’t last too long. Another key is getting buy-in from the players and teams. What if the NBAPA doesn’t want fans knowing which player on the team has the most efficient fitness and work ratio? Are players going to devote even more time to co-creating content with teams (another can of worms with individual players’ increasing awareness and building of personal brands and content) because a team wants to shoot a VR piece after they’re done with ‘traditional’ media obligations? The bureaucracy and red tape, along with the ROI needs of the businesses, may be a temporary or perilous hindrance to the further advancement in this space.

“I think, for the current technologies, a lot of [the potential issues are] going to be haggled out in how they address wearable devices, in how they address data,” said Leung. “Who owns it, who can use it, who has access to it. Everybody understands that these things are going to be a factor moving forward, it’s just a matter of how they hash it out, how they regulate, and how they embrace it, to the point where it can be useful for both parties.”

The last ten years have maybe seen more rapid change in sports and sports fandom, and society in general, than any decade in history. It’ll be tough to match. But the next ten years will see more gradual infusion of new tech. Millions of fans won’t get VR headsets overnight or welcome advanced stats into their broadcast, among other behavioral changes.

Get to know Joe Schmo. If you want to have idea for when to go all in or whether you’ve effectively moved the needle, it goes back to Joe. The path ahead is sure to be full of twists and turns, but there is no doubt that, ten years from now, the sports world will look a whole lot different than it does today.

LISTEN to my full conversation with Diamond Leung, Managing Editor of SportTechie

 

 

NFL Wild Card Weekend Social Media Wows

It’s playoff season in the NFL, which means 17 weeks of regular season games have passed. The social media teams behind each club have had weeks to experiment, study, hone, and create. The playoffs began this weekend and not only was it a chance for the league’s better teams to take the field (sorta), it was a chance for their social media squads to shine on a grander scale.

Read on and take a look at some of the standout social media content and strategy that came from the eight NFL teams in action over Wild Card weekend.

(Also check out Social Media Team Reviews from every week of the NFL season)

360-degree content

While some content can get tired and stale, 360-degree content is far from that description and a few teams busted out some 360-degree content, specifically on Facebook, over Wild Card weekend. First, 360-degree content is by no means easy, but Facebook has made it easier than ever. The trick, too, is to make it worthwhile for the user to want to look around. I was particularly impressed by the Miami Dolphins producing 360-degree video, including going to suggested angles while also allowing personal navigation.

Captions

The Seahawks put out a pregame hype video, full of emotion and visuals, on all platforms. Al the other teams did something similar, but the Seahawks’s video on Facebook including captions. This helps enhance engagement, with lots of video views occurring with the sound off, which would’ve made the narration useless.

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Making the most of Instagram Stories

A few of the teams stood out with their use of Instagram Stories on this Wild Card weekend. The Detroit Lions took full advantage of all the features, including @ mentioning players in their posts and utilizing the Swipe Up. They also effectively integrated a sponsor. Meanwhile, the Packers and Seahawks had some excellent graphics, with the Packers providing a game preview and the Seahawks killing it with some real-time content.

Fun with Emojis on Snapchat

So, yeah, teams have used emoji on Snapchat before. But the time the Packers took to add emoji to a couple of Snaps in their pregame story made the ‘usual’ locker room pics that much more fun.

The Right Place at the Right Time

Just like players and coaches game plan, so do social media teams. After 16 weeks of games, they know where to be or how to find out where to be and when. The result is capturing some unique, awesome content. Making sure to be in the right position is half the battle. Check out the Raiders’ Snapchat knowing to be there to let fans watch players tap the win sign on their way out. The Seahawks were able to make sure someone cut through the crowd to capture opposing players exchanging pleasantries after the win. Fans of the Steelers were treated to an emotional pregame embrace between Big Ben and LeVeon Bell, while Packers fans saw a pregame routine of ball spinning. The social media teams were executing the game plans all day long.

Personally addressing fans

It has been great to see this ‘trend’ grow across the NFL on social media, and this Wild Card weekend brought some excellent examples of personal messages via social. We got a thoughtful pregame message from the Giants, some real-time talk from the Raiders and Seahawks, a Steelers player heating up fans in the cold, and, coolest of all, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio exhorting fans via the team’s Snapchat. There is a lot of emotion, focus, and routine on game day, so good on these social media teams to be there and to have developed the relationship to have that access and serve as that trusted conduit to share it all with the fans.

