5 Strong NFL Preseason Social Plays

With the NFL preseason in full swing, we’re getting a look at what we will see from teams on social media this season. It looks like it’s going to be a strong year in NFL social. From slick visual identities to mesmerizing content, we’ve already seen some strong plays. Below are a few highlights from teams early on as the NFL season kicks off:

 

Beautiful photography.

There’s no such thing as a great social presence without great content. A huge key to good content is top-notch photography. The @MiamiDolphins social media presence is proof of this. Their content is eye catching, consistent and a great refection of their brand. All teams can learn from their cohesive look. Work hand in hand with your photography team to define a look and feel and let the photos drive your storytelling.

 

Mesmerizing content.

In the battle for attention, it’s important to diversity your content. Coverage should include everything from stills to videos to captivating GIFS. Many teams have leveraged interesting, dynamic content in the pre-season so far. Below are a few that caught my eye:

Full speed ahead. #VikingsCamp

A post shared by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on

Tip: The Vikings, Falcons and Saints used an app called Plotograph. It’s simple to use and definitely worth checking out.

 

Communicating in six seconds.

The latest craze in advertising is six second ads. It doesn’t mean that good long form is dead, but all teams should think about how to create video content for goldfish attention spans.

Telling a story in six seconds is a completely different creative challenge. You need a strong understanding of your point to be able to communicate it in six seconds. A strong storyboard and good execution are key.

Need some inspiration on what a strong six second video looks like? Here’s a great example from the @jaguars:

 

Crisp and clean branding.

It’s important for teams to establish visual identities. A good visual identify helps your content stand out from the crowd and ties everything back to the brand. When fans scroll through their feeds, they should be able to identify a team’s piece of content without even seeing the name. The @Vikings branding for their training camp is a great example of what crisp and clean branding looks like:

Run it right back, @dalvincook. #VikingsCamp

A post shared by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on

 

Good, clean fun.

There’s a tendency for teams and brands to resort to snark and sass on social. As marketers though, we shouldn’t resort to that tactic unless the organization/brand has aligned on that voice. It’s easy to grab attention and retweets this way, but the true test of any marketer is to grab attention in a way that’s right for the brand.

The good news is that a team’s voice can come to life in many different ways. Yes, social media is meant to be more human. Yes, teams should have fun on social. You can break through the clutter and have fun without jeopardizing the brand.

Establishing personality is not complicated either. Take a look around you and see how the players interact. There are moments all throughout sport where personality shines. Capture that content. Bring to life those team moments. Below are two examples of personality shining through with content and copy without resorting to snark:

 
What strong plays have you seen from NFL teams in the pre-season? Share your thoughts below!

Examples of Engaging Fans With Content

Social media marketers are often a little timid to ask fans to interact with their content. We tell fans when to cheer in-venue though, so why are we so shy about encouraging them to interact online?

Yes, it can feel gimmicky and forced to give instructions to fans asking them to click, comment and like. When done right though, calls-to-engagement can be a powerful rallying cry. They can catapult a great piece of content further, draw new fans in and build a stronger community. The key is to use them strategically, sparingly and creatively.

The good news is that you can get fans to engage with your brand and content, without it feeling desperate. You have to go beyond the surface. Tap into creative, visuals, emotion and unique platform hacks to get your fans and consumer to interact with your content.

Below are a few recent examples of teams who have engaged fans in interesting ways, whether through creative or platform tactics. All of them do a good job of prompting fans to take action and brining them into their content and community.

 

Sacramento Kings- #Winning On All Levels

In a brilliant off-season play, the @SacramentoKings leveraged Twitter’s polls and thread features to create a “choose your own adventure “game. Through the thread, fans get to make the decisions on how they would handle the final possession at a chance to win it all for the team. The result is a well-executed and unique fan engagement play that puts the story in fans’ hands.

The @SacramentoKings have also leveraged graphics to do a number associated play. In the example below, they created a graphic and associated all four of their draftees with a number(s). Fans become one of the new King additions based on the last number of their like. Not only did this prompt fans to like the photo, but it also prompted fans to comment who they got.

Which new 👑 did you get?

A post shared by Sacramento Kings (@sacramentokings) on

Both of these examples from the Kings draw fans into their content in a more personal way. They make fans feel a part of the story and that’s a powerful, powerful thing.

 

PGA Tour- Reaction Snaps

During the drama-filled Open, the @PGATour asked fans to send in their best reactions via Snap. The best of the best were featured on their Snapchat account. This is a great example of using UGC in a way that’s relevant to the platform. Snapchat is all about people and first hand POVS, so it’s only natural that people would share reactions there. Empower your fans to join your story—this is an easy example to execute.

