Safely Playing the Social Media Game

Social media is a difficult game to play. There are very little rules, the boundaries are barely visible, and you rarely know your opponents. It doesn’t matter how fast they run, athletes can’t get away from social media.

It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.” -Amy Jo Martin

7910370882_e2d8bfd3b4_oIt’s an unspoken requirement for athletes to manage a presence on multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to Kevin DeShazo with Fieldhouse Media, the goal is to be yourself, engaging, and interactive.

Social media can allow fans to build personal connections with their idols, which leads to better ticket sales, sponsorships, and fundraising. According to a 2011 study, sport spectators are 55% more likely to purchase a product if it has been tweeted or written about on social media by one of their favorite athletes.

Athletes have to stay at the top of their game. Social media can be very rewarding, but it can also ruin a career with just one post going viral in a matter of seconds. DeShazo told student reporters at Oklahoma State University that says most professionals don’t understand social media’s power and reach. He suggests they keep in mind that each post resembles holding a news conference. The golden rule: think before hitting send.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel accidentally tweeted his cell phone number to Johnny_Manziel_in_Kyle_Fieldmore than a million followers last October. He claims he thought he was sending his digits in a direct message.

Former San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 in August 2009 for blaming “nasty food” from keeping the Bolts from the making it to the Super Bowl.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall sent out a series of tweets after American troops killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. After scolding users for celebrating the terrorist leader’s death, Champion dropped its sponsorship deal with Mendenhall.

Location, location, location. Athletes will unknowingly give out their location because the location services on their phone is enabled. A word from the wise: don’t tweet until the event is over and you’ve left.

It’s crucial for a sport organization to closely monitor all social media accounts affiliated with its brand. Educating athletes is the first step in preventing a mistake that could come with harsh repercussions. Darren Rovell’s “100 Twitter Rules to Live By” is a great launching pad.

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Drive Fan Engagement with Marketing Automation

The formula is simple: engagement equals sales. Think you’re just a face in a crowd of 82,500 at MetLife Stadium while watching a New York Giants game? Think again! You may be surprised at the lengthy amount of information an organization is gathering about you. Are you proactive or a procrastinator when it comes to buying tickets for a game? Do you wait until the end of the second quarter to grab a beer? Do you consistently leave before a game is over?

There are several ways to not only manage data already collected, but innovative ways to gather even more. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with being greedy. In four phases and 12 steps, SimplyCast recommends the following methods to drive engagement and put more fans in seats:

Homeofthe12thManHow do you expect to communicate with fans if you don’t have the right contact information?! Make it a priority to regularly update the user databases. Focus on always maintaining the basics: names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Ask them their preferences. Do they prefer to get a message through text message over email? Ask them how many games they want to attend. A prize may have to be offered as an incentive to encourage fans to take the time to confirm their information.

When spectators visit a stadium/arena, take advantage of real-time data collection. Representatives can mingle with fans and gather basic and more detailed information, like “How often do you come to games?” and “Where do you usually buy tickets?”

Make fans feel welcomed and valued right from the start. It is as easy as sending a personalized welcome email. Nurture users by asking them to subscribe to a weekly digital newsletter for information about upcoming events, exclusives, fan clubs, how to purchase tickets, and links to news stories. Track the links they click and interact with them through social media.

When an order is placed, send a notification right away. Let consumers know you received their request and appreciate their business. In your emails, include information about parking, stadium rules, when gates will open, and frequently asked questions. This would also be a good time to integrate Facebook or Twitter and encourage fans to share that they are attending a particular game/event.

A few days before the game, send a reminder email. On game day, post informational and exciting messages on social media. Engage with fans by asking them to send pictures of themselves. The Nashville Predators use #PredsPride. Ask spectators to text in their votes for the player of the game.

Not all fans need to receive the same communications; there are different sales cycles. The Interested Phase is welcome messages and counting down the start of the new season or upcoming games. The Engaged Phase is a reminder for upcoming events and targeted content based on a user’s history. The Lapsed Phase includes surveys to gain insight, incentives to re-visit a website, and promotions to re-engage.

12245750054_5a3d3025e1_oMerchandise with a team logo or name is a free, walking billboard. Use mobile coupons and special email promotions to drive sales. Let the fans have some say in what information they wish to receive. Some people want details about parking, last-minute tickets, or a reminder to wear white for a White Out.

