Episode 137 Snippets: Andrew Manning Has Helped Lacrosse Superstar Build and Monetize His Brand

On episode 137 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Andrew Manning, Chief of Staff for Rabil Ventures and Head of Special Events for the Premier Lacrosse 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.

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52 Examples of Sponsored Social Media from NFL Teams from the 2018 Season

Social Media ROI in sports is so much more than someone clicking on a Buy Tickets link or a sponsor paying for ‘x’ number of posts.

But when a team can integrate a partner into content they’d be posting anyway and content their fans would want regardless – that’s the sweet spot. Partners pay for content, fans enjoy content.

And there is no greater opportunity for NFL teams than activating their enormous social and digital audiences around game day. It’s when more fans are following, more fans are engaged, and are more thirsty for content.

For every week of the 2018 season, I picked a NFL team and checked out their sponsored content. That’s 17 weeks of learning (woo!) and picked out a few from each team to share here. I hope you are intrigued and inspired by the following list of ~ 52 pieces of sponsored content from NFL teams on or around game day:

New York Jets

  • The Jets exhorted fans to share their ‘Gameday Green pics, which is sponsored by Miller Lite (as tagged on the image). I noticed Miller Lite doing something similar with multiple teams.
  • This was unique – the Jets have a ‘Fan Hall of Fame,’ in partnership with IdentoGO
  • The third example is cool – the Jets are among many sports teams that offer a ‘pass’ to their game (usually a monthly subscription for guaranteed general admission / last-minute assigned seat for all home games); the Jets’s version is the ‘Jets Boarding Pass,’ sponsored by jetBlue.

 

 

 

San Francisco 49ers

  • Gotta love interviews with players in cars — the Niners have a 1-on-1 interview segment presented by Toyota, and it takes place — while driving in a Toyota!
  • Pregame live hits on social/mobile do pretty well with fans, and the 49ers have Ticketmaster sponsor the ‘Keys To Victory.’
  • Not a content piece here, but a great illustration of integrating partners in their app (they also have Uber, Lyft, and local transit in their app) with In-Seat Concessions presented by BevMo and a Bud Light Quick Pay feature that allows fans to pay for beer at the stadium with their device

 

 

 

Los Angeles Rams

  • A handful of teams will put out a post on social to mark 24 hours until their game; the Rams did so while drawing attention to partner 24 Hour Fitness.
  • The Rams created an ‘asset’ for a partner by sharing ‘Halftime Notes,’ presented by Cornerstone
  • Not as many NFL teams as teams in other sports activate a food partner for an in-game achievement, but when the Rams score two touchdowns, fans get a free Jumbo Jack from Jack In The Box.

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Detroit Lions

  • Multiple teams will do a gameday recipe of sorts and the Lions do a Tasty-style video showcasing their own recipe recommendations, from Henry Ford Health Systems.
  • Cool mobile game in the Lions app that drives awareness and engagement around the Quick Lane Bowl.
  • Wanted to call out an easy, engaging post prior to the game with a Bob’s Big Boy Matchup to Watch, done via the easy-to-engage Twitter poll (and easily duplicated in IG Story).

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Vikings

  • Not sure if they replicate this every week, but a solid piece of content in partnership with Sleep Number is their ‘Inside Look,’ featuring a player talking about rest and recovery.
  • UPS presented a Player Spotlight across digital/social.
  • The third sample is a fun ‘vIQ,’ which is a crossfire-style video in which a player answers some fun quick-hitting questions, as host and player follow along on their clearly visible Microsoft Surface tablets.

 

 

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Teams will often provide fans How To Watch info and the Bucs throw in some analysis, too for ‘how to watch,’ all sponsored by Bud Light. Good pregame content.
  • Another mobile app game activated on game day – Bucs Bingo, inside their app, easy and fun to play, sponsored by Coca-Cola.
  • On an off-day leading up to the game, we get to see some player personality and something fans may enjoy on its own merit – a cooking show with a player guest chef, sponsored by Teco People’s Gas.

 

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

  • Several teams run sweepstakes on behalf of partners and here they tie a ‘Road Trip’ sweepstakes with a relevant partner, Speedway, run via web and includes an opt-in.
  • An infographic branded with a relevant sponsor as the Teachers Credit Union presents By The Numbers
  • During the game, the Colts posted action photos in their Instagram Story (that were actually linked to highlights if a fan tried to swipe up) branded with sponsor Allegiant.