Working with Influencers

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans were able to activate influencers on their social media platforms, while the Raiders made the most of a message from former star player Charles Woodson (there for ESPN) and they also retweeted some ‘celebs.’ (The MC Hammer retweet is a weekly occurrence for the Black n Silver).

 

Capturing Attention on Twitter

Twitter is a fast-moving medium during the game, especially when big plays occur. The Pittsburgh Steelers did a great job (and usually do) at engaging fans on Twitter using the game with thumb-stopping visual tweets and good use of the scratch-reel GIF (content with which it made sense to utilize). They also threw out a funny ‘Touchdown’ dictionary.com graphic, inserting star WR Antonio Brown. When you have a stud like Brown, using the same GIF over celebration routine can get stale – the Steelers step it up.

 Thoughtful Content

Every week is a chance for teams to give their fans something unique, something new. Especially in the playoffs. The Houston Texans (though they have done this before) slapped Snapchat Spectacles on the flag bearer and fans got to experience the spirited sprint into the stadium. The Steelers also used Spectacles to give fans a look at the field and a feel for the elements. The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, planned and produced a shoot at famed Pike’s Place in Seattle, tossing a Lions helmet instead of a fish. Finally, I was struck by the overhead view of the Green Bay Packers pregame huddle jumping around that the team shared on Facebook and Twitter. While we may be accustomed to such unique angles on professional  broadcasts, it was cool to see this coming straight from a team. Finally, a nod to the Seahawks who minded their copy to turn an Instagram post from good to great.

Featuring Fans

In the midst of preparing so much (fire) content for fans to consume, it can be easy to forget about showcasing the fans there to cheer on the team on game day. The Houston Texans, in particular, did a good job of showing off some of their fans on Saturday, as well as all week, across digital and social. They also made sure to get a shot of a couple celeb fans there for the game.

The Texans also had a sweet ‘frame’ for their Instagram photos, with players posing in the locker room before the game.

Lots of Video

Video is king right now and its reign appears to be a lasting one. Every team had at least one hype video and there was also a lot of quick video, especially Snapchat and even Twitter (in the case of the Texans). Meanwhile, the Dolphins got major views with a handful of produced, emotion-infused videos on Faebook (and repurposed elsewhere). Kudos, too, to the Raiders for showing the post game locker room from head coach Jack Del Rio, not so easy after a loss. The Seahawks turned around some produced, but real-time content effectively, as well. A few of the teams also cut to live or taped reports from on the field with team reporters, content which always seems to do well for teams.

And a quick nod to the always awesome visual work from the Dolphins photography and graphic team. This is just a couple posts. All their platforms showcase the photos effectively and beautifully.

 

Facebook CTA button

You know that little button under your Facebook header photo – that often says Contact Us, Get App, Shop Now, etc. Well, the New York Giants took the time to change their CTA button to ‘Watch Video’ and link to a game preview on their website for their matchup against the Packers. Quite the attention to detail to leave no stone unturned for content.

 

There is little doubt that social media is an inherent part of the fan experience on game day. More eyeballs than ever are on the platforms of teams with national attention on them in the NFL postseason. Every media outlet, reporter, and fan is more engaged and putting out more content, and the competition for attention and love is fierce. It’s also a great time to learn!

As the road to the Super Bowl continues, keep your eyes open and your ears peeled because new social media tactics, ideas, and innovations are playing out on a national scale in real time.

Episode 84 Snippets: Diamond Leung of SportTechie on what’s rising in sports tech and why

On episode 83 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Diamond Leung, Managing Editor for SportTechie.

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

Social Media Team Review: Atlanta Falcons Are The Fan With The Cool Content

The Atlanta Falcons may not be the first team that comes to mind when you think of the top NFL fan bases. And, after years of fading from the competitive spotlight, it was easy for them to become an afterthought among fans. But they have built and built this season, developing a team and fan base behind their #RiseUp mantra, supplemented by an attention-grabbing, inviting social media presence.

