Turning Social Media Fire Into a Content Conflagration

You’re sitting on some fire content. Maybe it’s a sick move in practice, a funny moment in the locker room, or a goosebumps-inducing story that just played out. Particularly in this new era when even the best content can feel like it has the lifespan of a fruit fly, it can feel obligatory to get it out on the right places in the shortest amount of time.

But when content is your best currency, it’s important to get the biggest bang for your buck, to turn a mole hill into a mountain.

And that means not just serving the content in many forms and each social network [“exclusive” to a platform is overrated], not just repurposing it to make it last more like days than minutes, no, it means thinking about how it can help the entire landscape for the team or organization – digital, social, marketing, email, even print and in-game. This website is named for Digital and Social Media in Sports because it’s as true today as it was when this website was established, a social media manager’s job is about so much more than social.

Tyler Moorehead knows from his current role at FOX Sports after a prior tenure with the Oakland Raiders, that you always have to think platform-agnostic and multi-platform at all times. “I’d encourage anyone running social at a brand…to think more than just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,” he said. “And how can you affect apps, how can you affect the website….how can you liaison with TV and get our product there?”

So when a piece of content, a storyline, or, yes, a hot take, starts moving the needle, there needs to be a man your battle stations mentality, or at least a consideration of as many platforms and touch points, as possible. Good content is good content and, in the hands of a talented team, can be repackaged a number of ways, and it can all be tied back to greater organizational goals.

“We’re always looking at the analytics and what’s trending…” said Moorehead. “So if we see a piece of content that’s engaging we’ll certainly look to see how we can stretch that conversation, how we can repurpose it, or maybe next time they’re on the air…allow the talent to talk for themselves.”

Not every piece content or every story needs to be plastered across platforms, but when you have a content gem at hand, it behooves one to consider how it potentially can help as many places as possible for the organization or the team. Figure out, whether it’s selecting places to package or post, how a fire piece of content can help the organization accomplish what it wants to accomplish, to milk great content for all its worth in the most effective and efficient way possible.

“When you see something and you capture gold, you really wanna get it out there fast, but I think taking a second to pause and think ‘How can we get the most out of this content?…, “said Moorehead. “And while sometimes it can feel right to leave something as (a platform exclusive)…You’re there for the brand more than the partner (platform)…I think stretching your content is really important, as well.”

We’re in an era of an overwhelming amount of content and the constant feeling that you need to create more, lest you miss out on capitalizing on the fleeting moment or getting beat to it or getting overcome by something bigger. But thoughtfulness and strategy still have a place in this sped-up world and it is those teams that can capitalize best on their content, get the most out of their opportunity and investment, that will win in the end.

LISTEN to my full conversation with Tyler Moorehead <– Great stuff!

Intersport and Sport Business Journal Brand Engagement and Content Summit 2018 Recap

In June 2018, thought leaders from sports and the brands working in sports came together to discuss the leading topics of the day.

What follows is a collection of the best quotes, insights, images, and observations shared via Twitter #SBJEngage.

Thanks to all whose tweets helped fuel this recap!

Jeff Eisenband on How Sports Media is Changing and How to Keep Up

On episode 121 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Jeff Eisenband, Senior Editor at ThePostGame and host for NBA Twitch / the NBA 2K League.

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

5 Ways the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights Have Made the Most of their Historically Successful Inaugural Season

It’s a well-known fact that we can’t control wins and losses. Despite the entreaties of so many fans on social media, the staff behind the accounts and digital content can’t do much about the record.

But every once in a while, or if you’re in Golden State, Pittsburgh, New England, or New York just about every year, you get dealt a winning hand. The question is – are you prepared to maximize the winnings, to take home the biggest pot possible.

This was the scenario facing the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights as their hot start to their inaugural season just kept going and hasn’t stopped all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Their story would’ve created pub and love, regardless, but the team has turned those pocket aces into something more, seizing their opportunity to amass winnings that can last for years and generations to come.

How did they do it? There are plenty of articles to read, there will be case studies to come, but here are five ways the VGK have played their hand wonderfully in 2017-18.

