Episode 141 Snippets: Julie Phayer Grew Her Social Media Savvy with The Warriors and now The Ringer

On episode 141 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Julie Phayer, Social Media Producer for The Ringer.

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.

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2019 NFL Schedule Release Content on Social Media: Winning the Internet Thoughtfully

A year in the life of a sports team is truly 365 days now. And while the games are all marked on calendars, with the home games highlighted and underlined, a lot of the biggest planning across the team revolves around so-called ‘tentpole’ events. Many industries have their tentpole events and they represent opportunities to make a big splash.

In sports, tentpole events are now often accompanied by awesome social media content and an attempt to engage fans. The NFL recently had such an opportunity – with the release of their team’s week-by-week schedules. What used to be a simple press release, maybe a website update or email, is now an ambitious undertaking by many teams.

Every year, the content teams produce gets better and better. Many are thumb-stopping, jaw-dropping, and awe-inducing. But what are teams trying to accomplish with their schedule release content – is the goal to collect the most views, retweets, kudos from peers and media, and some of that sweet ‘virality?’ With tentpole events marked by content – content many fans are anticipating on social media – a night like NFL Schedule Release night represents a strategic opportunity that can be thoughtfully planned and executed – so that, sure, you can maximize your virality, but also accomplish some meaningful objectives.

After reviewing the schedule release posts of every NFL club (primarily on Twitter – as most were optimized for that platform vs. Instagram, et al.), one is struck by the diversity, the creativity, and how some (not all) of the best seem to have at least some strategic underbelly, some forethought into why we’re doing it like this. The themes I’ll explore in the examples include teams that fell into a few buckets:

1) They activated a partnership

2) Clubs kicked off their campaigns for the 2019 season

3) Teams that established or reinforced their brand and voice

4) Many sought to ‘Win the Internet,’ showing off their creative chops

Let’s go in reverse order because #4 has the fire you want…

Let’s Win The Internet…but do it in a thoughtful way

The content game in sports sometimes feels like an arms race, especially around these tentpole events, when fans and teams alike find themselves comparing their content to that of their opponents. Social teams want to ‘win’ on the Internet as much as players want to win on the field.

The Atlanta Falcons were one of a few teams that played off the Game Of Thrones theme. But they did so in a way that showed off their smart, creative chops, including shots at opponents and clever attention to detail. This is how Bleacher Report would’ve done it and the Falcons wanted to win the Internet, and do so in a way that showed fans the high standard to which the content team holds themselves.

Why GoT? It’s not just because the HBO show had been a staple for years on NFL Sundays, it’s something content teams know the Internet loves and fans love. Not to mention it’s timely. So, much like puppies and babies, GoT content was bound to win. Check out other GoT-themed posts from the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins

A few other teams put in great effort to produce video game presentations to show off their schedule. The Green Bay Packers made their schedule release into a Pac Man game, the Seattle Seahawks did a nice job integrating their ‘Go Hawks’ chant into their retro game look, the New York Jets want fans to be excited for big plays and did a take on NFL Blitz, and the Carolina Panthers did some incredible work showcasing their schedule through a series of throwback video games any kid of the ’90s and ’00s could appreciate. The Panthers, in particular, were in a good sweet spot of not just ‘winning the Internet,’ but doing so in a way that would particularly appeal to (and be shared by) the Millennials all sports teams want to engage.

I have a soft spot for those in this category that also seem to accomplish a club goal. The Dallas Cowboys would be included here, who did their take on ASMR while helping fans see more of a new star player they acquired last year – Amari Cooper [and the curiosity of what came next kept me watching). Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers created content close to the heart of Pittsburghers with a nod to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (I didn’t know he was a part of the Pittsburgh community, but I bet many Steelers fans did!) The Detroit Lions used a content motif that tends to perform well on the Internet – referencing The Office (one of two teams that did this), though not sure of any strategic thought behind this one.

