It didn’t take long for 2013 to bust out its newest, must-have social network. Vine debuted in January, providing a new micro-video service for its partner and big brother, Twitter.
If you haven’t heard of Vine, here’s the six-second explanation: You use your iOS device to record six-second video snippets and share them on Twitter. (You can also post Vines to Facebook, though the in-stream experience is not optimal.)
Vine speaks to the ever-decreasing attention spans of Twitter users while also reaching the creative and artistic Instagram crowd. Vine is hot, especially among 18- to 24-year-old iPhone and iPad users who already share short video bursts with friends through services like Viddy and Snapchat. Though there is no official count for Vine users (and no API or admin panel to tap into yet), the app took off. Just this month, Vine topped the charts among Apple’s free apps. (Now Android users patiently await the app in the Google Play store.)
Sports teams, leagues and athletes began using Vine immediately, including major professional sports leagues (and teams) from Major League Baseball, the National Football and Hockey leagues, and more. It was the new thing, and seemingly everyone gave Vine a try.
Vine is not spreading
However, like many shiny new social media tools, Vine withered (sorry, I had to go there) even before some teams gave it much of a chance (right, Dallas Mavericks?). Still other teams with impressive social media followings across several networks took a complete pass on Vine (right, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers?).
What are the barriers? Similar to longer-form videos, creating Vines (good ones, anyway) requires planning and creative execution — two traits not synonymous with fast-paced, in-the-moment sports marketing, which is often done on a shoestring budget along with 100 other digital marketing/social media tactics. Simply put, snapping a photo is easier than shooting a succession of video clips.
Vine speaks to the ever-decreasing attention spans of Twitter users while also reaching the creative and artistic Instagram crowd.
Vine requires a strategy
It’s unfortunate Vine isn’t catching on more in sports. Not because Vine is a new and fun thing in social media (though it is), but because Vine provides value to fans. Vine complements content in a way photos and traditional video can’t, and that’s how strategic-minded teams, leagues and athletes use it. Vine is a chance to do more with less. It’s a highly creative and super-portable way to tell your br story in social media. From a variety of angles, Vines can highlight day-to-day activities in ways text and photos can’t.
So Vine can and should fit into an overall social media strategy, but for some reason, it’s not catching on. I imagine some teams look at it as just one more social media account to maintain. One more beast to feed in the daily content grind. One more activity among a litany of others. This tactical point of view is short-sighted because Vine is so entwined with Twitter, much the way Instagram is baked into Facebook. These new visual mediums are not so much social networks as they are engagement sources and content feeders for the larger, flagship accounts.
Thanks for being a fan.
Winter. A cold and grey season dominated by professional and college football, culminating in college basketball’s March Madness.
Major League Baseball is a distant memory by early November, before snowplow blades are even sharpened or salt piled. Hard-core MLB fans begin circling that magical day in February, when pitchers and catchers report. Teams begin talking about the promise of a new season.
And Cubs fans everywhere believe.
In Cleveland, hope springs eternal perhaps as much as in Chicago. Baseball discussions – start around the digital and social media water coolers. They’re first about new players, like the recent acquisition of Nick Swisher. Then the excitement for the season builds. And even as frigid Lake Erie winds pound their city and the Browns flounder in off-season woe, the Indians organization initiates that first crack in the ice before the spring training thaw with #TribeFest.
Held this weekend (Jan. 19 and 20) at Progressive Field, the Indians designed the fan-centric gathering around their followers’ interests, based on feedback from previous team events.
“We want to provide our fans an opportunity to have personal interaction with our players, with the ballpark, our broadcasters, and many members of our front office,” Indians’ senior director of marketing, Sanaa Julien, told the team’s blog. “Those personal interactions are what create lifelong memories for our fans.”
#TribeFest gives fans direct access to stadium locations normally closed on game days, and several current Indians players will be on hand, signing autographs and posing for fan photos.
