Episode 78 Snippets: Ryan Frankson Helps the Oilers Integrate Social Into Everything

On episode 78 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Ryan Frankson, Director of Social Media for the Oilers Entertainment Group

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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Social Media Team Review: Green Bay Packers Engage Packer Nation and Come Prepared With A Plan

The Green Bay Packers are one of the most recognizable pro sports franchises in the US. While many fans wouldn’t know where Green Bay was located without decades of one-field success for the city’s pro football team, they have one of the most passionate, dedicated fan bases in the world. They could rest on their laurels and their decades-long season ticket holder waiting list, but a game day review of their week 6 match-up at Lambeau Field against the Dallas Cowboys shows that they put care, effort, and planning, as well as real-time engagement  and interaction with fans when it comes to their social media presence.

The Packers displayed aptitude on each of the major social media platforms, putting the most time into Twitter. They provided consistent information on injuries, reported scores even when it wasn’t looking good, had some great GIFs and real-time graphics, promotion for traffic to other channels, and sponsor integration.

While two-way engagement was not happening during the game, the Packers were active before the game with retweets of players and fans and calls-to-action, speaking with fans. They also had planned out the pregame window, delivering game day graphics, video, showcasing the retro uniforms and sharing quick real-time (raw) video and prepared/produced video.

Good on them or providing the TV map, catering to their fans all around the nation. Also notable was pregame (and in-game) promotion of Snapchat.There was a mix of original Twitter content, as well as straight cross-posts from other platforms. Similar to most team, they direct fans to their website to see all the inactive players for the day. Again, though, definitely present with listening on Twitter and giving some good video and info, too.

After a “roll call” for fans and a link to a website photo gallery, the Pack went into game mode, and began sharing some solid pre-made GIFs. While not all teams make frequent use of their official hashtag (and hashtag emoji), there was plenty of #GoPackGo in their tweets.All of the visuals were on-point, reflecting the Packers colors, particularly the colors they were donning that day.


Of course, what stands out right away are the strong visuals. The Chevy-branded “Drive Summary” graphics are informative in a visually appealing way reflecting the Packers’ yellow and the rustic style that connotes Chevy. These were great graphics after each Packers scoring drive during the game.  As suggested previously, the Packer took care to keep their fans informed, good and bad, including noting when a player was even visibly ‘slow to get up, a not-so-common practice when any hint of injury info or possibility is kept silent until official word is given. Also notable was the Packers promoting an in-game chat; a feature some teams have tried sporadically over the years, with CoverIt Live being a popular option (and what the Packers used), with some degrees of success and failure.

There was little-to-no coverage of the Brett Favre halftime ceremony in which the Packers legend received his Hall of Fame ring; the only mention being a few photos and promotion of the Snapchat story capturing a bit more. The Packers continued to share graphics and GIFs, even as the game slipped away. The losing effort may have affected the voice with which the Packer prefer to speak on Twitter. While the Drive Summary graphics featured sponsors, too, the GIFs and score update graphics did not. Finally, while many may think teams are not permitted to share highlights, the Packers, on multiple occasions, grabbed some SnappyTV highlights from the NFL to post on their own feed.

After the game, the Packers kept active on Twitter – not sharing any live or native video (or clips), but sharing some quotes from their head coach (not players) following the loss, along with links to the full press conferences. While fans of the Packers did not get the outcome they wanted, they were given an active, informative, visual Packers presence on Twitter before, during, and after the game.


Twitter saw the most time and activity for the Packers, but they are clearly putting thought, time, and strategic effort into Snapchat, too. They did a good job of setting the scene in a thoughtful manner on Snapchat leading up to the game, showing the sights, the behind-the-scenes, video of their jerseys (and even their gear), and a look at Favre’s Hall of Fame ring. You can also their Snapchat geofilter (which effectively matches their #GoPackGo slogan and hashtag) and they also made use  of the NFL game day score geofilter before and throughout the game.


