#q1SFE15 Day 1: Fan Engagement Drives Sports Strategy

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The sports fan was at the center of nearly every discussion at day one of the second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum.

And why not?

Just like traditional business models put the customer at the center of everything they do, sports teams and leagues acknowledged that fans drive key decision-making and strategy in digital, social media, event activations, and more.

How do teams and leagues understand the fan? Data. Use information about fans — wherever it’s available — to drive decisions. That can be social media data — the richest coming from the platforms or third-party providers. It can come from traditional fan data — focus groups, customer relationship management tools, website personas — anywhere the fan interacts with the team or league is ripe for the picking.

The Seattle Seahawks use data to analyze average social media engagements per post and benchmark against averages from other sports teams. The goal? Post better content that fans like.

“It isn’t rocket science,” says Kenton Olson, director of digital media and emerging media for the Seahawks. “We can stop and reassess what we’re doing and make adjustments to what we’re posting.”

Social media plays a role in how sports can better understand what fans expect from in-game experiences, or how they consume content (mobile vs. desktop), to which sponsors and community partners fans want their teams to work with each season.

“Encourage the ability of sponsors to join your team in making the fan the hero,” says Darcy Raymond, vice president of marketing and entertainment for the Tampa Bay Rays. Mr. Raymond pointed to the #RaysUp program which provides fan-centric content that also delivers authentic partnerships and highlights community support.

Giving fans what they want is a key driver for social media content, and was a theme running through most of the day at #q1SFE15. The Portland Trail Blazers strive to create “snackable” pieces of content more easily consumed from mobile devices — something that plays well on social media, keeps fan attention, and provides valuable information and multiple engagement points for fans.

“We want to create awesome moments for our fans,” says Russell Houghtaling, director of digital media for the University of Oklahoma. With social content, Mr. Houghtaling says it’s important to “play the long game. Be consistent in who you are through your stories.” The payoff is a more consistent message — and experience — for the fan.

https://twitter.com/Q1Sports/status/572439535990128640

Even subtle things like gauging the mood of fans can be accomplished through social media. The Portland Timbers monitor the pulse of fans through the #RCTID hashtag — a fan-driven conversation about all things Timbers. The tone of tweets plays a role in the frequency and types of content the team will post.

The New Orleans Saints understand their fans and adjust the team’s Snapchat content calendar. “When we’re winning, our fans can’t get enough,” says Alex Restrepo, web/social media manager for the Saints. “When we’re losing, we take breaks.” It sounds simple enough, but in a must-post-every-day-no-matter-what world, being silent has its advantages.

It’s about knowing your fans. Let them set the pace for your social, digital and in-game strategy. These were just a few of the themes from day one of the Sports Fan Engagement Forum. Learn more by following the #q1SFE15 hashtag or by connecting with forum speakers and attendees.

And keep making it about them, not you.

Thanks for being a fan.

The Sports and Social Media Strategy of Putting the Fan First

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The second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum is March 2-3 in Kansas City.

Here’s a primer for #q1SFE15: The second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum is March 2-3 in Kansas City.

Whenever I get the chance talk with others about social media, I strongly suggest — sometimes I even preach — that social media professionals should put the fan, customer, reader — first. It’s about them, not you.

The them is what drives social media. It’s a big conversation, and we’re all just lucky enough to be part of it. So, we should respect the dialogue. Listen more than we talk. Engage more than we broadcast. Provide value.

As a social media professional, this approach leads to greater returns — in authenticity, community and social engagement.

Sports teams and leagues don’t necessarily have a social media engagement problem. Their challenges aren’t the same challenges a retailer, financial services brand or small business owner has in social media. Quite the opposite. Sports drives a chunk of social conversation and draws people to social media as much as anything.

What keeps GMs, athletic directors and league commissioners up at night (among other things) is translating that massive social buzz into offline fan actions. (That’s also a struggle for retailers, financial service brands and small business owners, by the way.) Chief among those actions is ticket sales and how to deliver an amazing game-day environment. Along the way, it’s nice to make your sponsors happy. Being creative, leading the way and generating earned media also helps.

