Social Requires Building Blocks

One of the biggest challenges in social media today is content for the sake of content. Teams, brands and leagues are creating at an incredibly high quality — and volume — but often without a true understanding of why. In too many instances voice, tone and creative depends on the flavor of the day.

Social should not operate in the wild, wild west though. It’s the front door to brands today. As a result, the voice, tone, messaging and content should be connected to the brand’s DNA. It’s important to resist the pressure to resort to gimmicks for vanity metrics. In the end, social without purpose will never get its due or move the needle.

In order for social media to truly map back to organizational goals, the strategy requires building blocks. The first couple of chapters of your plan should be platform agnostic: What does our brand stand for? Who is our audience? What are our goals? Why does it matter?

Once you have the foundation in place, then you can mold the creative and tactics to each platform. This should only happen once you have defined the larger picture.

At the end of the day, you can’t have a social strategy if you don’t have a content strategy and you can’t have a content strategy if you don’t have a brand strategy.

To build out a plan that maps back to organization goals, what are the building blocks required? Here’s a high-level look:

The brand.

This the foundational work that will separate your social presence from the rest. What does your brand stand for and what values do you need to bring to life? What is the “it” factor that makes your brand unique?

Your brand foundation is more evergreen; while the content and social strategy will pivot and change (sometimes drastically over time), your brand should foundation is something that will never do a complete 180.

This is where you start with any social or digital strategy. Your brand foundation should be the North Star for everything you do. Period.

The audience.

Who are you trying to reach? If you don’t know your target audience, then how can you create content that will resonate with them?

It’s important to outline target audiences, psychographic and demographic information and understanding what they need to hear from their brand. If you define your audience and what they care about you’ll create stronger and more effective content.

The content.

Platforms will come and go, but the need to reach consumers online is here to stay. And, that’s why content comes before platforms and tactics.

This is where you start digging into your content approach. Define your approach to content, the themed buckets that map back to the brand and then the actual ideas. Once you have defined your content series, ideas, etc. then you mold the creative execution to the platform.

The distribution & tactics.

This is where you get into platform tactics and specifics. What platforms will you have a presence on, how will content be molded to each platform and how will you distribute for maximized reach?

The platform tactics should cascade off the larger brand goals and content priorities defined. A platform strategy is less about the actual content ideas and more about how to get the most exposure/reach and build a community.

A (very) rough example.

To help with the visualization of how you can start to tackle the building blocks, I’ve created a very rough draft of how to approach building them. Please note this important disclaimer on the deck below:

None of the sections are fully built out at all so I’ve included a slide at the end of each on other things that can be included in the plan. This is simply to show how you build, while starting with the brand.

I’ve used my Alma Mater Auburn because it’s a brand I’m extremely familiar with, but please keep in mind this was created quickly during a long car ride of travel. There has been little research done, no attention to detail and not a ton of thought beyond the basics (maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but this is just a side passion project).

There are major holes in this deck, not everything is going to make complete sense, it needs more big picture ideas and should have a much heavier hand in how to drive business results.

All that to say this is merely a very, very rough framework to show how and why the brand comes first.

Note, if you prefer, you can actually view this in Google Docs here.

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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

A post shared by Kansas City Royals (@kcroyals) on

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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Playing Gatekeeper In Social

Let’s talk about one of the biggest challenges in social: Playing gatekeeper to what goes on the platforms.

In the early days of the channels, social media was thought of this to place to “put up everything”. Oh, we don’t have a communication or marketing plan for x initiative? No worries! We’ll just throw it on social. Quickly the platforms became an answer for people in organizations to check a box whether it moved the needle.

As social media has matured and platforms have evolved, it’s become clear that social media is not meant to be a dumping ground for “stuff”. Everything a team, league and brand posts should add up to the larger picture. Even though it’s “easy” to upload a piece of content and hit send, doesn’t mean it belongs on social media. Content needs to add value, entertain or inform in any interesting way — otherwise, people will unfollow and algorithms will deprioritize content. Essentially, using social media to simply check a box ends up cannibalizing your own reach.

As the noise continues to grow online and consumers turn off more and more, we have to be thoughtful in how we approach things.

This means that not everything belongs on the platforms and that’s okay. Easier said than done though, right?

