Let’s Talk Play-by-Play

There’s one thing with Twitter + sports I wish would go away: Dry, boring play-by-play. We live in a world of excessive information where fans have the option to consume things multiple ways, from multiple sources. The weight of every play does not rest on your Twitter account. That’s a beautiful thing!

I don’t literally mean tweeting every single play when I refer to play-by-play. I’m talking about dry and boring game updates like “pass is incomplete, there’s 3:41 left in the 3rd, we still lead, etc.” These moments don’t drastically change the game or momentum. Twitter isn’t Gamecast. Don’t treat it like that.

I really believe it’s time to throw away the play-by-play. Here are a few things to think about:


Limited resources? Focus on the big splash.

We all know staff and resources are limited everywhere. Instead of stressing about capturing every moment, focus on the highlights that count. When you free yourself up to focus on quality versus quantity, you can get more creative. You can’t do it all, so focus your energy where you can make the biggest splash.


It’s about the majority.

One thing I always hear in the play-by-play debate is that some fans want to have all the updates. On a social media network where you broadcast to a wide audience, “some” shouldn’t dictate what you do. Your coverage should be about the majority. It’s not about the 49 percent, but the 51 percent. Teams stand a greater chance of losing fans to excessive play-by-play (for being annoying), than losing fans because you don’t do it.

Cal Basketball took to Twitter polls to see if their fans wanted play-by-play. This a great idea to figure out what the majority wants.


Make the tweets unique.

I’m not opposed to game updates. That would be silly. I’m saying fans don’t need most plays. Focus on big highlights. Use visuals. Have fun. Make the commentary on the game something different than what fans can get elsewhere. Anyone can do dry and boring play-by-play, so focus on thing that can make your coverage your own.


Let the stats talk.

When you look at the stats, you’ll notice fans respond to color commentary and fun reactions much more than standard play-by-play. Don’t ignore the stats. Pay attention to the engagement of each tweet.


There are other options.

Just because your main team account doesn’t do play-by-play, doesn’t mean your fans can get it. Drive them to the places where they can follow along. And if all else fails, consider setting up a separate “game update” account.

This list skims the surface of why it’s time to rethink play-by-play. Twitter should be fun and engaging; it should be anything by dry and boring. When you realize your account isn’t responsible for covering every single play, it frees you up to do some really stellar things.


What are your thoughts? Is play-by-play a yay or nay?


Thanks for reading! 

#SMSports Highlight Reel: The Panthers

This is a series on the blog that highlights quick, winning hits from teams or leagues on social/digital. We’ve already talked about the Raiders and Michigan Football. Next up: The Panthers.

The Panthers always come up in #smsports conversation about being one of the best of the best in the NFL. They are a brand that isn’t afraid to have fun (it is social media after all), they always show up prepared and they get community. If you don’t follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, then go ahead and do so. And while I could write on and on about all the things they do right on social media, here are my three #smsports highlights from the Panthers’ approach to this season so far.


No. 1- They know fun (within reason).

Social media should be fun, but never come at the cost of the brand. The Panthers have found a way to be fun on Twitter without resorting to over-the-top gimmicks that take away from the brand. They save humor for the moments it makes sense, making a bigger and more impactful splash.

Here’s a look at some of on-brand fun the Panthers have been able to have this season:






From the sample tweets above, it’s clear you can remain on brand and still have fun. The Panthers are proof that fun in social media doesn’t mean snark and edge that crosses the line. Take notes and pay attention!


No. 2- On fire design.

The Panthers have a sharp look and feel that’s consistent across platforms. I like their design for several reasons. First, it’s clear they do the prep work necessary to execute well during live coverage (templates are your best friend). Second, they make the information as consumable and possible (say no to info overload). And finally, they design for the platform (can I get a hallelujah?). Take a look at some of their content here:
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No. 3- They get the social piece.

All too often teams and leagues just push on social media. Twitter and other networks aren’t a broadcast platform; social media is about a community where teams and leagues need to engage. The @Panthers get the social piece of social media. They take the time to engage with their fans and their voice is fun, human and on point:



As you can see above, even the @Panthers replies earn engagement. If you want to build the strongest community possible, then replying and engaging with fans is key. No, you don’t have to respond to every single person, but it is important to take time for your fans. Don’t be a robot either… have some fun!


