Strong #SMSports Examples of Twitter Polls

Twitter Polls were released to everyone back in October. Since then, Twitter has continued to enhance the function. You can now set time durations and add multiple choices (the only thing missing really is visuals). So far the response to polls has been stellar. Twitter just celebrated 1.7 billion votes. They get a lot more engagement than the average tweet and seem to be a great way to interact with fans and consumers. Even then, they should be used strategically and sparingly. Make an impact and be smart about how you leverage the Polls.

If you haven’t used Twitter Polls yet, I strongly encourage you to find a way to integrate them into your content plan in a meaningful way. How can you give fans a voice? What makes them want to interact? Below are some strong examples of how teams and leagues have used Polls.

 

Spur In-Game Conversation

Twitter is a great second screen experience. Fans flock to the platform for the real-time nature and free flowing conversation around the games. As people always say, Twitter is the best sports bar around. This season, the @Seahwaks used Polls around reviews to get fans opinions on the call. This is a great way to capitalize on the real-time nature of hte games and heated conversations that go on with play reviews.

 

Give Fans a True Voice

Social media is a powerful tool when fans feel like their opinion and voice is heard. Twitter Polls are a great tool to take action based on what the fans want. Give them a voice. Listen to them. Take action on what they say. Whether you’re deciding uniform combinations or what fans want with their social media coverage, give fans a voice and consider and act upon what they want. This is will build a stronger and more engaged community.

 

Fun Interaction

Polls are also just a great way to interact with fans. Figure out your key moments throughout the season to leverage Polls and get fans to interact on a different level. Kansas Basketball used a Poll to have fans vote for their favorite GameDay sign. They tweeted out the pictures of the signs, then followed up with a poll. A great example of how Polls can be leverage in fun, authentic ways.

 

This ideas above only skim the surface of how Polls can be used. Think about big moments for your team or league where fans are going to be extremely tuned in. Think about how you can use polls to take action, whether it’s asking fans what type of content they want or capitalizing on chatter, Twitter Polls are a great way to interact with fans. Leverage them!

 


 

 

What great use cases have you seen for Twitter Polls? Share them below!

Thanks for reading.

Let’s Talk the MJ Crying Meme

The Arizona Cardinals suffered a tough loss to the Panthers on Championship Sunday. Before the game wrapped up, the @AZCardinals tweeted the MJ crying meme.

 


We all know the Internet is ruthless. It’s even more ruthless when you have a game like the Cardinals did. This was surely an attempt to fend off the forthcoming trolls, and strangely (or not so strangely), the humor seemed to work. The tweet has more than 51,000 retweets and 38,000 likes to date. Unbelievable.

I’m sure this post, like many others, is one that people are on the fence with: Was it appropriate for a team or not? I’m not here to debate that. I just want to offer some food for thought. If you’re a social media manager and find yourself in a situation like the Cardinals with an epic tweet you’re waiting to hit send on, here are some things to consider:

 

Get buy-in from the top.

You need to have buy-in from the top if you want to teeter the line at all. Period. Social media content and the voice isn’t a reflection of the social media manager; it’s a reflection of the team through and through. Have conversations with the appropriate people to understand how much you can push the line. And if you have any hesitation at all, take the extra two minutes to get sign off.

 

Have a pulse on your community.

Every fan base and community is different. As a social media/community manager, you have to have a pulse on your audience’s sentiment and humor. What makes them tick? What makes them mad? Trust your gut as a community manager.

In a similar vein, remember you are never speaking to your community alone. A tweet that pushes the envelope will more likely go way outside your fan base. Create for your audience, but know that everything has a global reach.

 

Remember, there’s definitely a line.

Every time something controversial happens in #smsports, people often compare it to other controversial tweets and content. For example, what makes this different from the Houston Rockets tweet? There’s a fine line and it’s easy to cross. There are things you should stay away from period. For example, I would never touch anything that hints at violence, religion, politics, etc. Know those boundaries and don’t cross that line. Things can turn south very quickly. Context is everything.