The Indians are working social and digital channels to drum up interest. It’s a winning strategy filled with engaging and fan-friendly activities like a Twitter scavenger hunt, visually-rich social media content and an in-person event with rare access to the team’s players and facilities.
Using strong visuals in social media, the team is counting down the days to #TribeFest. They’ve been a staple on the team’s Facebook page, driving (at publish time) more than 1,300 likes and 150 shares this week alone. It’s easily the most engaged Facebook content since the team announced the Swisher deal on Jan. 3
Indians fans can also find excitement on Twitter, where the team is curating fan tweets (many female), building more buzz for #TribeFest and the 2013 season. #TribeFest is the latest in a string of activities from the Indians, which expanded its digital reach in 2012 to six social media platforms.
I’m a big fan of the effort and think the strategy – and associated tactics – give fans some of the most socially engaging experiences in all of pro sports. There’s something for everyone.
“We’re cognizant of the importance of social media as a tool to engage with fans,” Indians team president Mark Sharpiro, a frequent in-season tweeter, told MLB.com last season. “We now have the opportunity to directly connect to our fans and engage in authentic, two-way conversations. These connections with fans strengthen our brand vision to create memories, connect generations and celebrate families.”
Part of Cleveland’s digital dominance is the league’s first social media-only space – the Indians Social Suite. In its second season at Progressive Field, the Suite gave fans valuable offline interaction with other suite attendees and brand-strengthening online interactions via social media.
The club’s WiFi-enabled suite at Progressive Field is the hub of social activity, and by all accounts, it looks like the Indians are bringing Social Suite back for a third season. (Note: I’m submitting an application and hope to make a road trip to Cleveland this summer. Who’s with me?)
“The Indians deserve credit for the efforts they are making to reach out to their fans throughout Ohio and across the country,” wrote Angels’ fan Derek Ciapala, after spending a game in the Social Suite last season.
Yes, they do. And Tribe fans are fortunate. It’s not easy being a baseball fan in the middle of winter, especially in Cleveland. But when your team does more to connect with you, the nights don’t seem as long and the time until pitchers and catchers report seems shorter.
How’s your team staying connected during the off-season? Leave a comment below or tweet me what you’ve seen at @tombuchheim.
Thanks for being a fan.
What’s not to like? A dedicated News Feed gives sports fan a one-stop shop for content, and makes athletes and sports brands happy because their stuff can finally be seen by all those adoring “fans”. Right?
Not so fast.
During the same week an outraged Mark Cuban blasted Facebook’s promoted page posts strategy, the Blue F introduced a new feature that should cause even more consternation from Cuban and other sports brands with significant investments in Facebook pages.
In a nutshell
The Pages Feed essentially streams content from only pages we “like.” Access it from the left sidebar of Facebook’s main page or via this link directly.
Read more about Facebook’s Pages Feed on the web.
Your mom doesn’t know what it is
Who’s going to use it? A link on an already-crowded left navigation is nearly invisible to the average user, who lives in the main News Feed.
The only ones talking about the Pages Feed are Facebook reps, marketers and those who cover the industry. Seriously. Ask your mom if she’s heard of it. It’s meant to appease marketers, who shouldn’t be satisfied. Despite rosy reviews, Pages Feed was poorly designed and hastily unveiled. To date, there are also no Insights available.
Pages Feed is also unavailable in those environments. That’s a huge problem because Americans now get the majority of their Facebook fix through apps and mobile. And if you love sports, you love using mobile devices to follow them.
Ask the tough question
No one wants to ask a fundamental question about Pages Feed, so I will: Does it eventually mean an end to Page posts in the larger, more important News Feed? It’s hard to imagine that would happen. But then again, a year ago, no one imagined only 16 percent of fans would see the average page post.
Time for Facebook to show a little more of its playbook.
