Leaders Summit Day 2 Recap: FC Barcelona’s Biz, Sports Sponsors, eSports, & More

In March 2017, Leaders Performance Institute held their annual Leaders Summit in New York, bringing together leaders from the sports business world.

This is a collection of the best quotes, stats, insights, and observations shared via #Leaders17 on Day 2 of the event. Thanks to everyone whose tweets helped fuel this recap!

Check out the Day 1 recap, too.

Leaders Summit Day 1 Recap: Twitter & Sports, NHL Biz, Buzzfeed Content Insights, & More

In March 2017, Leaders Performance Institute held their annual Leaders Summit in New York, bringing together leaders from the sports business world.

This is a collection of the best quotes, stats, insights, and observations shared via #Leaders17 on Day 1 of the event. Thanks to everyone whose tweets helped fuel this recap!

See the Day 2 Recap.

Episode 89 Snippets: Chris Littmann is Bringing Excitement and Storytelling to NASCAR’s Content

On episode 89 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Chris Littmann, Senior Manager, Content and Platform Strategy for NASCAR.

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

The Minnesota Wild Earn Attention on Social Thanks to Buy-In From All

“We need to give fans a reason to come to our channels.”

Welcome to the era of extremely elective consumption. When there are so many content choices and so many channels from which to choose, appeal and attraction is key or teams. And the statement above, from Katlyn Gambill, Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Minnesota Wild, sums up succinctly a key point in this era of social media marketing – it’s earned attention.

When fans want to come to you, want to see what you’re doing, and feel attracted, not alienated, there’s clearly tremendous value to that. And, the best part about building that relationship, as Gambill, described is then you can also deliver content with offers, sponsors integrated, and some sales CTA’s. But it’s all about the organization buying into the fan-first mentality, where it’s thinking about what fans actually want to see, not what you want or need them to see.


It’s all easy to say, of course. Far more difficult is to put such fan-focused principles into action on a consistent basis. Gambill made some great points in talking about a decision the team made, as all eventually did, about adopting Snapchat, and therefore dedicating time, resources, and thought to it. Here’s the point – becoming more accepted – it’s not about a short-term gain tomorrow. It’s about relationship-building, with an intentional, thoughtful strategy and mindset of how it will create more value for the team, too.

“Just because we can’t necessarily bring in a ton of revenue on Snapchat, doesn’t mean it’s not useful,” said Gambill, who spent time with the New Jersey Devils, before starting with Minnesota. “Because we can’t have every single post on every single platform just promoting a corporate sponsor, otherwise people just aren’t going to pay attention to us…We might not be able to bring in revenue right away, but that doesn’t mean down the line that we can’t.”

The most important part of the organization, though? It’s not a trick question, the fans come out to see the players perform. They read about the players, watch videos of them, post on social media about them. And, as much as we talk about buy-in from the suits in the organization (and rightfully so), just as important is the buy-in and the shared understanding by the players.

And it is a tribute to Gambill and the Wild, and a foundation behind much of their quality content, that she has had frank and understanding conversations with the players about social media, content, and why she’s constantly around them with a phone or camera.

“I was lucky enough to sit down with our captains at one point, and talk it through with them, and explain what my goals were with social media,” Gambill told me about her first year with the Wild. “And explain that ‘To you, it seems like I’m just taking a photo. But, by doing that, I’m telling our fans what you guys are doing. I’m giving them a visual of you guys getting ready.”

“Me taking photos of you guys playing soccer may seem super-weird to you. But our fans don’t see that…’ They understood and bought in to the fact, they don’t have to participate in social media for the team to be successful, they just need to let me be around…”

When the people in the C-suite get it, when the hockey ops people get it, when the players get it — magic happens. When everyone is on helping to build deeper connections with fans, it DOES lead to more emotional investment and, ultimately, a better bottom line for everybody.

So have the conversation; show, tell, and explain. No one will ‘get it’ if you don’t try to tell them the what and the why.


Episode 84 Snippets: Greg Mize is Injecting Engagement and Strategy into Atlanta Braves Social

On episode 84 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Greg Mize, Digital Marketing Director for the Atlanta Braves.

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

NFL Wild Card Weekend Social Media Wows

It’s playoff season in the NFL, which means 17 weeks of regular season games have passed. The social media teams behind each club have had weeks to experiment, study, hone, and create. The playoffs began this weekend and not only was it a chance for the league’s better teams to take the field (sorta), it was a chance for their social media squads to shine on a grander scale.

