Activity vs. Followers

The focus of social media today seems to be about followers or number fans a facebook page has. I know this is a sexy and easy number to track but it is not necessarily the most important.

Suppose company x offers a free bagel to everyone who becomes a fan of their page. Chances are your going to signup after all you just have to click a button that says you want to become a fan of company x and you receive a free bagel.

So company x gets thousands of fans virtually over night by offering free bagels…which is an incredible way to drive traffic. However, is it useful to have a huge following but very little participation? The long term goal of the campaign needs to be focused on site activity. Sure you can broadcast messages to your followers/fans but if the fan is not engaging and interacting with your brand are they really listening to your broadcasted message? Most likely it’s being ignored.

You wouldn’t run a sponsorship campaign without a full activation program planned around it. So why develop a social media campaign to grow followers but not have a plan in place to engage and keep fans/followers interacting. Ultimately it is the amount of activity and interaction taking place on the site that will determine how often someone visits and how long they stay…the more they visit and the longer they stay the greater chance you have that your message is being heard..

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Melbourne F1 makes great use of Facebook

Recently in the build up to the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix I found myself following the daily activities of the Grand Prix not through the AGP official website or an F1 dedicated news site but through the AGP Facebook page.

The AGP did an incredible job reaching out to fans and sharing the events leading up to the race. By posting photos and videos and engaging fans with contest the AGP was successfully able to connect with fans on a new inexpensive platform. The idea of giving fans more of they want is not new…simply behind the scenes content that an event employee would take for granted is of interest to regular fans. The AGP took advantage of this by posting pictures and videos of the track setup, practice cars running laps, driver autograph sessions and the team equipment arrival.

Although this content may seem mundane to anyone surrounded by it on a regular basis to fans of the sport this content is a great build up to the event and a great way to stay engaged with fans, .

One user comment effectively summed up why sports properties need to partake in a facebook campaign. It was a comment made about a picture taken during the drivers autograph session and read “these pictures remind me how incredible the Australian Grand Prix is, I will definitely be there next year!” And with that the AGP successfully won back a customer.

The AGP has roughly 2000 people following there fan page…which is very modest for a major sports property, but the example highlights the potential of utilizing Facebook to win new customers, interact with existing customers and ultimately increase business.

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Using Social Media to capture the casual fan

As discussed in my previous blog “Why Social Media is Important for Sports Properties”sports properties should be using social media to capture the casual fan and convert them into hardcore fans. This does not mean teams and properties can simply sign up for a Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr account and expect the casual fan to gravitate towards them. Properties need to use the incredible resources at their finger tips to engage and interact with fans.

Think of the percentage of the population that plays or is involved with professional sports…incredibly small maybe 1%. Now think of the percentage of the population that to some degree follows or watches professional sports…it is huge probably over 50%!

Thus there is tremendous opportunity for properties to connect with these people and provide content of interest. Whether it’s a glimpse into what is like to be part of the sport, a behind the scene story line or a video of something cool that happened at practice. The bottom line is there is an appetite for this content. I use the NBA as an example of a sports property taking full advantage of this.

I was notified via twitter that the NBA had launched a new TV companion to use while watching games at home on TV. I haven’t watched an NBA game on television in years but I wanted to see what this thing was.  After logging in I found myself actively engaged in the scrolling conversation. I had a great time interacting with people from around the world chatting about the game we were watching in real time. The end result was that I watched an entire NBA game for the first time since I can remember.

The NBA effectively used social media (twitter to promote TV companion and the scrolling conversation feature of the TV companion) to get a non fan (I don’t even consider myself to be a casual fan) to watch an entire NBA game. If it was this successful with non-fans think how successful it was with casual fans!

So for properties that do it right and not just post team history facts i.e. what “Joe So and So” did on this day 13 years ago, there is tremendous opportunity to attract casual fans through social media. Remember, if at first I only watch on TV at least I’m increasing your ratings and then of course you have at least opened the door to get me to become a bigger aka hardcore fan.

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World’s First Social Media Hub for a Hotel launches for Sheraton Amsterdam

Sheraton Amsterdam Youtube Video, Facebook Photo, and Tweets

Sheraton Amsterdam Youtube Video, Facebook Photo, and Tweets

Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel has just launched the world’s first dedicated social media hub for a hotel.

The innovative team over at Starwood Hotels & Resorts truly understand the value of participating in the social media conversation. Fans, employees, past guests, and potential guests now have a dedicated, branded, and easy to use hub for all things social media. Sheraton Amsterdam now consolidates all of their Twitter, Flickr, Facebook content onto one website sheratonamsterdamairport.socialmediahubs.com

Be one of the first to participate on the new site by tagging your tweets, flickr photos, or youtube videos with ‘sheratonams’

Spread the word. The hotel world just went social.

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Top Olympic Athletes to Follow on Twitter

Olympians on Twitter - Hayley Wickenheiser, Lindsey Vonn & Ryan Blais

Olympians on Twitter - Hayley Wickenheiser, Lindsey Vonn & Ryan Blais

With the 2010 Winter Olympics nearing the half way point here is a list of athletes every Olympic fan should follow on Twitter.