Shows us your secret sauce
Another detail lacking in early reporting of Pages Feed: The algorithm driving the feed. Facebook hasn’t offered up much, and again, no one is clamoring for it. The post order appears very random, though Adweek’s Tim Peterson offers this:
“While brands should expect their fans who are fans of only a few other brands to see every post in the Pages Only feed, that won’t necessarily be the case for users who are fans of many brands,” writes Peterson. ”In those cases, Facebook will essentially weigh the page posts as they do any content to the regular News Feed, taking into account engagement signals to make sure the stream isn’t lame.”
Great. Another Facebook change, followed by a wringing of hands by marketers, who many believe have soured Facebook for good.
Except sports is different.
Our “fans” are actually fans. They’re passionate, dedicated and hungry to connect with their favorite leagues, teams and players. Forty-five percent of 18-35 year olds follow sports teams or athletes on social media.
This isn’t batteries or bath soap. This is America’s pastime and Americana. It’s homecoming and Friday nights. It’s March Madness and the Super Bowl. And Facebook is one of the first places fans flock to when they want to follow those passions. To connect, engage, consume and share.
Professional and collegiate teams and leagues – and their athletes – have more to lose. So, they need to continue weighing the value Facebook pages provide. They need to ask tougher questions and demand more when platforms change. Most importantly, they need to keep creating content fans want and will ask for – no matter what happens to Facebook.
Thanks for being a fan.
Mark Cuban is really good at shaking things up.
This isn’t news. But the bombastic Dallas Mavericks owner is stirring the sports and social media pot with attacks on Facebook. Cuban said what many digital marketers with less skin in the game have been thinking for months. Facebook’s page posts are rigged, forcing page owners to spend more on the platform’s ad programs.
“Why would we invest in extending our Facebook audience size if we have to pay to reach them? That’s crazy,” Cuban told Dan Lyons of readwrite this week. “Why would a brand invest in getting likes they can’t reach without paying a premium?”
You can tell when something riles up Mark Cuban. He heads to Twitter, where he spent a few tweets on this issue, showing just how much Facebook was making him pay to promote content to reach all 2.3 million fans of the Dallas Mavericks Facebook page.
Here’s that tweet:
With business interests extending beyond sports, Cuban’s properties are deeply entrenched in Facebook marketing, as are most savvy brands today. His comments echo other, less well-known characters who claim Facebook is “broken on purpose” to drive ad revenue through promoted posts.
Nonprofits, small businesses and Fortune 500 brands all face this issue. Invest heavily in building – and growing – a Facebook community, only to have a small percentage of those connections see your posts. How small? As little as 16 percent, by Facebook’s own accounting.
The alternative for sports (and all) brands – no matter the size – isn’t simple. While Twitter remains a solid second option for connecting with fans (especially during a game), you can’t argue with Facebook’s numbers, and its ability to filter noise (and spam), one of the arguments in favor of Facebook’s recent page changes. Also, adoption rates for emerging social networks (like Pinterest and Instagram) remain low, especially when dwarfed by the big blue F.
Always ready for conflict – and to innovate – Cuban challenged Facebook, pointing to those newer networks which allow 100 percent reach for social media marketing messages – at no cost.
The characters behind 140 characters: Mark Cuban
“If someone likes your brand, it seems like common sense to me that you can expect your posts to reach 100 percent of those that like your brand,” said Cuban, who suggested a monthly Facebook fee as an alternative. He’s also pursuing those less-popular social channels to reach fans, calling out Tumblr and even (gasp) MySpace.
Where’s this all leading? Cuban can afford to hedge his bets on new sites. But for smaller teams, and especially budget-conscious colleges and universities, time is as scarce a resource as money. Spreading yourself too thin across multiple social channels is risky and expensive. It requires more people and more content, which can ultimately drown in a sea of junk.
Cuban’s math may also be fuzzy, as Loud Door’s founder pointed out in an open letter to the billionaire. Jeff French argues Facebook is still the best option for marketers seeking an economical way to reach consumers via social media.