Finally, the Los Angeles Chargers entered today with a plan to win the Internet and to do it in a unique way they could be pretttttty sure no team would be doing. First, they put out a thread showing their opponents as Pop Tarts. Then, for the schedule release itself, they put in some good work to find ‘stock footage’ to go along with every opponent to create a video entirely of stock footage. Maybe the casual fan doesn’t know what ‘stock footage’ means, but the selection was so good that it was amusing either way. The Chargers know they’re a challenger brand, so they need to take more swings and distinguish themselves in a unique fashion. Mission accomplished on this day.

So, yes, try to win the Internet, but do it in a way that makes sense for your team, for the fans you’re trying to reach, and take a calculated swing for the fences.

Building and reinforcing the brand

When you have a chance to reach a large swath of fans, likely for the first time in a long time, it’s an opportunity for a team to strengthen their brand, to reinforce who they are. There were a handful of teams this year that went all in on making sure fans knew they what they’re about and reminded fans why they can be proud to love their team do much.

The Indianapolis Colts embraced their reputation, at least that of their figurehead Andrew Luck, by doing something, well, boring. But it puts their main man front and center and allows fans to embrace the ‘boring’ QB they all love. The Cleveland Browns showed off the dry sense of humor for which they’ve become known over the years – in good times and mostly bad times – and they featured their General Manager John Dorsey printing their schedule on an old-school printer, like something out of 1999.

I enjoyed and appreciated the effort of the Tennessee Titans, embracing their country Nashville roots, and allowing Dolly Parton and her country music friends with Lanco to bring their fans the schedule. The New Orleans Saints kept it simple but did a fantastic job as their video just screams New Orleans and perhaps no team wraps their team around their city’s character more than the Saints, and they do so here.

Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles put in a helluva lot of work to round up a bunch of well-known Philadelphia figures to take part in their schedule release video – they were first and foremost out to win the part of the Internet that consisted of Philadelphia fans, and let’s just say the eagle landed (Keep reading, I’m here all night!).

Kicking off 2019 as they announce the 2019 schedule

The NFL schedule release happened days after many teams started their offseason workout programs and it really starts to feel like the 2019 NFL season has begun. It’s the club’s first opportunity to reach a ton of their fans on social media, and a few clubs used it to set the stage for the season.

While we remember the (amaaaaaazing) Monsters of the Midway motifs from the Chicago Bears last year (and they may be back this year, I do not know), they used their schedule release to begin the yearlong celebration of the franchise’s centennial. Check out their 100 years video below, and it gets you in the mood for Bears history all year long.

In a similar vein, the Kansas City Chiefs highlighted their team’s history with old-school clips peppering their schedule release as part of their 60th anniversary season. The Oakland Raiders have the same 60th anniversary season on the horizon and also featured their team’s #1 face (especially with even franchise QB Derek Carr’s situation not as 100% certain as it once was) – head coach John Gruden. History and Gruden are two Raiders pillars as we kick off 2019.

Teams activated or established partnerships

When you have a tentpole event, there is an opportunity to create and activate a partnership – whether that’s a sponsor, a potential ‘influencer,’ or something in between. It’s why extending creative conversations to more team members – sponsorship, PR, CR, sales, marketing – can be so beneficial.

The New York Giants made fans remember they’re big-time as actor/comedian Traci Morgan dropped jokes for every opponent (and it made you want to complete the video to hear them all) – the Giants got the benefit of the celeb tie-in, Morgan got to plug his show, and fans got a comedic schedule release video. Nice partnership! The San Francisco 49ers worked with Bay Area-based artist P-Lo aka Lil Stunna whose track formed the soundtrack for their schedule release video, which included listing his album/track (and some nice pub for him, too).

A few other teams were able to tie in corporate sponsors into their schedule release content – the Denver Broncos gave fans an EA Madden NFL video game-inspired video, the Minnesota Vikings had a little ‘poetry’ to describe each game in their schedule – and it was ‘presented by’ Ticketmaster, and the Jacksonville Jaguars executed a heck of a production – entertaining and featuring ‘gameshow host Josh Lambo (go ahead and laugh, it’s their kicker) and sponsored by McGowan’s HVAC

 

So, yes, stimulate the creative juices, maximize reach and engagement, produce the 🔥 content to which we all aspire, but be thoughtful about it – have a rhyme and a reason, not just a what and a how but a why. Because when content takes off and it’s content that is strategically aligned with the objectives of the organization – that’s really winning the day.

