The NFL is Making Millions in “Extra” Sponsorships with Twitter Amplify

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The NFL is Making Millions in “Extra” Sponsorships with Twitter Amplify

Via @adweek. The term “extra” sponsorship is present here, but doesn’t this demonstrate a shift in what a sponsorship destination Twitter has already become?

At this point, there is no other app or platform that can compete with Twitter for a second screen strategy.

What’s Up With Vine?

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Vine is a mobile app that provides creation and sharing of 6 seconds of video. Sounds cool, but wait – isn’t that what Tout is (does)?

Yes, kind of… But here’s what is different and potentially, exciting.

Tout is a mobile app that offers 15 seconds of video to create/share. The great thing about Vine is that it’s integrated into Twitter, so the sharing gets pretty easy. Vine offers some cool creation features as well – users record their video by touching and holding on the screen, so multiple “shots” are possible within those 6 seconds.

Vine’s social network aspects are clean and simple to use, a lot like Instagram’s. But it’s the Twitter integration that gives Vine a leg up. Twitter bought Vine back in October, so even though its a separate app, it’s still Twitter at the helm. Vine uses existing Twitter profiles as well.

There are obvious parallels here between Facebook/Instagram and Twitter/Vine. Video sharing has a lot of potential, and Vine is well positioned to capitalize on this. Considering recent Instagram frustrations and privacy/content issues, users may be quick to adopt the new Vine platform. I’ve been playing with it for a day now and it’s interesting to see how people are experimenting with it.

Should brands start using it? Too early to tell, but so far – I’m pretty bullish on Vine. I think there are great possibilities here! Tout never really took hold; whether thats because micro-video sharing isn’t what people want, or if the platform was lacking, I can’t say – but we’re about to find out. Keep an eye for now, but if you have the bandwidth, decent social populations (especially on Twitter), I’d be looking at getting Vine into the mix.

Social Integration vs Destination

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LikeI made some predictions at the end of 2012 and stated my advice was to view social as less of a destination for the coming year.

So, what does that mean, exactly?

I’ve seen a number of brands do a great job with social media marketing – but have the “social too” focus. That gets enacted something like, “Like us on Facebook!”, or “Follow us on Twitter!”. It made sense to do this at first, as social media really took a firm grip on how to market your brand and saw rapid adoption and staggering growth.

This led to brands prioritizing their Facebook Page over any other asset. Broadcast TV ads directed consumers to Facebook Pages, not their website. I always viewed this cautiously – as Facebook is a separate entity. Facebook changes all the time, and as I have often said – it’s the fans/customers/consumers who really own social media, the brand is simply providing a structure for them to participate in. Brands don’t own their Facebook user data. Facebook is a completely separate business with its own agenda.

Now – where I’m coming from is to discontinue this practice of using Facebook as a destination. Its simply not enough to drive toward Likes and Follows – drive users towards goals and targets that are integrated into a larger marketing message. Drive them to a reason – to a focused message. Prioritize your own assets – your website, your app.

Social sites are still of huge importance – but what I’m saying is how you strategically integrate them into your mix is the real key. Remember, most Facebook users consume your content through their Newsfeed – and rarely come back to your page. When’s the last time you checked out a brand’s Twitter profile page? And increasingly – all these activities are happening via a mobile device.

So don’t just be “social too” – make social central to how you communicate. Don’t make someone else’s business the destination for yours.

Your Brand Should Follow Everyone

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Give me one good reason why your brand shouldn’t follow back ALL your followers on Twitter.

I don’t mean to be confrontational – really, can you give me a reason?

There are many brands out there that have several times more followers than those that they follow, and in the case of sports brands for example, they follow media personalities, celebrities and specific individuals. But are these people more important than your customers or the rest of your potential market?

Many digital marketers will counter with statements along the lines of “If there are too many followers, I can’t make anything out of it – the stream is too busy to manage.” This kind of defense doesn’t wash for me – most any fan/customer to brand communication takes place via # these days anyways. And if you are successful with Twitter, having a lot of followers is a pretty good problem to have.

It’s really about optics. In a time when a RT carries the same weight as an autograph, and followers continually ask for RTs on their birthday or other personal events – do your audience a simple favor and follow back. Does this mean that you owe each and every one personal engagement? No – and with 6 figure followers accounts, this is pretty impossible.

