What is Expected and Accepted from Sports Team Twitter Accounts?

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I’ve been thinking about something for a while now. Why are sports team Twitter accounts so different from the rest of a team’s marketing mix and voice?

Here’s a couple of examples…

@Cubs. I’m not picking on the Cubs – or any team mentioned here for that matter. But this is a great example of what’s expected – and what is accepted from sports team Twitter accounts.

A month or so ago, @Cubs was cheered (by many) for it’s “trolling” of Darren Rovell. There’s a bit of a back story here – as Rovell is a bit of a self professed “Twitter expert” (FYI, steer clear of people who say this about themselves, judge for yourself if you include me in that group). But he commands a large following, and pretty much everyone in the sports biz follows him. Anyways, the interaction went like this:

cubsrovell2

Funny? Sure, it was a zinger. And the general consensus was that @Cubs was very “on it” for responding as such. But it got me thinking…

Would the President of the Cubs ever say this in the media? Would the GM? No, of course not. But then, why is it ok – or even applauded on Twitter? Why is Twitter different? Because it very much is. But should it be?

We can all agree that a sense of humor is a benefit on Twitter. But insulting a member of the media? Why is this ok and why is this lack of brand consistency not more of an issue?

Maybe I need to find better things to think about – but here’s why it can be a problem…

This week, @Cubs was hit with some pretty serious tweets and images. Hour+ long waits for bathrooms and photos of beer cups filled with urine (yep) from fans that literally couldn’t wait (to be fair, the stadium is under renovations, but bathrooms are pretty important). Where are the sarcastic tweets now? Obviously, this would be like starting a tire fire in your back yard – but, this is part of my point. How should the brand respond – in real time – with the situation? Sharp tweets don’t work here.

CubsPee

Another consideration – how does trolling the media sit with corporate partners who are paying for and scheduling activations with @Cubs? Perhaps not the best idea…

This type of Twitter persona was nailed down by the now infamous @LAKings (but a shout out to the Columbus Blue Jackets, too), known for cheeky, edgy content, they operate in a sports rich city dominated by the Dodgers and Lakers. Hockey is not front and center there – so a tactic such as what they took on made actual sense to carve out a niche in that market. Now it seems, every sports team employs this tactic of sassy tweets and pop culture GIFs integrated into the mix. But why? Is this just what teams are supposed to do on Twitter now?

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. – Herman Melville

I think this says it all. And to project swagger and sass when your brand and team is performing poorly – because it’s the flavor of the moment on Twitter is everything that good marketing is not (Wait – does that even make sense? Well, you get my point).

I think these are important things to consider about the nature or your team’s Twitter voice. I know how I feel about them, and what I would advise for them. What do you think?

Straight Talk on Social Marketing

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I’ve got to say this – I’ve seen way too much fluffy language on social marketing for way too long.

Statements from very well known professionals that just ring empty for me, like the requirement for brands to “create value” through social marketing.

Other over zealous statements purporting that your “social score” (don’t get me started on Klout) is the “new credit score” are well, lets say debatable at best. I’ll take my credit score any day – which is based on real dollars, not the return on my “influence”.

What does it mean to”create value”, anyway? Just how are you supposed to do that? Well, that’s the tricky part… I used to provide sales training sessions back in the day and I’ve told countless sales people to “sell the value” of their product. This only goes so far… I approach sales in a completely different way now.

Don’t take these kinds of statements as “advice” – make your own logic. Determine your own goals. People (like me and others) can help you focus those goals and draw tools and platforms to help meet them. Taking a tactical approach is crucial here – How you get there depends on your business, your people, your market.

What I’m essentially saying here is to just keep it real. Don’t accept luke-warm ideals. Don’t set out to “create value”. Set out to achieve X. Set out to make Y. Set out to promote or build. Be specific.

You are in business. Businesses sell products or services. If you do that well enough, you’ll be able to establish a decent credit score. Take that to the bank.

Social Marketing Consistency

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When I start a social media project with a team, one of the first and easiest things that sports teams should do with their social media sites is focus on digital and social consistency.

Your social spaces should have as much of the same look and feel as your website. This is a lot easier to do with Twitter, but there are ways to make your Facebook page fall into line with your website.

Just like the rest of your marketing efforts, your social spaces should reflect the same level of consistency in appearance. Here’s an example:

Check out Minnesota Wild‘s website and compare that to the Wild’s Twitter profile and the Wild’s Facebook page.

If they don’t look the same – the first question should be “why”? In most cases, there hasn’t been enough attention placed on integrating the look and feel of these platforms. Social media has moved from an after-thought or value add space to a front/center position. So by now, if a teams’ social spaces do not share a consistent look it reads as sloppy or second class. The only reason that a teams’ social spaces do not share any consistency is because that is a part of a larger strategy at work.