 

They embraced their newness

From day 0, the Golden Knights milked all the amusement and content they could out of being a team that was being created before our eyes, with no brand or legacy to speak, a true blank slate on the ice and on social media. From poking fun at having no roster (projected lines: guy-guy-Reid Duke [their first player], guy-guy, etc. etc.; Reid Duke playing pregame soccer with no companions to pass to) to celebrating one first after another to trying to wrap their heads and fans’ heads around what they’ve done all season long – the Golden Knights became the unlikely team that was easy to love and to root for. They’ve been playing with house money all season (you better believe that pun’s intended!) and have used such leeway to create an underdog, approachable, witty voice that has endeared them to fans.

They made their games into a show

By now, it’s likely you’ve seen, heard about, or read of the incredible pregame festivities before Vegas Golden Knights home games. It has been called a cross between Medieval Times, Hollywood, Disneyland, and Cirque du Soleil all mixed into one and it has created pregame theater that further adds to the excitement around the team and the hot ticket that is their packed home games at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights are the first major pro sports team to call the entertainment capital of the country home and they fit right in on The Strip with their spectacular pregame shows. Adults and kids will come away from these games with such bewilderment stamped into their minds and memories.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Vegas sure knows how to put on a show! 🤩 <a href=”https://t.co/v2uGfgJ7r8″>pic.twitter.com/v2uGfgJ7r8</a></p>&mdash; NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLonNBCSports/status/1001258101826342912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 29, 2018</a></blockquote>
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And they’ve made sure the whole country knows about it, too, especially as their Cup run necessarily created a national storyline. Stick taps to the Golden Knights’ PR team for getting write-ups praising their pregame show in publications like ESPN, the New York Times, and NHL.com, among others, not to mention tons of videos and mentions across social media. Textbook work to amplify what the team is doing.

They became part of Vegas

It has quickly become lear – from the packed arena to the justas packed practices – that the city of Las Vegas has more than embraced its hometown team. The club has helped foster this fan fervor and has continued to throw gas on the fire by integrating themselves into the city. Following the tragic shooting right at the start of their season, the team became a beacon in the community, making visits to hospitals, schools, and emergency workers. Their winning only enhanced the emotional investment from fans, giving them something to cheer about amidst the mourning. From day one, the team made sure to promote the importance of being #VegasBorn and it’s pretty cool to look around the city and see the Golden Knights everywhere – from New York New York’s Statue of Liberty to Julius Caesar at Caesar’s Palace, and much more, the team is part of the fabric emotionally and physically with the city. The team’s home, T-Mobile Arena, is owned and operated by MGM Resorts, and the hockey club has made good use of this relationship, engaging those friends of the family to help support the team. The team has also made inroads with celebrities in the area, too, from hometown boy Bryce Harper to rapper Lil Jon, who gave a free concert outside the arena prior to game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

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They engaged fans in Vegas and all over the world

The Golden Knights have had an instinct for embracing their fans and creating opportunities to engage them further. As fans began popping up not just in Vegas, but all over the world, the team did something about it – and the #VGKWorldwide movement was born. It’s not just a hashtag, though, it’s a mindset – that social media is meant to be social and the best way to build a brand is having fans tell the story for you. Whether it’s soliciting photos of fans all around the world or inviting two-way conversation and user-generated content, the Golden Knights have made fan engagement a active strategy, and not just paying lip service to an engagement rate backed by three second video views. Just look at the responses to this tweet, asking for fans to provide pics to prove they saw this Cup run coming.

They have helped fans fall in love with their players

Think about the signs of a super fan. They probably wear their teams gear a few times a week, they always know when the next game is, and they probably talk about players not using the names on the back of their jerseys, but their nicknames. Nicknames are a lost art in hockey, but every NHL player uses them all the time in practice and in the games, and helping pass on this vernacular to the fans, marrying them, really, can be so key to creating fan connections. So now fans know all about Wild Bill, Flower, Real Deal James Neal, Marchy, and the rest of the fellas.

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Moreover, they have turned their practices into opportunities to further engage their fans and help them build relationships with players? How, as simple as facilitating autographs. A lot of practices in the NHL are closed to public, even more don’t have any organized autograph sessions, it’s typically more so fans hanging out in the player parking lot hoping to get lucky. While the Golden Knights made some waves with restricting autographs at practices to ‘kids-only,’ just turning their practices into true fan events, and not team events that fans are allowed to observe, they gave fans more opportunities and reasons to connect with the club.
[Related note: They have also done a good job with player-driven content and social media takeovers, even into the playoffs, and have done Facebook Live pregame shows just about every night]

 

One of the most important lessons in social media and sports, and sports business in general, is to have a plan to make the most of the good content and the good times. Because just about seat the table will eventually get dealt a winning hand. The question is – will you know what to do with it?