Is it too much to ask to follow your customers? Don’t assign status to who your brand follows – and if you do, your customers should come first.

The Unified Approach to Social Marketing

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I previously blogged about the segmented landscape of social networks – it’s a niche world now with many valid places to be like Pinterest, foursquare, Instagram, etc…

So brands are now busy in many of these spaces, but I still think the approach is a bit scattered for the most part. There is a way out of this and I’m calling it the Unified Approach, but I didn’t invent it.

The idea here is to encompass all the social and digital spaces into a single entity. Gather up all your assets like Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and locate them into a sub brand that unifies them all. A few sports brands have done this – a great example would be the Boston Bruins DEN (Digital Entertainment Network).

This makes sense for a lot of reasons. It provides an organized approach to multiple networks – fans can choose how they follow their team. But the key here is also how it impacts corporate partner and media sales. If you work in that business, then you know it can be a challenge for sales teams to position and sell social assets; and likewise, clients often require a lot of education on what they are buying and even how to buy it.

The unified approach provides a clear vision of what all these assets represent – but – the kicker is, by combining all your social assets into a single package, you can also position this on the media buy – not just the sponsorship buy. The total of all these social assets can be a significant number and allow you to position this as a media buy opportunity.

The unified approach makes a lot of sense for a lot of brands – and as a last point, I still think you need to pick your spots. Should you participate in all these possible social networks? How do you prioritize? How do you allocate resources to manage it? How can you monetize it?

That’s where this blog post turns into conversation – use my Contact Page if you want to talk about it.

No More Tweet-Ups, Please

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Many sports teams have held “Social Media Nights” over the past few years, but I recommend that you drop that strategy.

The idea for this post came about during the #SMSportsChat on Twitter last week – where a few people involved and interested in the social media aspect of sports marketing discuss ideas.

While there was a time when Twitter was new, that’s going to back to 2008/09 now. When we first saw the advent of Tweet-Ups, it made a lot of sense. But Twitter has come a long way since then and so have the fans (and players, leagues, etc…).

I recall a conversation I had with a client in 2009, when they figured their Twitter population would “matter” as a digital asset once it hit around 5000. Today, they are in solid 6 figure follower territory.

Having a theme night is a great way to drive some awareness, but focusing theme nights on your social media channels as the core of this is now passe. Furthermore, I think it can help undervalue your brand to a degree in looking dated and more importantly, undermine your social media marketing efforts.

Social marketing should be a part of the daily process of marketing your team. Your fans will be tweeting about your product at the game, from home or wherever they are. The role of social marketers for teams now is not to entice their market to tweet – but to integrate that into their process. Your fans can be your greatest marketing engine if you are prepared to leverage them.

How “Official” is Twitter?

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Over the past several weeks, there have been a few events on Twitter that merit some discussion and debate.

I’m going to review two examples from the NFL’s New York Jets and the NHL’s LA Kings as they both provide some insight into Twitter’s role in how sports teams communicate (or not).

New York Jets

This case comes out of the New Orleans’ Saints Bounty fiasco. Basically, QB Drew Brees tweeted that he couldn’t imagine that his coach, Sean Payton could be suspended for the entire 2012 season. The NYJ decided to send a reply…

@drewbrees Know you’re frustrated but if he had admitted instead of trying to cover it up, maybe Williams gets a suspended.

Not long after, another tweet came from the NYJ…

At 11:21pm on 3/21 an unauthorized tweet was sent from @nyjets. This is not the view of the New York Jets. We are looking into this matter.

I know a thing or two about sports teams and twitter, and I’m pretty certain that most teams do not “authorize” their tweets, especially at 11:21PM at night. These things happen, sometimes due to the staff/resource in charge of the Twitter account that accidentally sent a tweet that was intended for their personal account and sent it as the team account. This goes beyond sports; such was Chrysler’s experience on Twitter in which personal and brand accounts were confused and resulted in the brand tweeting out an F-bomb.

It turned out that Chrysler’s mistake actually helped increase followers – and that segues into the next example…

LA Kings

During their recent first round playoff victory over the Vancouver Canucks (the most followed NHL team on Twitter), the LA Kings sent out the following tweet after game 1:

To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you’re welcome.