The possibilities of how to engage fans are endless. If you think you have a brilliant idea, give it a shot. Understand your fans and start engaging them today.

4 Sponsorship Trends to Never Forget

“The only thing that is constant is change.” A phrase published by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, in 500 B.C. still holds true in 2015. Perhaps, no one understands that belief more than someone trying to sell a sport sponsorship in an increasingly competitive market.

Everyday is a new day, a fresh start. The people responsible for designing and activating sponsorships have to be at the top of their game. IEG, a leading organization in sponsorship analysis, insight, valuation, and measurement, proposes four trends to know and follow in hopes of leading a successful campaign.

Start by telling a story to the target audience, but don’t necessarily make it about your company. Take note of country singer Toby Keith’s song “I Wanna Talk About Me.” Potential buyers like talking about a brand, but what they really want is to talk about themselves: what they think, like, know, want, and see. A brand can nurture stories by asking people to participate and become advocates. Consider PepsiCo’s “Are You Fan Enough?” campaign with the National Football League in 2013.

The advertising creative captures the excitement of experiencing and connecting to the game by showcasing various fans, teams, players and coaches getting ready for kickoff.”

 

In an attempt to create the ultimate fan experience, the campaign used engagement. It’s crucial to make potential buyers feel like they belong, part of the community.

According to the official news release, a ten-city bus tour tailgate party that allowed fans to deliver a personal message to their favorite team in hopes of making it to the jumbo-tron. NFL rookies asked fans to show they are “fan enough” by voting online for Rookie of the Week. Fans also got a chance to win tickets, team merchandise, and participate in special moments by using #FanEnough.

A sponsorship is no longer just about the value for the company. Serving and value for the consumer should be a primary focus. This campaign wanted fans to express their passion, build morale, and stick together until the end. If a team makes it to the Super Bowl, fans will have bragging rights, the chance to see the game, and it can put their team/hometown in the national spotlight.

The “Are You Fan Enough?” campaign was the first to be activated across all of PepsiCo’s brands. For example, Diet Pepsi is targeted toward women. The company used that brand to communicate with women that they could share their fandom, like team-inspirted manicures, to win prizes. The campaign was also innovative with its different techniques and messages with fans to “bring them closer to the teams, players and ultimately the game they love.”

8 Ideas for Winning with Sports

Attention. Select. Recall. Reoccur. Not every sponsorship is a home run or touchdown. It takes an incredible amount of brainstorming, crafting, and evaluating to walk away with a win.

What is the key to success? IEG, a leading organization in sponsorship analysis, insight, valuation, and measurement, says it’s pairing innovation and sport.

Sport offers a substantial and sustainable opportunity to out- innovate competitors by connecting audiences to the things they love on an immeasurable scale. And in ways they never knew were possible.”

mml-logo-flatIEG has developed eight ways to successfully turn sports assets into value-enhancing, consumer- focused ideas. It starts with finding emotion by viewing audiences as people, not demographics, and developing a relationship. NCAA realizes even die-hard basketball fans cannot sit around for two weeks watching continuous March Madness coverage. But they can watch almost every game through the March Madness Live streaming service or apps for iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows devices. The accessibility allows fans to carry on with their lives, like going to the mall with family, without missing a play.

Values now count as much as value, according to IEG. Purpose is one of the new 4Ps of marketing; build race+against+cancer+web+logoservice into every sponsorship. Subway has signed on as the new title sponsor of Covenant Health’s “Race Against Cancer” in Knoxville. John Dell, a local franchise owner and development agent for East Tennessee explains:

All Subway restaurants are locally owned and operated, so it’s important to us to support organizations that are working to improve the quality of life for members of our community.”

Create great content; bring something new and better to the fan experience. More than 80 teams are engaging fans with in-stadium interactive displays. The feature allows them to use their phone to “have a deeper conversation with their favorite teams, athletes, sponsors, and fellow fans” with “access to exclusive content, promotions, and giveaways,” according to Chantal Tode with Mobile Marketer.