If you work in digital, your job supports teams across the organization from marketing to community and sponsorship. It should 100 percent be a priority to collaborate and find solutions with partners. But, that doesn’t mean that you should not protect the platforms and audience you’ve built.

So, how do you protect what’s been built online while still building bridges within an organization? Here are some tips I’ve learned about the art of saying no, finding solutions and working with internal (and even external) partners:

Put the strategy to paper.

Yes, I realize I’m a broken record here but anyone that works in digital should be putting their strategy to paper. When you put things to paper, people understand the vision and rally around it. If executing the vision requires cross-functional support (which most likely it does) it does not leave any type of guessing game. It makes sure everyone from leadership to the team executing are aligned.

Additionally, if you put your strategy to paper and get buy-in from the top, it helps you push back when things don’t make sense. It lessens fire drills. Helps drive projects forward. And, allows you to say no when needed (but not just for the sake of it) because you have a reason for being. Put your strategy to paper.

Get buy-in from leadership.

Once you have the foundation of your strategy, it’s imperative to get buy-in from leadership. First, this will make sure that the work is truly tied back to what matters for the organization. And second, getting buy-in from leadership will ensure you have others who will advocate for the work and have your back when you have to pushback. A good management team will also be honest when you’re pushing back just for the sake of it.

Find those people in your leadership corner who will be champions for the strategy and vision. It matters a lot.

Evangelize & education.

After you have your strategy to paper and buy-in from leadership, the next step is to evangelize and educate on the strategy. Every potential partner internal and external should be briefed on the strategy for the year. They should walk away understanding what the focus is, why that’s the focus and how their work potentially fits into the bigger picture.

Evangelizing and educating is one of the most important things a digital team can do within an organization. It’s hard to push back on things if people feel like there isn’t a reason for it. But, when you are able to walk partners through the big picture, they’ll have a better understanding of what fits and what doesn’t. It gives your work a reason for being and allows people to understand the “why” behind the no. That’s important.

Make sure you also leave your partners with a takeaway, whether that’s the full deck and presentation or a one-sheeter they can reference like the example below.

Move people away from the channels.

One of the biggest challenges I see with social media is that it’s become a catchall for people. Instead of taking a step back and figuring out solutions, people immediately start with the platforms.

Everyone that works in marketing within your organization should help push against this. Good work does not happen by starting with the platforms. Every marketing and communications project should start with the challenge, not with the tweet. It’s important to nail the idea, then tackle the execution and tactics.

Channels are a vehicle to distribute and not the answer to everything. Make sure everyone internally is moving people away from starting with the platforms.

Implement a process.

One thing that is often lacking within organizations is a more formal process to get something up on social. You know the drill. Too often people come to the team the day of saying “we need this up on Twitter now”.

To fight constant fire drills and make sure that everything is mapping back to the larger picture, implement a requesting process. Think of it as a brief for social where internal partners must fill out their goals, what they are looking to do and how it fits into the larger strategy outlined for digital.

Implementing a process like this will help internal partners give thought to the why and hopefully make them think twice before requesting something to check a box. It also gives your team the time to think through solutions other than “posting this now”.

Find solutions.

As mentioned, if you work in social your job touches multiple departments within an organization. Your job is not to say no for the sake of saying no, and as a result, you should work hard to find solutions for partners.

Sometimes, this simply means approaching work differently. Do not make assumptions that internal partners know all of the digital tools we have at our disposal. It’s your job to find creative solves and make sure it aligns with the larger strategy.

For example, if the sales team is constantly coming to you to post organically about ticket sales but you know that does not move the needle, then propose a paid strategy. If your community relations team is constantly asking you to post a picture that gives no context or emotion, then talk about approaching community events through a new creative lens (video storytelling). Find solutions.

There will be times when simply no is the answer. But no should never be your first instinct. Make sure you do your due diligence to find the solutions for partners and when you have to push back do so by articulating the why.

Show the results.

Numbers and results are your friends, especially for building a case on why the team should approach things a certain way. As you look to get buy-in across the organization on the strategy, make sure you educate and show what is working.

At one organization I was with, we used to do a weekly email called “7.5”. Each week we highlighted “7.5” things the team and senior executives needed to know about our digital channels. This included big wins, lessons learned and industry updates. The extra “.5” was always something more lighthearted and fun. Sure, the email highlighted the success of the team, but it was also informational, educational and fun. And, most importantly, showed how the team was helping to move the needle for the company. It wasn’t boastful, but educational, and made people more invested and interested in the work.