As with many teams, the Packers have cultivated fantastic pregame access, getting up close with the players during warmups and introductions. We may take this for granted, but this is great, raw, immersive content that teams have worked hard to be able to provide for fans. Definitely content that works well on Snapchat (and giving them fodder to promote their Snapchat story to Twitter followers).

After giving fans a taste of the scene and the buildup, the Packers didn’t do what most teams do and pack in Snapchat for the day (or for the game). They did an impressive job remaining active, giving game updates, sharing sideline and player and fan reactions. And it wasn’t just quick video snippets – they used the score filter, wrote captions, used emoji and their Packers geofilter, and brought in the fan atmosphere as much as the atmosphere of the play on the field. Not many NFL clubs deliver

As alluded to previously, the Packers prioritized Snapchat for live coverage of the Brett Favre halftime ceremony [and pointed Twitter traffic there to see it; not using Periscope or any live stream]. There wasn’t a ton from the Favre ceremony, but it was more than they offered in real-time elsewhere. Finally, it was good to see, even after a loss, Snapchat capture a bit of the post game. Great to have someone on the field ready to capture that stuff in real-time after the game ends.


The Packers were fairly active throughout the day and game on Instagram. They shared some of the videos seen elsewhere from the warm-ups, but also a good amount o carefully selected, evocative visuals. A visual scene-setting for the day. Notably, the Packers (like most NFL clubs, really) are not yet making game day use of Instagram stories.

Once the game began, Instagram activity diminished a bit, but there were game graphics shared and, later in the day, some select, professional images posted to their Instagram feed. The Packers have a sizable Instagram page of over 1.2 million and get adequate engagement on each post. They certainly pay heed to the platform, but not produce content specifically for it.

The Packers do a solid job keeping fans visually engaged and informed on Facebook. Their pregame feed was packed with photos and graphics and website links; though there was no use of  native video on Facebook in the game day pregame window. (A link to a “Packers Today” video was posted).  Also notable was the generic game day graphic (possibly intentional) with no mention of the opponent (Dallas Cowboys). Though a later pregame photo did have the two competing teams and game day hash tag added.

As the game approached and started, the Packers had some strong photo to inspire emotion in fans and also shared the same score graphics seen on other platforms (which do look great and are well-customized with game photos). Notably there was little to no sponsor integration with any pregame or other game day content on the Packers’ Facebook page.

Similar to the other platforms, there was not much coverage of the Brett Favre halftime ceremony (wonder if they would have been permitted to FB Live any of it?), but they post a link to the full video of the ceremony, and that was made available pretty quickly. Post game highlights and pressers were also posted as links (most, not all, NFL teams do it like this, I have found, and not do much native highlights or pressers on Facebook). While Facebook was fairly active, the engagement efforts and content efforts were not quite the same as the Packers or Twitter and Snapchat.


Overall, a very pleasant and impressive day from the Packers on social media. They clearly have strong leadership in place behind their social media strategy and team, focusing on platform strategies and making the most of scarce resources and scarce exclusive content. They are a source of content fans can appreciate and enjoy on game day and it feels like they take care to serve their loyal fans. Packer nation is in good hands.


Episode 78: How Ryan Frankson Leads the Oilers’ Well-Oiled Social Media Machine

Listen to episode 78 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Ryan Frankson, Director of Social Media for Oilers Entertainment Group (Edmonton Oilers parent company).


67 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

Traditions, Taglines, and Chants: Building Fans That Feel Connected

Think about your favorite team. What makes them and their fans different? When fraternity or sorority members all over the country bump into each other, regardless of differences in age/location/beliefs, there is still an undying connection — a handshake, a pledge, a tradition.

It’s why I can instantly conjure up fandom from peers with a simple utterance of Sic ‘Em (Baylor) or Gig ‘Em (Texas A&M) or J-E-T-S (Jets) and, now, SKOL for the Minnesota Vikings.