 

It’s social. Take risks.

I have to be honest. I’m often conservative when it comes to situations like this. I air on the side of over-protecting the brand. I know that I’m too conservative though, and I know there are times when it’s good to take risks (ones where you have buy in of course). The truth is, if we don’t push the envelope some and as appropriate, it’s hard to grow, learn and stand out. If you tend to be conservative like me, don’t be afraid to find ways to push the edge. Evolve, evolve, evolve. Push your perspective. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

 

Be human.

The one thing about the MJ meme tweet from the Cardinals is that it seemed to break the ice. They were in a no-win situation and tackled the awkwardness head on. Social media is about being conversational and human. By pushing out what everyone was thinking, it added a level of authenticity to their account (whether it was right or wrong). Social media should be fun. It should be conversational. All of this within reason, of course.

 

Weigh risks. Know the purpose.

As with everything, it’s important to know your why. Do you simply want to make a splash or break the Internet, even if it means so pushback from fans? Understand why you’re tweeting and know the risks associated. If you can own it and have buy in, then it might just be okay to go for it.

 

What would the players say if they saw it?

As mentioned before, social media is a reflection of the organization through and through. Much like the “mom lens” we all talk about with social media content, I think it’s important to look at your content through the eyes of the team. What would the players say if and when they see the tweet? There are times when this filter might not dictate your decision, but it never hurts to look through this lens.

 

Tweets like this are never black and white. What works for one team or one situation, won’t work for another. Think through these scenarios and have candid conversations internally about the organization’s point-of-view on voice, tone and risks. With all of these things in mind, it will be easier to act swiftly in the moment and add an extra layer to ensure it doesn’t backfire internally.

Note: It’s worth pointing out, that after the MJ tweet the Cardinals followed up with a great series of tweets after their loss. They had a final score graphic, they congratulated the Panthers and they thanked their fans. All of this was thoughtful and very on brand.

 


 

 

What are your thoughts on the MJ crying meme? I would love your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading! 

2016 CFB National Championship Social Media Coverage

This year’s College Football National Championship was an instant classic. With back and forth leads, big plays and the beloved pylon cam, it was everything you could want from the National Championship game.

And like every other major sporting event, the social media + sports community tuned in to TVs, screens and everything eles to watch the coverage unfold. Early on it was easy to see the contrast different in the approach to both Clemson and Alabama’s coverage

There are a lot of great lessons, ideas and tidbits to take away from the coverage. Below are some highlights, with a little help from my #smsports friends:

 

CLEMSON

Clemson might not have taken home the hardware that night, but they definitely won the social media and sports game. Equipped with a team ready to turn out quality content with speed, Clemson’s coverage of the game truly enhanced the viewing experience. Their focus was on a rich media experience, telling the story of the game through photos, videos, Vines, etc. Here are a few of the things that stood out about Clemson’s coverage below.

Repurpose stories.
Early in the season Clemson released a beautiful video called “The Dream”. Given the theme, it was almost as if they predicted the season they were going to have. Their team spliced, diced and shared this video and theme multiple ways throughout the year:

Clemson carried “The Dream” thematic with them to the National Championship, pushing out the original content again and also creating new content inline with the video. Here’s a look at a few pieces:

They dreamed of this moment… Now it's here. #ALLIN 🐅🐾 #Clemson

A video posted by Clemson Football (@clemsonfb) on

All too often we create good content, push it out once and walk away. Good content and good stories require building. Good content requires thoughtful and creative distribution if you want it to be seen. Not matter how good the piece is, you can’t expect to share it once and reach the audience it deserves. If you spend time developing a great story, make sure you spend the time thinking through how you can distribute it throughout the year and extend the story with additional content. Repurpose, retell and redistribute.