Participation in a sponsorship can promote brands and magnify the marketing value. Southwest Airlines used a Doritos commercial that aired during the Super Bowl to its advantage with this tweet:

Consumers are human. Great stories draw them in and keep their attention. As IEG says, “Every touch point is an opportunity to prove who you are.” Consider the Budweiser commercials that air each year during the Super Bowl featuring the clydesdales and Golden Retriever. The storyline is relatable and emotional, which captivates millions of viewers. This year’s theme was titled “Lost Dog” with an emphasis on #BestBuds.

 

Companies must stay one step ahead: be relevant, be agile, be fast. Launch small ideas and quickly move on. It’s easy to be pushed out of mind, so create memorable moments that give the world something they can’t stop talking about. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Nike tweeted a staged photo of a coin toss that that went viral during the CFP National Championship in January.

Measure what matters, not what’s easy to count. According to IEG, reach and media equivalencies “fail to reveal whether or not a partnership is building market share, brand value, or shareholder value.” Remember to concentrate on outcomes over outputs.

Balance the portfolio to “reveal both conflicting images that dilute brand impact, as well as overlapping strengths and weaknesses.” Visa uses its sponsorships to communicate its credit/debit card payment service is “everywhere you want to be.” From the FIFA World Cup to the Olympics Games, each event plays a different role in the pursuit of fulfilling objectives.

Crafting Sport Sponsorships That Work

Sponsorships can generate big money, but the expectations are growing and the ideas have to be innovative.

IEG predicted brands would spend $14.35 billion on sports sponsorship deals in 2014, according to Advertising Age. That’s a 4.9% increase from 2013 when spending grew by 5.1%.

PepsiCo spent the most on sponsorships in 2013: $350-355 million. Coca-Cola, Nike, Anheuser Busch, AT&T, General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Adidas, and MillerCoors rounded out the top ten.

It’s not just about the money, though. The art of preparing, selling, and evaluating a sponsorship deal is constantly evolving. A successful sponsorship should aim to create a win-win for the sport organization/event, fans, and sponsors.

As Laura Huddle, Senior Marketer at Eventbrite, says, “Ask not what your sponsor can do for you, ask what you can do for sponsors.” The experience should be unique, while meeting target demographics and objectives.

Huddle and her colleagues came up with the 7 Tips for Getting and Keeping Event Sponsors:

1. Know your audience

It is crucial to understand who attends your event(s) by gender, income, age, ethnicity, job titles, location, etc. Are they decision-makers or key influencers? What are their brand preferences? How often do they participate? You can collect additional information using registration details, surveys (don’t ask too many questions), experience from sponsors, and social media engagements.

2. Brainstorm what’s brandable

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Courtesy: IEG

What makes your event unique? On-site signage, logo on a website, merchandise, tickets and hospitality during the event, and co-branding are all options. No idea should be held back.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are using Instagram to extend sponsor reach. Dodger Stadium is the most geotagged sports venue on social media. The team is leveraging that status by adding sponsor messages into photos. Case in point:

The team placed Bank of America branding behind the number 42 in the Bank of America Retired Members Plaza. The jersey number —which honors Jackie Robinson—is the most popular location for Instagram photos in the stadium.”

3. Make a list

Start with people you know and event participants. For example, friends, board members, volunteers, and customers. Also consider competitors of sponsors of other events, supporters of your cause, and grand openings.

Tailgaters need food, right? Why not have a Tailgater of the Game contest? Food City has that deal with the University of Tennessee. Judges search Neyland Stadium for style, spirit, and creativity. The winner receives a $500 Food City gift card and a shoutout on the video board. What’s in it for Food City? Brand awareness.

4. Know your sponsors

tips-for-finding-an-event-sponsor-30-638Once you’ve made a list, research what sponsorships they’ve done before, find out who makes the deals, understand why they make those decisions, and learn about their decision deadlines. Business-to-business and business-to-consumer are going to have different needs.

Understand most sponsors want exclusivity. AT&T is the Official Communications Services Sponsor of U.S. Soccer. NASCAR will lose Sprint as a title sponsor after the 2016 season due to “a need to focus more directly on its core business priorities.”

5. Be specific

Forget selling points! Discuss specific ways an organization/event can help a sponsor meet their goals. Focus on the individuals attending, the story behind the event, event numbers, and the experience.

6. Measure what’s important

Find out what the sponsor wants to evaluate: total audience, demographics, engagements, impressions, leads, media value, awareness, testing a new product, etc.

7. Get endorsements

When someone else can validate that a particular project was a hit, that statement will have more of an impact on potential sponsors’ decisions.

