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.”
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]