 

ESPN- Design that Prompts

EPSN has been using graphics and design to prompt fans to comment. The creative execution below is strong, making it feel like a poll versus a tactic just to get comments. The post generated 23K comments (that’s way over their average engagement).

The lesson? Design can play a key role in promoting fans to engage. And, a little push every now and then to encourage them to take action never hurts.

Thoughts?

A post shared by espn (@espn) on

 

Suns- TBT

Make fans part of your publishing game! In a fun and easy TBT play, the @Suns asked for their fans to share their favorite memory. The @Suns, in return, found some of their favorites from the archive and shared them.

In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to get fans involved without it feeling like a gimmick. They want to be a part of the conversation and the community, so give them that extra confidence push.

What good examples have you seen from teams or leagues? Share below!

Why You Need a Platform Strategy

Social media moves in a frenzy. And if you work in the industry, it’s easy to feel the pressure to “do, do, do”. This pressure can result in a firehouse approach to push out whatever you can, whenever you can.

The firehouse eventually (and often quickly) results in a cluttered space. Consumers have to shift through a lot of uninteresting content to unearth any gems. This cluttered space doesn’t affect the consumer alone—it also hurts brands, teams, leagues.

Everyone in the industry must work to fight the frenzy. We have to pull ourselves out the weeds and think about how we’re distributing, where and why. Social media content shouldn’t be an all-out blanketed approach. Instead, it’s imperative as marketers that we play to each platform’s strength. There should be synergy to your channels, yes, but the content on channels should also be different.

So, what’s the key to maximize each channel effectively to tell your story? It all starts with defining a strong platform approach—and sticking to it.

Defining a platform strategy ensures several things:

 

Reason for being.

When you define a reason for being with each channel it helps to differentiate content across platforms. It’s not about telling a different story across all channels; it’s about molding the content to the platforms.

 

Forces you to think consumer first.

Hopefully when you define a platform approach, the consumer is at the center of your thinking. And, since you have defined a reason for being on each channel, your approach will make for a great consumer experience. across each channel. This way the consumer won’t be bombarded with the exact same content across every single channel and it will feel more authentic the platform.

 

Helps push creativity.

Finally, when you put yourself in a box creativity is unleashed. You and your team will end up with a stronger presence and stronger creative if you stick to a POV and understand what makes each platform unique.

 

So, what does a platform strategy look like? Every brand and team will have a different approach based on audience and goals. But for inspiration, here’s a high level look at how you might differentiate each platform.

 

Facebook

Facebook platform is about mass reach. Video and live are key here, so take the time to think through how to elevate and innovate the experience of live. Facebook also presents a huge opportunity to drive direct ROI. Their robust ad options and targeting capabilities can help you drive ticket sales, merchandise, etc. if you’re strategic about it.

 

Twitter

Twitter is where moments happen. It’s a place for real time. One-to-one engagement with fans is also important, as well as letting your brand personality shine. From a content perspective, GIFS, moving image and short soundbites are key.

 

Instagram

Instagram is the best visual expression of the brand. Period. The creative must be visually eye-catching to get people to stop in their feeds. Think of in-feed posts as more evergreen; Stories more real-time.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat is about real, raw access. The people and personalities behind brands shine. Think about your programming like reality TV; create consistent programming, faces and give people a reason to come back and tune it. And the biggest key? Have fun, doodles and all.

As mentioned, this is just a high level example of how you could define a platform approach. Take the time to put yourself in your consumer’s shoes, brainstorm and create a POV. Sticking to the POV won’t always be easy, but in the end you will have a stronger community, stronger engagement and stronger overall presence.

Social Media, It Takes a Village

You can’t talk about marketing today without talking about digital and social. It’s no longer a nice to have for brands, teams and leagues… it should be one of the key pieces leading your marketing strategy. With this shift, every brand wants to be digital first. They talk the talk, but many don’t walk the walk.

It seems that far too many organizations still don’t invest in an infrastructure that allows their teams to actually thrive. Take a look at this Twitter poll asking on the size of digital/social teams in sports. So many people are doing so much with so little:

The results of this poll are disheartening and shows how far we still have to go in the industry. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team, league or brand, flying solo in social and digital is a fast track to burnout. In an industry that operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, it’s not humanly possible for one person to strategize and execute well…. much less innovate or take anything to the next level.

It’s time for organizations to take a serious look at how committed they actually are to this thing called digital. The truth is there’s no such thing as a good social strategy without a good content strategy & the team (key word here) to create it. A great digital and social media presence takes a village.