A complete understanding of your organization/event and sponsor is key. The relationship will prosper with relentless communication, evaluation, modification, and new ideas.

Protecting Privacy

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Beware! Big Brother isn’t the only one watching your every keystroke or click. Brands are also closely monitoring your online activity, gathering more than enough information to target you in their next campaigns.

What type of information is being collected? What are companies doing with the information? Are they trustworthy? How is that information being protected?

The Pew Research Center released a new study Tuesday that found there is widespread concern about government and business surveillance:

91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Ever Google your name? You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a celebrity, but you’ll still pop up in the results. One of the first links, Spokeo, will more than likely show your name, age, and where you live. That’s pretty scary!

CNN spoke to Don Jackson, a security researcher, in August 2012. He warned “data mining” can lead to hacking, identity theft, and stalking:

We have seen cases where just basic information, just very few pieces from social networks, can lead predators to potential victims, for example. That’s a common scenario, actually.”

Companies need to be transparent in their quest for information about consumers.

Facebook updated its privacy policy on Wednesday. The social Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.14 AMmedia website also released an easy-to-read, interactive guide for users to learn what information is being gathered and how it is used and shared. It’s still pretty complicated to understand.

SnapChat, a popular photo-sharing app, is also taking steps to make users feel safe. CNN Money reports the company will:

Warn you if another app on your phone is saving your pictures. Snapchatters using third-party apps will be forced to change their password. If they refuse, their accounts will be locked.”

AT&T stopped using hidden “super cookies” on smart phones on Friday. USA Today reports the change came after consumer pressure.

Online tracking isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it will only become a bigger issue. There is no way the federal government can regulate because the problem is universal. Privacy really starts with the user, though. Only share information you don’t mind being blasted to the world. What if consumers got paid for their information? Would that make it more acceptable?

Content: The Team’s Biggest Challenge

A nail-biting finish for the University of Tennessee against South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols beat the Gamecocks 45-42 in overtime, clinching their first SEC victory of the season. Although the game was difficult, the team’s biggest challenge happens every day off the field.

Organizations must find ways to keep fans engaged. When a team provides content, it generates attention and fan-interest.

A recent Forbes magazine article highlighted Heineken‘s effort to put an umpire chair in the middle of Union Square. The company had volunteers, wanting to win tickets to the U.S. Open, sit and try to quiet passersby.

Brands such as Heineken can no longer rely on just commissioning stale 30-second promotional ads. They have to stand out by producing memorable experiences—both online and offline—that generate emotional connections and help turn viewers into fans.”

Vettel_Bahrain_2010_(cropped)Red Bull is more than just an energy drink. The Austrian company invests a lot of money in extreme sports, like motocross, snowboarding, and cliff-diving. As one blogger wrote, establishing the brand in sport has been the key to success:

There was a clear niche that they could see in action sports that would tie in with their motto: “Red Bull gives you wings”. The real secret to their domination is that Red Bull haven’t just advertised in this market, they have become involved.”

The company sponsors several athletes and hosts multiple sporting events around the world each year. The brand is plastered everywhere: uniforms, equipment, naming rights, publications, pictures, videos, transportation, etc. Another blogger stated Red Bull is great at producing content because it owns and controls distribution channels:

Red Bull’s content success is largely due to staying ahead of the industry—where and how consumers are viewing content—keeping it relevant, and creatively blurring the lines between advertising and content.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.54.40 AMTennessee Athletics is great at sending out content via social media. When the team is preparing for its next game, pictures are posted on the @Vol_Football Instagram account counting down the number of hours until kickoff. At the end of each quarter, pictures with the score are posted. When it’s a player’s birthday, a picture of them is posted to recognize their special day.

The initiative is highly effective because even the casual fan feels connected and stays informed by simply following the team on social media. When they “Like,” “Retweet,” or “Share” a post, it shows up in their friends’ timeline and grows the audience.


DIRECTV
released a new advertisement over the summer, but it never aired on television. The video of Peyton and Eli Manning rapping about Fantasy Football is a viral hit with more than 3.8 million YouTube views. The brothers also did a video in 2013, which has 8.5 million views.

Brands need to continue to find innovative ways to create content that is eye-catching and entertaining. Earned media is more powerful and cheaper than paid media.