These challenges — and there are challenges at every level for every team or league — will drive conversation and curriculum at the second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum. Leaders in the sports and social media space will meet for the second straight year to get ideas from their peers.

“I think it’s important to get different perspectives and ideas from around our industry,” says Ben Hunt, director of digital media for the Denver Broncos. “With some of the individuals taking part in the forum and those who are in attendance, it will be a great opportunity to share and network.”

The #q1SFE15 sessions highlight the search for this balance through various digital marketing strategies and techniques, best practices for leveraging sponsorship and branding partnerships. Speakers will also share ideas for building life-long relationships with a diverse and growing fan base.

“While we’ve always known that we had to engage fans in-venue, decision-makers are now starting to see the value of engaging in the digital and social space,” says Mark Hodgkin, assistant commissioner, digital media, for the American Athletic Conference, and #q1SFE15 speaker. “With this comes great opportunity but also challenges. Social managers must balance engaging in meaningful but perhaps ‘soft’ ways with new pressures to monetize those engagements.”

Social, mobile, digital, video, content strategy … none of this is new territory for the #SMsports crowd. But having a timely discussion about trends, what’s working and what’s not, and what some will be pursuing in 2015 — that’s valuable and interesting — to sports and social media pros, but also to sports fans. (Remember, it’s about them.)

“The biggest thing I’ve seen in fan engagement in the last two years or so is the massive growth in mobile consumption of content by fans,” says Brian Costello, director, digital media and editor-in-chief for the Portland Timbers. “Digital, video, written, social…it all comes down to how a fan is able to consume that content on mobile – especially on match days.”

Learn more about what’s being covered at the Sports Fan Engagement Forum here. And be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter. As an official media partner of this event, Fourth and 140 will provide our perspective, too.

“At the end of the day, lots of fans just want something that cheers for their team or highlights a great play or accomplishment – something they can share on their wall or timeline,” says Hodgkin. “We try to be our teams’ biggest cheerleaders and give followers content they can virtually high-five.”

So stay tuned. Listen more. Make it about them, not you.

And thanks for being a fan.

Join Fourth and 140 at #q1SFE15

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The second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum is March 2-3 in Kansas City.

The second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum is March 2-3 in Kansas City.

It’s back!

Leaders from sports organizations, major brands and facilities will discuss the growing opportunities digital and social media provide for connecting teams, leagues and players with fans.

The second annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum is a who’s who of sports and social media, and Fourth and 140 is on board once again as a media partner for this event, scheduled for March 2-3 in Kansas City.

Learn more about the Q1 Digital Sports Fan Engagement conference at the Q1 Sports Fan Engagement Forum website. Follow @Q1Sports on Twitter and join the conversation with #q1SFE15, too.

Look for some insight on Fourth and 140 ahead of the event, as well as reporting from both days of the forum.  To register – or learn more about who’s going to be there – visit the Sports Fan Engagement Forum website.

Thanks for being a fan.

About FourthAnd140.com:
FourthAnd140.com gives readers a strategic view of how players, teams and leagues – professional and amateur – use social media to connect with today’s sports fans. Editor and publisher Tom Buchheim was one of the first bloggers covering the curious intersection of sports and social media, using his experience as a social media leader for a Fortune 300 brand (and a sports fan) to examine the trends – and characters behind them – in this rapidly-changing space.

About Q1 Productions:
Q1 Productions designs and develops webinars, training courses, conference programs and forums aimed at specifically targeted audiences, including the life science and sports industries. Through a highly structured production process focused on research calls with end-users and key stakeholders in the industry, our team is able to understand the immediate business concerns of today’s leading executives. Whether focusing on new or pending legislative and health policy issues for the life science industry or upcoming marketing trends in the digital and mobile space for sports organizations, our programs provide solutions to the urgent educational and information needs of our attendees.

CONTACT:
Erica Abdnour
Q1 Productions
312-822-8100
sports@q1productions.com