As with past Facebook innovations, other social channels could follow suit, implementing revenue models and formulas to dampen noise (and raise capital). ”Being broken pays off, so social media is often deliberately broken,” writes Ryan Holiday in this Observer piece from September. “In fact, nearly every major social network, site or app has greedily pursued this logic.”
For Mark Cuban, it’s less about Facebook cynicism and more about making a statement, and he’s done that. Will it derail Facebook’s promoted post strategy? Unlikely. But Cuban has a strong voice and he could lead other sports brands away from Facebook, and with them, fans of other brands. That kind of movement could get Facebook to listen – more than the loud ramblings of an eccentric NBA owner.
Thanks for being a fan.
Image by Keith Allison (via Wikimedia Commons)
When you’re at a party, who gets your attention? I look for good conversation. I look for people who want to talk with me, are interested in what I’m saying, and who say interesting things.
The same is true in social media – and even more so when you toss sports into the equation. But the louder voices tend to drown out the smaller ones, and it becomes a numbers game. When people stop engaging, the conversation becomes less interesting.
I’ve been absent from this blog for a few months now. Why? So many others began covering this space – the intersection of sports and social media – and I couldn’t keep up. I lacked the vital resources to do so: time (I do social media full time for a Fortune 300 brand) and energy (I have two kids who keep me going from dawn to dusk).
I can’t compete with so many others out there who are now covering this space for a living. I can’t keep up with the Mashables and ESPNs of the world – and I never will.
When people stop listening, the conversation becomes less interesting.
However, I can still share a perspective they don’t offer – one part fan, one part social media/PR/communications professional. I can (and occasionally will) write about the latest and greatest happenings hitting sports and social media. Mostly, I want to focus on the conversation.
That’s the essence of social media + sports for me. It works best when everyone’s involved and engaged. The channel shouldn’t matter, though I’ll keep tabs on Twitter and Facebook, the two loudest parties. But we’re starting to hear music coming from other places – like Tumblr and Pinterest – and my new favorite, Instagram. And conversations worth joining. And people worth meeting.
So FourthAnd140 is back, but our focus turns to the people making this intersection of sports and social media interesting: The characters behind the 140 characters.
We’ve met a few in doing this for nearly two years, but there are many more we want to meet. And we want to share their stories here. If you know someone who lights up your sports + social media feeds – who understands the conversation – tell us. Send us a tweet, post on our Facebook page, or leave a comment. We want to invite them to the party and introduce them to our friends.
Let’s make this conversation even better.
Thanks for being a fan.
Major League Baseball fans have it good.
The league leads professional sports when it comes to reaching fans in new and innovative ways. The recent start to the 2012 season — and all the ways in which fans can connect to their favorite teams — proves that.
Baseball is NOT boring. It’s not dead. It’s alive and well and filled with energetic and engaged fans.
“Its traditions fit the fabric of spring and summer like few other elements of Americana,” says Joe Favorito, a veteran sports and entertainment marketing and PR consultant. “No other sport anywhere in the world can find ways to engage the casual and ardent follower for a night, a week or a year.”
Social and mobile drive fan interest and engagement. MLB recognizes this, and has doubled its efforts in 2012.
“Baseball is really a social conversation for us,” MLB.com’s director of new media, Andrew Patterson, told Mashable at the beginning of the season. “There’s a game going on, but there’s a conversation happening too.”
Conversation is important, especially when the season is so long. At 81 home games, the average fan has little chance to see every one in person. So fans watch TV, go online and use social media to follow the action. Specifically, they use social media as the action happens.
“Sports have the whole social/TV engagement thing on lockdown,” says Josh Wolford, a staff writer for WebProNews. “83 percent of sports fans say they check sports-related social media pages while watching the game on TV.”
MLB recognizes this new and growing trend, and turns its sometimes slow and floundering product into 140-character, bite-size pieces.