The weekly email is a very small example of how you can help advocate and educate others about the work of the team. Every organization responds to information differently, so find the best medium to bring the work to life. But remember, it’s not about boasting as much as it is educating and showing how the work back to organizational goals.

Playing gatekeeper to what goes on the platforms is not an easy job. It’s important to build bridges with the organization while also protecting the audience you’ve built. As a result, it’s important to lay the foundation of what digital means for your organization and how internal partners can play a role in the larger vision.

Don’t say no for the sake of saying no. Do the hard work to put your strategy to paper, get buy-in, evangelize the work, implement a process, find solutions and show the results. This is how you build advocates with an organization and get buy-in for the larger picture. It’s not easy, but if you can do this, it will be a huge win.

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Let’s Talk FOMO

With the Game of Thrones phenomenon taking the world and internet by storm, it’s brought back a lot of thoughts and questions around the idea of FOMO. How and when should brands activate around moments and trends? What makes one brand jump in on a trend and hit it out of the park, while the next one looks completely desperate and thirsty?

It’s no secret that I have a serious disdain for brands that suffer from FOMO. Too often brands miss the mark versus get it right, and it distracts teams from the work that actually matters.

But, I think people misinterpret my disdain of FOMO with real-time marketing period. Real-time marketing is part of what we do, after all, our work does come to life on the internet. It’s important to have a pulse and understanding of the conversations happening. I would never discredit that. The key is that it has to be done right and with the big-picture in mind.

Ever since brands have realized they can dunk in the dark like Oreo, they have been trying to tweet, poke and post their way into virality. And, too often brands are willing to throw out their vision, their voice and their identity to jump on a trend. To put it simply, FOMO has become a big distraction for marketers. Here are my biggest issues with it, and more specifically, FOMO in sports:

Too many neglect their OWN brand.

From the outside looking in, it seems like most brands are focused more on trying to win the internet vs their own brand strategy. Because it’s easier than ever to activate, we’ve thrown out too many of the fundamentals that make a good marketing strategy. The result is a volume of content that is incredibly high, but it’s often pushed without much purpose and understanding of why.

We need more of an emphasis on “brand” in sports, not gimmicks. Right now there is little distinction between team A and team B beyond the scores. The result is a sea of sameness. Before jumping on an internet trend, teams need to nail their foundation. If a team, league or org does not know what their brand strategy looks like then anything related to real-time marketing is just a distraction, clutter and noise.

If you don’t know what your own brand stands for, then how can you provide a unique POV? We have to stop neglecting our own brands and sharp point for the sake of vanity metrics.

FOMO is not a strategy.

Too often it feels like people think that real-timing marketing is their saving grace to a great presence online. Real -time marketing is not a strategy though. It’s a tactic. A tool in the toolbox. It is something your team should be thinking about, but not obsessing about. If your team spends most of their working day trying to break the internet then there’s probably an issue at hand.

Does it move the needle?

In in a similar vein to the idea that FOMO is not a strategy, we also have to question how much it moves the needle. Yes, real-time marketing moments tend to get a good reaction, but too often the content is not core to a brand. If the content is barely relevant to a brands core, how much is it really moving the needle? It’s like this quote from one of my favorite marketing books Friction:

It’s important to remember that not all engagement is created equal. Hop on a pop culture meme, share a random animal video or throw snark someone’s way and you’re probably going to generate attention. Does that mean it’s right for the brand or is helping a team reach its goals? Not necessarily. This image sums it up perfectly:

Our jobs aren’t to win the internet. Our jobs are bring the brand to life and drive business results — which yes, requires capturing the right kind of attention. Your brand is stronger than the flavor of the day.  It trumps pop culture GIFS, the meme of the week and every other vanity play.

The reality is leadership does not care about vanity metrics. They care about the actual impact on the business. For social to get its due, we have to be disciplined and strategic.

I’ll leave you with this Seth Godin quote from his latest book: Specific is a kind of bravery.  In a world where our work is public and we’re all competitive, it’s easy to get caught up in the vanity plays and tactics. As marketers, we shouldn’t try to be everything to everyone. We should focus on the audience and the work that moves the needle. Define your North Star (your brand POV) and stick to it.

