Lessons Learned in 2016 From the #SMSports Community

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect. In an industry where the only constant is change, it’s hard to take a step back. So in the spirit of the New Year, I asked the social media and sports community on Twitter what lessons they learned in 2016. The answers were insightful and spot on. Below are the lessons learned.

 

1- Understand the totality.

A successful social media presence is not defined by one post but the totality of the story you tell throughout the year. It’s great to make a huge splash by jumping on a trend, but vanity metrics and one flashy tweet is not a strategy. If the big one offs are your only focus, then you are missing the bigger picture of what social media can do for your brand.

It’s important to understand your reason for being on social media and put together a year-round strategy that ladders back to it. Every tweet is important; don’t add to the clutter. Be patient and stick to your why. Building something great takes time, but the persistence will pay off. It’s the sum of everything you do that adds up to make a difference.

 

2- Education is still key.

It wasn’t that long ago that “gurus” were proclaiming the social media manager role to be dead. But for anyone that works in this industry, I imagine we would agree there still a lot of education on what social can actually do for the business. There are still a lot of people who still don’t get it.

Because everyone has access to the platforms we work on, people think they “understand it” without digging in to the pulse, trends and true applications for business. Brace for opinions that come your way. Be assertive with your work and let the opinions serve as a platform for education. Don’t take it personal, but give people insight into the why behind what you do. Educate, educate, educate.

 

3- Brand + fans first, always.

One of toughest things about working in social media is nailing a brand voice. When you feel the need to add personality and humor, the natural inclination is to lean into the things that you like. That’s the problem with pop culture GIFS. A Star Wars reference might be hilarious to the social media manager but off putting and off brand to the audience. You have to define a voice that is reflective of the team, brand, organization and your fans… not you. Build content that is on brand and that your fans crave; that’s the ultimate goal for anyone working in social.

Additionally, in the world of instant gratification, it can be easy to get caught up in leveraging audiences to drive more eyeballs to your own personal accounts. Under no circumstance should your personal brand come before THE brand.

 

4- Success isn’t black and white.

One of the hardest things about working in this industry is how public the work is. People will have opinions on the work you do. You will see work from others and want to compare. But social media isn’t so black and white. What works for one brand, won’t work for another. The goals of one brand differ from the goals of another. A team’s access to resources might be ten times what you have. Stay your course, know your why, stop comparing and you’ll be all right.

 

5- Content, content, content.

In 2016 the lesson around content is that we have to be more intentional ever with what we push out. The problem with content now is that it’s become a catchall and an action. The always-on digital landscape, along with the fact that it’s easier and cheaper to create and distribute content, has created pressure for us to produce, produce produce. We’ve gotten so caught up in producing now that we don’t take the time to define our value, our story and our why.

This constant need to produce has created a content problem in the industry. We’ve created so much content that we’ve cluttered the space. We scream for consumers’ attention without putting ourselves in their shoes. And, rightly so, they’re starting to tune us out.

As marketers, the best thing we can do is to resist the urge to simply produce. Content for the sake of content isn’t a win for anyone: Not for you, not for your brand and certainly not for the consumer.

Shift the content focus to quality versus quantity. Your consumer isn’t waiting for you to push out a piece of content. They aren’t the ones putting pressure on brands (and us as marketers) to produce. We put the pressure on ourselves. We are responsible for this content problem. And, we can fix it from focus on great content (not lots of content_.

 

6- Continue learning.

Change is the only constant in this industry. Every day platforms are making tweaks and updates to their products and integrations. This year it was all about live and vertical video. Next year, it will be something completely different. If you want to excel in this industry, you have to have an appetite to learn. It’s simply not an option.

 

7- Say thanks.

Working in social media requires a total cross functional effort. It’s extremely important to get buy-in across your organization on the vision and plan. Make people feel included and always show your appreciation for the people who help bring the vision to life, in both small and big ways.

 

8- Don’t do things just to do them.

In 2016 the platforms started offering more and more features, from live video to stickers. It seems like every platform you go to there is a sea of sameness. As content tools expand across platforms, it’s important to define your why behind each platform and tool. If something doesn’t have a place in your strategy or you can’t execute in a way that’s engaging to your fans, resist the urge to do it. Just because we have access to things, doesn’t mean we have to or should use it.

Live video is a great example of this. It’s extremely easy to execute, but it takes time and thought to actually execute right. Resist the urge to hit the “live button” every single time you are on the field. Think out of the box instead and find a way to use live as a unique value proposition; not the way everyone else is using it.