I was awestruck listening to the recent Sports Geek podcast with Vikings Executive Director for Digital Media and Innovation Scott Kegley in which Kegley described the process of creating a new fan tradition — adopting the SKOL chant made notorious by the recently successful Iceland national soccer team. (listen to the episode here) You can’t just start using a hashtag and putting prompts on the video board and expect fans to go all-in and adopt a new tradition, just because you want them and told them to do so.

While you can listen to hear about what the Vikings did to instill the SKOL chant into fans, the point is that, now, Vikings fans all over the world can intimately connect in a way that represents their connection through community. Giving the nation a rallying cry.

It’s more than cheering for the names on the back of the jerseys and the names on the front of the jerseys. It’s penetrating deeper, creating a shared culture, a tribalism that stokes the passion of fans.

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This is not to say that teams all over should create catchy chants or slogans. But it is about considering whether fans have a way to feel like a strong community, unified by something tangible. The Atlanta Braves have their (annoying) chop, Washington Redskins fans can tell any other fan around the country HTTR with a knowing glance, Auburn Tigers fans can say War Eagle and instantly feel connected, and on and on.

Traditions are tough to build from scratch. They have to feel authentic and true, embraced and not forced. But when it feels right and it can be seen and heard, practiced and repeated, spread and shared, it becomes a powerful purveyor of passion.

What does your tradition look and sound like? What would give fans goosebumps or allow fans to connect all over the world? Crowds come and go, but tribes and traditions last forever.

Social Media Team Review: Steelers Want To Watch and React With Fans

The Pittsburgh Steelers have it pretty good. The franchise has mostly enjoyed success over the past several seasons and head into most Sundays expecting and planning to win. Nothing makes a social media team look a little better than a winning team! But it’s what you do with those wins, that opportunity, which matters most. Their social media would likely garner a lot of reach and engagement, regardless, but the Steelers are active and vocal, engaging at times, and are seeking to put out posts that’ll get shares and reactions.

The Steelers do a lot of re-purposing, but take care to select strong visuals, often with filters, for Instagram. While there is nothing eye-popping, the Steelers do curate a more visually appealing collection for Instagram, sharing the best photos (and some graphic templates they use across the board) and also sharing information like stats and scores from the game. They had some video in their feed pregame, but very little outside of a couple players walking in videos for Instagram Stories, but I did appreciate their stream remained fairly active during and after the game. The combination of solid selection of photos and strong copy made for an Instagram presence that garnered engagement, but the presence is a thoughtful, efforting check on the list.

Without a doubt, Twitter takes up 90% of their in-game attention, and they’re quick to the trigger, with a constant flow of, well, tweets, that bears resemblance to a fan’s timeline, in many ways. In the pregame window, there was a lot of two-way engagement, retweets and replies with team, fans, players, and even Aramark Sports tweeting out a photo of some food specialty at the game that day. There was also a decent volume of photos and video that fans on Snapchat that fans on other platforms saw, as well. Once the game began, however, the two-way engagement was all Steelers tweets, even as the team started to take over and dominate the New York Jets in the game.

There were a lot of other notable items in the pregame for the Steelers, including a plethora of photos of their jerseys and some good video from on the field during warm-ups. While later in the game they directly tweeted out some in-game injury information, they used a generic ‘Game Day Inactives’ graphic with a link to see the inactive players by visiting their website.

The Steelers’ Twitter feed during the game was primarily the voice of a fan in the room watching alongside Steelers nation. While just about no one wants to see simply a simple feed of play-by-play, many team Twitter timelines are full of reactions and GIFs alongside big plays, stats milestones, photos, etc. There were some basic updates early in the game, notably using the ‘we’ pronoun. For most of the game, the Steelers had several tweets that were one or just a few words. It may have been perfect, inside-joke commentary when all of their Twitter followers were already watching the action, anyway. There were some well-crafted visuals, including a bumble-bee “84” design for Antonio Brown (indicating a big play) and some turns of phrase. Some of the time, they followed up an exclamatory tweet with a reply that gave more detail, which is a nice touch. They did have some pre-made GIFs, but only used a couple toward the end of the game.