Extra Points

And while I typically try to keep these posts short and sweet, the Panthers presence gets a few extra points for:

This quote Vine (cool creative).

And, sponsored content that is a natural fit.

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What do you stands out to you about the Panthers’ social? Share your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading! 

Twitter Approaches to Rethink

This post tackles Twitter approaches in sports that it’s time to rethink. I’ve picked these trends for several reasons. Some aren’t fan-friendly, while others don’t leverage the strength of the platform. I get the list below has large, blanket statements. I know that some of the things listed here might make sense for your team, league or organization based on goals, resources and situations. My hope is this post might get you thinking about why you approach things a certain way. We’re all guilty of getting in a rhythm of doing things the same old way. If this post makes you sit back and ask “why” at all, then it’s done its job.

So without further ado, here are current Twitter approaches in sports I wish would go away (with a little help from my #smsports friends):


No. 1- Play button on images.

There are few things more frustrating than seeing the “play” button on Twitter only to realize that it’s not an actual video but a screenshot driving elsewhere. Not only is this deceiving for fans, but it also makes content consumption more difficult. Fans want to consume easily and quickly.

Today video content can be shared straight on the platform, so why not meet fans where they are? The days of only driving people to .com should be gone. Let your fans consume great content on the platforms where they play and drive to deeper dives that social can’t provide.


No. 2- Same GIF over and over again.

I love GIFS that enhance play-by-play coverage. That said, it gets redundant when teams use the exact same GIFS over and over again. If you plan GIFS for certain moments (like touchdowns, interceptions, etc.), create multiple options to pull from so you can mix it up. GIFS can be repurposed and used again, but there’s a fine line before the content gets boring.

The @Seahawks score GIFS are a great example of using templates to turn out content quickly but also keeping it fresh. They mix up the visual with different photos for every score update:


No. 3- GIFing just to GIF.

I love GIFS, but they can be overused. Take the time to think through a strategy for your GIFS and figure out the moments where you can use them for the greatest impact.

Remember this: GIFS are a treat and not an every tweet thing.


No. 4- Not engaging with fans.

All too often teams and leagues just push on the platform. Twitter isn’t just a broadcast platform; it’s a community where teams and leagues need to engage. The platform is an opportunity to foster relationships and cultivate brand ambassadors. I’m amazed at how many teams still don’t take the time to engage with their fans.

When a team / league @replies to a fan on Twitter, they’re encouraging them to be brand ambassadors and igniting their passion. A reply to a fan encourages them to tweet their love of the team / league even more. Additionally, people often retweet brand responses and replies to them. This is a win, as there’s nothing more powerful than earned media and word of mouth.

The ability to listen and connect directly with fans is one of the things that sets Twitter (and social media) a part from traditional media. Take advantage of it.


No. 5- Using retweets as engagement.

Many teams retweet fans like crazy, but don’t engage. The idea of using retweets as a form of engagement needs to change. I believe in retweeting, but the tweet should add value to entire audience. Don’t retweet as an acknowledgement. Reply to acknowledge and retweet to add value. If you only retweet then you aren’t engaging.


No. 6- Play-by-Play.

There is still way too much play-by-play on Twitter. The platform isn’t about replacing the broadcast; it’s about enhancing the viewing experience for those at home. There are so many ways for fans to consume play-by-play if they want it. Don’t clutter your feed with boring and mundane play-by-play updates. Focus on the big moments, color commentary and “insider” stories that add more value.

When you look at the stats, you’ll notice fans respond to color commentary and fun reactions much more than standard play-by-play. Look at these examples from the @Panthers (who in their defense don’t do much play-by-play) and the engagement each with each tweet:

As you can see above, the tweets that perform best are fun; they make it seems like the account is sitting in the living room with you. They are anything but dry and boring play-by-play (and this is from a team that doesn’t even do that much play-by-play).


No. 7- Not creating for the platform.

Square images don’t belong on Twitter. We all know that, so stop trying to force it. No matter the platform, all content should play to the platform’s strength. This means creating content specifically for Twitter (2:1 ratio). Make it easy for fans to consume your message. Size your graphics accordingly.


