10 Tips from a Sports Business Pro

February 22, 2012

It is very clear that there can be incredible value in twitter, if you can follow the right people you will come across helpful tips, ideas, and articles on a daily basis. Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President Rocky Harris shared 10 of his golden rules for sports (and any other) business via his twitter that were so good I felt the need to curate them:

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Embedded Tweets – Coming to an arena near you

January 30, 2012

Embedded Tweet

Image via @MagicAndrew

Every day, forward thinking brands and organizations do their best to bridge the digital and physical world. No one, in my opinion, does a better job of this than Nike, especially with the launch of the Nike+ Fuelband. Gatorade has dabbled into this arena by “immortalizing” fans’ #WinfromWithin tweets, but I believe they are just scratching the surface. With so many organizations trying to bring the fans into the digital world – “Like us on Facebook” “Join the conversation on Twitter” – it may be time to flip the script and bring the digital world to the fans.

Many fans still cannot grasp the concept of a hashtag, it may be due to age or a lack of desire to learn about new technology, but those fans exist nonetheless. The above picture is a smart idea that can allow these fans to still enter the brand or team’s digital world and get a glimpse into yet another aspect of the organization. Due to the simplicity and cost effectiveness of this practice, sports teams might be well served by utilizing this concept. There are a number of ways this can be used to add value for the fans –

  1. Teams can showcase their own athletes tweets, posting some of the funny, emotional, or insightful thoughts the player shared. The tweets can be hung throughout the stadium, or in one centralized area. The Cleveland Indians could specifically use this in their widely praised Social Suite to add extra value for the attendees.
  2. Colleges can include specific tweets in their hall-of-fame section of the campus, constantly staying current with some of their most distinguished and famous alumni.
  3. Teams can showcase a section of fan tweets about the team or a specific event. It would be a very interesting experience to be able to see tweets from writers, fans, and celebrities pertaining to their team’s athlete breaking a milestone, all in one place.

Organizations have done well to bring their Twitter presence to the physical world, this is another wrinkle that may not take a great amount of time or effort from the organization, but could become a valuable way to enhance the fan experience throughout the season.

Twitter Advertising is Going Pro

December 27, 2011

As the end of 2011 nears, it is safe to say that Twitter is here to stay. After breaking the 200 million member threshold earlier this year, the social network has become a mainstay for brands, media, sports teams, and of course the consumers.

It has become commonplace to see @handles and #hashtags on everything from billboards to live television to help promote movies, sports, gadgets etc. In the second half of the year, this practice began to see it’s way into the major sports.

  • During the Postseason, Major League Baseball prominently displayed the #Postseason hashtag  behind homeplate during the broadcasts.
  • For a nationally televised game (ESPN) against Virginia Tech on Nov. 10th, Georgia Tech displayed their handle @GTAthletics on the sidelines.
  • In what is believed to be a first in College sports, Mississippi State painted the hashtag #HAILSTATE (their traditional rallying call and fight song) in one of the endzones for a game against rival Ole Miss on Nov. 26th.
  • Raising the bar, the Celtics are taking the Twitter advertising to the professional ranks. Visible during the preseason game vs Toronto, the Celtics displayed the @Celtics handle on the floor in front of the bench at the Garden.

Is this simply a PR move to be the first to try a new concept, or will see many more @’s and #’s moving forward? Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, tells Mashable:

“It’s a phenomenal idea. It’s a fun way to involve social media at the game, and to TV viewers it’s going to stir up emotions between both teams. I can definitely see the Mavs and other teams doing it.”

Look for more programs and organizations to integrate social media aspects into the physical world moving forward. These simple tactics not only act as a way to get closer to the fans, but also as a way to get fans closer to being customers.

Why follow athletes on Twitter?

October 25, 2011

It is safe to say that athletes of all sports and levels have taken to twitter; everyone from seasoned veterans to minor leaguers have opted to become a part of the gigantic social network. Athletes are trying to connect with fans but my question is, why are we connecting with the athletes?

When I first joined twitter a couple of years ago, I began following many athletes due to my heavy interest in sports and after a few weeks, I became incredibly disappointed. Almost all of the tweets sounded something like “heading dwnstairs 4 breakfast” or “Great workout 2DAY #PUMPEDUP” which provided little to no value and caused me to give up on twitter for a while. Thankfully, I came to my senses and it has now become such a valuable part of my personal learning network.

Back to the question at hand – Why do people follow athletes on Twitter? The answer is something known as the “exposure effect.” In the 19th century, a psychologist named Gustav Fechner discovered this phenomenon; he found that the more we are exposed to something or someone, the more we trust it, and the more we like it. This is the same reason why we feel more comfortable around friends than strangers. Essentially, people are inclined to feel as though they personally know athletes they see frequently.

By following a twitter feed with multiple athletes often from the same team, the consistent and repeated exposure is causing fans to be more likely to trust and like them. For the die-hard Atlanta Braves fan, it creates an unparalleled experience of being close to your favorite team by following @FreddieFreeman, @JasonHeyward and the rest of the team. They start to feel more like friends and less like athletes you can never become close with.

Today, there’s only 1 athlete I follow on twitter, @LoMoMarlins. Why? Because he is a Transcendent Tweeter!

