Alessandro Gasparro on the Importance of Understanding How Fans Speak and What Engages Them

On episode 113 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Alessandro Gasparro, Director of Social Media Strategy, Endeavor.

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 113: Alessandro Gasparro Has Helped Sports Teams and Brands Find Their Voice and Foster Their Fans

Listen to episode 113 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Alessandro Gasparro, Director of Social Media Strategy, Endeavor [WME-IMG parent company].

Episode-113

64 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

Cutting Through the Content Clutter in Social Media and Sports By Owning Niches

The sports content world is crowded. It can be incredibly hard to stand out, especially if you’re an official team presence or even a challenger in the space. But it’s not a hopeless battle of attrition, it doesn’t have to be a daily struggle for the attention of fans.

There’s value in truly owning niches. Become the best in certain areas and command the attention of fans by being unique and providing unique value. For Richard Clarke, who spent years amid the crowded fish bowl of Arsenal and later the upstart Colorado Rapids, part of building a content strategy was focusing on owning niches that others couldn’t do as well as the club.

“What you can do is you can own niches,” said Clarke. “At Arsenal, we had great history, so I would want to own the niche of history. We could do stats really well – that was a niche we could own…

“We made sure we owned any transfer announcement, as well. Because that was somewhere where we were properly creating news…Obviously, with the media in England, when there’s a transfer going on, it’s difficult for the club to comment; but what you do do – is you’re the ultimate rubber stamp…

“Suddenly, you’ve got four or five things where you’re the go-to place for that. You build up an arsenal of niches.”

Right there, Clarke identified niches Arsenal could own, ways they could rise to the surface, not just in spite of, but because of being the official club presence. They not be able to pen overly critical columns or entertain rumors and reports as much as others, but there were things they could do better than anyone.

There’s an extensive content ecosystem throughout sports (and all media, really), but providing something fans can’t get anywhere else, using your resources to your advantage can mark a lot of territory in the battle for fans’ time. The most important thing is still creating content and stories that is worth their time, that isn’t just noise or, worse, a lesser version of what they’re getting elsewhere.

“You’ve still got to give value and, sometimes, it is a matter of owning these niches and building a content plan off of that,” said Clarke. “It’s not perfect, and that’s fine, because we go to different websites and social media accounts for different things…”

Fans maintain a steady diet of content consumption each day, often across a variety of platforms. It’s not reasonable to expect to win 100% of that time and attention, better to target a healthy amount that you can dominate. It’s pretty valuable to be the best at something, and it can start with identifying niches that can be all yours.

Richard Clarke Offers Insights Into Building a Successful Content Strategy for Sports Teams

On episode 112 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Richard Clarke, Sport Digital Consultant and Speaker, formerly with Arsenal and the Colorado Rapids, among others.

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 112: How Richard Clarke Has Built Global Brands in Sport With Content and Social Media

Listen to episode 112 of the Digital and Social Media Sports podcast, with Richard Clarke, Sport Digital Consultant, formerly with Arsenal and the Colorado Rapids.

Episode-112

76 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

In the Social Media Game, the Most Important Competition is Yourself

The gym is an interesting place. There’s people of all shapes and sizes utilizing a vast variety of routines and techniques often with different goals in mind. Some are trying to lift the heaviest weight each time, some are trying to burn the most calories, to build the biggest muscle, and so forth.

And yet we can’t help but compare. Can’t help sizing up the person on the bench next to you and taking it as a challenge to outperform him or her. But is it fair to compare unless each person in this scenario are the same size? Are their objectives the same? Is this habit of comparison, to try and best the biggest and strongest in the room, the best road to success?

The gym analogy works well to describe the varying challenges of what it means to succeed in social media. When leagues often inform their teams of where they stand in the rankings across a number of team digital and social media metrics, it can be easy to get lured into obsessing over where your team stands. And it can get even more difficult to avoid it when leadership joins the fray, thinking they can win the championship of social media as easily as they can the league title.

But not every team is a 6’5″, 300 lb. behemoth. When dealing with gross metrics, follower sizes, website traffic, video starts, et al. – it’s not a fair fight and it’s not a worthwhile  comparison for either side. And yet, just like FS1 wants to beat ESPN, it can sometimes be hard to get away from these lists.

It’s not so black and white, however. Even those atop the rankings may not be ‘winning’ in a traditional sense. They may not have a strong brand, an engaged audience, a graph of their metrics on an upward trajectory. The most important benchmark is your team’s stats last month, last week, last year.