Timing is everything.
During games, timing is everything with social media coverage. Clemson has the manpower to act swiftly and nimbly, and it shined in their coverage. Content was pushed out quickly and always at the right moment. The best example of this is their tweet right after Alabama scored their first TD:

This was the perfect sentiment at the perfect moment. Instead of letting negativity find fans, the Clemson social team swooped in with an emotional piece of content to set the tone.

When planning for a national stage like this, it’s a good idea to have a bank of strong content you can pull for different scenarios. If you get the content generic enough, you can use copy to pull it into the scenario. Remember, you can plan for the unexpected in sports. You just have to get a little creative.

Capitalize on the moment.
When your team is on a championship stage, it’s an opportunity to get in front of a whole new audience. Capitalize on the moment to spread a larger message on what your school, team, traditions, etc. are all about.

Clemson didn’t focus only on the championship game that week; they also took it as an opportunity to shine a wider light on their university and academics.

How about that? #ALLIN 🐅🐾 #Clemson

A photo posted by Clemson Football (@clemsonfb) on

When you’re on a big stage—whatever it is—use the opportunity to tell a broader story far beyond the game. Whether it’s highlighting emotional stories on the team, showcasing academics, tapping into tradition, etc., you should absolutely capitalize on your moment in the spotlight.

Diverse portfolio of content.
This season Clemson did a fantastic job of telling their story through a variety of content. They always mix it up, from Vines to GIFS to photos, and it is anything but dry. In fact, their content is normally composed of one of two things: Emotion or swagger. From their touchdown GIFS to their video storytelling, here’s a look at some their content highlights from the night:

Content that is diverse and unpredictable makes it fun to follow along. It’s also more likely to standout from all the noise.

Thoughtful approach to a loss.
Clemson handled their loss better, and with more emotion, than a team I’ve seen in recent memory. They didn’t shy away from their content. Instead, they embraced the emotional journey of the loss, of their year, of their team.

Clemson found a way to tell a graceful and emotional story after the game. The content was extremely creative too, from paying attention to the stains earned to a recollection of a few of the players on their National Signing Day.

A loss doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and be silent, especially after the year that Clemson had. Clemson proved you can tap into the emotion of a heartbreaking loss and come out stronger. Every loss and situation is different, but for their situation, Clemson couldn’t have handled the loss any better.
A few other highlights from Clemson that stood out to the #smsports crew:

 

ALABAMA

Alabama’s coverage of the National Championship game was vastly different than Clemson. They took a more traditional approach on Twitter, focusing on stats and play-by-play. At the end of the game they turned to more rich content—native video, photos and graphics.

When you’re on a national stage like the championship though, I believe content deserves to be stepped up a notch. As talked about earlier, there are more eyes on your program than ever before. While the dry play-by-play might have been Alabama’s strategy, it would have been nice to see a little more emotion, depth and storytelling. After all, it’s a storied program (and as an Auburn fan, that hurts to say).

Even then, Alabama owned their strategy through and through and it was wildly differently that Clemson’s—maybe that was the point. Below are a few other key highlights.

Graphics game on point.
The graphics Alabama turned out throughout the game were sharp and easy to consume. Their design game has always been strong; in fact, I wish we got to see more of it.

Native video.
While a lot of Alabama’s game coverage was dry, they did do a good job of utilizing native video on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Video tells a more impactful story than photos and text alone. And, video consumption continues to grow. Video doesn’t have to be long or edited for it to perform well either, as the content above shows. Take the time to integrate video into your plan.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Below are some other highlights from #smsports friends and/or content that stood out:

 

 


 

 

I would love your thoughts. What stood out to you? Share below!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

5 Social Media Takeaways from the NFL Wildcard

The NFL post-season is in full gear, which often means social media content is stepped up a notch. The social media coverage from NFL teams during the Wildcard Weekend was on point. From prepared graphics to stellar GIFS, the games were fun to follow on social. Below are five takeaways/highlights from the weekend:

 

1. Empower others to build excitement.

The Seahawks, Vikings and Redskins did a great job enlisting others to help spread excitement and support. Each team took a different angle, from sponsors to home state teams. All too often in sports we rely on our own accounts to generate excitement. We’re fortunate to work in an industry where our audiences are passionate. Still, enlisting others can pull in a new audience, reinforce your message and make the CTA stronger.