Alongside the need to invest, teams also need to give serious thought to structure. Too often entry level jobs looking for too senior of people and senior roles not asking for enough experience. The best way to set up the team for success is to step back, talk to current staff and identify the actual needs. At a high level though, digital/social teams need a strategist, community manager and creators (again, super high level).

 

Strategist / lead.

This is the person that helps bring together the full vision to drive business results. They take the brand strategy and goals to figure out how that translates into the online world. This person should have a strong vision, marketing background and the ability to define a POV. They must also be able to work with creative, mentor teammates and help drive the plan forward. This isn’t an entry level job, but they should be able to roll up their sleeves and get it done.

 

Community manager.

Every team needs a great community manager (or two). This role is the heartbeat of the social team. They bring to to life plans, they build your community, they know your consumer. Their time is often spend building out calendars, engaging with the community and staying on top of the latest trends. Hire someone in this role with 1 to 2 years of experience. And, make sure to foster, mentor and push your community manager so they can move up and on to another role.

 

The creators.

A great social media strategy requires a great content strategy and the right creative team to bring it to life. If you are investing in strategist and community managers without investing in creatives, your vision will fall flat. Every organization should have some type of creative pod dedicated to digital and social. This team should photo, video and a stellar graphic designer.
 
This might not seem like rocket science, but the truth is many organizations aren’t investing in full digital teams. In a Twitter poll on resources, 72% of people that answered feel understaffed. That’s no joke!

We all know by now that digital isn’t the future… it’s here. And, it’s one of the best opportunities we have to connect with consumers and fans. Investing in digital means investing in good people. It takes a village to be a truly digital minded company. So start hiring and hiring right.

3 Strong Plays From The Phillies

There was season in sports + social media where everything celebrated was snarky. It didn’t matter if it was the right voice for your team and brand. It was race for retweets. The snark revolution led to some unfortunate incidents, including a few that cost talented people their jobs.

But we’re starting to see a shift in the industry where teams get that their voice can come to life in many different ways. Yes, social media is meant to be more human. It’s meant to be fun. But you can break through the clutter and have fun, without jeopardizing the brand and what it stands for.

This year the Phillies have stepped up their social media game. They’ve found a groove, a brand voice and managed to have lots of fun without overstepping the line. They’re a great example of a team standing out from the clutter in a way that is still right for the brand.

If you need a little inspiration on how to breakthrough without the snark, the Phillies are a good place to start. Below are three strong plays that have helped them breakthrough already this season.

 

Embracing the power of community.

Community management is probably one of the most underrated aspects of social in sports. I understand that resources and manpower can be limited, but even setting aside five minutes a day to interact with fans can go a long way.

Here’s the thing. Social media is not just about pushing content. It’s about building a community and relationships. Simple gestures of appreciation for fans can go a long way in building lasting relationships. The Phillies gave us a great example of this when they surprised a fan and his daughter tickets to their Autism Awareness Night.

The gesture was noticed by fans, teams and the media, earning a ton of coverage for the Phillies.

Not only did they make a fans day, but they also helped to raise coverage of what their organization stands for (by giving back to fans and with their Autism Awareness Night). Win, win, win.

Why We Love Sports Today: Phillies surprise a fan and his daughter with tickets to Autism Awareness Night.

A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on

 

Combating tough times with a little humor.

There are certain things when you work in sport that aren’t fun to communicate A lot of times, you have no control over them. Take rain delays. No one wants to hear that a game is canceled, but let’s be honest, no one has control over the weather. A rain delay is what it is.

The Phillies decided to take some liberty during one of their rain delays and take a not-so-fun moment and spin it with a little light hearted humor.

Fans love the tweet. In the hard to please internet, people were even calling for the social media manager to have a raise. The message was relatable, humorous and delivered in the right moment. Not every situation can be spun with humor like this—but for a rain delay, it was a great way to break the ice.

Sometimes truth and humor can go a long way. As long as the subject isn’t something that is sensitive. Use your judgement and common sense wisely here.

 

Keeping it real.

In a similar vein to their weather delay play, the Phillies have also found a way to keep it real without overstepping their bounds on the snark.

Sometimes there’s beauty in the truth when delivered the right way. This bio change is a great example of how you can play with a bit of snark without overstepping what’s right for the brand. Bravo to the Phillies on finding that delicate balance.

 

All in all, the Phillies new take to social media is a great example of how teams can break out from the clutter and have some fun without hurting the brand. Social media should connect and engage fans. But, you have to be willing to test and push the boundaries in a way that doesn’t harm the brand. When you work on defining your voice and understand the moments where your willing to take risks, you can win… like the Phillies have.