The tweet referenced the fact the Canucks were viewed as one of the most disliked teams in Canada and sent legions of Canucks followers into a tizzy. The tweet also garnered several thousand RTs (over 17K, I believe – good enough for 10th most RTs in Twitter history) and went on to help drive close to 10,000 new followers by the next game 2 days later. While many were expectedly upset, others did not take it so seriously.

There was no “retraction tweet” per the NYJ, in fact, a Kings Spokesperson pumped their digital tires with a light apology, which I felt was more than adequate. Many saw the Kings’ tweet as fun, and were suprised that the Twitter account was being taken seriously.

So What Does This Mean?

From my experience, I know that different teams have different opinions and approaches to Twitter and communications. We see many players across many sports as well as many members of the media engage in light chirping and making fun of one another on Twitter – and in a way that would not be seen in any other venue.

I see this as healthy debate… I think the only correct answer is that it entirely depends on the teams’ market – whether they are a dominant presence in their market or strive for PR. There is no escaping the fact that the Twitter account still comes from the brand, but…

  • Is Twitter part of PR no matter what?
  • Is it strictly fan engagement/loyalty and Marketing?”
  • Is Twitter more valid than any “official” PR communication channel?
  • Can Twitter be “just for fun”?

This is what makes this field so interesting (and at times, challenging). Everyone is paying attention now – and like it or not, Twitter may be more valid and “official” than you think. Teams used to provide announcements via press releases on team, game or organizational operations. Now, teams “release” tweets, updates, pins and instagrams all day, every day.

Where does all this sit with you?

Social Media is Still Social – Isn’t it?

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In doing some regular review of how teams operate their Facebook Page, I noticed how little the teams were connecting with fans.

Every Facebook Page has a button where you can display posts from the Page or the posts from the fans as a default. Very few teams prioritize their fans’ post over their own – this makes no sense to me…

Social marketing should be… SOCIAL.

Teams would counter that their content gets lost in the stream of fan posts quickly.  Social marketing isn’t just about dropping links to the team site. Maybe I’m wrong, but last time I checked, Facebook was all about the fans.

Yes – I’ve preached about corporate sales presence in social media (a lot). And yes, a post with corporate content could get lost very quickly – but who says a single post had any real value to a corporate partner in the first place? Corporate sales needs to be more of a consistent presence/partnership – ideally, well integrated with the brand and fans alike.

If teams find it a problem that their fans are so talkative and engaged with their brand, then I think perhaps its time to return to the basics…

  • Up to 2/3rds of tweets should be @replys to fans
  • Leverage fan content by RT’ing it
  • Comment on Facebook photos
  • Thank fans for their comments
  • Customer service
  • Engaging corporate partnerships
  • Featuring content from fans
  • Providing exclusive content
  • 3-4 FB posts per day (few more on game days)
  • 1 tweet per hour on average
  • Interact with fans regularly
  • Ask for opinions, ideas

Social marketing is a dynamic place – not a static stream of team posts. These are your fans – treat them well. There are other digital assets like your website that are strictly focused on your content. Use social media for what it does best – being social. Build and reinforce those fan relationships and they will be more apt to consume/share your content, buy your product and be advocates of your brand. We call them fans – but they are your customers.

Get a Twitter Handle on that Jersey

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I really enjoy the consulting work I do with teams.

But sometimes, I’d like to have the opportunity to “own” a brand and market it. This is one of the first things I would do…

Recently, an article hit the web about a Mexican football (soccer) team that replaced player names with their Twitter handles on the backs of their jerseys. Cool idea, I thought – but couldn’t see it happening in major league sports. But it gave me an idea…

I’d start giving away jerseys to my teams’ Twitter followers with player Twitter handles on the backs.  Same home or away jersey, use the players real number but instead of their last name on the name plate, place their Twitter handle there instead…

@Mark_Sanchez on the back of a NYJ jersey

@RealStamkos91 on the back of a TB Lightning jersey

@dfreese23 on the back of a St. Louis Cardinals jersey

Give a few of these away, and watch other tech/social savvy fans get on board… imagine how many @BizNasty2Point0 jerseys would get moved…

What do you think? Here’s your free idea of the day…