Read on and take a look at some of the standout social media content and strategy that came from the eight NFL teams in action over Wild Card weekend.

(Also check out Social Media Team Reviews from every week of the NFL season)

360-degree content

While some content can get tired and stale, 360-degree content is far from that description and a few teams busted out some 360-degree content, specifically on Facebook, over Wild Card weekend. First, 360-degree content is by no means easy, but Facebook has made it easier than ever. The trick, too, is to make it worthwhile for the user to want to look around. I was particularly impressed by the Miami Dolphins producing 360-degree video, including going to suggested angles while also allowing personal navigation.


The Seahawks put out a pregame hype video, full of emotion and visuals, on all platforms. Al the other teams did something similar, but the Seahawks’s video on Facebook including captions. This helps enhance engagement, with lots of video views occurring with the sound off, which would’ve made the narration useless.


Making the most of Instagram Stories

A few of the teams stood out with their use of Instagram Stories on this Wild Card weekend. The Detroit Lions took full advantage of all the features, including @ mentioning players in their posts and utilizing the Swipe Up. They also effectively integrated a sponsor. Meanwhile, the Packers and Seahawks had some excellent graphics, with the Packers providing a game preview and the Seahawks killing it with some real-time content.

Fun with Emojis on Snapchat

So, yeah, teams have used emoji on Snapchat before. But the time the Packers took to add emoji to a couple of Snaps in their pregame story made the ‘usual’ locker room pics that much more fun.

The Right Place at the Right Time

Just like players and coaches game plan, so do social media teams. After 16 weeks of games, they know where to be or how to find out where to be and when. The result is capturing some unique, awesome content. Making sure to be in the right position is half the battle. Check out the Raiders’ Snapchat knowing to be there to let fans watch players tap the win sign on their way out. The Seahawks were able to make sure someone cut through the crowd to capture opposing players exchanging pleasantries after the win. Fans of the Steelers were treated to an emotional pregame embrace between Big Ben and LeVeon Bell, while Packers fans saw a pregame routine of ball spinning. The social media teams were executing the game plans all day long.

Personally addressing fans

It has been great to see this ‘trend’ grow across the NFL on social media, and this Wild Card weekend brought some excellent examples of personal messages via social. We got a thoughtful pregame message from the Giants, some real-time talk from the Raiders and Seahawks, a Steelers player heating up fans in the cold, and, coolest of all, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio exhorting fans via the team’s Snapchat. There is a lot of emotion, focus, and routine on game day, so good on these social media teams to be there and to have developed the relationship to have that access and serve as that trusted conduit to share it all with the fans.

Working with Influencers

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans were able to activate influencers on their social media platforms, while the Raiders made the most of a message from former star player Charles Woodson (there for ESPN) and they also retweeted some ‘celebs.’ (The MC Hammer retweet is a weekly occurrence for the Black n Silver).


Capturing Attention on Twitter

Twitter is a fast-moving medium during the game, especially when big plays occur. The Pittsburgh Steelers did a great job (and usually do) at engaging fans on Twitter using the game with thumb-stopping visual tweets and good use of the scratch-reel GIF (content with which it made sense to utilize). They also threw out a funny ‘Touchdown’ dictionary.com graphic, inserting star WR Antonio Brown. When you have a stud like Brown, using the same GIF over celebration routine can get stale – the Steelers step it up.

 Thoughtful Content

Every week is a chance for teams to give their fans something unique, something new. Especially in the playoffs. The Houston Texans (though they have done this before) slapped Snapchat Spectacles on the flag bearer and fans got to experience the spirited sprint into the stadium. The Steelers also used Spectacles to give fans a look at the field and a feel for the elements. The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, planned and produced a shoot at famed Pike’s Place in Seattle, tossing a Lions helmet instead of a fish. Finally, I was struck by the overhead view of the Green Bay Packers pregame huddle jumping around that the team shared on Facebook and Twitter. While we may be accustomed to such unique angles on professional  broadcasts, it was cool to see this coming straight from a team. Finally, a nod to the Seahawks who minded their copy to turn an Instagram post from good to great.