“Integrating more social and mobile into the experience isn’t an aberration, it’s more likely to become the norm,” Patterson says. “The idea now isn’t just to package the content we have and put it out on social media — it’s to create content we know works well on social.”
Where is MLB winning the social media experience? Here are some of FourthAnd140.com’s favorites:
Social Media Clubhouse
Every MLB website hosts a Social Media Clubhouse, which is a one-stop shop for social-media savvy fans. For example, the Cleveland Indians’ Social Media Clubhouse makes it easy to connect with players on Twitter, follow all the official social media sites – including new additions Tumblr and Pinterest. The Social Media Clubhouse is somewhat hidden in the templated MLB team site navigation (under Fans>Connect with TEAM). The page is also very much a jumble of images and links, but it’s a start.
MLB FanCave gets bigger
Now in its second year, MLB FanCave boasts nine new inhabitants, who were chosen from a whopping 50,000 interested fans. The Cave uses online and real-life experiences to give fans added value, including musical artists and celebrities who will visit the Manhattan digs this summer. FanCave definitely speaks to the younger MLB fan, which fits well with its heavy social media reliance.
Facebook is covered
MLB teams make it one-click simple for fans to customize their Facebook profiles this season with a series of pre-made, highly-produced cover photos. Check out what the Milwaukee Brewers offer fans who want to show team pride on Facebook, including some recent All-Star Game ballot propaganda.
Mobile apps go with you
MLB At Bat is a free app which offers player statistics, box scores and more. Subscribers can pay $14.99 for additional content, including video and live radio broadcasts — all right on your phone or tablet.
My favorite is the location-based MLB At the Ballpark app, a check-in service for those fans lucky enough to attend games in person. At the Park connects fans with other fans, and can track stadium check-ins — complete with win-loss records for the games attended. Users can unlock deals, order food and find seats once inside a stadium.
Tweetups and more
More MLB teams are adding in-game activities for social media-savvy fans, like social media nights or special seating. Cleveland wins this space with its Indians Social Suite – a dedicated box for Twitter-friendly fans, and other teams are sure to follow. (I feel a road trip to Cleveland coming on this summer.)
Where else is MLB winning with social and mobile? Add your favorites in the comments below.
Thanks for being a fan.
How do you get more fans to connect with you on all your social media channels? Try a social media scavenger hunt.
The New York Jets partnered with JetBlue to launch #JetsHunt this week. The team posted five questions on some of its social media channels, including Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Tumblr. One lucky winner was promised “2 VIP tickets to a NYC event” on Saturday, April 28. The catch? Follow clues posted on the various social sites, tweet your guess to the Jets and you’re qualified to win.
The concept is brilliant, especially as college and professional teams in all sports look to connect with fans across emerging social media channels like Pinterest. It could also drive renewed interest into fledgling sites like Google Plus, where teams – and many brands – have had difficulty building communities.
The Jets kicked off #JetsHunt on Twitter, engaging its 366,000+ followers with the first of five clues. The results were … underwhelming by most standards. The tweet, sent April 23, yielded just seven retweets and four favorites.
The Jets posted a second clue on Tumblr the following day. The results were equally unimpressive, where one fan commented and no one shared it or liked it. Yikes!
The Jets took #JetsHunt to Pinterest the same day with this pin. It was re-pinned just once. And folks, the Jets have some work to do on Pinterest with just 52 followers (yours truly included).
The fourth clue showed up on Google Plus April 25 where around 2,000 fans have “circled” the Jets. The post received just six comments, four +1s and two shares.
The Jets mercifully wrapped up #JetsHunt later that day with a fifth and final clue. It was retweeted just three times. At press time, the #JetsHunt hashtag reached approximately 375,000 Twitter accounts, according to TweetReach. Remember, 366,000 of those are already followers of @NYJets. (And 1,200 of those impressions came from a tweet I sent during the hunt.) Only 45 unique Twitter users actually posted the #JetsHunt hashtag over four days.
