Insight Into The Royals’ Social/Digital Approach

The Royals have stepped up their content game this season . Since the launch of their Always Royal campaign in February, it’s clear that their team has a strong vision and creative arm power to support it.

Not only do the Royals have a strong brand identity, but they also experiment and diversify their content. Their ability to create engaging content for the platforms — that still feels right for their brand — has made their creative shine this season. Here are a few things that stand out about their approach:

Consistent & Cohesive Campaign

The Royals rolled out their “Always Royal” campaign in February and it works for a couple different reasons.

First, the messaging works well because it’s easy to understand and multifaceted. Always Royal can be molded to many different scenarios, whether the team is on a roll or going through a downtime. As seen in the video below, it’s easy to make this messaging “always on”.

Second, their look and feel is incredibly strong. All of their creative and content ladders up to their season campaign with consistent font, textures and visual branding. They’ve done a good job defining their box to play in so all the content looks cohesive, but also unique enough to capture attention.

Built For Social & Always Diverse

The Royals have been building a team of digital content creators and it shows. It’s clear their hires live and breathe the platforms and understand the nuances of what makes digital content different from traditional formats. Their content has been fun, fresh, diverse and built with the platforms in mind. Below are a few highlights:

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? start for these two. #AlwaysRoyal

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Full Experience Outside Of Baseball

And finally, the Royals don’t focus just on baseball. They do a really good job showcasing the full experience. Their accounts give fans a feel for what the gameday experience is like well beyond the scores and highlights.

When you work in sports it’s easy to take simple moments for granted, but it’s so important to be the eyes and ears of your fans. Whether it’s a moment between a young fan and player or the calm of the stadium before the game begins, teams need to think about capturing content well beyond the game and provide something beyond what people see on a broadcast.

Feeling inspired by the Royals content? Well, there’s more! Erin Sleddens, the Senior Director of Digital & Social, was kind enough to answer a few questions on their team and philosophy.

1. First, can you just give a little background about yourself and your role at the Royals?

Joined the Royals in 2006 as the Manager-Community Outreach. Then quickly shifted roles to become the Manager-Online Marketing and oversee the club’s digital properties at the time (website/email). As digital evolved, my role expanded to include all strategic new media planning for the club including social, mobile, digital advertising, web/email, market research etc. I’ve led the Royals digital department for the past nine years (13th season overall with the club) and this is my third year as the Senior Director-Digital and Social Media.

2. What does your digital team look like at the Royals? And, how has the team changed and evolved over the past several years (hires you have added)?

I currently oversee a team of five including Manager-Digital & Social, Digital & Social Intern, Manager-Content. Content Producer-Real Time Specialist, Content Producer, Editor and Animation. The digital video team (Content Manager and two Content Producers) were brought on this season. In 2018, we had a single contracted position to assist with video but knew that we needed to evolve the digital team even further to assist with content capture and storytelling.

3. At a high level, what’s the Royals’ overall philosophy on social media? I would love to hear a brief overview on what you all are looking to accomplish and your approach.

Our overall goal is to tell the story of the Royals brand in an engaging, relatable, fun way while keeping it family friendly to correspond with the core values of the Royals organization. We’ve been through the ups and downs with team performance during the rise of social media and understand the storylines may change season to season but we have not strayed from this club being a place that welcomes everyone and truly values the dedication of our fans.

4. Your team’s work has always been really strong, but this year the creative and video content has been taking to another level.

Can you talk about how your content strategy at high level and how you all have built up your creative arm to support it?

Thank you! We have a very strong creative team that supports our digital team. It is a collaborative effort between both groups within the marketing department to consistently produce engaging relevant content that stays on brand. We hold weekly content meetings to update on projects and brainstorm upcoming content. We also have a space to share any on the fly ideas anyone may have. We keep an eye on the industry but also look at the content we, as fans ourselves, like to consume.

5. In a similar vein, what are the three biggest things you and the team have learned about creating content specific to digital?

1) It’s easy to get lost in the clutter these days. The rule use to be to make sure you utilized a piece of creative with every post, now each piece needs to be carefully created to make sure it will capture the most eyeballs and resonate with the most people while also remaining cognizant of the time and effort it will take to produce it.

2) Buy-in is extremely important to the success or failure of a content team. You can have amazing resources but lack the access that you need to create that content. Getting everyone on the same page with the importance of storytelling and connecting fans to your brand is not always easy, but it’s definitely necessary.

3) We all want to make content that goes viral, however, we’re also here to sell tickets. There is a way to accomplish both but not necessarily every promotion has the capacity to make that kind of a splash. Tempering the want/need to make only viral content with the necessity of some of the sales responsibilities is a learning process for everyone.

6. One thing that has really impressed me about your team’s creative work is how consistent and cohesive everything is. Your look is distinct. Your voice feels consistent. And you all do a great job laddering back to “always royal”.

Can you talk about why this consistency is important to your team and any secrets to success for executing so well on the vision?

We spend nearly six months working on campaign theme ideas for the upcoming season. We talk through every scenario including how the concepts will live on social throughout the season before determining a final theme. We also rely heavily on the expertise of our Creative Services team to make sure all of the creative aligns throughout no matter who is working on the project. The consistent voice goes back to sticking with the core values of the organization and making sure everyone is on the same page with those expectations.

7. You all did some hiring this off season, and I imagine those hires have planned a role in the creative/content part. For those looking to get buy-in from leadership to hire more creator/content roles, what advice do you have?

Yes, we hired three full-time associates to build the new digital video team within the digital department. We spent several months gathering data to present to executive leadership to showcase the importance of storytelling, how our fans connect with the club on a day to day basis and how video would impact the bottom line through ticket sales and most notably sponsorship revenue.

8. Finally, what do you think is the next big thing in the social media and sports industry?

I see digital roles expanding or shifting even more towards assisting players with their content strategies. We’re seeing a little bit of that now but I can see that becoming a full-time role for someone within a team to help players build their brands through their social media channels. It will be interesting to see how teams navigate assisting players while also making sure their team channels continue to engage using player content as well.

If you are looking for inspiration in your work, I hope the examples above and Erin’s insight will prompt you to give the Royals a follow. Not only do they have a strong vision, but they have an incredible creative team that is cranking out fun and different content daily.

A big thank you to Erin Sleddens for taking the time to answer the questions. You can follow her on Twitter here: @esleddens

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