The Steelers maintained a steady volume in the post game window on Twitter, as well. They tweeted out some quotes from the post game presser, but did not do any live video (Periscope or Facebook Live) of post game interviews. They also retweeted a handful of players celebrating the win, similar to what they did pregame.

As is the case with many teams, Snapchat was a champion for pregame content, but relatively dormant once the game started. The Steelers had tremendous access and the knowing eye contact and looks from players that underscored the trust and relationship developed, which permits such great access and content. There were the requisite shots of the team arrival, some shots of warm-ups on the field, some solid video of fan interaction [including a player selfie with fans], and a sweet snap from inside the tunnel for player intros. After the pregame, there was no other new content on the Steelers Snapchat, including the rest of the night after the Steelers’ win. Also notable was I did not use of any custom Snapchat geofilter for the Steelers / Heinz Field nor any use of the NFL game graphic geofilters.

The Steelers were more active than many teams on Facebook, with mostly shared links and the score update graphics and some select in-game photos on their Facebook feed throughout the game day. Like many teams, they also had the team logo profile photo frame. While most of the content was indeed shared links, they did share a handful of photos of their bumble bee jerseys from the locker room prior to the game. They also shared a few photos on Facebook in the pregame window, but surprisingly no video.

During the game, there was the in-game score graphics for the end of each quarter, along with, pretty much, a few of their top performing tweets — similar copy and visual. They also were directing fans to follow commentary and analysis on their team website.

Following the win, the Steelers continued to post content, including more links, a new cover photo, and a graphic for Big Ben. They did share video highlights [via a shared link], but no native video from the game or from post game pressers. Facebook is a content source for the Steelers and they serve fans a good amount, but it is an above-average presence at best.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the most historic and successful franchises in the NFL. When you can head into Sunday able to plan on a win and engaging a happy fan base, more often than not, it allows for a more flexible social media strategy, with a little attitude and fun. The Steelers exhibit such a tone in much of their social media and may benefit from a majority of fans that don’t miss a minute of the game and look to the Steelers for, well, just for fun. They had a unique look and feel, both on the field (in those jerseys) and off the field.

PS: Had to share this fun video they posted on Tuesday! See below…


15 Sports Biz Things from the 2016 LEADERS Summit

The annual LEADERS Business Summit brings together top global names from sports business and never fails to deliver tremendous insights into the industry. There are remarks on marketing, sponsorship, emerging technology, growing sports, leadership, and more. While I did not attend the London-based event (which included a stop at Stamford Bridge), following along thanks to Twitter revealed some fantastic lessons and themes from the sports biz leaders of today. Here are 15 of them [it’s a quick read, don’t worry!]:

1. Bleacher Report wants to “own sports moments

Sports is the last bastion of consistent live moments, in many ways, and everyone wants a slice. Social media is peppered with graphics, GIFs, videos, and, uhh, “wit” to try and win the Internet, so to speak, during sports moments. Bleacher Report aims, like many, to be unique, and their CEO Rory Brown particularly pointed out how infusing content with animation has been popular. (Clearly, many others are adopting this, too).
Some great stats were shared, too, including that B/R reaches over 200 million people per month, 90% of whom are mobile users.  Even with such lofty numbers, however, monetization remains a challenge. Attention is a strong currency, but a clear pathway to converting that into big dollars is  still evolving.

2. 200 million fans in China watched the NBA Finals in 2016

Perhaps the theme of major pro sports eyeing China for the next infusion of fans and revenue is nothing new,  but it i more a reality now than ever before. This astounding stat illustrates the huge potential there, in addition to the plans and current activities of European football clubs that were discussed at the Summit. There will be more and more media, marketing, content [including AR And VR], and travel to China among all major pro sports.
Globalization is upon us for real this time and teams and leagues are focused on a genuine presence and path in the country. The intentions to engage corporate partners at the local level abroad was made clear and represents a promising way to wade into all markets in the country. Karen Brady, the Vice Chairman of West Ham United F.C., emphasized the need for teams to better understand the audience sponsors are trying to reach. More knowledge on both sides will help all parties involved. A lesson that can apply to any team or league with fans and corporate partners that transcend its domestic, let alone local, fan base.