1. Ryan Blais: @airblais
Ryan has been my favorite athlete to follow since the start of the games. He is constantly posting pictures of Olympic events, medal cermonies and the streets of Vancouver. This is one athlete that is truly providing a first hand snap shot of the Olympic experience!

2. Lindsey Vonn: @lindseyvonn
The highly touted American down hill skier is supposed to be the Michael Phelps of the winter Olympics. However a week before the games she revealed she had suffered a serious shin bruise that might prevent her from participating. She was able to overcome the injury to win gold in her first event. Was the injury a PR move? As one friend said athletes usually play down injuries not sell them. Either way it’s interesting to follow her and see how this plays out.

3. Julia Mancuso: @Juliamancuso
The lesser known team mate of Lindsey Vonn, Julia is 2 for 2 with two Silver medals in her first two events. Her tweets are frequent and fun…making her enjoyable to follow.

4. Kikkan Randall: @kikkanimal
Kikkan is a US cross country skier who tweets about race prep and life in the Olympic village, i.e. “kitchen staff went crazy when Crosby scored shootout goal for Canada”

5. Hayley Wickenheiser: @wick_22
Hayley is the highest scoring female hockey player in Olympic history. She provides great insight to Team Canada, the womens tournament and what its like playing in front of the home town crowd

6. Angela Ruggiero: @angelaruggiero
Angela plays on the US womens hockey team. With Canada and the US expected to face off for the gold medal it is interesting to follow a player from each team on their path to a gold medal showdown

7. Mike Janyk: @mikejanyk
Mike is a Canadian downhill skier who has provided good insight to what the men are doing to kill time since their event was postponed a week. He be even more entertaining once his events start on Sunday.

The athletes mentioned above may not be the most followed (except @LindseyVonn with 50,000+) but during the first week of the games they have definetly been my favorite.

Who has been your favorite athlete to follow? Let me know so I can check them out…

Cheers

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What really surprised me about attending the Super Bowl

Surprising-things-about-super-bowl-2010

Some things that surprised me about attending my first Super Bowl...

- I had to leave the hotel at 6:30am (12 hours before kick off) to beat traffic, get my credentials and take the employee shuttle to the stadium

- I didn’t arrive at the stadium until 11am…three and half hours after I left the hotel

- A sky banner was being flown over the tailgate party reading “accident, crash, slip or fall? Call…

- The amount of people that buy tacky Super Bowl 44 apparel…

- Adam Sandler is the same person in real life as he is in his movies…Rob Schneider and David Spade are not

- How quickly the media/paparazzi swarm celebrities. It is as though they appear out of no where. Case in point Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes arrived to only two photographers taking pictures of them. During the 30 second golf cart ride to the stadium they were swarmed by 30+ members of the press.

- The amount of people that watched the Super Bowl on TV from the suite concourse lounge instead of live in their suite or seat.

- A hot dog and beer cost $17 dollars

- Outside of Colts fans and those who had bet on the Colts everyone was cheering for the Saints including team owners, their families and staff.

- People offering $50 to buy fans ticket stubs after the game.

- The amount of people that came to Miami for the Super Bowl but were not going to the game

- The amount of money people will pay to be at a party with celebs, NFL players and owners…even though majority of them stayed in VIP areas where paid guests were not permitted

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How Social Media Hubs Overcome Companies Biggest Obstacles with Social Media.

A recent survey of 400+ companies conducted by Deloitte and posted in InformationWeek Jan 18, 2010 issue, outlined the biggest obstacles companies face to making online communities work. I take a look at the top 5 obstacles and determine if a social media hub can help.

Quick definition of a social media hub: A social media hub consolidates fragmented conversions across multiple social media platforms into one branded website. This includes, twitter, flickr, youtube, facebook, blogs and more…

1. Getting people to engage and participate

-Well a social media hub centralizes your entire social media content onto one site. So an increase in interesting content should increase the likelihood of engagement and participation.
-Additionally a hub creates a community on an open website so anyone can access it even those not on twitter or facebook.
-Since our initial hub launched (www.ottawa67shub.com) engagement and participation on the teams facebook page has more than doubled

2. Attracting people to the community

-A hub attracts new and existing web traffic
-The hub is attached directly to your main web site so it is easy to direct current traffic to the hub
-Plus the spokes of the hub (twitter, facebook, youtube, flickr, blog, etc…) are far reaching and each have their own audience which will ultimately be pulled back to the hub

3. Getting people to keep coming back

-Content on the hub is automatically pulled in from pre-selected social media platforms. Thus there is a constant supply of new user generated content for fans to look at.
-Once they visit the hub they will keep coming back time and time again to view the newest pics, tweets and vids that the team and fans have uploaded

4. Finding enough time to manage the community
-Best part of the hub…relevant content is pulled in automatically
-The more people start to visit the hub the more users/fans will be come the hubs content provider.
-Once the hub gains in popularity you should be able to put your feet up and watch to ensure your goals are being met.

5. Getting people to populate their profile

-Were not trying to re-create the wheel instead were using the popularity of existing social media sites to our advantage.
-Users can sign in or participate on the site through their existing social media platform, i.e. facebook or twitter.