No. 8- Pushing Facebook and Instagram Links.

This one goes along with creating for the platform. Long gone should be the days of cross-promoting Facebook and Instagram links to Twitter. First, what works on Facebook and/or Instagram might not work on Twitter. Second, Facebook and Instagram links aren’t media rich. If you have great content, tailor it to Twitter and share it natively. It’s okay to share similar content across platforms, but it should be repurposed appropriately.


No. 9- Forcing Humor.

Somewhere along the line in sports we’ve gotten the idea that humor and gimmicks are what it takes to win on Twitter.

This is sports though! Sports are full of emotion, stories and big moments. The beauty is that you don’t have to resort to gimmicks. Save humor for the moments where it really makes sense. Don’t force it!

Additionally, don’t cross the line for the sake of vanity metrics. Stay on brand and remember that everything you tweet is a reflection of the organization through and through. Twitter and social media is suppose to be fun, but it shouldn’t come at a cost.


The bottom line is this: Take a step back and evaluate why you do what you do. I know some of these things might make sense for your team or league, but make sure content consumption is easy for fans and that you leverage Twitter’s strengths. Twitter isn’t just about broadcasting, so be thoughtful in everything you do.



When I asked the what trends people who like to see go away, I got some great responses that I didn’t get a chance to include. You can view the entire thread here.



Thanks for reading! 

Chief Kingdom Cards

The Kansas City Chiefs wanted to find a way to engage the London fan base and give them a reason to choose and showcase their affinity for the team. So to encourage people to spread red and gold throughout the city, the Chiefs created Kingdom Cards: Scenery-engaging plastic cards. With the cards, fans were encouraged to take photographs at famous London landmarks and share on social media with the hashtag #KingsdomUnite. The cards came in packs of three and about 500 packs were distributed. The best of the best photos were featured on chiefs.com using Postano.








It feels a bit like a modern day Flat Stanley, doesn’t it? Anyway, I love this campaign from the Chiefs because it empowers fans to share. All too often we get caught up in pushing instead of cultivating a strong community. We don’t have to just tell our story ourselves. In fact, we shouldn’t. We should also empower our biggest advocates to do it for us.

Versions of this could be adopted in many different ways for teams: Distribute them with season ticket holders, include cards with away tickets, seed them with influencers, pass them out at community events, pass one out each game as a limited edition item, etc. The opportunities are endless!

The bottom line is this: Encourage and empower fans to share their passion.




Thanks to @jamesroyer for sharing this campaign with me! Be sure to follow the Chiefs on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Thanks for reading!

Snapchat Doodle Contest from Callaway Golf

Engagement is important on any social media network. After all, the ability to connect with our consumer one-on-one is what sets it a part from other media. This week Callaway Golf hosted a Snapchat doodle contest.  Doodle contest are a great example of how brands can engage with consumers on the platform. For the doodle contest, Callaway Golf shared a picture of their Chrome Soft golf ball, asked fans to screenshot it and then draw a Halloween costume on the golf ball. Fans then shared their creation to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ChromeSoftCostume

This campaign is strong for several reasons. Here’s why it works:

Template Format
Callaway Golf provided users with the same “template” to use for their snap drawing. That helped keep things consistent and guided some direction. When thinking through Doodle contests, figure out how you can provide your fans with a starting point like Callaway did. It might make the contest a little less intimidating too without a purely blank canvas.

Product Front and Center
Callaway found a way to get consumers to share their product (front and center) in a way that is authentic. Anytime you get your consumers to want spread the word, it’s a win.

They Got Fans Engaged
It’s important to find unique ways to get fans to interact and engage with your content on Snapchat. This helps foster a deeper relationship with your fans and will have them coming back to your stories and snaps over and over again. Doodle contests, like this one from Callaway, is a great example of how to get them engaged.

Cross Promotes
Asking fans to draw a doodle and then share the picture on Twitter and Facebook helps to cross promote your account. There’s a good chance that people sharing their images could prompt others to look up your account and grow your followers. Win!

As a side: Consumers are creative. Take a look at some of the stellar entries here:

A big thanks to @HashtagChad for some insight into this campaign. Be sure to leave your thoughts on Snapchat doodle contests below. 

Thanks for reading!