America's legions of sports and entertainment consumers now have unprecedented access to teams, players, and entertainers. Connecting with fans can be tricky though: if a message comes off as fake or forced, the backlash can cost your team.
"Media and entertainment brands use a content distribution approach more than the marketing funnel tactic. There's more reach in social than TV, which, when realized, is when executives have an, 'Oh crap,' moment. We need to switch the program to a strategic channel and not just a fall back."
That was just one of the interesting tips I heard at the session, "Sports and Entertainment: How to Listen and Engage with Fans" at The Social Shake-Up 2014. The bonus one above is attributed to Morgan Dewan, Senior Director of Social Media, Turner Sports, and one of the panelists. The others include Katie Richman, Director of Social Media Strategy and Social Product, ESPN; and Dan Fleetwood, Group Director, Global Sponsorships, SAP. Brian Vellmure, Principal, Innovantage, moderated the session.
Here are my 5 sports and entertainment lessons I learned on listening and engaging with fans from the #socialshakeup:
Lesson 1: Park It
You get a ton of great ideas, but alone they aren't good enough. You've got to ask why you want to implement them.
Richman uses what she calls the Parking Lot, which is a sign that hangs in her office. "When I get an idea from someone, I 'park it' on a note that gets put on the sign. It tells people it's in the works. People know I'm on it, but I put a pin in it."
Lesson 2: Know Your Game Plan for Success
Once you understand the KPIs and create a connection, reiterate it over and over with every executive until it becomes truth.
Dewan suggested setting a time frame, "I want to try. Give me 90 days with people and resources, and let me show you how I move the needle. Don't do social for social's sake, encourage KPIs for your team."
Lesson 3: Make the Sweat You Pour Over Social Worth the Effort
If you feel understaffed, make it worth the effort.
"Evaluate it. If it doesn't drive ratings and digital consumption, it's not a good use of your time and energy," said Dewan.
Lesson 4: Echo Fans' Feelings When it Comes to Game Changers
Situations such as those with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson get amplified on social significantly.
"ESPN reflects back what the consciousness is," Richman said. "We had contributors take a photo of fans at a game and ask what it's like to be a Ray Rice fan. Their heartfelt answers did not match up with our social analysis, which found outrage. The fans said, 'This was my team. I'm hurt. It's a hard time for us. We want it to be over.' We presented that back."
Dewan says Turner Sports takes the stance of the league, disseminating what they hear on NBA. "We reiterate Charles Barkley's opinion."
Fleetwood said SAP is very concerned when things like this happen, "but we are partners...we look at sentiment and make decisions based on them."
Lesson 5: Stay in Tune with Fan Sentiment Manually, Not Automatically
You can't measure attitude with any real confidence when you're relying on the results of tools alone. Many seemingly negative comments about a broadcast or products could actually be positive.
"We solicit fans, receiving several thousand topic suggestions, and build an episode around the general amount of social interactions," said Dewan. "We do micro content analysis and tag all posts, so every post we push out gets tagged with the sport and intended action of post. Then monthly we sort out the tweets, posts, and KPIs to see what works. We have seen extreme success with native video on Facebook. In the past, we redirected fans to NBA's YouTube channel. More and more, we look at the percent fans' content reaches. I think it's doing a good job if it's 20 to 30 percent."
Richman said, "When analyzing sentiment, we step back and look at data and big trends on ESPN.com's comments section. People get very passionate to the point of inappropriate. What works for us are comments on Facebook. People are authentic, yet tone it down when they know mom may see their comments."
Fleetwood's last comment wrapped up the session, "There are two main objectives with social: increase your following and increase engagement, and look at other metrics to impact those."
Which of these lessons are most important for your team's social listening and engagement strategy with fans?