 

 

Kansas City Chiefs

  • It was hard to pick just a few to share from the Chiefs, who do a lot of good content and other activations with sponsors on and around game day. First, take a look at a ‘Chiefs History’ Twitter poll [enhanced by a video!], in conjunction with an education partner, Park University
  • The Chiefs get their fans to have ‘Big Macs for Sacks’ on their minds, as a BOGO offer is activated by a #BigMacSack for the Chiefs
  • Nice way to draw relevant attention to a partner within their gameday photos, including Missouri Lottery in line with a celebration pic (just you celebrating winning the lottery) and a Protein House ‘strong’ pic of a player making a strong play

 

 

Dallas Cowboys

  • The Cowboys teamed up with a couple partners – Sleep Number and Blue Star Families to help out a military family, with an assist from Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper. Good content as a result, too.
  • Another team highlighting a relevant partner tie-in 24 hours out from kickoff, in this case luxury watchmaker Hublot.
  • Throughout the week and on game day – the Cowboys review the ‘Blueprint’ for success in the matchup, along with sponsor Xerox.
  • Wanted to also highlight a unique partner integrated with the oh-so-common travel shots, with Jack Black men’s skin care.

 

 

 

 


Miami Dolphins

  • The Dolphins brand almost all of their press conference / presser recap posts with “I Said It,” presented by Verizon, including the branding on the photos and tagged in the post.
  • Miami activates a relevant partner, music streaming platform Deezer, as fans learn what pregame pump-up songs players prefer on their playlists. (Yay alliteration)
  • Lastly, some cool content and nice activation as a couple old-timers talk about a past game in a barber shop setting, sponsored by Capilla Therapy and Hair Club, both businesses dealing with hair restoration.

 

Chicago Bears

  • Easy and fun to interview coaches over a meal/drink, bringing a partner into the content – here the Bears have Coffee With Coach, from Dunkin’ Donuts, and Lunch With Larry, thanks to a pizza partner.
  • Dunkin’ also sponsors an incredible ‘Game Face’ feature on their mobile app, with an extensive selection of AR lenses fans can wear and share.
  • An easy sponsor integration as the Bears make note of Montway Auto Transport for their transactions, in this case activating a previously injured player.

 

Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills draw attention to bus / rideshare partner Rally with a discount for fans coming to the game and a sweepstakes to amplify the reach, for tickets to a game.
  • The Bills have an activation for scoring two touchdowns, with fans winning Tim Hortons coffee.
  • Just about all of the Bills live content – for pregame and postgame – is presented with ECMC, hammering home their brand association with the Bills.

 

Cleveland Browns

  • All fans have to know about Elk & Elk as a Browns sponsor, and their logo is just about every graphic the Browns post on game day.
  • Good and organic partner integration with FanDuel for Stats & Facts.
  • As many do, Cleveland shouts out airline sponsor United Airlines for their travel photos.

 

Green Bay Packers

  • Many teams tag Bose with photos of their players warming up or entering the stadium sporting headphones, but the Packers do that and more – making Bose the sponsor of all-access content.
  • Nice ‘Drive Summary’ graphic branded for Chevrolet.
  • Cenex is the sponsor of every Packers ‘Inbox,’ and related content, including such content posted on game day.

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Baltimore Ravens

  • Similar to the Jets (See above), the Ravens have a neat ticketing option that also activates a partner – as fans can purchase and use their ‘Southwest Boarding Pass’
  • When the Ravens win, fans get a free coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, as long as they’re registered as a DD Perks member.
  • Baltimore calls out a personal injury lawyer partner for their injury report / Who’s In, Who’s Out

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Washington Redskins

  • Nice way to brand a game preview story with a relevant sponsor – as Pest Management Services is the sponsor of ‘Defending Our Turf.’
  • Invoking one getting an insurance ‘quote,’ the Redskins present Top 10 Quotes with Geico.
  • Tough but impressive mobile app game, sponsored by Bud Light.