Was #JetsHunt a failure? I can’t rightfully answer that because I don’t know what the Jets were looking to accomplish. I can say that if I’d been running this contest, I wouldn’t be happy with the results. I believe there’s merit in the idea – connecting a brand’s different social media channels through one common activity (and rewarding fans for doing so). And I like this tactic for brands of all kinds, especially if it’s delivered with more enthusiasm and cross-promotion. (A search for #JetsHunt on NewYorkJets.com yielded no results.)
Should the Jets be concerned? Again, without knowing the back story, it’s hard to judge. But there’s room for improvement in the team’s Pinterest, Google Plus and Tumblr sites, and I appreciate the effort to help fans connect the dots (pun intended). However, if you’re going to spend the time developing a fan-friendly contest, put your best foot forward. Your fans will appreciate it, and so will the people writing the checks.
Thanks for being a fan.
Social media monitoring of student-athletes is quickly becoming a hot potato among the NCAA, college coaches, administrators, lawyers and legislators.
Despite a recent NCAA ruling some believe puts this matter to rest, more questions remain. Who governs this space? Where does the law stand on privacy and litigation around potential negligent social media monitoring?
I won’t deny these are all major concerns, and I’ll be covering them in an upcoming piece on FourthAnd140.com. But I thought it was a good time to hear from one of the pioneers in this space, so you can understand what we mean by social media monitoring at the university level.
Varsity Monitor was one of the first to provide this kind of service at all levels. Here’s a brief conversation the fine folks at Varsity Monitor had recently with FourthAnd140.com about the services they provide – and the issues they face.
F140: What does Varsity Monitor do?
VM: Varsity Monitor provides social media monitoring of athletes’ social media activities, both within their personal accounts as well as what other people are saying about them online. We have proprietary technology to scan and filter for specific content, and everything we do is within the framework of the social media TOS [terms of service] and is permission-based. We take the privacy of the athletes we work with very seriously.
F140: Who uses your service?
VM: Athletic departments, compliance and coaches. Our clients include Oklahoma University, University of Texas football, University of North Carolina, University of Nebraska and Villanova University.
F140: Why is there a need for social media monitoring of NCAA athletes?
VM: Social media introduces new challenges for athletic departments. For example, every athletic department has a code of conduct, what do they do about social media? Does it make sense to have a code of conduct with no plan to make it a reality? A way to confirm the rules are being followed? That’s where Varsity Monitor comes in. We provide them with tools to address this new challenge.
F140: How so?
VM: For college athletic departments, it’s about preparing the SA [student-athlete] for life after college/sports, while protecting their institution’s brand. The misuse of social media by athletes can negatively affect the brand of the school, in the process harming the athletes’ post-athlete employment opportunities. On the flip side, proper use of social media cannot only enhance the school’s brand profile but also make the athlete more marketable after graduation.
F140: What technology powers Varsity Monitor?
VM: We have developed proprietary technology that is able to scan, aggregate and filter social media content created about and by the athletes.
F140: Wouldn’t banning the use of social media by student-athletes just solve these issues?
VM: Banning is not the answer. In addition to our monitoring services, [Varsity Monitor] offers advanced administrator and SA education to help everyone use social media in a constructive way. By banning social media, you are limiting the skill set of your athletes for jobs in marketing/sales after sports and also limiting the potential upside of the use of Twitter and Facebook. We understand why people ban, but those who work with Varsity Monitor are able to use education, monitoring and enforcement, thereby managing the social media behavior without the need for bans.
F140: What does VM do when you find questionable information? How do you handle it?
VM: We treat all information observed as confidential. We never publicize it or use if for commercial gain. We attempt to keep negative posts/image-destroying information from reaching a larger audience. Finally, and most importantly, we educate the individual on the positive use of social media, discussing how it can impact one’s personal and professional life.
F140: What other services are provided by Varsity Monitor?
