User-Generated Content Has Its Place in Sports

I recently wrote an article about how social media managers don’t have to take the content journey alone. For many who work in social media, one of the hardest tasks is creating content that adds value 365 days a year. If you work in sports though, thankfully, that is normally NOT the problem: Normally the problem is having too much content.

While I was writing the article though, I naturally kept coming back to how user-generated content could be leveraged in the sports industry. Just like a lot of brands outside of sports, I normally see it used for contests. Quite simply, it’s vastly underutilized.

I think it’s time for teams and leagues to start thinking about how they can integrate consumer-generated content into their regular routine. Let’s start leveraging the power of fans on a regular basis. Here’s why I think it’s important in the sports industry:

  • It gives you more content, while being cost effective.
    We would all love to have an extra hand or two to help us capture content during games and events, but budgets don’t always allow for that. Leveraging user-generated content is a great way to get more content while not dipping into your budget.
  • It shows a different perspective.
    UGC could have a lot of leverage for teams and leagues on game days, providing unique perspective only fans can provide. Of course your team does not have time to run around from tailgate to tailgate to capture content, but here’s the good news: You don’t have to.
  • It connects fans even more to the community.
    There are a lot of stats out there that demonstrate how consumers trust CGC, and while I don’t think trust is normally an issue in the sports industry, it does help your fans feel more connected to the community. Additionally, people are more likely to share content they are a part of. Quite simply, it makes your community stronger and is an easy way to thank your fans.

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Derek Jeter’s Last Game in NYC (Socially)

On September 25, 2014 Derek Jeter set the sports and social media world on fire during his last game at Yankee Stadium. More than 1.3 million tweets were sent that day and many brands and organizations got in on the chatter. I took a look at how ESPN, Gatorade, NY Yankees, MLB and Nike covered his last game in New York from a social perspective. Below are slides highlighting their stats and lessons learned. Enjoy!

Please note that all stats were compiled manually (painful, I know). Because of that, these are not meant to be hard numbers but to give you an idea of the type of traction received. 

Taking Notes from the Miami Hurricanes

I have a strong appreciation for the Miami Hurricanes in the social space. Brian Bowsher and company continue to shine season after season, consistently ranking in the top 25 for athletic departments across all platforms. Their Facebook page sits at No. 6 for engagement, which in my opinion is more important than the number of fans.

From the outside looking in, it seems that it’s not so much about jumping on the latest platform, but being great at where they choose to play. I admire that. Year-after-year they continually improve their content across platforms, always coming out with something a little different. This year is no exception.

Below is a look at four of my favorite trends and initiatives from Miami this year, with some thoughts on what we can takeaway:

No. 1 – Video infographics.

Miami has always been on the emerging trend of using infographics to highlight game notes and stats, but this year they took it up several notches and turned their infographics into video productions. The results are outstanding:

Takeaway: Everything can be tweaked. Take a look at your content and the story you want to tell. Ask yourself how it can be improve. Your social media presence will not continue to grow and shine if you get stuck in a content rut.

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Building a Social Media Strategy: Thought Process

The thought process for mapping out an initial social media plan fascinates me (yes fascinates, because I’m a dork). Like most things in the creative world, there is not one consistent process that everyone abides by, so it’s interesting to see how everyone goes about it. This is my best attempt at illustrating how my brain works when laying the groundwork for a social media plan (again, just setting up the foundation). I would love to hear what your process is, so please, share below!


 ** It’s worth noting that the content and platform strategy end up being a robust plan all on their own. The platform strategy is where I focus on tweaking the content for the platforms, amplifying the content, how to engage, paid social, etc. At the end of the day, it’s about focusing on the strengths of each platform so you leverage them appropriately.

Oregon’s “Coming Home” Video

The Oregon Ducks have absolutely nailed it with their latest video “Coming Home”.  Just watch it:

This video is packed with star power (Mat Kearney), nostalgia and emotion. What’s not to love? It always helps when you have an advocate like Mat Kearney (a 1997 graduate of South Eugene High School) who is willing to write a beautiful ode and anthem for your school, but Oregon also did a great job of putting together the look and feel. The video intertwines beautiful footage of the state of Oregon and Duck history (like Prefontaine) with classic football footage. The video feels genuine and heartfelt, and even as an Auburn fan, left me wishing that I was a part of this Oregonian life. It’s a beautiful and brilliant homage to the place Duck fans call “home”.