 

9- Additional lessons from the #smsports community.

 


 

What lessons did you learn in 2016? Share them below!

Thanks for reading.

Rivalry Weekend Highlights

Rivalry weekend is one of the best in college football. It’s a day rooted in history, emotion and unpredictable outcomes. And just as players and coaches pour themselves into preparing for the big game, so do countless social/digital staffs across the country (which means endless inspiration). Below are a few of the top highlights over the weekend, from a creative Instagram Story execution to GIF inspiration.

 

1- Video Storytelling

We don’t see enough video storytelling in sports beyond the highlight reel. Hype music and big hits are great, but what sets your team apart from the rest? It’s the history, the passion, the tradition, the people.

Rivalry weekend lends itself to fantastic storytelling, whether or not your team is having a storied season. From a quick scan, there weren’t a lot of emotional videos this weekend beyond the highlight reel, but below are two that stood out.

 

Remember that sport offers a lot more than just the scores. As you plan out your coverage for the season or a big game, find inspiration from your people (players past and present to fans), your history, your tradition and beyond. Tap into what makes the game and team emotionally compelling and you’ll create content that wins.

 

2- GIFspiration

The average person’s attention span is now shorter than a goldfish. Keeping this in mind, moving image is a great opportunity to capture fans’ attention. Below are some of the GIFS that stood out over the weekend.

 

3- Simple + Sharp Salute To Seniors

Since rivalry week is the last regular season game for players, it’s a great time honor them and their commitment to the school and team.  Tap into their reflections, their accomplishments, their sentiment.

Mizzou had a beautiful tribute on Instagram to their seniors. They went with a nostalgic feel to salute to their seniors, then returned to color imagery after win. The result was a visually appealing, beautiful execution. Here’s a look at how it played out:

 

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In addition, this simple but powerful video from Clemson was a nice nod. There’s something to be said for strong, cinematic footage and simplicity.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ClemsonFB/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

4- POV Narrative on Instagram Story

Clemson executed an amazing Instagram Story during rivalry weekend. Under the premise of a point-of-view narrative, they told the story of “The Dream Gameday”.  If a fan could go anywhere on gameday, what would they do?

The digital team at Clemson put together a high level storyboard and then gave a student intern the keys to execute. And he executed brilliantly. The minute I started watching I wondered who the person was and where they were going next. The Story wasn’t just interesting; it felt personal and intimate (like a best friend’s account). Here’s a snippet of the content (sorry it’s not in order):

How many times have you seen a player run on to a field on Snapchat or IG Story? Too often “point of view” executions lack storytelling and creativity. The tools are abused before it’s easy to hold a button and capture content, but POV tools are only as good as the idea and the content creator. This from Clemson is a great example of elevating the game.

 


 

What else stood out to you over the weekend? Share below.

Thanks for reading!

More Connecting, Less Networking

The other day I was lucky enough to join about 10 people in the industry for drinks and dinner in NYC. The group had a range of experiences and backgrounds, but as with anyone who works in the industry, we were all connected by similar struggles and nuances of working in this thing called social. The conversation flowed freely and it was hard to believe that this was the first time we had all met collectively IRL (“in real life”).

This meeting all started with a simple tweet.

And THIS is a great example of why I love Twitter. As an introvert, it has bridged a gap for me. It has allowed me to reach out to people in a way that I’m comfortable. With Twitter, I can build relationships online, and then take them offline… just like we did that night in NYC.

I felt energized after the dinner and drinks. It’s refreshing to be around people who get what you do and understand the struggles of working in social and digital (yes, we do more than tweet for a living). It wasn’t a meeting about “what can you do for me” but genuinely about “getting to know everyone”.

After meeting everyone in person, it would be easy to recommend and connect them to others in the industry if they ever needed it.

This meet-up reminded me of the importance of connecting and building bridges versus asking, taking and networking. This digital world opens up doors to people you admire in the industry, from peers to CEO, but you have to bridge relationships the right way. Too often I see or hear emails being sent to people in the industry that simply say, “I love sports and want a job in it”.

Let’s get one thing straight: No one in this industry will give you a job or reference with a cold call email like that.

Whether you’re looking for your first job out of school or making a transition, you can’t abuse the tools we’ve been given to connect. Relationships open doors, not cold call emails. Reach out the right way.

Reaching out the right way means emailing with intention and not sending broad questions or simply asking for a job. It means speaking up on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections and add perspective. It means connecting in person when you travel for work and building actual relationships… before you need that job.