One thing I love about these “influencers” graphics is they have a similar nice and feel. A cohesive design is a strong way to tie everything together:

 

 

2. Prepare for losses.

Losses are never an easy thing in sports, especially when it’s a really heartbreaking one. Social media managers have to plan for both the wins and losses though. If the players can face a press conference after a loss, us on the Internet can face a few angry fans after we post the final score.

The Vikings did a great job handling their loss. They posted the final score with language that tapped into the sentiment of the game. They followed up by thanking fans (which you can never go wrong with):

 

Handling both the wins and losses is part of the job. Be thoughtful in your approach.

 

3- A little access can go a long way.

When you work in sports, it’s easy to take for granted to the personal and emotional moments you have access to. Moments that are full of emotion are content gold. Give fans a little access inside the team’s journey—whether it’s locker room setup or post-game access. As the content shows below, you don’t have to be intrusive with your access. One shot from the camera and you’re good to go.

 

 

4- Prompt your fans.

Calls-to-engagements are one of the things that get written off because to us they feel forced, phony, cheesy, etc. And while you don’t want to always resort to gimmicks, sometimes your fans need a little nudge. Calls-to-engagement should be a tool in your toolbox.

If you don’t want to use obvious prompts though, there is good news. They can be subtle! The Seattle Seahawks gave a great example of what this look likes:

This tweet promoted their fans to reply “Hawks”. And whether or not this prompt was intentional, it’s a great example of thinking creatively about what might encourage your fans to action.

If you aren’t thinking about ways to get your community engaged, then start strategizing around it. Calls-to-engagement are a powerful rallying cry. They can catapult a great piece of content even further, draw new fans in and simply help to build a stronger community. They should absolutely used.

 

5- Small tweaks can pull your content together.

I’m a big believer in tying your content together through a defined look and feel. The Chiefs and Vikings did a good job with this. The Chiefs photos all had consistent editing with a small @Chiefs in the corner; the Vikings used a small overlay that promoted “forge ahead”.

 

While you don’t want all your photos and content to be too design heavy, you can make small tweaks (from the way you edit photos to simple overlays) to pull your content together.

 

BONUS: Packers GIF

This isn’t a takeaway, but it’s an awesome piece of content worth sharing:

 


 

 

What stood out to you from NFL teams during the Wildcard Weekend? Share your thoughts below!

 

Thanks for reading.

Things to Consider in Social Media + Sports in 2016

With a new year, I always like to take a minute to reflect and look forward. What can we do better in the year ahead? This isn’t about forecasting trends—it’s about thinking how you to step up your game in the New Year. I know everyone’s goals and objectives are different, but my hope is that something sparks an idea or has you think about something differently. So without further ado, here are 14 things I would like to see in social media and sports in 2016:

 

1- Defining a purpose.

Somewhere along the line, FOMO and vanity metrics have replaced the need for a smart, strategic approach. It’s easy to get caught up in, especially when our work is extremely public and opinions come from all four corners.

Consider taking a step back in 2016 to define your purpose. Forget all the outside influence. Create a strategy working off of organizational goals. Focus on your story. Define a strong point-of-view on how you will leverage each platform (please, please please stop treating every platform the same).

 

 


When you define your purpose and get buy-in, stay your course. It’s easier to pushback on random social requests that don’t fit into your larger approach. Instead of simply saying “no”, you now have a why. For example: If you decide Instagram is a pure photo play with no logos, graphic treatment, etc. then you can push back if you strategically when you get asked for sponsored content with logos everywhere.

Defining a purpose and point of view pushes good, creative thinking.

 

 

2- Tell a story.

On Saturdays in the fall you’ll find me watching College GameDay. I don’t get up because I love college football (even though I do), I tune in because I look forward to Tom Rinaldi and his stories. The raw human emotion in storytelling like Rinaldi’s is powerful. It’s a connector. It makes me laugh, cry and remember the people behind the numbers on the uniform.

