Teams, Leagues Enlist Content Creators

Social media exposes us to creativity all around the world. Whether it’s a well-known artist or someone who has a hidden talent waiting to be unleashed, there is creative content turned out all day across the internet. Thanks to access to creatives across the globe, there has been a rise to social media influencers known for their unique voice and ability to create engaging content in the space.

One thing that is constantly a struggle for most who work in sports is the lack of resources. The majority of social/digital teams are small and nimble, so it’s often hard to focus on every platform and create content specific to it. But with this access to all kinds of creatives, the beauty is you don’t have to tell your story alone. If you keep your eyes and ears out for content creators, you’re sure to find people who can help create content for your team that is unique, engaging and on brand.

Here are a few examples of teams that have already enlisted the help of creatives to tell their story.


Vikings Instagram Group

The Vikings have gotten a lot of love for their VineKings, but they’re also doing something creative on Instagram with what they call their “Vikings Instagram Group.” During away games, they use local Instagram influencers to give fans a tour of the city. The roadshow program offers perspective their in-house team cannot provide. The photography is always beautiful and features consistent branding to tie the franchise together.



On our way to Chicago. The V.I.G. welcomes photographer @mattbweitz.

A photo posted by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on


We don't play until #MNF, but the Vikings Instagram Group is already in town. (📸: @mattbweitz)

A photo posted by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on


Chargers + Snapchat Artist

If you use Snapchat, you know there’s an art to the doodle. Creating wonderful, interesting creations on the platform is not easy at all. The Chargers wanted to attract a younger audience, so they enlisted Snapchat artist Shaun Ayala. Not only is Shaun a great storytelling on the platform, but he is able to find ways to get fans to engage. Watch his work below.

Executing like this on Snapchat requires sole attention the platform, which is hard if not impossible for small and nimble teams. This is a great example of how an influencer/content creator can help you tell your story on a specific platform and do it well.


Chicago Bulls Photographer

For games, the Bulls enlist an Instagram influencer to take over the account during select games. This season the series is sponsored by Bud Light, which is an interesting play. The photographers typically have their own unique style that comes through in the series.



Put in work. #BullsIGTakeover x @budlight x @jasonmpeterson

A photo posted by Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on


Work night tonight. Let's go. 📸: @zachlipson

A photo posted by Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on


TAJ 🔨. #BullsIGTakeover x @budlight x @jasonmpeterson

A photo posted by Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on


RoLo. 📸: @zachlipson

A photo posted by Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on


NBA Fan Re-Mixes

NBA fans are extremely creative. Just search the hashtag #NBAart and you’ll see what I mean. From art to videos, it’s a fan base that is constantly creating. The NBA recognizes this and as a league that believes in the power of social, they constantly find ways to empower their fans to help tell the leagues story.

In fact, The NBA loves its fan-made video remixes so much that it’s launching a new platform to promote basketball videos made by fans. It’s a bold move considering rights usage. The program will kick off during the 2016 finals. According to Mashable, NBA fans will be able to produce basketball-related content and share it across the NBA Playmakers network, spanning YouTube, NBA websites and possibly other online destinations. Creators will get a handful of perks.You learn more about it here.

This example from the NBA shows that you can also leverage really unique UGC. People are already helping to tell your story. Empower them and leverage it.


These four examples scratch the surface on ways teams and leagues can leverage influencers/content creatives. If you decide this is a route to take, make sure you:

1- Set expectations.
Don’t make assumptions on how many posts they’ll create and/or how often they’ll push the partnership on their own platforms to leverage their audience. Set expectations on what they need to deliver well before gameday.

2- Give strong guidelines.
The content should be the best reflection of your brand. Arm the content creator with the information that they need to reflect your team, organization in the work. A style guide, shot list and brainstorm session can go a long way in making sure that the influencer executes in a way that meets your expectations.

3- Your brand is priority.
At the end of the day, the content is still about your brand. Make sure that the voice and tone reflects that and does not become overly promotional of the influencer. You don’t want the content to become a personal essay from the influencer/content creator or it will detract from the actual content around your brand.

The use of influencers and content creators is just beginning. It will be fun to see how leagues and teams continue to embrace the creatives around them.



Have you seen other examples of teams and leagues enlisting influencers/creatives? Share them below!


Thanks for reading. 

A Look at NFL Draft Content

The NFL Draft content was stellar this year. From elevated graphics to unique GIFS,  the content was taken to a different level. I’ve curated a list of content that stood out to me, and I hope some of it inspires you in your work. Enjoy!