Three Football Videos that Steal the Show so Far

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which in case you didn’t know, means football is in full gear! Yes, I love this time of the year because I’m a huge football fan, but I also love it for another reason: With the start of football season, comes a lot of content.

I especially enjoy the football hype and intro videos that are produced this time of year. These videos tap into so much emotion (anticipation, nostalgia, excitement, etc.) and have the ability to move fans in a way that’s hard to do week after week (unless of course you’re having a golden season). Good football trailers and hype videos can also serve multi-purposes, working great in-venue and online.

I’ve gone through this year’s videos that are available online right now and pulled out some of my favorites, with a little insight into why. I hope you’ll find some inspiration in them:

1. Florida: A New Season 

Florida put football and Michael Buble together and made it work. What’s not to like? In all seriousness, a big “kudos” to the Florida video team for this video. They took into consideration the season they had last year and knew that the typical highlight reel with big hits and action shots wouldn’t work. Understanding that, they took a chance and deviated from the norm with an unlikely song and great imagery to go with it.

Additionally, the idea “it’s a new day” is simple. Most great ideas start with a simple concept, so before you start storyboarding, come up with the simple (but grand) idea for the year. What’s the theme? What’s the story you are trying to tell? Boil it down to a few words or a sentence and go from there.

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Why the @Colts Sponsored Content Works

I can be tough on sponsored programs. All too often it’s forced or simply screams advertisement (think the “sponsored by” copy you see everywhere), adding noise to the community and little value to the sponsor. But this football season the @Colts have found a formula that actually works. They’ve found a way to integrate sponsorships into their content in seamless fashion. Go ahead and take a look:

The Colts have created mini series of sponsored content. The series range from behind-the-scenes sideline photos (sponsored by Taco Bell) to score updates (sponsored by McDonalds). The idea of sponsored content in the form of simple graphics makes a lot of sense. I have a feeling it’s something we will see more of from teams and leagues in the next year to come.

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You Can’t Slap Social Media on Everything

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 5.23.50 PMBREAKING NEWS: NBA game balls are officially social.

If you were hoping that NBA game balls could now tweet, interact, like and engage with NBA fans, think again. The only thing social about the NBA game ball is that it now proudly boasts the league’s Twitter handle on it.

Yes, the NBA announced today that the official game ball is going to be adorned with their Twitter handle– @NBA– in pint-size font.

After the announcement on Twitter, my timeline started blowing up—“the NBA is smart, it’s so social, hail NBA game ball.” But as I sat and watched the coverage unfold (that included tweets from media outlets like ESPN, Mashable, etc.), I couldn’t help to think the whole thing was a little silly. Why are we talking about the NBA placing their Twitter handle on a ball?

Just because the NBA had to cut through a lot of red tape to get the Twitter handle there, does not mean that it deserves a standing ovation. There’s nothing social about placing a Twitter handle on an inanimate object. Oh the irony.

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A Q&A With South Carolina’s CMO on Storytelling, Marketing & Their Latest Brand Campaign

As football season gets into gear, athletics departments and teams are ramping up their social and digital efforts in order to drive anticipation for the upcoming season and ticket sales. As I’ve watched the content come across my screen, a particular campaign from South Carolina stuck out to me—Here. The campaign isn’t just about football and the gameday experience; it’s bigger than that. The campaign is about the culture of the school and town, a retreat from the grind, the commonality that ties all Gamecocks together and the passion of the team and fans. Instead of just selling football tickets, South Carolina told their story. Ah, emotion:

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The Need for Communication Consistency

It wasn’t all that long ago where we saw little engagement and stiff copy from teams and leagues on social media. I remember writing over and over again about the need to engage on Twitter. After all, the ability to connect, converse and listen to fans is what makes social media unique from any other communications / marketing tool or platform.

Thankfully, we’ve seen a shift. More and more teams are beginning to understand the importance of brand personality and connecting with fans on social media.  The LA Kings were one of the first teams to draw attention on Twitter for their snarky personality, and it seems since then, others are starting to buy in. That’s the good thing.

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