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Content Management Strategies and Why You Should Care

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A couple of things you might be thinking…

What is Content Management?

Or, maybe if you know a bit about what content management is all about – Why should Content Management matter to me if I am a sports team?

First off – What is Content Management?

It’s most easily defined as the non-technical management of website and online content and how it is delivered. It’s the stories on your website, the posts on your blog, the status updates on Facebook, the things you tweet about… anything digital that you push out. A lot of people have been talking about content management as the next “big thing” following the rise of social media. You may have also heard the statement that “Content is King”.

But crowing “Content as King” is leaving a lot to be addressed. What good is content (no matter how good it is) unless there is someone out there to see/read/experience it? So, yes, its true that content is critically important, but do not forget the “how” part of this – how the content is distributed and organized.

I do a lot of work with sports teams so the issue of content might seem obvious at first for sports teams. “Content is not a concern for us”, you might be thinking. At first blush, one might consider “the game” to be your content. Sure – but consider that the game, your product, is primarily disseminated on television and across the internet by programing and websites that are not your own. Think of the different layers of media and experience involved here…

At the core is your product – the live game. Depending on your sport, about 20-50,000 people experience it live.

The next layer is broadcast – again depending on your team, sport and specific game, thousands to millions of people experience your product on television. Those not viewing the game will experience the highlights on TV as well… you can also add radio into this mix.

Now, of course, your website and social media platforms will “cover” the game as well – but it’s important to consider product content as only a portion of your content management strategy. No other business outside of professional sports benefits from such widespread coverage on a day-in-day-out manner (unless it is bad news… BP is a timely example). Non sports companies must rely on their own efforts to get their product out there, so content management strategies may seem more “important” or vital to them.

The point I am trying to make here, is that your sports product is being “covered” and disseminated already for you by NBC, CBS, Fox, CBC, TSN ESPN… Therefore, content management strategies in sports are even more critical.

Why? Because you have the opportunity to layer on much more than the product itself – and sometimes the product may not be the greatest thing in the world either. This is where your brand really matters.

What is your brand all about?

What is your team’s place in the community? What place do you want it to occupy?

What is your history/legacy?

What is your vision?

These are the questions you should be asking in regards to content management. Last night’s box score is the easy stuff – this is much deeper.

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2 Free Marketing and Branding Downloads

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I recently came across a couple of free resources that I wanted to share…

The first is a powerpoint from HubSpot. They have some great free resources and webinars regarding social media. Below is a link to a presentation that contains over 50 charts and graphs on marketing data – many related to social media. You might find it useful and also be interested to keep tabs on HubSpot as well…

HubSpot Marketing Data Presentation

The second is an eBook from Don MacLeod called “The Basics of Branding”… it’s a 21 page PDF.

The Basics of Branding

Hope you find some value in these!

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Sales and the Transfer of Brand Credibility

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I often ask sales people to define the word “sales”.

We all know what it means, but it can be hard to define. I think it is important to sometimes reframe what we are doing – take a look at it from a higher level and this can help inform our perspective on what we do, how we do it and how we can improve it.

Essentially, “sales” represents the transfer of credibility from the seller to the brand.

A sales person starts with nothing – perhaps a cold call, and they work through the sales process by establishing and reinforcing their credibility to the point when the buyer feels they trust and believe the seller and agree to sign off. At that point – the seller has worked hard individually to the point where credibility has been built and then has been successful in transferring that credibility to the brand they represent – A tall order for sure.

Now, sure – of course marketing can help with building that brand (either in advance or during the sales process), but it really comes down to individuals. People connecting with people. For that very reason, sales people are one of the most important hires that an organization can make. These people are walking and talking your brand every day.

Who says sales and marketing do not understand one another? They are different sides of the same thing.

Can Brands Be “Friends” on Facebook?

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fbookMy two cents – in a word, “No”.

Here’s why…

Let’s say you have a Pro Sports Team Facebook Fan Page – and a brand – one that is not currently a sponsor of yours – shows up and engages your brand on Facebook. The viral nature of Facebook makes this action visible to many, possibly thousands of other people. Is this kind of brand interaction “fair” to your other (paying) sponsors who are not actively engaging your brand on Facebook?

Perhaps fair is the wrong word, but you get the idea. Social media is a platform – and yes – it is a free one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that brand interaction in this space does not have a price. In fact, I would counter that it does.

As teams and leagues begin to negotiate the social media space (check out the NHL’s new Fan Page that launched recently) these kinds of questions need to be asked and addressed. These are the kinds of answers and strategies that I build. More on just how to do that in a later post…

What do you think? Can brands be Friends?