Featuring Fans

In the midst of preparing so much (fire) content for fans to consume, it can be easy to forget about showcasing the fans there to cheer on the team on game day. The Houston Texans, in particular, did a good job of showing off some of their fans on Saturday, as well as all week, across digital and social. They also made sure to get a shot of a couple celeb fans there for the game.

The Texans also had a sweet ‘frame’ for their Instagram photos, with players posing in the locker room before the game.

Lots of Video

Video is king right now and its reign appears to be a lasting one. Every team had at least one hype video and there was also a lot of quick video, especially Snapchat and even Twitter (in the case of the Texans). Meanwhile, the Dolphins got major views with a handful of produced, emotion-infused videos on Faebook (and repurposed elsewhere). Kudos, too, to the Raiders for showing the post game locker room from head coach Jack Del Rio, not so easy after a loss. The Seahawks turned around some produced, but real-time content effectively, as well. A few of the teams also cut to live or taped reports from on the field with team reporters, content which always seems to do well for teams.

And a quick nod to the always awesome visual work from the Dolphins photography and graphic team. This is just a couple posts. All their platforms showcase the photos effectively and beautifully.


Facebook CTA button

You know that little button under your Facebook header photo – that often says Contact Us, Get App, Shop Now, etc. Well, the New York Giants took the time to change their CTA button to ‘Watch Video’ and link to a game preview on their website for their matchup against the Packers. Quite the attention to detail to leave no stone unturned for content.


There is little doubt that social media is an inherent part of the fan experience on game day. More eyeballs than ever are on the platforms of teams with national attention on them in the NFL postseason. Every media outlet, reporter, and fan is more engaged and putting out more content, and the competition for attention and love is fierce. It’s also a great time to learn!

As the road to the Super Bowl continues, keep your eyes open and your ears peeled because new social media tactics, ideas, and innovations are playing out on a national scale in real time.

How EA Sports targets the Right Fans with the Right Content in Social Media and Sports

Not all fans are the same. When devising content, most will go for content that will reach the widest and get those metrics we’re all after. But is it all about the greatest reach and the greatest engagement rate?

On the surface, the answer would seem to be a resounding yes. But when evaluated a bit more, there is the reality that there are different segments of fans. Different segments with different interests, wants, needs, and even optimal outcomes from the perspective of a team or brand.

The ability to learn more about and specifically target these varied groups of fans makes it easier than ever to have a multi-faceted content and engagement and marketing strategy. For a mega sports brand like EA Sports, they know not every fan is a diehard gamer (but some are) and not every is a fan of specific team or player, among so many other differentiating factors. This thoughtfulness goes into their strategy, targeting specific “cohorts” of fans, according to their Senior Social Media Manager, Kurt Stadelman. (listen to my conversation with him)

“We create content aimed at each cohort,” said Stadelman, who oversees the brand’s social media properties, but spent years behind the Madden NFL and Tiger Woods PGA game accounts. “We’ll go into creating a trailer specifically for cohort 3, and then we’ll do another for cohort 1, for cohort 2. We’ll do our targeting when we do paid media….we’ll target these audiences with promoted posts, containing those pieces of content”

It’s about being aware and analytical about the different types of potential fans and customers, and how best to engage them. Each piece of content and social media has a goal, and the goal of each is not the same. By knowing the desired objectives AND the the desired audience, it allows for more effective use of the platforms and better delivery on strategic goals. Not to mention a better experience for fans, too.

Stadelman elaborated on their cohort-focused strategic content. “If we want to target a cohort 1, which is hardcore gamers, the trailer that we’ll use will probably have a focus on the new FIFA Ultimate Team promotion that we have coming up, as opposed to — if you try to target the casual gamer with something like that, they’ll be like ‘What the Hell is a FIFA (or Madden) ultimate team?…”


It’s no secret that there are different types of fans, varying levels of fandom and avidity — across games, across sports. So do something about it. Map it out – can you define your cohorts? Are you delivering the right content and the messaging to serve them? Yes, mind the macro metrics and the biggest KPI wins, but heed your KPIs for each fan segment within your reach.

Some fans want the X’s and O’s, some want the player personalities most, others enjoy the fan community and connection and game day atmosphere, and still others may just be casually looking for a good time or something to do or watch. There are different fans for whom there are different desired outcomes and different paths to get there.

It’s one size fits all. So don’t treat it that way.