Storytelling was on my list last year, and it’s making the list again this year. Why? Because there are so many powerful and inspiring stories in sports.

 

 

In 2016, focus on the emotion of sports. We’re lucky to work in an industry where people already connect with teams. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to dig deeper than the scores and facts. People connect with the off-the-field moments even more than the game scores. Emotion in sports is the common thread that ties everyone together. Focus on weaving the emotion and the stories into your content strategy—the emotion transcends winning and losing.

Need some good examples of storytelling from this past year? Here you go:

 

 

 

 

3- Thoughtful game coverage.

When I follow along on game days there is so much clutter. I mean, so much. From broadcast companies to teams and leagues, there are so many different accounts covering games. It’s often the same things over and over again: Stats highlights, play-by-play and boring dry updates.

Game days move quickly. You feel like you need to cover it all. I get it. The beautiful thing is you don’t have to cover every single play.

In 2016, take a step back and define your purpose for game day. Game day coverage doesn’t always have to be about dry and boring play-by-play. Focus on the stories and the behind-the-scenes moments. Be the eyes and ears for your fans. Add value, not noise. Do anything but tweet just to tweet.

 

 

4- Stop trying to win the Internet.

2015 was the year of social media mishaps. Sadly, some people lost their jobs from one single tweet. As a social media manger, you can’t try too hard to win the Internet… it will only end up in trouble.

In 2016, platforms need to be treated with a little more tender loving care. Social media is often the front door to an organization. And while we should have fun on the platforms, it also shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many ways to resonate with fans. The voice of an organization on social media should be an internal team exercise— not just that of the social media manager. Once the voice and tone are set, it is up to the social media manager to leverage his or her creativity on the platforms, writing ability and artistic eye to shine. Creativity isn’t limited to voice and tone alone.

 

5- Investing in video.

Video, video, video. You’re going to be hearing a lot about video in 2016 as it’s growing exponentially:

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.40.02 PM

Video takes more time, money and effort, but it’s what people are going online to consume. Video is a more powerful piece of content. It’s better for recall, it’s more persuasive and it improves interaction rate.

In 2016, take the time to put together a thoughtful approach to video. Nearly every social media channel supports video in some form or fashion AND it gives the opportunity to tell a more powerful, emotional story way beyond the field and stats. From quick 10-second hits to more long-form storytelling, it’s time to take video seriously. There’s no excuse to not include it in your content efforts.

 

6- Spending on social (on all fronts).

We all know the days of social media being free are over. It takes a strong budget and resources to do social the right way.
A good social media presence requires several things from a budgetary standpoint. First, it requires manpower from a community manager to content creators (photographer, graphic designer, etc.). It’s nearly impossible for one-man social teams to cover all they want AND interact with the community of fans. It’s also impossible to think that a one-man team (or small tam) can strategize, analyze AND create good content. Build the team it takes to succeed.

Secondly, good content often needs a little boost to take off. Put aside money for paid. This will ensure your content is seen and will help you reach new fans. With all the noise online now and algorithms to deal with, the days of organic reach are long gone.

In 2016, it’s time to take the investment in social media seriously. If social media is a priority for your brand, team, league, etc. then build out a budget and resources appropriately. The right investment is important as this space becomes more and more cluttered—good content and coverage comes at a cost.

 

7- Mobile messaging

Mobile messaging continues to rise in dominance. Thirty-six percent of smartphone users report using a messaging app (via Pew). That number increases to 49% with those 18 – 29. Messaging apps capture attention in a more powerful way. Users often spend more time in the apps and engagement is personal and deep (way beyond a double tap). If you’re looking to attract future fans, messaging is a good place to start. Here’s a look at the stats:

 

2015-08-19_social-media-update_03
While we don’t have a lot of case studies for mobile app activation in sports, there is a great example from the Colts. In 2015, the Colts became the first sports team on Kik. They launched a promoted chat that takes followers through seven levels of a choose-your-own adventure story about rising through the football ranks from high school player to the pros. You can read more about it here.

