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

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.

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.

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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.

Preston McClellan is helping to grow the PGA Tour through players, content, and experiences

On episode 111 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Preston McClellan, Senior Brand Marketing Manager for the PGA Tour.

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

Mark Burns Summarizes What Sports Business Experts Think of VR, AR, OTT, esports, and more for 2018

On episode 110 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Mark J. Burns, founder of Sports Business Chronicle.

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 Redskins are Honing Their Digital and Social Content with Analytics

Remember the Internet before data? Even the old-school traffic counters, while no doubt lending a bit of social proof, seemed more novelty than anything else.

And then came Facebook likes, YouTube views, Retweets, email opens, page visits, time spent, video completions, ‘reach,’ and, well a lot more.

There’s so much data and so much knowledge to be gleaned from this content and engagement data that sports teams could hire a full-time position just to analyze it. And, in fact, many have. The Washington Redskins are one of those organizations and I recently had the chance to pick the brain of Geoff Blosat, the Digital Media Analyst for the Redskins, about the monumental task that he faces every day – making sense of tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of data points coming from all of the Redskins trackable fan touch points and content.

It’s not just about a top ten list for the content team to view each day and even a general performance report for the marketers and sponsorship team. It’s about what comes next. The best coaches look back at the previous game to inform what they’ll do for the next game. Blosat realized the power of information to inform Redskins strategy early on, and it solidified his belief and enthusiasm or his role.

“In one of my weekly reports, I came up with this article series idea,” said Blosat, who has been with the Redskins since 2015. “And I remember that first week, it was our #1 article on Redskins.com. And it’s really nice that we’ve been trying a lot of new things with data…with measuring results.”

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So as you review the reams of content, don’t just stroke your chin and pat yourself on the back – be reactive when an insight is discovered. And don’t limit it to just the next Facebook post. It can inform ad creative and messaging, content series, in-game content and promotions, sponsored social and digital content, email marketing content and creative, and so much more.

But it’s one thing for Blosat and those in his role across sports organizations to analyze digital and social media to discover insights. The communication is the key. One must take into account to whom they’re speaking, what matters to them, and how the data or insight can inform their previous or next moves. Making it digestible and making it a conversation and not a prescription are also essential elements, said Blosat.

“It can get overwhelming at times because there are so many data touch points (with fans)…But the biggest thing with data is when you create insights and look into results is (to) understand what’s most important that you’re communicating,” said Blosat. “And once you realize what’s most important – those two, three actionable insights — that’s what you go and run with.”

Don’t write a book with every report – it’s no secret attention spans are shrinking these days (you mean you’re still reading this?!), but instead, as Blosat suggests, break into down into just two or three ‘actionable insights.’ The Redskins’s devotion to data is part of a league-wide interest in assuring it’s teams know which content is performing on which platforms. The NFL actually makes a good amount of data available to all its clubs, and Blosat doesn’t let tunnel vision on the Redskins platforms get in the way of him paying attention to macro trends.

“If a team is, say, really over-indexing in article views on their website, [then I will] take a look at (their most popular content)…,” said Blosat while noting that, when thinking about audiences, one must consider how audiences (and audience traits) differ by team, by location, and by platform. “They could be trying something that we haven’t done, or something we’ve thought about doing in the past…”

On the field and the court, coaches and players are making data-drive decisions every pitch and every play. It doesn’t mean you need to do a 180 on your strategy because of one piece of content that breaks the mold. But it does mean you should be thinking actively when it comes to data, communicating what it means, and getting better on all platforms.

Iterate success, ask questions, find answers, repeat. Blosat and the Redskins are drawing up a smarter playbook. It’s the new, better way of doing content. Or say the data suggests.

[Listen to my conversation with Geoff Blosat]