Do you follow any athletes on twitter?

Sponsors: Take care of your current customers

September 22, 2011

Sponsors are constantly looking for ways to better improve their activation at sporting events and every decision seems to revolve around acquiring new customers and seeing an ROI. One of the best tactics is to use the event to take care of your current customers, and increase the prestige of being part of the brand. BMW is one the brands that is taking full advantage of this tactic.

BMW has partnered with Big Ten Sports Properties  to become the conference’s official luxury automobile. As a reward to their customers, fans arriving to the season’s inaugural Big Ten football championship game in a BMW will be given their own reserved parking spots close to Lucas Oil Stadium.  BMW will also establish a similar preferred parking program at many of the conference’s championship events including Men and Women’s Basketball, Baseball, and Olympic Sports. BMW has also wisely created a similar system at golf tournaments on the PGA and European tours.

Speaking of the PGA, another brand that employs this method well is American Express. AmEx’s activation centers around taking care of the card members and allows them access to PGA professional that non card members could only dream of. At the U.S. Open Championship, American Express offered card members free headphones and radios to listen to all the day’s action, just for showing their card.

American Express has also enabled the PGA to start a “Friend of a Card Member” that allows anyone paying for a golf lesson with an AmEx card to bring a friend and get a lesson for free.  Another program called “Championship Tees” enables card members to have access to courses that have previously hosted PGA or USGA championships. It’s clear that American Express knows how to take advantage of sporting events.

Sometimes, it pays for a sponsor to take care of their own rather than spend wildly to attract attention. Not only can the company save money, but with a carefully crafted activation, they can create a buzz and turn their own customers into their best marketers.

Better Sponsorship. Better Activation. Papa John’s.

September 7, 2011

Many sponsors have scrambled to put together a successful campaign as soon as the NFL resumed business, and you would be hard pressed to do a better job than Papa John’s has. With a large influx of eyeballs in such a short amount of time, the official pizza sponsor of the NFL took full advantage.

To build the brand’s loyalty program, Papa Reward members (already 1,000,000 strong), and new fans who sign up at PapaJohns.com will be put in a drawing to receive one of 60,000 free pizzas each week during the regular season. Marketing for the promotion includes digital advertising on NFL.com, both home page and banners, social media, e-mail, and in-store marketing. However, the most noteworthy banner placement is in NFL.com’s Fantasy Football Draft rooms. With at least two drafts per minute, ten to twelve users per draft, and drafts lasting for at least an hour, Papa John’s was able to gain countless impressions that has given them and edge among brands before the NFL season has even started.

Well played Papa John’s, Marketers will be sure to keep an eye on your campaign among the many in-season promotions.

Personal Learning Network

August 8, 2011

Photo Credit: Martin Weller

I came across an article on Fast Company on how to build your Personal Learning Network and while I have been building mine without necessarily focusing on it,  it made me realize just how important it is, and how much more I can still do to improve it. Anya Kamentz cites these places to help build your network:

  • Family and friends
  • Real-life classmates & teachers,past and present
  • Twitter
  • Google Reader, Delicious, Digg, Diigo, or Reddit or another social bookmarking service.
  • Facebook or Google+. Most of your Facebook friends probably don’t belong in your personal learning network, but you may have a few who consistently post links that connect with your interests, or start interesting intellectual debates. That’s who we’re talking about here.
  • Experts whose classes you watch on open courseware sites, whose books you read, blogs or YouTube channels you follow, or whose ideas you connect with in another way.
  • Conferences, meetups, bookstore events, or other face to face events.
  • Special interest online forums like StackOverflow, for programmers, Vimeo for filmmakers, and many more.
While many believe Facebook is the be all-end all for social networks, I can safely say that I now use it the least compared to all of my other information channels. Many professionals that I have had the opportunity to speak with have emphasized that to be good in a certain field, you need to know absolutely everything you can about that field, and that’s where your personal Learning Network comes in. As far as my Personal Learning Network, here are a few of the big ones:
  1. Twitter – It is unbelievable how much great information you can extract if you know who to follow and where to look. I used to swear I would never get into Twitter, but I could argue it’s now my most valuable Social Media resource. 10 minutes on Twitter is equivalent to spending 2 hours searching newspapers and online publications for news.
  2. Google Reader – While many have their own favorite ways to consume their RSS feed, Google Reader is my weapon of choice. With the help of a fellow Sports Business professional, I have put together a massive RSS feed list and a 15 minute scan in the morning  of my Google Reader feed allows me to absorb nearly half a days material and save time from scanning dozens of different blogs.
  3. Google Alerts – If there is a topic or field you are especially interested in, I would recommend setting up Google Alerts straight to your Microsoft Outlook or Inbox. For example, I currently have three that go to my Outlook: “Sports Business, Sports Marketing and Sports Sponsorship.”
  4. Family and Friends – Simply bounce ideas off of as many people as you can, you never know where you are going to get a hold of a great perspective that might help you out in the future.
Bottom line, while the Personal Learning Network is very helpful to get ahead professionally, it can also go a long way in your personal life and I would suggest that undergraduate students all the way through seasoned professionals continue to push their Personal Learning Network to greater heights.