On February 18th and 19th, I had the privilege of being able to tune into #SportsConf, a digital conference combining the biggest and brightest minds in sports business and tech together. Touching on a number of topics over Google Hangout, they answered some of the biggest questions digital media managers are asking themselves every day.
While I was not able to listen in on every session, I was able to take away some major points from each session that I hope I can utilize down the road.
Sports Teams: The New Media Empires of the Digital Age
- Craig Howe, CEO & Founder of Rebel Ventures
- Melissa Proctor, VP of Brand Strategy for the Atlanta Hawks
- Matthew Baxter, Chief Media Officer at Liverpool FC
- Scott Kegley,Director of Digital and Social Media for the San Francisco 49ers
- Aaron Levalley, SVP of Digital Strategy for AEG Sports
In this panel, they covered how sports teams and brands work on digital media and engage with their market. First off, agencies have noticed that there is a big shift to mobile with consumers. Take that into account when coming up with your media strategy. Are you sites optimized? What kind of content are you putting out? For mobile, try quick hits and news. Something your fans can see quickly while going about their lives.
Next, when going into areas like social media, know where your audience is and adjust your strategy accordingly. Understand your target market and determine what kind of content they want to see. For example, with the Atlanta Hawks, their target were millennials in the Greater Atlanta area. Hence, their social media and digital strategy has taken on a fun and multi-platofrm image, from adding W’s to their Twitter name with every win in a win streak to creating a Spotify playlist to thank fans after the streak ended.
With new platforms, take a trial and error approach, like the 49ers did with Vine and Instagram. Being one of the first NFL teams to launch a full-fledged strategy on each, they needed to see what works, what the results are, and how it helps every other facet of the business.
What if you manage a brand that is so large internationally, it taps into many different markets around the world? Like with Liverpool FC, talk to your audience at the right time in the right language. The team manages many accounts in many different languages over Twitter and can track results and success rate all across the globe.
Lastly, everything that surrounds your team or brand can be used as content. What would your fans and your target market be interested in? Look for those story options, develop them surrounding that content, and personify your brand. Give your product a personality that can be thought of beyond the physical product.
Building Modern Sports Brands Through Video
- Nate Loucks, Director of Original Programming at Whistle Sports
- Lyndsay Signor, Director of Social Media Marketing for NBC Sports
- Cody Cheshier, Director of Audience Development at Nitro Circus
- Theo Tabah, Head of Content at 5by
- Steve Cobb, Co-Founder of Hashtag Sports
The importance and value of video has grown more and more by the day over the last few years. How can you use it to capture your audience?
Everyone on this panel shared their experience with video. For starters, make sure to plan to make your video stick out for your target market. In an event like the Super Bowl, everyone is gunning for the top spot so there is a lot of competition. NBC used the likes of faces that linked to their target market: millennial sports fans. Using the athletic talents of Dude Perfect and Odell Beckham Jr, they were able to create original content thanks to a little research.
Also, video is growing on every major social platform. With auto-play of videos on Facebook (making it more appealing to just directly upload to Facebook instead of going through YouTube), Twitter acquiring Vine and now allowing native uploads of videos, and Instagram adding video, it’s becoming more and more essential in marketing. Understand where your audience is and plan accordingly. Focus your efforts where they are most likely to work.
When it comes to new platforms, do not be afraid to experiment. Try doing things like working with Twitter’s new video platform to engage with your audience. However, understand when it does not work. If it isn’t clicking and bringing in a large amount of success, stop and invest your resources in what works.
Publishers Go Mobile To Reach Today’s Connected Fan
- Jamie Mottram, Content Director at USA Today Sports
- John Turner, Deputy Editor at Sporting News Media
- Joe Ross, VP of Content at theScore
- Ben Lyons, Chief Content Officer at The Players’ Tribune
- Matthew Cerrone, Director of Digital Media at SportsNet New York
Mobile, like video, is becoming a prominent aspect of today’s marketing strategies. Bounce rates increase with sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. Outside of the website, how can you engage with consumers on mobile?
What I took away from this session was the emphasis on content for mobile. What makes readers on mobile attracted to your news? The common consensus was that the mobile viewer is looking quickly through their feed and not looking for something super lengthy. Giving a clean, uncluttered experience with it being both factual and PERSONAL is huge with driving engagement to your mobile news.
Also, when people think of short, quick, and mobile news, Twitter is the first thing that comes to mind. However, some of your audience might not be on Twitter. They could be relying on email updates, app notifications, or Facebook posts to get the latest news and updates. Strategize for that and know where to engage.
With regards to apps and mobile content, the goal is to form a “relationship” with your reader. The more you give to them, the more they twill turn to and hopefully give to you. Provide your reader with relevant, accurate facts that justify them downloading your app and using it for team news.
Redefining the Sports Experience Through New Technologies and Data
- Lev Raslin, Director of Business Development at Signal360
- Kevin Cote, Senior Director of Digital for the Golden State Warriors
- Harry DeMott, CEO of Raptor Sports
When I tuned into this panel, it was centered around a topic that I was not familiar with but it could play a huge role in stadiums for years to come: beacons.
The case study featured with regards to this was with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have beacons all around the stadium that ping on the team’s official app when fans enter a certain point. After that point, they are offered a coupon, shown a featured item, or whatever the case may be.