3. Esports is growing and it’s making money, too

Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer for EA Sports, offered some impressive data around esports, particularly those of the EA brand (often not as closely associated with “traditional” esports, like DOTA and CS:GO). There are over 148 million esports fans globally, a compelling stat itself. In 2016, 32 million individuals played FIFA 16, the 2nd most popular game in the US. And, upon reporting the FIFA Ultimate Team earned $654 million in revenue, Moore stated “We see it as the future of competitive gaming.” Esports have been around the world a while, but are new in the sports business world.
It’s hard to say what the future of esports looks like, from a business perspective, but there is little doubt it’s here and more is coming as everyone gets their piece of the pie.

4. 37% of people watching esports do not watch traditional sports.

It is surely statistics like this that widen the eyes of those in sports business. It represents the opportunity to reach and capture a new, significant consumer base. This also suggests that there exists the opportunity to convert current sports fans into consumers of esports, too. Esports is having its moment, no doubt.

5. 15% of fans at Superbowl 50 in San Francisco used Uber to get home

It’s hard to get 15% of any group of over 70,000 fans to do anything, but that was indeed the case for the world’s most popular consumer-driven, mobile taxi service. More and more sports and entertainment venues and teams are partnering with Uber, designing their lots to facilitate and streamline the Uber experience, and building an Uber integration into their mobile apps. Uber is a name that will become increasingly ubiquitous for sports and entertainment, as sports business evolves to forsake some parking revenue in the name of fan experience.

6. Sports and music are perfect partners

Another bedfellow for sports business is music. We’ve long heard the idea that athletes want to be musicians and musicians want to be pro athletes, but the industries are becoming ever more intertwined. Particularly salient was the notion of music for esports, let alone on video games and at sports venues and games, representing a great opportunity for growth, like buying a song on iTunes after hearing it on a video game. Music has always been a soundtrack to our experience of sports and esports, and the business side of it all is now catching up to that consumer connection

7. The Process is working for the Philadelphia 76ers…at least off the court

Despite a poor record with the Sixers losing over 81% of their games the last three seasons, ticket sales have TRIPLED in that time. That is stunning and is powered by an enormous sales staff that is the biggest in pro sports in the US, and possibly the world, and what is described as an “inclusive corporate culture.” Staffs can be scaled and sized up, sure, but unless it’s all effective and operating synergistically, it does more harm than good. “Your brand is the sum of your customers’ experiences,” said Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil. Every fan touch point must be evaluated and optimized. While the team endures growing pains on the court, their sales vehicle is already humming.

8. Aim to reach “modern fans”, not a “young audience”

This was an insight that came from the Bleacher Report panel and others. It’s about keeping up with the fans more so than keeping up with the kids. It is important to be innovative, to enhance fan engagement and experiences, but it’s easy to get seduced with a compulsion to follow and adapt what the youngest generation or a specific age group is doing. It’s interesting and important to consider the difference between targeting the “modern fan” vs. the “young consumer” and how that should dictate strategy for anyone in sports business.

9. The Atlanta Hawks are reaching Millennial fans

While the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks have gotten their share of attention for social media strategy and “Swipe Right (Tinder) Night,” they are studying the fans they want to reach, and reacing to their habits. “There are new opportunities in print,” said Atlanta Hawks Chief Creative Officer, Peter Sorckoff. “Millennials now view print as luxury, in-depth reading time.” There is deep engagement happening and teams can aspire to capture this level of attention.
They are adjusting their marketing budget to adjust to the modern fan, too, with 60-70% of their marketing digital, 50% of which is geared to mobile. There are so many more medium to which attention spans are being diverted and the Hawks are staying nimble to find each and every opportunity to grab that attention.