 

Related: Listen to the Vegas Golden Knights’s former Senior Writer and Twitter voice Dan Marazza talk about the team’s early approach to voice, engagement, and content.

Tyler Moorehead of FOX Sports on Strategically Using Social Media to Build a Brand with Fans

On episode 120 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Tyler Moorehead, Director of Social Media for FOX Sports.

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

Jessica Kleinschmidt Creates Connections with Baseball Fans Through Content and Being Real

On episode 118 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Jessica Kleinschmidt, Writer and Editor of Cut4 / Major League Baseball.

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

Content and Marketing are Not Mutually Exclusive: See How the San Jose Earthquakes Do It

It’s a new era and there’s no turning back. The attention of fans can’t be taken for granted. The saying that continues to stick with me years later, from James Royer – then with the Tampa Bay Lightning and now with the Kansas City Chiefs – is that we must earn the right to our fans.

Some preach this more than practice it, but the encouraging reality of today is that most have come to realize that more quality content leads to more engaged fans, who are more receptive to ads. More marketing dilutes the message, so content must lead the way.

This is the path the San Jose Earthquakes are treading, as they seek to foster and grow a fan base, while selling tickets, of course, and building a soccer community in San Jose. Quality content is the ‘bait,’ so to speak (though bait fans enjoy, regardless), and fans are driven to their website or social media posts, where, the Quakes hope, they convert. They notably use their real estate more so for messages from the team to their fans, as opposed to selling it to ads or sponsors.

““We rely heavily on web ads for our website. We have the leaderboard banners…(with) ticket-based ads (as opposed to selling that space to sponsors),” said Paul Dewhurst, the team’s Digital Marketing Strategist, who I recently spoke to for an interview. “It could be click here for the match guide, for tickets…On our website, we really drive fans to a match guide, a ticket link, a four-pack – to make sure they’re informed…”

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But Dewhurst also discussed the falling traffic coming straight to the website, while seeing increased referrals from social media. However, when fans are consuming on social media, as opposed to the Quakes website, they’re not getting easy access to ticketing nor salient messaging from the club. This brings up a conundrum many teams will face — how much to ‘give away’ on social media with native content consumption versus driving fans back to your own real estate, your website, to consume it there.

“It’s a balance of both. We do want to provide readily (consumable) content for our fans…We also see the benefit of driving people back to the website for ticket opportunities and more information on the web that they won’t get on social media…,” said Dewhurst.

So when the Quakes unveiled a new feature content piece for this season, What Would Jimmy and Joe Do?, featuring former players and now team personalities Jimmy Conrad and Joe Cannon interacting with players, the club faced that very question of providing it in full for native consumption or giving fans a snack on social, and driving them back to the website for the full meal. Twitter’s video length limit, too, made this a fairly easy call, as the Quakes released a shortened version of their first episode on social media, and drove fans back to the site for the full version, where they’d also be exposed to the match and ticketing info the Quakes want to get in front of their fans. The nature of Instagram Stories and its swipe-up feature also fit the philosophy well, as Dewhurst noted the success there.

Dewhurst explained: “That’s definitely a big conversation for us is taking original content pieces, cutting it down, and redirecting fans back to our website [for the full piece]…In an effort to drive more fans to our website, where there’s so much more information that can help them out.”

Why do we create content? It’s a question that’s taken for granted, but there’s a reason for all of the social media posts, videos, interviews, GIFs, and graphics. Sure, it’s to inform and entertain, but it’s really about developing fans and driving those fans to take actions that ultimately lead back to the bottom line – business, sales, marketing.

Celebrate the viral posts, the content that gets great reach and engagement, but engineer pathways to the end goals. It’s not going to happen on a linear, direct path, but it’s not going to happen if you don’t help lead fans in that direction. So, yes, earn the right to market to your fans with great content and engagement, and then, well, expose them to marketing. The paradigm has changed and we’re all better for it.

LISTEN TO MY FULL CHAT WITH PAUL DEWHURST