It’s hard to do it right.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to do real-time marketing right. Too often every brand has the same idea. This creates cluttered feeds with the same creative everywhere. Think about it. How many times can a brand jump on the picture of the throne for Game of Thrones? It’s simply not original anymore. Originality, that is relevant, is hard to do right.

If you are looking for an example of how an original play, check out the tweet below from The Masters. The content is relevant to their brand and they were able to put their own spin on Games of Throne in a way that no one else has. That’s the key here.

I do believe real-time moments in social are important. But, they have to be done right like the example above from The Masters. You should never sacrifice your brand for short lived metrics. So, what does it take to do real-time marketing right?

Build a POV.

I’m a firm believer that unique value trumps the “everything”. Teams must take the time to define their brand POV, their strategy and understand where real-time marketing fits in. A POV serves as a North Star for when and how teams should think about activating. It gives guardrails for what makes sense and does not make sense for the brand.

Define your lanes and stay in it. A brand should never be forcing their way into a conversation.

Nail the big idea & original, relevant to your brand.

Too often when brands jump in on real-time moments it feels forced, phony and inauthentic. The reality is it’s really hard to do real-time marketing right. Brands have to nail an original idea. Nail the connection to their brand. Nail the connection with the audience. Nail the creative execution. Nail the timeliness. Brands should only activate IF they can nail all of these things.

Brands that win in real-time marketing are original, authentic and true to their core. If you are going to activate, you have to deliver something that is fresh, new and something only the brand can own. That’s no easy feat, but the expectations should not be taken lightly.

Know it’s okay to say no.

At the end of the day, the internet doesn’t need more brands chasing the flavor of the day. It needs brands focused on adding value. Build a POV and know it’s okay to not jump on every moment. In fact, it takes a lot of guts these days to say no. Discipline matters.

I’ll close this blog with the idea that less is really more these days. We need less distraction, more focus. Less clutter, more quality. Less frenzy, more purpose. Less vanity metrics, more value. Less external pressures, more brand focus.

Don’t let FOMO distract you from the work that really matters. Yes, it can be part of the plan, it’s not more important than nailing your goals, bringing your brand to life and owning your point view.

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Dwayne Wade Tributes Provide Lessons In Masterful Content

Dwayne Wade’s final game at American Airlines Arena provided a lesson in how to do content right. The Miami Heat and sponsors that created tributes for Wade didn’t just produce good content; they produced some of the strongest content I’ve seen in a long time. From Budweiser’s emotional ode to Wade beyond the court to Gatorade’s original jingle, below are a few highlights from Wade’s tributes and lessons to take away:

1 – Budweiser: Bigger Than Basketball

If you browse the internet at all, there’s a really good chance that you’ve already seen Budweiser’s nod to Wade. It might be the best produced piece of branded content we’ve seen in a long time. Grab some tissues and watch.

Budweiser nailed this piece. In a time when so many don’t get branded content right, they delivered a few powerful lessons.

First, like everything, branded content is about the concept.
If you want branded content to have a one single chance of making an impact, you have to nail the concept first. Consumers don’t care about the vehicle for content as long as it’s interesting, useful, relevant or entertaining to them. If you can provide some kind of value then you’ll get a chance at their attention.

Budweiser’s piece for Dwayne Wade was an incredibly powerful concept. I’ve never seen so many tweets about the fact that a branded piece of content made someone cry. And, that’s exactly why it worked. The concept was powerful enough to move people, thus generating buzz for both Dwayne and Budweiser. Focus on nailing the concept before anything else.

Second, branded content can’t be selfish.
Too often branded content becomes about the sponsor; slap a logo here and slap a logo there all for the hopes of gaining some eyeballs. Consumers see through partnerships that are not thoughtful, so slapping a logo on a piece of content is a loss for everyone (the brand/athlete, sponsor and fan).

Budweiser didn’t worry about elevating themselves. They focused on elevating Wade, the athlete they sponsor. The concept was inspired solely by Wade (and as a human not player), and because of that, felt extremely authentic to the audience. Sponsors can’t get selfish with branded content. You have to understand why you partnered with a brand or athlete and leverage them as a vehicle to reach an audience. If the content becomes all about the sponsor and not relevant to the partnership, then content will fall flat. Good branded content cannot be selfish. Period.

