By Matthew Vinson+, Friend of the Online Sports Marketing Guy Blog
Welcome to the second edition of the Mid-Month Social Media in Sports Review. As with every issue, I hope you are thoroughly entertained, enjoy the article, and maybe even learn a thing or two. Well, a lot has happened in social media in one month, as the ever-expanding industry sky rockets in ingenuity.
For starters, social media behemoth Facebook rolled out an entirely new page design for brands, effective March 30th. While this left some teams and organizations fretting over what to do, others took advantage of the great new additions and brand assets created through this design overhaul. The first and most obvious change is the new addition of the cover photo. This new asset gives the viewers of a page a new first impression, a moment of exclusivity with the brand. While some organizations decided to take the brand space to creative use (see Red Bull, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Reebok) others decided to take a different approach. This involved using images that not only looked great, but were strategic in the messaging of their cover photo (see Tampa Bay Lightning, Nike). Tampa utilized the space to thank the fans for their support this past season and Nike explored the realm of product placement and advertising within the space.
While that may be the most noticeable change, another great feature to the new Facebook layout is the Timeline format. This new design allows organizations to add historical milestones over the company’s existence all the way from its humble beginnings. Teams with historical significance should be jumping all over this new addition to generate more brand awareness and bring out that emotion of nostalgia within the viewer. As simple as the idea is, organizations have not captured this essence quite yet. However, one benchmark to take after is the Chicago Bulls. Chicago’s timeline runs from the team’s inception and includes all of the major milestones throughout the organization’s existence and couples these memories with great visuals.
It’s easy to see which companies are taking advantage of the new page system and which clearly need help. It will be interesting to find out who exploits these new areas the best, and the fastest.
In case you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for this past month, you may have also missed the purchase of a little application called Instagram by Facebook this past week. The price tag you ask? A cool $1 Billion! Ya, B as in beware of that new yacht, or B as in the Bahamas, which is where I would be right now had Facebook bought one of my many simple yet effective ideas.
How, you may ask, can this word wizard tie this into sports? Simple: Instagram, which launched in October of 2010, has reached 30 million users (many of whom are not only players, but teams and brands as well) and, according to @Activ8social, took its valuation of $500 million and within a week took the offer from Facebook for double their money. This skyrocket in popularity, due mainly to the simplicity of its use and its integration with the other realms of social media, was also aided by the “celebrity factor” of pop-culture and athletics. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, basketball icons LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony consistently reach out to their Instagram followers with pictures of their Easter dinner, new watch, or whatever else they feel like sharing with the public.
They then take these ity bity parts of their lives and push them to their massive followings on Facebook and Twitter as well. And that is the beauty of Instagram. The massive reach athletes and celebrities have in their other social media networks has spread the name and abilities of the application to millions. Each publish is essentially free advertising. I can only hope Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger don’t mind buying a round or two of drinks if I ever run into them out in downtown San Francisco.
This next segment may not pertain directly to sports, but the idea is ingenious. Plus I feel like Twitter needs some love after a Facebook heavy beginning. Smart Argentina, the automobile manufacturer behind that tiny “car”, the Smart Car (which has infested San Francisco btw), has created the most creative use of Twitter advertising I have seen. Watch the video below, and begin to be amazed at their creativity.
For those of us that remember MS DOS and ascii character art, this essentially ties that idea and brings it to life. Imagine the quick uses in sport. Teams could create a series of posts (which is all this is), load them into an automatic Twitter loader, and when Mike Stanton smashes a homerun over walls in the extravagant new Miami Marlins stadium, the Marlins’ social media team could update their post with an animation instead of generic, “Home run by Stanton!” Is this idea the greatest thing since sliced bread? It is creative, but no. Does it create a higher level of engagement with the end user, the fans? ABSOLUTELY!
In the ever-evasive topic of how to monetize social media, I came across a clever promotion from the innovative brand Virgin America and the San Francisco Giants. Virgin America, playing off of San Francisco Giants’ charismatic closer Brian Wilson and the fear the beard slogan, created the “Fly the Beard” campaign.
San Francisco, a Virgin America hub, happens to be the city I have recently relocated to, and let me tell you, the one personality I am hoping to run into while I am here is Brian Wilson. The charismatic and sometimes questionable personality of Brian makes him a great endorser. The ingenuity of Virgin America and the Giants to transform the #FeartheBeard campaign is quite another story. The Giants consistently leverage their partnerships with Virgin America and others to include social media. Trevor Turnbull’s interview with SF Giants’ Social Media Director, Bryan Srabian, goes into a little bit of detail on how several of the Giants’ sponsorships are activated in part online via their social media channels with the idea to generate revenue using the opportunities these channels create. The Giants, whom we consider as this month’s “doing it right” organization, also leverage their relationship with Toyota to create the “Busters back Sweepstakes“. San Francisco is creating value opportunities within its existing partners and creating new and integrated ways to market these partners online and bring those promotions from social media to life.
For the “What! You’re not following them!” segment this month, I recommend everyone follow the founder of a “little known” social media regime called Digital Royalty, Amy Jo Martin. @AmyJoMartin is the marketing genius behind Shaq’s Twitter account ideas, including “Random acts of Shaqness”, Nike’s go-to-consultant on social media, as seen during the release of their latest products, the Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Basketball, and she has even been instrumental in analyzing the power of integration between Twitter and television. This week’s “way too much information” fact is that as a 25-year-old man, I still watch professional wrestling (when I can). The truth is, I have close friends in that business, and I enjoy watching them succeed and entertain and the WWE brings out that “good feeling” you get when you remember back to the days you and your dad would sit on the couch on Monday nights and enjoy some ‘wrastlin’. One of Amy Jo Martin’s close clients just happens to be the one and only, The Rock. Amy has been keen on not only providing WWE a company direction on how to continue to grow their engaging fan base, but showcased some of social media’s abilities. When The Rock said live on TV that “Boots to Asses” is now trending worldwide, he wasn’t joking. Within seconds, #BootstoAsses was the most trending hash tag in the world. The power of reach was proven in one instance, and Ms. Martin was a big influence behind that. Amy also writes for the Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal and constantly shares her thoughts and opinions at her websites www.AmyJoMartin.com and www.DigitalRoyalty.com. Follow @AmyJoMartin and her company @DigitalRoyalty today and be prepared to learn a great deal through the insight into the industry she brings.