 

New Orleans Saints

  • Miller Lite is featured prominently in the Saints’s ephemeral social media, with the Miller Lite Fan of the Game shown on their Instagram Story and a Miller Lite can on their Snapchat geofilter.
  • ABC Insurance Agencies sponsors ‘Xtra Downs,’ a game for fans to play on game day inside the Saints mobile app.
  •  A lot of ways to brand keys to the game, et al., and the Saints have ‘Key Ingredients’ for a win, presented by pizza partner Papa John’s.

 

No, not every sponsored social media campaign in sports starts with a catchy pun (but it doesn’t hurt), and as this creative collection shows, there are ample opportunities to tie in relevant partners into content that would be posted anyways. Content that fans are happy to see and consume. Content that brings in sponsors in a way that make sense. We’re still in the early days of sponsored social media content in sports, but it has already come a long way from years ago. The best is yet to come, and the winners should end up being the fans.

CHECK OUT ALL THE FULL TEAM REVIEWS HERE

Episode 136 Snippets: Will Frasure Goes Inside Baseball on How MLB Social Has Evolved and Where It’s Headed Next

On episode 136 of the Digital and Social Media Sports Podcast, Neil chatted with Will Frasure, New Media Strategist for 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.

Chicago Bears Sponsored Gameday Social Media Content Review

The NFL’s Chicago Bears played at the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17 of the 2018 season and won 24-10 in their regular season finale.

What follows is a curation of their gameday / game week content. Some if it was posted across channels (FB, Tw, IG; active on Snapchat, but nothing sponsored) and some was exclusive to the platform. Good stuff, Dolphins!

Digging Deeper in Digital and Social Media in Sports in 2019

A year older, a year smarter.

That’s the mantra to which we all try to hold ourselves accountable. And we’ve seen this play out over the years in the dynamic field of digital and social media in sports, which often changes by the day, let alone the season and the year. We started out with vanity metrics – followers, page likes – graduated to the nebulous term ‘engagement’ – clicks, likes, comments, shares, which also brought upon the even more nebulous ‘reach.’

And then the progress kind of, well, stopped. We didn’t sit on our hands during this interim, we were just overwhelmed by new platforms – mobile, Stories, GIFs, videos, looping videos, organic, promoted – and we pivoted to try and fit those well-worn metrics – reach and engagement – to these new forms of, well, reach and engagement.

But we can’t stop now. The digital and social space will continue accelerating at a breakneck pace – in 2019 and the years beyond, and the evolution – nee, the revolution – that has started to sprout, and must blossom in the months and year ahead is that of context. Asking more of the metrics – the ‘so what?’ and the youthful, inquisitive cycle this still-burgeoning ecosystem demands. In 2019, let’s go further and ask for a little of the following:

Context For Metrics

How do you evaluate performance? Maybe you look at gross engagements, views, reach – and then check the league rankings or the national or industry-wide averages. It’s time to question and clarify the context in 2019.

There’s no single prescription, but it’s also not a black and white equation where it makes sense for the league champion to have reach or net engagement rate equal to that of those at the bottom of the league. And yet doesn’t it make sense, the thinking would go, to compare teams with teams, schools with schools, etc., since it wouldn’t make sense to do more localized comparison? But one wouldn’t expect one of the local major pro teams to compare with other local businesses, or even other local major teams, which are in different leagues. So where does that leave context for our metrics?

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The best piece of advice I’ve been given numerous times on the podcast and in conversations is to benchmark against oneself. We may not know what it all means (more on that later) – the engagement, the reach – but the way the platforms performed today, all things being equal – should hopefully be better than yesterday.

But, uh oh, all things being equal. Again, we’re in need of more context. Was last month better than this month across metrics? It’s always more nuanced – were there more home games, more primetime games, exciting wins, blowout losses, uniform unveilings, breaking news, were there work holidays, etc. etc.? We’re getting to the point where a number of variables can be captured and accounted for, but even in the absence of such a data fire hose, we have to remember that context is key when evaluating performance. Oh, but what about performance – what does that mean? We’re just getting started…

Context For Results

So how’s your engagement rate? I hope it’s high. Higher is almost always better when it comes to these things. But is it? Well, it depends on the context.

Engagement[s] are often touted as a KPI in digital and social media in sports. But we all know that including an Instagram double-tap in the same equation as a Facebook share or a Twitter link click – well, that just doesn’t make sense. Yes, the more interactions – the more active your audience is, the better. It’s some proof there’s someone there on the other side – they hear, they see you. But Facebook comments don’t pay the bills.