10. Fans won’t adopt new technology right away

Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the 49ers and Levis Stadium are doing technologically advanced things for their fans at games. Their impressive mobile features boast, among other things, the ability to order concessions and have it delivered to your seat, and instant replays from several angles delivered right to your phone. Such features were touted as key contributors to reinvigorating the live attendance experience for fans. Sean Kundu, Vice President, New Ventures for the 49ers and General Counsel for app maker VenueNext shared some stats that showed adoption can be slow. Now three seasons into in-seat delivery and mobile ordering, Kundu said the 49ers are doing a bit under 1,000 orders per game.
There may be a ceiling to how many mobile orders the venue can handle on a given game day, but it has likely not been reached yet. The camera offerings are something thousands of fans and access via their app. And the 49ers impressively deliver replays of every play within 4 seconds. However, under 1,000 fans access any replay each game. There are certainly some valuable lessons to be taken away about what fans want to do at a game .

11. Of 200,000 attendees at the Ryder Cup, 70% activated their RFID wristbands; with fans mostly in the 45-55y/o age range

This information came from Antonia Beggs, Head of Client Relations for the PGA European Tour, and underscores that, in fact, new technology adoption can be accomplished, if introduced and executed effectively. Even with an older fan demographic, by baking in the RFID experience into beginning the event and into organic experiences they would have at the event, they achieved extraordinary activation numbers from the RFID bands. RFID technology has long performed well at PGA Tour events all over the world for a few years now.

12. Per Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group (Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta United), there is just 3% overlap between Falcons season ticket holders and Atlanta United season ticket holders.

Definitely a compelling statistic here and underscores the under-served soccer market that justifies Atlanta United becoming Major League Soccer’s newest franchise, beginning play next season. It’s no small secret the number of soccer fans in the US is on a growth trajectory and there may exist a wide swath of fans not overtaken by the country’s other major pro sports. Even in a crowded pro sports market in Atlanta (which has all covered, except for an NHL club), Atlanta United has found new sports fans, excited for futbol.

13. The new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be completely digital allowing complete re-branding for every event it hosts.

The proliferation of multi-purpose venues, coupled with the increasing demand for targeted, digital advertising has brought in this innovation and trend. We’ll no doubt see more of it in the future, on TV and in person. Should the same ads be seen at an NFL game as a Taylor Swift concert, a Disney on Ice performance, and a Korn concert? This is a capability and a space in which all parties will have to (and should want to) evolve with the technology.

14.Maverick Carter on the success of Uninterrupted content: “It’s got to be authentic, insightful, and entertaining.”

LeBron James’s longtime manager and confidant, Maverick Carter, offered up the simple statement underlying the LeBron-backed Uninterrupted platform, which hosts streaming video and other media straight from athletes. Sure, it seems so easy, but many would do well to look at their content and really evaluate whether it meets that criteria. Sure, having raw content directly from athletes is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s important to know and establish standards to which your content should be upheld.

15. Brandon Gayle from Instagram, Head of Global Sports Partnerships for Instagram: “Creative without strategy is just art.”.

I thought this statement was equal parts instructive and insightful, with applications across the board.


Thanks again to LEADERS for putting on another fantastic event. For more information on them, visit their website.

Episode 77: Best of the Podcast – MiLB, Twitter, Trailblazers, Digital Transformation, & More

Listen to episode 77 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, a Best Of edition. This episode features excerpts from conversations with Jason Brower of the West Michigan Whitecaps (full episode), TJ Ansley of the Portland Trailblazers (full episode), Brian Poliakoff of Twitter (full episode), Jimmy Sanderson of Arizona State University (full episode), Ross Tucker of Ross Tucker NFL and other media entities (full episode), and Tom Halls of Formula E (then British Tennis) (full episode).

Thanks so much to all these great guests for their time and knowledge! Enjoy the episode below.


57 minutes in duration. each excerpt around 7-10 minutes.