 

IMG_1329

If you want to think outside the box and attract a younger audience in 2016, then think about how you can activate with mobile messaging. Here’s a good list of four apps on the rise.

 

8- Build community.

Engagement lands on my list of teams and leagues need to do all too often. Social gives brands a first-hand connection to consumers. Listening and connecting– above anything– is what makes the platforms so special. Community engagement takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it. It builds a stronger relationship with fans. Kelly Mosier of Nebraska makes a great point:

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.31.36 PM

 

When you work in the industry it’s easy to be jaded about what a reply from a team account can mean to a fan. But trust me, there’s a lot of value in it. In 2016 take the time to focus on community. Personal interaction is important– and it’s going to stay that way.

 

9- Focus on the raw moment.

Social media sometimes get a bad rap for the “perfect” picture people portray online. Everything is filtered, censored and edited. There’s another side to social thought: The raw side, and it’s alive and well. Thanks to apps like Snapchat (where people are happiest) and Periscope, teams, fans and leagues can offer a first-hand and unedited version of what’s going on around them. People want that.

In 2016, offer those raw moments that fans are craving. Live and unedited doesn’t make sense for everything, but it certainty has it’s place. Take advantage of all the new apps and functionality out there to offer a first-hand perspective and live content.

 

10- Leverage content creators.

The world is full of creative people, and the Internet helps us find those people quickly and easily. If you’re looking for a way to differentiate your content, enlisting another creative is a great way to do so. Here are a few good examples of teams that have done this.

 

 

Tonight for #BullsSocialNight, we welcome back #Chicago artist @jasonmpeterson to take over our Instagram account.

A photo posted by Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on

 

In 2016, don’t be afraid to leverage people outside your organization/team to tell a unique story. Whether you host a contest, encourage UGC, show the fan’s perspective of hire a creative to produce for a day, there are so many opportunities to tell your story in a unique and different way.

 

11- Respect for each platform.

Please repeat after me: What you put on one platform doesn’t belong on every platform. I still see way too many teams and leagues sharing the sharing the same content across everything.

In 2016, take the time to define a point-of-view and “reason for being” on each platform. Study the way users use each platform and see how you can bring that to life for your account. It’s okay to cross-promote some content across all platforms, but nothing should be an all-out blanketed approach. Map out a way to play to each platform’s strength (like real-time moments on Twitter and raw perspective on Snapchat) and give users a different experience across each of your accounts. You’ll build a stronger community and audience if you do this.

 

12- Not treating content like a billboard.

We saw a lot more sponsored content in 2015. It’s not a bad thing, but all too often the sponsored content is forced or screams advertisement. When content becomes forced, it just adds noise to the community and little value to the sponsor.

In 2016, be smart, strategic and creative with your sponsored content. You should approach sponsored social content like you do every other piece of social content: Focus on creating value. Whether the content is to inform, entertain or educate, the value does not come from logos or brand names; the value comes in the heart of the content. This it ends up being a win-win for the sponsor and fans. Read more about making the most of sponsored content here.

Below are a few examples of good sponsored content. Don’t just slap logo on things. Integrate authentically.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 1.05.17 PM

 

 

13- Empowering others.

A lot of industries lean on influencers to help spread the word, so why not do the same in sports? Whether it’s a celebrity fan, influencer or others in your athletic department, don’t be afraid to give influencers within your circle content/tool kits/resources to help spread the word.

Several teams leverage their coaches to push out messages for them with stellar branded content and they get great engagement. It’s an example of what can be done, but I would encourage you to think even broader:

 

 

 

In 2016, take a look at your circle of influencers and find a way to empower them. You don’t have to spread the word and build a community alone.

 


 

 

Now it’s your turn to sound off! What would you like to see in social media + sports in 2016? 

Thanks for reading!