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?


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.


Best Practices: Twitter

July 20, 2011

Kudos to Major League Soccer and it’s teams for utilizing a very smart but simple tactic to help promote engagement and interaction with their players. Teams such as the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire list their players with twitter accounts right on the team’s official twitter pages. (Click picture below for examples). Every team in the MLS, as well as all other leagues not in a lockout, should follow suit and employ this tactic to build a following and interest in their own players.


Transcendent Tweeters

July 14, 2011

Congratulations to Shaquille O’Neal for landing a job with Turner Sports on TNT’s popular NBA Studio show. Shaq will bring unique insight, incredible charisma, and quite a large Social Media following. The 15-time NBA All-Star played for the Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics; on Twitter those teams have a collective 3.7 Million followers. Shaq has 4 Million followers on his own! (courtesy of @seancallanan) This got me thinking, what other athletes transcend their (current and former) teams in total amount of followers and social influence? (all follower counts as of 7/14/11)

While these are only a few examples in a few sports, it is interesting to think that one player can have a larger social reach (8X as much for Paul Pierce) than an entire team or organization. While the player is obviously free to tweet as he chooses, it would be wise for the team to reach out to these transcendent tweeters to help with both promotions and PR. I believe it would be worth the potential “hit” the player might experience from followers for a rare, carefully crafted tweet to help out the team in some way.


Tweet for a Ticket

June 28, 2011

Today, Social Times wrote a piece on Cyber Lion Grand Prix winner Pay With a Tweet. The company allows you to do exactly what it sounds like, put your product up for “sale” for social currency. “If a customer tweets about your product, they get it for free, and you reap the promotional benefits of their tweet.” Pay With a Tweet came to life when Leif Abraham and Christian Behrendt were looking for a new way to promote their book. They say, “No one really knew who we were or how to find the book…we decided to give away the book for free as long as the person tweeted about it.”

With Sports organizations making a push to become immersed in Social Media, this would be a wise practice to pursue. While it might not be financially lucrative to “give away” tickets, teams can certainly offer dramatic discounts for a tweet. The “pay with a tweet” system could certainly apply to Facebook, allowing fans to pay by posting on their Facebook wall to tell their friends about the tickets, the promotion, and the team.

The Oakland Athletics have developed a Follow and Save campaign that loosely mimics the “pay with a tweet” concept; for 1 week every 100 followers the Athletics gained, the discount price on Field Level tickets for a specific game would increase by $1. The initial campaign showed promising results; the Athletics’ official Twitter account (@Athletics) increased from 18,118 to 18,690 from June 13th to June 20th, an improvement of 572 fans (rounded up to 600) that resulted in $6 off per Field Level ticket for the July 4th game. [Note: The @Athletics twitter account has 19,300 followers as of 6/28]

The Florida Marlins have one of the lowest average home attendance figures as well as the least followers on Twitter among MLB teams (@Marlins – 8,125 followers as of 6/28), they would be a prime candidate to employ a “pay with a tweet” campaign to boost ticket sales, attendance, and social media contacts. This would also be an interesting initiative for the team with the most Twitter followers in MLB (@Yankees – 389,650 followers as of 6/28) as well as a Minor League organization, such as the AAA Sacramento RiverCats (@Rivercats – 6,165 followers as of 6/28).