 

Also…..a ROUND OF APPLAUSE for the work, effort, and thought put into the schedule release content by so many NFL clubs. It’s inspiring to the industry and to content creators and marketers everywhere!

Episode 141: How Julie Phayer Ran Point for Golden State Warriors Social as NBA Twitter Emerged

Listen to episode 141 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast with Julie Phayer, Social Media Producer for The Ringer.

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48 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

 

 

Why Sports Betting in the US will be Different than the Rest of the World

The next era for sports entertainment has arrived. With sports gambling beginning to penetrate the US, as state-by-state passes legislation to permit and regulate it, a business is emerging and evolving before our eyes – everyone’s out to get piece of the pie, even as the pie is still baking.

There have been calls for so-called ‘integrity fees’ from the sanctioning bodies of the country’s biggest sports (aka the leagues), there have already been partnerships – primarily around increased data and around logo usage by casinos and sportsbooks, sponsorships – now that teams can seem to freely sign on such sponsors (With some caveats), and yet it feels like we’re barely in the first inning, the first lap, the first quarter, of this game.

Having recently traveled to Europe, it felt a little like traveling into the future – well, sorta. While I didn’t attend a live sports event, and there have been many stories written about betting windows at or near venues where games take place, my glimpse into gambling was thought-provoking now more than ever, given the new state of sports in the US.

But it felt more like the part of Back to the Future Part II where Biff was in charge and not the future with hoverboards and ’90s diners. (Look it up, Gen Z) Here is one of many gambling shops I saw, this from the streets of Rome.

Gambling2

There were live odds posted, about a half dozen TVs showing sports, and a dozen people around – smoking cigarettes, placing bets, and watching and hoping they’d be able to cash out some winnings by the end of the night. Was this the exciting future that the end of PASPA promised? Sure, most betting can and likely will take place via mobile, but shouldn’t a sport betting parlor feel more like a Buffalo Wild Wings than a corner liquor store?

The vision has become even clearer as sports executives in the States, most recently Los Angeles Lakers Owner and President Jeanie Buss speaking at the Sports Business Journal World Congress of Sports, echoed what others have said – that the promise of sports gambling for sports business isn’t all about getting rich off the rake, it’s about the enhancing, amplifying, and growing the engagement for fans.

jeanie

For years, we’ve focused on building sports business and fostering fans in two ways – emotional investment and awesome entertainment. And now gambling will add a third investment – financial – into the mix. But the magic of sports fandom is all that investment comes together – the awe of watching incredible drama and elite athletes gives way to the emotional attachment to the team and to winning, and now having some actual skin in the game will only enhance the awe and the emotion.

There is arguably no nation better at creating an entertaining spectacle around sports than the US. Gambling is a new element to entice fans to invest – and what could start as a financial investment can beget entertainment, which can beget emotion. Meanwhile, those diehards now – if they have some dollars on the line, too, – they’ll invest even more following and engaging with every game, every player, every play.

Whether fans are going with their guts or poring over spreadsheets, the number of fans cheering or sobbing after a big play or big game and the intensity of the engagement with sports, the future of betting-infused sports experiences is bright.

A so-called black market of bookies and offshore sportsbooks may have emerged in the US over the years thanks to the illegal nature of sports gambling, but it’s a good thing it took this long for legalization. We got good at the entertainment side and the experience side – that’s what sports is for us, and sports gambling can fit right into this ecosystem. Let’s do it the way we know how – not a seedy, quiet place on the street, but an enhancement of the social, communal experience we all associate with sports now. It sounds like a safe bet to me.

How Adam White Built Front Office Sports Into a Trusted Resource for the Sports Industry and Built a Business

On episode 140 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Adam White, Founder and CEO, Front Office Sports.

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.

Episode 63 Re-Up – The Making of March Madness with Chris Dion, NCAA Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances, Digital and Social Media

Listen to my chat with Chris Dion on the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast. Chris is
Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances, Digital and Social Media for the ‎NCAA. Follow @MarchMadness and @NCAA, too.

A rare re-air while you enjoy March Madness! Original Air Date: December 9, 2017

episode63

60 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