VM: We scan for positive content and examples of highly effective ways to use social media, so administrators can demonstrate to others the best way to take advantage of social media.
F140: What sets Varsity Monitor apart?
VM: First and foremost, we believe monitoring is a tool to be used to educate. That’s our mantra. Second, we treat all information observed as confidential. We have very strict guidelines on how this information is handled and managed. We listen to our customers, providing a flexible service designed to adapt to meet the unique demands of our clients.
Regardless of your opinion of social media monitoring services like Varsity Monitor, I believe they’re here to stay. Can they improve? Yes. And since they’re moving from an NCAA mandated-driven tool to a service-driven model, the focus should remain on student safety, education and personal branding. As I’ve argued in the past, this is a time of great learning for student-athletes, and their coaches and administrators should take advantage of these teaching moments.
However, college sports is also big business. Athletic departments are wise to manage their online reputations, which includes monitoring social media activities – just like many Fortune 500 brands do today. (This is part of what I do for a living.) You can’t ever control the message, but you can monitor and react to it. And you can teach those in your organization to use social media safely, properly and effectively – to the benefit of everyone.
What do you think of social media monitoring services like Varsity Monitor? Leave your comments here, or hit me up on Twitter. I’ll continue to cover this topic because I’m passionate about it.
Thanks for being a fan.
Sometimes, it takes an almost unbelievable event to prove who really understands the power of social media and sports.
Enter the 54th Daytona 500, which introduced hundreds of thousands of new fans to Nascar, rain delays, track maintenance, jet-powered driers, new uses for Tide laundry detergent, and a social media-savvy driver named Brad Keselowski.
In arguably the strangest running of the Great American Race, Nascar fans – and many others – tuned into a Monday night version of the Daytona 500 for a wild finish, complete with a fiery crash between Juan Pablo Montoya’s car and a safety vehicle loaded with some 200 gallons of jet fuel.
The collision produced a huge fireball, a scorched track and a new social media darling in the sports world. Stopped a safe distance from the crash, Keselowski did what any other person stuck in traffic would do – he pulled out his phone and started tweeting about it.
As the Associated Press described it: ”The two-plus hour stoppage turned into a tweet-up of sorts, as the drivers climbed from their cars and crowded around Keselowski, who had pulled out his phone to provide real-time updates to his fans by posting photos and answering questions.”
In less time than it took crews to clean up Daytona’s track, Keselowski’s 38-character post with accompanying photo became perhaps the most famous live sports tweet ever.
It was simple and effective, and spread as fast as leaking jet fuel down a sloped race track. In minutes, Keselowski’s Twitter account ballooned from a pedestrian 75,000 followers to more than 200,000. And nearly all of Twitter’s U.S. trending topics were related to Daytona, including such fan favorites as “crazy” (0.55 percent of all tweets), “Nascar” (0.51 percent) and “Daytona500″ (0.63 percent), according to Trendistic.
Powered by an unlikely crash and a compelling iPhone photo, Americans put Keselowski’s name (the correct spelling) in 0.55 percent of all tweets and helped Daytona’s TV ratings peak at 8.8.
The fact AP even included the words “tweet-up” in a sports story makes what happened at Daytona a milestone for the ever-evolving intersection of sports and social media. Keselowski’s actions should be a wake-up call for Major League Baseball, the NHL and NFL, all authors of strict no-tweet policies during games. The NFL even fines players for doing this.
In less time than it took crews to clean up Daytona’s track, Keselowski’s 38-character post with accompanying photo became perhaps the most famous live sports tweet ever.
While Keselowski wasn’t technically tweeting during a live event (his car was not moving), his Twitter-first thinking is something fans crave. It also fits well with Nascar’s new marketing strategy, which emphasizes social media. That’s not something you hear from other major U.S. sports leagues, which concentrate on more traditional channels to engage fans. But Nascar did their homework, and found social media is important to fans – and sponsors.