GIFS, Vines + Video

With the 1st pick of the #2016NFLDraft, the @Rams select @JaredGoff! #CalFamily

A video posted by Cal Football (@cal_football) on


Inside Access

A very special moment for @dallascowboys RB @ezekielelliott. #NFLDraft

A video posted by @nfl on

The call that brought Laremy to Miami. #WelcomeToTheFamily

A photo posted by Miami Dolphins (@miamidolphins) on


Leveraging Fan Voices



What stood out to you about this year’s NFL Draft coverage? Share below!

Thanks for reading. 

Brand GIFS Trump Pop Culture GIFS Any Day

GIFS have taken over the Internet and sports. What started off as a pop-culture revolution has turned into a brand play by teams and leagues. It seems that at least every 10th tweet includes a GIF these days.

Early on GIFS only focused on pop culture moments. You couldn’t scan Twitter without stumbling upon Seinfeld, Friends and crazy cats. While a sea of pop culture GIFS still own Twitter, they are evolving. Teams and leagues are starting to create their own unique GIFS. And, let’s keep the momentum going that way.

Teams and leagues need to spend less time scouring GIPHY and invest more time on creating their own original content. Here’s the thing: Pop culture GIFS can alienate your audience. They also lend themselves to personal biases (as we are more likely to share what we think is funny and clever). If you didn’t grow up in the 90s or aren’t a Stars Wars fan, then there’s a good chance you don’t get or care about the pop culture GIF. It’s all relative.

You don’t know for sure if your fans relate to Seinfeld, but you DO know that they relate to your team. Why push out content that is unoriginal and has nothing to do with your team when you can invest energy in building your own content and unique voice?

When you work in sports, you have more access to content than most brands. There’s no need to rely on others for content, even in humorous moments. Tap into existing content, leverage your designers and create epic GIFS that not only resonate with your entire audience but also help build your own, unique team voice.

If you need some inspiration, here are some GIFS from teams and leagues that are uniquely their own:



What are your thoughts on pop culture GIFS versus brand GIFs? Share them below.

Thanks for reading!

Blackhawks’ #WhatsYourGoal Embraces Emotional Content, Community & Wis

There are two key secrets to social media success: Emotional content and a strong community. Emotion matters in content because it’s relatable and triggers people to share. Whether it’s awe-inspiring, humorous, shocking, etc., content should evoke a feeling for your audience.

For the latter, community is what separates social media from other distribution methods. The platforms aren’t just an opportunity to push; they are an opportunity to connect, engage and build relationships. Teams and brands have to take the time to build their army of fans online.

When you combine the two, it’s a powerful combination.

The Blackhawks have embraced both emotional content and community in winning fashion through their #WhatsYourGoal campaign. The campaign, which has run for a couple seasons now, asks fans to share their goals every Wednesday that the team can help them achieve. The result is an inspiring, humorous and heart-warming collection of user-generated content.



It does not end with strong UGC though. The Blackhawks take the time to engage with their fans and surprise and delight them. They don’t ask fans to share and walk away; they give them a reason to share by listening and engaging. The surprises range from a reply and tickets to an all-out, unique and personal experience with members of the team.



And for those really unique, personal experiences, the Blackhawks always tap into the emotional story of the fan. They bring to life an amazing experience and let the rest of their fans in along for the ride. The content they capture around the campaign will leave you reaching for tissues. Here are a few examples.



#WhatsYourGoal is powerful for a lot of reasons:


The CTA for fans is simple. All they have to do is share their goal that the Blakhawks can help them achieve. They don’t even have to upload a photo or video. It’s literally as easy as one-two-three.


It’s Franchised

#WhatsYourGoal is pushed every Wednesday, so like a Throwback Thursday, fans anticipate it every week. There’s power in the routine here. Fans to know what the ask is and when to expect it.


Rewarding Community

If you want to build a community online, it’s important to take the time for your audience and thank them. Through this campaign the Blackhawks prompt dialogue, listen, engage– and most importantly– thank their fans. It does not take much, but simple gestures towards those who engage in your community can go a long way in building brand ambassadors.


Emotional Storytelling

As mentioned, the Blackhawks don’t just uncover emotional stories and walk away. They give fans personal experience and do a great job documenting in. Fans seem to anticipate the video stories just as much as they do the opportunity to engage with the brand. That’s when you know you have a content win.

It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy day-to-day of sports, but this campaign proves if you can take a step back to focus on emotional content and community, it’s a huge win.




What do you think about the #WhatsYourGoal campaign? Share your thoughts 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!