Sure, there’s value in the increased reach, the bump via the algorithm, it’s increased awareness [all pub is good pub, yeah?], but seeking more context means looking at what comes next. That’ll leads us closer to the more tangible ROI we all seek.

Are these engaged fans, when isolated and targeted with ads, converting at a higher rate or spending more? Are these engagements resulting in revenue via ads or viewership of sponsored content? What did fans do after they clicked on the link?

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Think outside the box, too – are there new entries to this engaged audience (are new fans engaging with us in whatever way)? Are certain types of posts resulting in more new fans engaging for the first time?

Consider the sweepstakes — a common activation in the digital and social sports space, whether sponsored or in-house. Sweepstakes A was run on Facebook and got 2345 entries. Sweepstakes B was run on Twitter and received 3500 entries. Clearly Sweepstakes B was more successful. It’s not so simple – dig deeper.

Was 2400 of the 3500 entries in B simply retreads from a previous sweepstakes while A was 2000 names/emails your database didn’t have before? Was one sweepstakes for tickets to a game while the other was an exotic vacation? Did they both collect the same info? Did the sweepstakes for tickets add to a retargeting audience that later converted with sales? One can keep going. The good news, most of the time the answer exists in some data or in the engineering of the content or sweepstakes.

Thinking beyond the business results, though, is the way our content and platforms connect with fans.

Context For Content

Just a quick word on content, as it has become increasingly complex and overly clever, at times. And that’s not a bad thing.

But as we start to share the number of miles a player ran during the game or the speed of that pass, it means nothing to fans without context. Is it more or less compared to the player’s previous games? Is that faster than the average player in the league or on the team? How would the average person rate? It’s not just context for such advanced stats, though, it’s also being as clear as we are clever.

Look, for example, at team hash tags, some of which even bring up emojis when used on Twitter. Maybe they’re sayings, taglines, nicknames, mantras. Outside of the strategic use of hash tags to finish off a funny tweet, hash tags upon which one hopes to build a community and a brand should be celebrated and embraced. Make it easy for fans to do this (and some do), by adding context. What does this content mean, how does it look, why should fans rally around it, how does it reflect the team?

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The above example addressed a team slogan, but it can also apply to sponsor integrations. It’ll help brands if their ‘integration’ is a simple tag on Instagram. Give more context fans and it may just result in a better experience and outcome for all – why is the partner sponsoring this content (i.e. enabling it to be made for fans) and why is the team partnering with this brand? We’re all part of this unspoken agreement – sponsor pays team, team pays employees, employees produce content fans want and enjoy – and yet it’s often in the elephant in the room covered up phrases like ‘presented by’ or sometimes just random tagging on posts. It can be better in 2019.

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What this all comes down is the desire to dig deeper, to demand more from your digital and social data. There should be a method to the madness, a reason for making decisions and allocating time and resources. Embrace the inner little kid and ask questions ‘Why?’, ‘So what?’, and ‘And then what happens?’.

It’s always a good thing when one can articulate the reasons they do what they do. And digital and social requires, perhaps more than any other area, a depth of knowledge of the organization, and how the sausage gets made, because it’s the front line to fans, often the first and most frequent touch point.

Go beyond sports, too. Digital and social ultimately is about how individual people – interact on these platforms and why they do it. And, from there, why and how they want to interact with your content. Don’t fall back on trends and best practices; instead, study and consider the underlying reasons for the trends and what they say about interaction, engagement, and people.

Let 2019 be the year the next step is taken, when the meaning of the metrics matter more.

 

Dallas Cowboys Sponsored Social Media Gameday Review

The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in December 2018 and lost in a rough game, 23-0.

What follows is a curation of their gameday / game week content. Some if it was posted across channels (FB, Tw, IG; no active Snapchat content) and some was exclusive to the platform. Good stuff, Cowboys!

Buffalo Bills Sponsored Social Media Gameday Review

The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in December 2018 and lost in a rough game, 23-0.

What follows is a curation of their gameday / game week content. Some if it was posted across channels (FB, Tw, IG; no active Snapchat content) and some was exclusive to the platform. Good stuff, Cowboys!