That’s not to say benchmarking against one’s (relative) peers is a bad thing. There was an interesting Twitter exchange recently in which some respected pros in the space lent opinions on this topic. Of benchmarking, the well-respected Senior Director of Social Media Strategy for the New York Yankees said it can be “extremely motivating when done right, and extremely chaotic when done wrong.”

If it’s done in alignment with the organization’s goals, that allows them to not just maintain but strengthen their brand and their affinity of their fan base — a desire to move up the rankings can lead to greater investment and resources.

But even then it’s important to mind the metrics that matter most. It’s not easy to measure, of course, but it’s not impossible to develop meaningful metrics that  can be shown to drive the fans and the brand, that contribute to the bottom line. Those are rankings that are harder to come by, but those are the ones teams should value the most, vanity be damned.

This is all easier said than done, of course. And it takes evolution across the board, most importantly from the leadership up top. Because for generations it was fairly black and white; we didn’t know better nor could we measure better. But defining success is more a science than an art these days, social media and sports is growing up. Pat Muldowney, Director of Social Content for The Ringer, who previously spent several years in social media for FOX Sports, summed it up perfectly.

 

“Most of the requests for this type of [rankings/vanity metrics] reporting come from a level of leadership that’s familiar with ratings or traffic as barometers for success,” said Muldowney. “Instead of ‘Are we succeeding?’ it’s ‘Are we winning?’ Hopefully this will evolve over time.”

So we return to our gym rat, who now realizes everyone in the gym may be defining success that day in a different way. They’re all out to get better every day, to achieve a level of health and fitness, but they’re not all chasing the same numbers. They’re trying to succeed themselves, not trying to win the weight room. Their only benchmark is themselves.

 

You can see much of the original Twitter thread here

For Sports Teams and Organizations – Who Owns Mobile?

It’s no secret fans and all consumers are spending more and more time on mobile. They’re on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. They’re taking selfies and recording videos. They’re texting and messaging friends and family. They’re checking email and checking scores and news. They’re shopping. They’re swiping. They’re opening push alerts. They’re interacting and engaging.

Breaking news: The ability to call someone is pretty far down the list of uses of the phone for fans.

But it’s that versatility that makes it so difficult for teams and athletics programs to get a handle on it all. Who should own mobile? There is no right or wrong answer, and the real answer is that almost everyone has a stake in it.

sportsmo

I’ve had the privilege of working with several dozen organizations on their mobile strategy, with their mobile app. (Not everyone has their own app, of course). And it never ceases to amaze me that the where mobile resides in the organization varies a ton across the board with the teams, venues, live events, and college programs.

For some, the same person running social media is put in charge. Others reside in marketing. Then there’s those with whom it resides with business operations, with content, with a dedicated digital manager, and even the multimedia management rights companies that work with colleges will often run things or a grad assistant will take the helm from Athletics.

Because so much can happen on mobile, it’s so important to get everyone in the organization together, to get on the same page, to use a cliche. The sales and marketing person wants to get promotions out in a personalized, timely manner; to reach those engaged eyeballs. The social media team wants to drive active engagement, along with the game/event operations. Ticketing has a role with mobile being the primary way for many to manage their tickets, buy them, transfer them ,and present them on game day. Partnerships know that active and attentive fans are good fodder for valuable sponsor activations. The content team needs to mind mobile and use it to amplify what they’re producing. Media relations wants to make sure all the stats, schedules, and stories are right. Broadcasting makes sure their video and audio is easily accessible for mobile fans. Those overseeing the brand and design must make sure it all looks and feels aligned with all of the other platforms. And of course, there is a huge service and fan experience element to it all.

That was a long paragraph for a reason. It’s quite a crowd when you put together all the voices that need a say in a mobile presence and mobile app.

Social media is probably the closest analogue, and its rise from different departments across different organizations is not dissimilar from what mobile is going through right now. Everyone needs to make sure they have their say, but they’re not sure who tell it to, who is in charge. It’s a new channel for which the org chart was not designed.

It wasn’t exactly figured out in social media; what happened was social media became so big and important that full-time roles were established to oversee the platforms, and work with others to maximize it. Will the same happen to overseeing and maximizing how fans interact, engage, transact, and manage on mobile?

We’ve long since graduated from mobile strategies to just strategies for a world that is now majority mobile, with no turning back. So where does mobile fit in your organization? It may be a question worth considering and a conversation worth having.