This can be huge in tracking data on your consumers. How many fans passed through an area? How coupons were delivered? How many were used? Measuring the right analytics shows just how valuable your investment is.
Another use of this app & beacons with Golden State is in regards to ticket upgrades. Fans can upgrade their seat using an app and are reminded of this when they pass through a beacon in the arena. Using this, they can track how many fans buy these upgrades or use the app to buy tickets. Then, you can determine the ROI and if it is worth continuing.
Connected Stadiums: The Impact of Mobile and IoT on Sports Venues
- Priya Narasamhan, CEO and Founder of Yinzcam
- Kevin Blue, Senior Associate Athletic Director at Stanford Athletics
- Abel Cuskelly, Co_Founder of Pogoseat
- Daren Trousdell, CEO and Founder of OneUp Sports
- Steve Cobb, Co-Founder of Hashtag Sports
Stadiums and mobile technology have the potential to go hand in hand down the road, especially with the increased level of technology in today’s sports world.
Arenas are multi-level places, with many areas that fans can explore and figure out but might not have the time to during a game. Mobile technology and apps for teams can help fans unlock those new areas, which can be gateways to increased business in certain areas of the stadium.
Not only do teams need to engage with fans IN the stadium, but they need to engage with fans OUTSIDE of the stadium. One of the primary business goals of a team is to draw fans into buying tickets from them and investing in items such as official team merchandise. How can you use mobile technology to do that? Using the previously mentioned applications, create a personal experience for the fan. Deliver them content that can entice them to follow the team closer and eventually, come to see an event.
Now, this isn’t just about the business. If the fan does take the time and money to invest in your product, how can you repay them? One way that was brought up is a fan loyalty program. Reward fans for coming to games, purchasing goods, or even watching the game. One example that was not mentioned here that I have is with the Buffalo Sabres. Their “Fan Advantage” program makes a season that has been anything but exciting somewhat worth watching and seeing in person.
Sponsorship in Sport: Quantifying Offline Sponsorship Online
- Mike Bolden, Account Executive at Blinkfire Analytics
- Jeff Mirmelstein, Director of Sales at Blinkfire Analytics
- Will Yoder, Digital Lead at Octagon
Sponsors are a huge part of major sports. They invest money into major organizations to gain exposure for their services. Look at soccer and racecar driving. Jerseys and uniforms are like billboards.
Sponsors want to see their investment working. How can you justify that as a sports organization? Using online technologies like Google Analytics and other social tools, you can track traffic to a sponsor’s site or store during events. Traffic spikes during events, link clicks, and purchasing habits during and after events are just some indicators to justify success.
With athletes, how can you use their celebrity to improve sponsorships? Athletes are paid to wear gear, use equipment, and be the voice of brands. Weave these sponsorships into content. Encourage them to use platforms like social media for the brand’s advantage. Ensure positive relationships. Track traffic to sites through what’s shared on social back to your brand. Use these as a start to take your sponsorship to the next level.
How Daily Fantasy Sports Changed the Game
- Jeremy Levine, CEO and Founder of Draft
- Nik Bonaddio, CEO and Founder of numberFire
- Howard Kamen, Senior Manager of Content Acquisition and Distribution of Gannett Digital Ventures
- David Geller, CEO of DailyMVP
- Darren Heitner, Esq., founder of Heitner Legal
DraftKings and FanDuel have TV ads up nearly every single day, espeically during football seasons. They are both multi-million dollar companies capitalizing on the explosion of fantasy sports.
With more and more stats being discovered about players and with the ever-improving technologies to track player performance, daily fantasy sports is a growing market. This is not just in football, either. This can expand to the other major leagues, with single-day competitions and in various sports. It will be very exciting to see where this trend goes, and I know I will certainly be checking it out and trying it out.
Rise of the Millennials: Best Practices in Engaging Today’s Fan in the Feed
- Jayne Bussman-Wise, Director of Digital at New York City FC
- Patrick Cassidy, Global Digital Brand Manager at New Balance
- Valerie De La Rosa, Global Head of Social at StumbleUpon
- Kash Razzaghi, CEO and Founder of Fancred
- Kevin DeShazo, Founder of Fieldhouse Media
- Sean Callanan, Founder of Sports Geek
Generation-Y is the future of the sports industry. Winning over their buying habits and their loyalty is a major key to determining the success of your franchise in the long run.
“It’s a privilege to be featured in someone’s content feed… what kind of social currency can you provide to them?” This was an important quote I took away from this. It’s about the consumer. Know where they are and what kind of content to deliver to them. Knowing your voice on various social networks and the audience you’re talking to makes it easier to create content and push it.
See what kind of content works and know how to differentiate yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Having the director of digital marketing for a new franchise as well as the CEO of a startup social network was an interesting perspective. What can they do to show that they are different than the big faces and that the content they deliver is worth it to the fan? For example, with NYCFC, they deliver behind-the-scenes footage to give their team a personality, something that news sites like ESPN might not be able to provide.
With regards to digital and social media, it is becoming less and less about push marketing. Fans want to see brands have a voice and they want to be drawn in, not just pushed at. It’s becoming more about pull marketing. To reference one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Gary Vaynerchuk, you want to “jab, jab, jab” at your target market to bring them in. Once in, deliver the “right hook” and land the sell.