Success on the field doesn’t hurt further the goals, too, of course. But it’s about maximizing those winning hands.

A recent review of the Falcons game day content, in a home 38-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 in the final game of the season (and a game that mattered for the Falcons to seal the #2 seed and a first round playoff bye), showed a good deal of preparation, with the goal being to share the excitement with fans, while presenting content and information in an appealing and engaging manner.

This played out prominently on all platforms, but the day began with a well-prepped Instagram Story that featured eye-catching animated graphics to get fans psyched for the game. Even taking the time to make these graphics more dynamic, instead of just sharing pretty static graphics shows the Falcons’ going the extra yards to incite in fans a feeling of excitement, a motif that spanned the platforms. They also utilized the ‘swipe up for more’ feature, linking to a ‘game trailer’ hosted on their website (linking to the website-hosted video caused the load time to lag just a bit), which doesn’t hurt for web traffic to share an extended hype video.

The Instagram Story did not end when the game kicked off, but the info-driven, prepped graphics gave way to selecting photos from the game feed. While the rest of the story lacked the panache and ‘wow’ of the pregame graphic content, it was notable that the Falcons took the time to keep feeding the feed, even with all the other platforms to serve during the game. The Falcons certainly don’t treat IG Stories as a Snapchat facsimile, reserving polished, planned content, for the most part, on this platform.

Meanwhile, on the main Instagram feed, the Falcons came prepared with some eye-catching imagery for the pregame window [that were re-purposed on other platforms, too) before giving way to a selectively curated in-game feed to highlight the big plays of the game through photos. They also did throw in a ‘Cheers to 2017’ image to note the game being played on New Year’s Day. No use of video in the Instagram feed was notable, but the visuals were strong and, as noted, supplemented what fans were seeing in the game. Copy was very short and hashtags were few, with the exception of using #RiseUp a few times. There was a sponsored final score graphic and a nice ‘thank you’ post, which echoed the ‘brotherhood’ sentiment pushed forth by head coach Dan Quinn in his post game speech.

The social network with the best opportunity to establish voice and feel, particularly in the live game window, is Twitter, and the Falcons were both prepared and reactive to drive home to fans a loud and energetic #RiseUp feel. The Falcons took full advatange of the late afternoon start and had a plethora of prepared content in the Saturday and AM Sunday pregame time period. They highlighted standout stats for MVP candidate QB Matt Ryan (offering up the #MattVP hashtag to fans) and spread out sharing video features and game videos for the matchup against the Saints [the game trailer was shared twice]. The video was a mix of natively uploaded content and outbound website links, and sponsor integration was subtle, but effective within the videos, as well as some prepared game matchup graphics. They also had some ‘farewell’ content prepared for the last regular season game at the Georgia Dome, which included a black-and-white video with audio voiceovers from memorable games over the years at teh stadium.
(This was almost certainly inspired by the Atlanta Braves’ farewell video content produced for their last game[s] at Turner Field this past season)

As the day went on, there was some pregame arrival content (with a website link for more photos), a little engagement with fans tweeting at the (nice touch), a nod to check out their Snapchat for videos from warmup, and promotion of a pregame Periscope with one o their reporters. They did also share some native videos to Twitter of the players taking the field and preparing, leaving the fans pumped and primed for the game to begin. Right before the game, too, they had a link to inform fans about the implications of the game for the Falcons’ playoff positioning (but required fans to click to see it).

Once the game began, the Falcons went to work and were ready and waiting with a lot of prepared GIFs and graphic content templates (and had a deep folder or easily editable templates). Not a lot of play-by-play, but plenty of content to augment the viewing experience for fans. Throughout the game, the Falcons made sure to share the NFL’s SnappyTV highlights and, for some updates, retweeted team reporters (including a Devonta Freeman stat and Vic Beasley injury update). When Freeman hit 1,000 yards, they also were ready and waiting with a 1,000 yards graphic. The first quarter ended with a sponsored score graphic, which matched the look of other Falcons content.

