Welcome to May edition of the Mid-Month Social Media in Sports Review. A lot has happened since April, so let’s get right to the action.
This past month, Buc’s defensive end Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) held a contest to combine his love of the Bucs with his love of Marvel’s The Avengers. McCoy’s Twitter contest ended with 400 Buccaneer’s fans joining him in a showing of The Avengers. Gerald also took the time to meet and greet fans and sign autographs. I am not sure if McCoy partnered with any organizations, but imagine the ability to scale this as a nationwide event. It could have been an opportunity for Marvel or AMC/Regal Motion Pictures to have athletes in theaters across the country. The brand building experience those 400 fans shared with the Buccaneers on one night could have easily been leveraged on the theater side to build their brand.
Another NFL star took to video this month, explaining how he utilizes social media to build his brand. Greg Jennings explains in this video from Bloomberg BusinessWeek the importance of not only knowing who is following you, but how important it is to follow people of influence. This shows that not all athletes who take to social media, and especially Twitter, are unaware of the consequences words can bring. It is great to see stories such as these, where athletes are using social media for good, which could help social media gain even more ground in terms of acceptability.
This seems to be the year of the online reveal, as organizations are more apt to give exclusive first looks at new products, tour dates, game activities and lineups. Nike has been perfecting this with the release of their Nike+ Fuel band as well as their “social sneakers.” This past week saw the European futbol club Liverpool launch not only a new jersey line, but a new partnership via social media. Warrior, subsidiary of New Balance, known for their lacrosse gear makes the foray into “kit” production. To engage fans and generate buzz, their team threw out a social media integration blitz that included promotions on Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest. Daniel McLaren of The Social Media & Sport Reference spelled out the strategy: “The approach that of hitting as many touch points as possible.” The key to this campaign lie with how well the integration ties into each other and how they leverage each platform to sell jerseys.
Gearing up for the playoffs, this month the NBA launched Pinterest and Tumblr accounts. These new accounts were shots taken at improving the visual effectiveness of their existing accounts. While I agree, the usability and photo sharing abilities of Pinterest and Tumblr are spectacular, I wade on the side of caution when organizations are diving into social media network so they can “have a presence”. While for the time being, the Tumblr account is aimed at a “retro” space for games of yesteryear, why could they not accomplish this using the Facebook Timeline function? It will be interesting to see if the NBA branching out pays off or if perhaps sometimes less is more.
The heart-warming story of the month is that of Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie took to Twitter looking to give one lucky fan the chance to play catch. To Guthrie’s surprise, the winner Woody Roseland was a cancer amputee. The two played catch and Woody even took some batting practice. What Jeremy thought would make some kid’s day, actually ended up making his. Rick Riley’s account of this story shows how Twitter can take a moment and create a memory that will last a lifetime.
Google’s social network Google + has some exciting and unique features. Google’s Hangout feature is tremendous, even as a stand-alone and could change the way virtual meetings integrate. The NFL put on a promotion using Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Luck and Griffin took to Google+’s Hangout to chat with fans. Sam Laird explains, “Google+ Hangouts have been catching on around the sport world for the past several months. In February, the New York Giants held pre-Super Bowl Hangouts with four players.” The technology is good, the face-to-face interaction is great, and for marketers, video feed gives you another marketing asset to leverage. Player engagement endorsements should continue to rise via social media. Fans want the scoop on their favorite players and examine their Twitter pages to get a glimpse of their “real life”. Now you can take that further with live chat.
Editorial Update: To follow-up on last month’s story about the new Facebook Timeline, I want to direct readers to another article that articulates some best practices for the Timeline by Greg Schneider (@GSchneider34): Most Creative Use of Facebook Timeline by Sports Teams
I am and forever will be (or until the next best thing) a fan of QR Codes. Watch this clip on how Mercedes took that engagement to the next level.
This month’s “Who To Follow” segment is post-aholic Tariq Ahmad (@Tariq_Ahmad). If you are a regular to the #smsports and #sportsbiz fields, you know Tariq. He seemingly posts every article, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He just finished with his Ph. D research on social media and the NBA and co-hosts the #smsportschat weekly on Thursdays at 9 ET. The chat is extremely beneficial, even if only for the networking, and great questions. When he is not informing the world via the internet, Tariq is teaching others how to leverage and utilize social media.
I leave you with an infographic that made its rounds around the #smsports and #sportsbiz circuits last month. The graphic depicts stats about how social media is changing sports. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s definitely worth checking out.