“[Keselowski] distinguished himself in being the poster child for an engaging athlete — the type of athlete that the fans really connect to in a multitude of ways,” Nascar spokesman David Higdon told the New York Times. “He’s a digital native. This is an extension of his personality.”
There’s tremendous value in empowering athletes to connect with fans before, during and after sporting events, as long as it fits their personalities and doesn’t detract from individual performances. Just ask the 100,00+ new people who followed Brad Keselowski last night (including yours truly).
“We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others,” the official Nascar account Tweeted less than a day after the Daytona 500 activities.
Why not embrace this kind of engagement? It’s hard to argue with the results.
Thanks for being a fan.
Sports executives say some weird stuff on Twitter.
With 150,000 followers and an active Twitter account, Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay is one of the more colorful professional sports executives on Twitter today. He’s tweeted some wacky stuff.
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is pretty new to Twitter page, but he’s already using it to joke about financial problems facing his franchise. OK.
Their behavior, and that of other sports execs, is risky business, according to some so-called pundits. Using Twitter is risky business for anyone, but executives have more to lose. Could Irsay and Alderson exercise more caution? Of course.
Let’s not blame the venue, though. While 140 characters limits what we share, it’s not an excuse to make this fast-moving, highly watched communications channel off-limits to executives – from any industry – especially one as highly charged as sports.
As Bleacher Report puts it: “What was once a place where things had to be ‘confirmed,’ Twitter has become a platform for announcing breaking news for writers, athletes, politicians, business owners, fans and everyone else you can think of.”
Twitter is relevant. Smart executives know this. As a social media administrator for a Fortune 300 brand, I work with leaders daily on what and how to share information on Twitter. It’s an approach I believe any executive could take – no matter the industry. Do execs tweet things that make you scratch your head? Yes. Does it show they’re more human? Absolutely. Is it risky? Getting out of bed is risky.
I believe Twitter can help sports execs – and their organization. But like any communication channel, there should be a strategy powering each tweet. These five principles guide my consultations with executives about Twitter. I think they could work for the Jim Irsays of the world looking for ways to effectively use Twitter.
Break team news. Top-down communication is valuable for any organization. Place your leader in the position to share important – and breaking – info via social media. It shows he or she is leading the decision-making process. It lends credibility to the individual and your organization. Should executives take the lead on sharing all breaking news via Twitter? No. But you can pick and choose what makes the most sense and position them favorably with followers.
Be a thought leader. Highlight issues facing the league and offer your stance. Authenticity is extremely important – and valuable – on Twitter. Talking about the challenges and issues facing your organization displays courage. You’ll likely get negative feedback, but the conversation and honest engagement create instant credibility for execs.
Promote charitable causes your organization supports. Social media’s sharing principle makes talking about your organization’s non-profit work a no-brainer. You’re already supporting a variety of worthy causes. Use Twitter to preach the gospel according to those charities. Earn good will, but do good things in the process by putting your followers behind you on a cause. You’ll bring new people into the fold – those who follow because of your good deeds.
Engage with fans, players and staff. Here’s another way to highlight those in your organization who are doing good things. Get everyone on Twitter and be sure to use the proper Twitter handles when calling them out for excellence. And when fans interact with you, answer their questions, address issues and talk to them by name. They’re people, too, and will appreciate your willingness to engage one-on-one.
Be real. You’re a human being. Use Twitter to prove it. Your life isn’t all about being an executive. You have family, friends, hobbies and more to talk about. Include them in your day-to-day tweets. Share pictures, stories and more about your personal life, so your followers understand you better. Keep everyone at a safe distance – but let them see a side most others won’t. They’ll appreciate you – and your organization – even more.
What can you add to the list? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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Editor’s note: Special thanks to Bill Voth for sparking the ideas behind this post. Bill is one of many smart and talented people I’ve “met” on Twitter who is also interested in this curious intersection of sports and social media. I’m fortunate to have connected with Bill and others like him, and continually learn from them.