Third, the execution can’t be in your face.
If you have a great concept that elevates the partnership (isn’t selfish), the next key is to execute seamlessly. In the Budweiser piece, you don’t even see a Budweiser logo until more than :30 seconds into the piece (& the logo is in the background of signage at the arena). The subtle nature allows the consumer to connect with the message vs getting turned off that it’s a branded content piece.

Too often I see sponsors trying to force the message. Even if the concept is strong, 20 logo hits, branding within the first second and a tag in the photo and a mention in the copy will hurt the delivery. Too often by the time a piece gets shared, the message has been muddled and the content looks like an advertisement in Times Square.

Don’t take away from a strong concept by trying to force the branding. As we saw with Budweiser’s piece, if you nail the concept and the delivery the impressions and chatter will take care of itself.

2 – Miami Heat: #L3GACY

The Heat did a phenomenal job with all of their content surrounding Dwayne Wade’s last game. It’s clear that their team brainstormed, prepped and thought about every angle. While it’s worth perusing their feeds to see all the content and inspiration, these two pieces really stood out to me:

Sports teams often operate with smaller resources and budgets than big brands. It’s not always easy to execute on everything you want and do it extremely well. The Miami Heat though delivered across the board. Below are just a few of my takeaways from what they produced.

First, they delivered on good old-fashion storytelling.
The Heat’s “Act 3” piece was an incredible example of storytelling done right. They didn’t try anything fancy or over-complicated; they just delivered on Wade’s incredible story chapter by chapter. Breaking down Wade’s career in three acts was incredibly powerful. It’s a concept that has been relevant in storytelling for ages but also relevant for Wade.

In a day and age where we sometimes get distracted by fancy and high production value, the Miami Heat proved with Act 3 that it’s more about the heart of the story. Wade’s story and career didn’t need any flare added to it; the story in itself covered all of that. If you can deliver telling a story well (and in a way that is easy to follow), you’ll deliver for your fans.

Second, they brought in voices that matter.
The Miami Heat did a great job bringing in voices that matter to Wade’s story. From the piece featuring his son to the appearances that were made in the Act 3 piece, the Heat drew from collective voices that were part of Wade’s journey.

When looking for angles for content, new voices can play an important role. It’s important to make sure that stories aren’t driven from one point-of-view. Tap into everyone who made the moment, the journey, the rewards, the struggles that much greater. Sports are a collective thing; leverage that.

Third, they tapped into emotion.
I believe emotion is the most powerful tool we have in marketing. It’s what connects people, draws them in and makes situations, people and moments relatable. The Miami Heat delivered on the emotional piece. Look at the comments from their content and all you’ll see are responses like “who is cutting the onion”.

We’re in the business of understanding people. Our job is to evoke something in them. Make them laugh, cry, cheer or even question. Emotion is the most valuable tool we have. Tap into, like the Miami Heat did.

3 – Gatorade: 3 Is The Magic Number   

Gatorade has always been a brand that has showed up big in moments around their athletes. And, this moment was no exception. To honor Wade, Gatorade enlisted John Legend to tell the story of the impact he made on and off the court.

While this video was overshadowed by Budweiser, it deserves a nod and is certainly worth a watch. Two takeaways from it:

First, this was as original as it gets.
Having John Legend right a tune for Dwayne Wade was as original as it gets. There was no chance that another brand was going to have something similar. I love that Gatorade enlisted a creator to commemorate this moment in a way that no one as can. Originality always wins.

Second, they did something different.
This piece from Gatorade was a little different than other tribute pieces they’ve done, and I like that they took a creative risk. It’s not an overly-dramatic anthem spot. It’s a catchy tune that tells the story of Wade as a person and player really well.

It’s would be easy for Gatorade to constantly fall back on what has worked in the past, but they seem to be a brand that is willing to try new things, test new territories and constantly wants to show up well in big moments. We could all take a lesson from Gatorade in stepping outside our creative box a bit and trying something new. Not everything will always be a home run, but you learn valuable lessons along the way from testing, creating, trying and evaluating. Don’t be afraid to do something completely different.

Moments like these are when teams, brands and sponsors are at the top of their game. Whether it’s delivering an emotional video or creating something completely original, there are so many things to takeaway.

What stood out to the most to you?

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