By Matthew Vinson+, friend of the Online Sports Marketing Guy Blog
Welcome to the first edition of what I hope will be an informative and entertaining monthly periodical on the topic of social media and technology activations within sport. While I will do my best to bring you stories directly tied to sports, I may sprinkle in one or two from other industries that should be ripped and reapplied to our beloved industry. With that being said, I’m excited to bring you the first mid-month social media in sports review….
Brad Keselowski has never finished higher than 5th in America’s top racing circuit, the Sprint Cup series. Yet last month during NASCAR’s Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, he managed to garner over 100,000 Twitter followers in one night! On a night when one driver ran into a jet-fueled track dryer truck, setting the track ablaze, Brad stole the show. People can’t seem to remember who exactly won the rain and fire delayed race, but people remember that a man tweeted from his car. Brad, while waiting during the delays, tweeted updates – and even a picture! While most sport leagues go out of their way to banish the “feared” and often misunderstood communication platform, Brad took his interaction to the next level. This is the kind of experience and in depth perception fans crave, and Keselowski’s follower numbers are all that’s needed to verify that.
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to push the envelope in social media interaction with their fans, and one facet where they excel in this is during game-day. The Lightning not only keep fans updated with scores, daily news, and sales, but they go a step beyond and involve users in conversation. Through the simple use of hash-tags and replies, the Lightning conduct game-day contests and giveaways via Twitter. The Lightning also make it a point to reply to as many @TBLightning tweets as possible, creating a sense that those who want to be a part of “Be Lightning” will be heard. Through their multiple social media platforms, the team took a page out of other organizations’ playbooks and created several social media nights. These nights are not only a great way the team reaches its fans personally, the events are actually sponsored and create another opportunity to generate revenue.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 12, 2012
In addition to Tampa’s great use of Twitter, the organization has a model Facebook page. Boasting 233, 478 fans and generating up to (and beyond) 9,000 “people talking about this”, the Lightning are on top of the ball. Features such as their “Thunderizer” engage fans more than the typical click-and-show page. The team also has included a scrolling feed of the team blog for game updates and runs a constant “Student Rush” fan contest between local colleges and high schools. If one team in sports has social media right, it certainly is the Lightning.
Red Bull took to the challenge of integrating Facebook’s brand timeline change by the horns. Not only did the energy drink behemoth include an inspiring visual cover photo, the company initiated user interaction via a scavenger hunt through time contest. Users signed up and received clues to be used while searching through the newly created history timeline of Red Bull’s company, dating all the way back to their founding in 1987.
Red Bull utilized Facebook’s new ability to pin milestones and important posts to the top of their brand timeline page and the contest ran with great engagement success. With the brand timeline being forced upon everyone by March 30, it is great to see some organizations embrace the change with creativity.
Throughout each Issue, I would like to spotlight a company I see as “doing it right.” In this issue, I highlight some creative and innovative ideas brought to us from the company of a social product. Heineken makes beer. That statement itself may make some of you wonder why I included them on my companies to take note of. However, Heineken thinks of their company as one that makes a good time, rather than one that makes a drink people love. Although the following ideas aren’t necessarily sport related, the concepts transfer so well that it is a shame they have yet to be replicated by teams and organizations everywhere.
The first concept that caught my eye was taking a technology that has been around for awhile, yet just recently has seemed to pick up steam, QR Codes. Although many people claim this is simply a fad, Heineken made sure they took full advantage and jump on board with the following…
This past December, Heineken took greetings to the next level with this social media adaptation…
Sticking with the holiday themes, Heineken created a Facebook app aimed at helping you ask a girl out.
The main focus of each of these activations is to take what people already use to interact with each other, and engage them to interact with you. None of these campaigns are overbearing with sales messaging, in fact you would be hard pressed to find any sales message. However, Heineken was aimed at building their brand. If you are creative and innovative and interact with your core audience in an entertaining way, these fans will become customers. This brand message then becomes the sales message.
Finally, I would like to leave you each month with one person you should already be following (shame on you if you are not). This month I would advise you to add Mike Mahoney @Mahoney. Not only is Mike a Sponsorship Sales Executive with the Carolina Panthers, he publishes the aggregated messages of other social media in sports lovers as a compiled resources daily on paper.li as the Sports and Social Media online “paper” (a helpful tool for all interested in the intersection of sports and social media).