Content and Strategy Takeaways from the Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop

What is your content doing to add more to fans?

This was one of the primary takeaways at the recent Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop (see a recap here), which featured speakers and panels from such social media and sports behemoths as Twitter, UFC, Bleacher Report, Pac 12 Network, opendorse, the Golden State Warriors, and more. Here are some themes gleaned from the tweets from the event:
(Get more info about Sports PR Summit here)

Be additive to games and serve content that complements

With the burgeoning growth (okay, domination) of live video on social and mobile, the key questions social media and sports pros are considering are what constitutes good live video for social, from a metrics, engagement, and goals perspective. After Twitter and the UFC emphasized the centrality of social for live conversation and praised its ability to allow emotion to exude from a game or match, the Warriors talked about they use social. The word that stuck out, again and again, was to be “additive.”

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Whether it’s live or not, a major (key) behind content is context. While it is tempting to chase metrics and satisfy the unquenching thirst of the diehards for anything and everything, don’t post just to post or go live just to go live. Have a reason for it and consider whether your audience is viewing other content at the time, talking about a certain play or player, or curious about something. Embrace what it means to be additive and to complement.

The same goes for partnerships with brands. Bleacher Report works with influencers and brands, but doesn’t force it. If it’s not adding value, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

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Mind all your properties, whether on ownedor  rent land

Many go back and forth with where to put content, owned vs. rented platforms, and how to truly define ROI with social media. Bleacher Report takes social seriously, and has enjoyed massive success as a result. They treat social with as much care as content posted on platforms they own. Every brand-fan interaction, every piece of content enjoyed and consumed is a win for B/R. But, even more than that in recent years, is the quality of content consumption. Perhaps listicles and slideshows wasn’t building true brand affinity, despite the ease to drive volume, but more meaningful content lends itself to more meaningful connections with fans.

Bleacher Report is an omni-channel brand. It laughs at ComScore metrics scoring website traffic, instead looking at the bigger picture. And that perspective fuels them to take care of each platform, to optimize content for each, and not just shot-gunning content that lives on its website.

Another key theme from not just the B/R panel, but several others, was being intentional to stand out from the crowd. The best know what their audience enjoys and what they, themselves, can do that other can’t or won’t or aren’t doing. When a shocking scoop or sweet play happens, and everyone’s timelines light up, what can you do with that content to be different and more remarkable than the others. I loved the idea of having a “creative barrier to entry” that can an advantage.

Bleacher Report’s Mason delved deeper into how intentionally unique they are in the sports space — voice and personality. It is showcased not just in the copy, but the content. Fans know what to expect from the B/R brand and they deliver, taking the same foundational content (information) that others have and packaging in a way all their own, a way that continues to win over millions.

 

More and more each year, everyone is beginning to buy in to the notion that scare tactics are not the way to go with athletes (and student athletes) and social. Because it IS powerful and it IS a major opportunity for athletes to build themselves into valuable representations of themselves and their teams and schools (and their brands). The University of Nebraska (led my the incredible Kelly Mosier) was preaching the gospel of reversing course from more TO DO (and can do) for student athletes and less DO NOT DO.

 

And when student athletes grow up, they can continue to be ambassadors (and wonderful examples) for their schools! Nice work from opendorse below.

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The sentiment was even echoed from the current pro athlete featured at the event, NFL player Emmanuel Acho, who is one of the best out there when it comes to self-awareness, brand, and using the platform and influence his position enables. He is among the enlightened athletes, understanding proactive education on the positive aspects of social media can and should outweigh the warnings.

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Something that becomes increasingly clear as brands abandon intrusive techniques is that it’s better to integrate with native fan activities than to try and divert their attention and activity elsewhere. Basically, a mantra I like to espouse myself, help fans do more of what they want to do. While Sprinklr/Postano has built their business on engaging fans/consumers through their mobile devices (and social platforms they use on their mobile devices), the point they hit home is correct – if fans are on their phones, meet them there. If fans are on your app, a social network, start engaging them there. While it may seem like a repudiation of traditional notions of attending a game, it is merely enhancing (not engineering) fan experiences.

 

The Pac 12 Network closed the day with energy and enthusiasm and hammered home the previous point about embracing, maximizing, and differentiating the story. Content, in the form of highlights (how much of our content is consumed today, on our timelines) is a playing field and currency that the Pac 12 Network seizes upon — conveying emotion, finding fans’ timelines by being unique, and exuding emotion that touches fans of the teams and sports fans, in general.

And even when attention is at its zenith, the Pac 12 Network thinks about how they can do more, catch you off-guard with something you didn’t expect to see, but are so grateful you did. That is engagement, surprise and delight, and moment marketing that comprise so many best practice thoughts these days. The key to nailing it? Preparation, planning, purpose, and positioning — that is, being in the position to capture and deliver that unique side of the story.


The barrier to entry has never been lower to push content out to the (potential) masses, but the bar has been raised more than ever to win (earn) the attention of fans. So don’t just do the expected, don’t be afraid to experiment, embrace the brand, find the stories, know your fans, and deliver content that makes them feel something. Give ’em something to talk about. Give ’em something to share. And always be ready for the next magical moment.

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