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Why Social Media is Important for Sports Properties

A growing theme amongst all sports properties these days is the importance placed on the casual fan. Teams are focusing more of their attention on this market, believing if they can capture the casual fans interest and dollar they will increase their financial success. Makes sense if you think about it…your hardcore fans should be with you through thick and thin. It’s the causal fans attention/wallet that you have to work to capture. The NJ Nets CEO Brett Yormark has gone so far as to say the causal fan is their target market.

So how does a team capture a casual fan? For as long as there have been professional sports there have been gimmicks – sorry, promotions – to try and put people in the seats. $1 hot dog night, bobble head night and of course the infamous nickel beer night for example. But gimmicks (promotions) seem to be growing tiresome and be honest, how many more ‘never done before’ promotions can still be created?

Most recently, sports properties have been trying to create a festival like atmosphere around each game with live music and activities taking place before and after the game. The idea is to create a big event with lots of entertainment so the casual fan will be drawn to it. However, the reality is that for most teams to create a festival atmosphere for 41 or 82 home games (depending on the sport) is simply impossible.

Instead of searching for a never ending draw (midgets dancing on pogo sticks at half time) I believe social media will, if it has not already has, become the new driving factor in attracting the casual fan and most importantly turning them into a hardcore fan.

With millions participating, the reach of social media is real and I doubt anyone will dispute this. Now think of the dynamic, creative content sports properties can create and distribute through social media; behind the scene videos, pictures, insight from players, etc. I argue this kind of content is much more interesting than something that can be created for mainstream media. An ad notifying me of “Two for One Hot Dog Night” is just not as interesting nor will it grab the casual fans attention like an interesting storyline created through tweets, video, pictures and Facebook.

Of course if you have a hot dog loving market than a “Two for One Hot Dog Night” maybe very successful in drawing people to your event BUT is that really the person you want to capture? A fan who’s main reason for attending the game is to eat cheap hot dogs? Sports properties need to use new mediums to better engage and interact with the casual fan…getting them hooked on the core product and not two for one hot dogs.

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Top Ten People Hockey Fans Should Follow on Twitter and Why

Top-People-to-follow-on-twitter-for-hockey-fans

From players to analysts and agents…all are providing great insight to the NHL and hockey on twitter

1. Darren Dreger- http://twitter.com/DarrenDreger: The TSN NHL analyst and hockey insider truly does have connections and is often breaking trade info before anyone else

2. Greg Wyshynski – http://twitter.com/wyshynski: Greg is the editor of popular hockey blog Puck Daddy. This really is the best hockey blog out there. They are hardcore hockey fans who rip NBC for their terrible telecasts and provide smart, informative snap shots of each team on a regular basis.

3. Allan Walsh- http://twitter.com/walsha: NHL Player agent whose clients include Martin Havlat, Marc Andre Fleury and Patrick Elias. Posts great behind the scenes pics of his clients…check out pics with MA Fluery during the Stanley cup victory! Would be higher on the list but his client promotions do get tiresome i.e. I don’t really care if Patrick Elias was +2 with 7mins of ice time tonight.

4. David Perron- http://twitter.com/DP_57: A client of Alan Walsh, Perron has provides great insight to the life of a NHL player. Maybe not as fun as Shaqs tweets but in an under served NHL market he is leading the way for players.

5. Martin Havlat- http://twitter.com/martinhavlat: Another one of Alan Walshs clients. Marty made the list simply for his tweets during the Hawks playoff run and his tweets about the Hawks firing their General Manager. Marty would be #1 to follow except he has been absent from twitter lately(didn’t even comment about their gear catching fire in Ottawa). Here’s hoping @Awalsh gets him back on track!

6. DonCherry: No he is not actually on Twitter…but wow imagine if he was…the tweets would be priceless and he would no doubt have the most followers of anyone involved with the NHL

7. Mathew Barnaby- http://twitter.com/MattBarnaby36: Gives great light hearted commentary on being a TV hockey analyst for TSN, generally consists of him ripping on fellow analysts.

8. Glen Gower http://twitter.com/glengower: Glen is Director of Game Entertainment for the Ottawa Senators. His tweets are fun and reveal what the operations side of an NHL game is like

9. Cory Cowick- http://twitter.com/Cowick_27: Cory plays for the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. Always has great tweets about his games and practices. Hopefully Cory is setting the trend for future pro hockey players on twitter.

10. Aaron Voros- http://twitter.com/Voros34: Although brand new to Twitter…we expect good things from @Voros34…

After looking at this list I realize two things…their needs to be more NHL players on twitter and most importantly their needs to be some star power on it. Ovechkin was on Twitter and quickly had over 24,000 followers but he stopped about a year ago. Martin Havlat was another star with over 14,000 followers but it appears he to is MIA. Hopefully Mike DiLorenzo (http://twitter.com/NHLdilo) NHL Director of Social Media can encourage the PA and more teams/agents to get their players on Twitter to help grow the game…

If we missed someone in the hockey world that is a must follow make sure to tell us!

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