Another day, another new toy for social media and sports, as Snapchat’s Spectacles (remember, Snapchat is a camera company, not a social media company), have arrived on the scene. It’s like Google Glass + GoPro, but cooler and more intrinsically connected with social media and a network for distribution.
This past week, two sports teams — the Minnesota Wild of the NHL and the University of Miami Hurricanes football team — got a hold of some Spectacles and became the first major sports teams to start creating content with Snapchat’s new product. No best practices, no tried and true concepts, just pure experimentation and using the Spectacles to deliver new content in new ways to fans that they could not do without Spectacles.
The best part of Snapchat has been the raw, uncut access to teams fans have gotten, and Spectacles allows fans, through the lens of the trusty social media manager, to not just be in the room as an onlooker, but to truly feel part of the narrative, part of the team. These were the moments that stood out to me for both teams, when it felt like the fan watching was part of the pregame walk past all the cheering fans (for the Canes) or another member of the circle kicking around the soccer ball before a game (as we did with the Wild).
Just like there’s no comparison to the goosebumps induced when a player makes eye contact with the fans or speaks directly to them, Spectacles offers the opportunity for immersion. The behind-the-scenes content, in and of itself, is highly effective, but is taken to another level when fans feel like an active participant, instead of a passive onlooker. It drives that deeper engagement and connection that teams are after in their social media efforts.
The rest of the content seen from these teams’ first forays with Spectacles gave a different, first-person POV into the game day experience. The Hurricanes took fans on the field pregame (but this was understandably less participatory than the previous content), while the Wild got creative in trying to find other unique ways to give fans a perspective they hadn’t experienced before. This included seeing what it’s like to have a view on a ZAMBONI ride and even put us behind the t-shirt cannon with the mascot, firing shirts into the crowd. There is a lot of experimentation left to come, and teams will get to spread their wings of creativity to see what works well with Snapchat Spectacles.
More teams will get their hands on Spectacles and, no doubt, we’ll continue to see more novel and new ways to use them to produce compelling content. The biggest takeaway, for me, from these initial uses is to, like with any new toy, consider what Spectacles allow teams to do than they couldn’t do before. For Spectacles, the ‘whoa’ moments came when the Spectacles made fans feel like another player on the team, not a fly on the wall, but another participant. I imagine it’ll be awesome when a player dons Spectacles at practice, inside a pregame huddle, etc. In this sense, it’s like a more accessible, ore social version of GoPro, complete with features that make Snapchat different, too, like filters, quick video edits, quick sharing to the masses, and, eventually, the integration of player-generated and fan-generated content to weave first-person POV stories unlike ever before.
Social media has allowed teams to create everlasting connections with fans more than ever before – driving emotional investment with the team and players. Spectacles offers a new way to make fans feel a part of the team, to build attachments that new tech like VR and AR promises. Delivering the content and telling the stories is now easier than ever, the next step is to make fans feel like they’re not just watching the stories, but part of them, feeling the emotion, seeing the little gestures and idiosyncrasies that social media managers take for granted, and making these larger-than-life figures come to life. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead as Spectacles re-define spectating and fans will feel ever more connected and engaged.