The other night in NYC was a great reminder of the difference between connecting and networking, along with the power we have to build some awesome bridges with one single tweet. Let’s practice more connecting, less networking and we’ll all win.

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. 

Resume Tips

Resume time. We’ve all been there. The dreaded sigh as you crank up the pot of coffee late night to start, tweak or completely redo the resume. Whether you are searching for your first job or have been working for awhile, there’s something tedious and stressful about updating it. What’s the right format? What do I highlight? How do I stand out?

There are so many questions to answer. And while what makes a resume great is certainly subjective, below are some of the tips I’ve learned about writing a resume if you want to work in social/digital.

 

1- Watch your length.

If you work in the industry or want to, you should know this: Attention spans are short these days and time is valuable. It’s why we omit needless words and keep our copy short and sweet. The same applies for resume writing. As you work through your bullet points and format, be conscious of how long your content is. I’m a big believer in sticking to one page, but that rule is only mandatory if you’ve been working a couple years. As you go in your career and build upon your experience, focus on quality over quantity to make sure the length is as succinct as possible.

If you work in social you should be able to communicate in 140 characters. Brevity, my friends, is key.

 

2- Relevancy is what matters.

At one point in my career I had the privilege of reviewing resumes for a postgraduate internship. As I poured through the stacks, I saw resumes that were four pages long and dated all the way back to high school jobs as a cashier at Walmart. These were smart, talented kids who got bogged down in an information dump.

Here’s the thing though: More information on your resume doesn’t make you more qualified. Just as we touched on in the first point, quality over quantity is key. Being a cashier has no relevancy to working in social, so you should absolutely cut it.

If you’re a first-time job seeker that lacks truly relevant, real-word experience, focus on your classes, projects and writing. Hone in on the skills you developed in college versus the hourly job with no relevance.

For experienced professionals who want to switch to social media (and currently don’t work in the industry), it’s important to focus on the skillsets you have that would be valuable in the role. If I’m looking to hire someone in social that doesn’t have industry experience per say, that’s okay as long as they showcase their communication skills, creative ability, passion to learn, ability to produce content, etc.

And finally, if you’ve been in the industry awhile, don’t keep roles on your resume simply to fill up whitespace. Take more real estate with the jobs that are relevant and omit the ones that don’t add much value.

 

3- Sell yourself, not your job.

This is one I can’t stress enough: Your resume should not be a copy and paste of your job description and/or classwork. If you work in social media, there are certain assumptions hiring managers can make about the roles you have had. Don’t tell the hiring manager you managed a calendar; tell them how you have helped affect process. Don’t tell the hiring manager that you managed accounts; tell them how you grew the community x percent by doing x. Don’t tell the hiring manager that you manage the creative; tell them how you helped influence a content strategy that drove x amount of engagement.

A job description won’t do you justice if you want to work in this industry. Use strong action verbs and showcase numbers wherever you can. Your resume is about selling yourself, so do it and do it well.

 

4- Link to work.

The work that we do in social media is public, so don’t be afraid to highlight it on your resume. It’s often the best selling point you can have. Where applicable, link to the accounts you manage, campaigns you’ve run, content you’ve produced, etc. on your resume or in a portfolio. Seeing your work (or projects if you’re a student) will be a lot more powerful than simply telling the hiring manager about it.

 

5- Be creative, but not crazy.

Hiring managers often have to flip through thousands of resumes, so you do need to stand out. When it comes to your resume design, it’s important to standout and be creative… but it doesn’t mean you have to go crazy. This is a creative industry, so create a resume that reflects your personality but won’t detract from the bulk of your work. Here’s an outdated example of the format I use. It’s different enough to stand out from the rest without going overboard (as some people will be more traditional).

 

6- Promote personal accounts, that make sense.

If I’m looking to hiring someone for a social media role, I want to know that they are active on social media platforms. That said, people applying for social media jobs often feel pressure to to promote every single social media account they have, even if they are more personal in nature. That’s not necessary. Stick to the ones you use professionally, like Twitter or LinkedIn that will highlight your writing, ability to connect with people, etc. Hiring managers will often seek out your other accounts, but if you use them strictly for personal, it doesn’t mean you have to highlight them. Even as someone who works in social, it’s important to highlight the ones that put your best foot forward professionally. A few links to accounts will help me understand if you “get” it.

 


 

What resume tips have you learned along the way? Share them below!

Thanks for reading.