As the game went on, the Falcons’ consistency and preparation continued to play out. When touchdowns were scored or other ‘big’ plays made, they were impressively ready with in-your-face, personalized graphics, including the detail of having both QB and WR names for a Matt Ryan touchdown to Mohammed Sanu. They also had personalization to go beyond just a ‘Sack’ graphic, but including the names of the players (like Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett below). We also see a lot of the voice and enthusiasm come out with the copy (always help when you’re winning), sometime even tweeting out exclamations without context (assuming fans are watching along). They also managed to sneak in a promotional video for Mercedes-Benz Stadium (for which they’re selling PSL’s; slated to open this summer).

The Falcons kept up with their bank of prepared content and infusion of voice as the game went on, even stating a ‘sigh of relief’ with news about a player that re-entered the game after getting hurt. They also showed their versatility with some non-graphic GIFs, featuring players celebrating (did not appear to be from the game itself). The Falcons continued to provide scoring updates, too, keeping up with the Saints’ comeback. Throughout the game, too, the Falcons typically used their players’ Twitter handles (were applicable) in their tweets.

After the game, we got a very eye-catching final score graphic (sponsored and repurposed on other platforms), a shoutout to Matt Ryan’s big game, and then right to Periscope for Coach Quinn’s press conference. They later linked to their website for the full presser, but did have a native Twitter video of Coach Quinn’s post game locker room speech (yay for sacrificing the website traffic to make sure as many fans saw this emotion). The rest of the day closed out with outbound links to a handful of post game content, before ending the day with the official announcement of their home playoff game, and a link to purchase tickets. (Note that the Monday after, they came out with more post game content, such as a website link for game highlights). They did also retweet Coach Quinn after the game, but there were no player retweets (there were some Happy New Year player retweets prior to the game). The energy from the Falcons on Twitter was palpable from start to finish and they sought to stoke the fire of their fans through voice and through visual content throughout the game day.

The Falcons had considerably less volume, but appealed to energy emotion aplenty with their content on Facebook. They had a couple sponsored posts in the day preceding, but it was quality sponsored content, with one outbound link and another native video. The majority of content in the pregame window, in fact, was native. They had a Happy New Year graphic, a preview show, the tribute video to the Georgia Dome (referenced previously), and a game trailer video and footage from warm-ups. Also included were a couple of graphics – a Coca-Cola-sponsored matchup graphic [which also had coverage information] and a generic Rise Up / Game Time image with Snickers integrated.

After the game started, there was little content shared — a natively hosted and real-time photo gallery presented by a sponsor and then the sponsored halftime and final score graphics seen elsewhere. The final piece of content shared for the day was native video of Coach Quinn’s post game victory speech, which also included captions in the video; this small, but key addition can greatly enhance the fan experience (and metrics) with so much video views occurring without sound on. (Done by uploading a .srt file [SubRip] to your Facebook video — more info)
[NOTE: The Falcons also utilized Facebook Live for a Coach Quinn presser on the Monday after the game)

The Falcons did not have a huge volume of content, but delivered quality and timely content for fans on Snapchat. The team eschewed the stadium arrival shots and went into some shots from warm-ups from the sidelines with some good, up-close access fans can’t get enough of. no sign of a Snapchat geofilter at the Georgia Dome in this Snapchat story.

During the game, there was a couple sideline shots (permitted by the NFL) and a cool meeting with Falcons players and some former ‘legends’ in attendance inside the tunnel. Activity then picked up a lot after the win. They had a heavy dose of content after the win, including Matt Ryan and Drew Brees shaking hands on the field, and other glimpses of being on the field after the game. We then get two amped up players personally addressing fans on the camera, which is always excellent when it can be done. Those were the last snaps of the day.
(NOTE: Many other weeks, especially for away games, the Falcons do a nice ‘roll call’ to call or Snaps and then share some of the best via Memories. I like this engagement and have shared it before! It was not done for this game.)

The Falcons are conveying an energy and enthusiasm on game day, and they do it through content. The pulse is racing on game day and the Falcons team, with their fans behind them, are all looking to #RiseUp in unison. The Falcons do the little things, mind the details to contribute to that cause along the way.

Check out more Team Reviews

Episode 84: Diamond Leung on SportTechie and What and How to Watch in 2017

Listen to episode 84 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Managing Editor for SportTechie, Diamond Leung.

episode84

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

Posted by Neil Horowitz Follow me on Twitter @njh287   Connect on LinkedIn