Sports blogging & marketing lessons to be learned from Kanye West's 'G.O.O.D. Fridays'

Ask 10 people what they think of Kanye West and at least six will respond with something close to "he's an idiot." 

Looking at things from an artistic standpoint, that's reasonable to disagree with. One of the hip-hop industry's most talented producers transformed into one of the best lyricists out there, demonstrating it from the get-go on his debut LP, The College Dropout. Don't agree, missing things a bit? Check out the long list of samples he's melded and shaped into several of his genre's best tracks.

Stepping away from music and more towards his public persona, it's easy to see why some people would characterize Kanye as an idiot. His antics in the past leave something to be desired. But as of late, it's a completely different story.

Joining Twitter and giving followers an unadulterated view inside his head was a fine start. Now, he's going beyond that, starting what he calls 'G.O.O.D. Fridays'. Named for his record label, G.O.O.D. (Getting Out Our Dreams) Music, Kanye promisies to release a new song, for free, every Friday until Christmas. Thus far, it's been a phenomenal success. So, what can sports marketers and bloggers learn from 'Ye?

  • Consistency. I struggle with this as much as anyone but for any blog—on any niche—to succeed it has to produce quality content on a consistent basis. The same holds true for inhouse publications and team websites. You can't put out a couple great stories, run out vanilla content and then expect people to come back. Once things grow stale, there's no guarantee readers will return once that changes. Kanye keeps releasing these tracks on Friday nights and his best fans keep coming back for them. Actually, they're already there waiting.
  • Don't worry, be crappy. This Guy Kawasaki mantra can be applied to so many things. These tracks aren't perfect, they fall short of the standards he normally sets for major singles. He's not trying to be a perfectionist, avoiding worrying about exactly how things will sound in every club. In fact, it looks like these tracks are recorded each with with Swizz Beatz laying down his verse less than 24 hours before the most recent track was released. How does this apply to bloggers? This doesn't mean you should be publishing awful work but getting something imperfect up now is better than perfecting things to the point that the content is no longer relevant. If you're an SID at a Division I university looking to get video content out on that night's game, push some quickly cut highlights along with the unedited postgame presser. If I'm a diehard fan feeling the afterglow of a tough-earned win, looking for just a little more content and some quick quotes, that'll certainly do.
  • Collaborate. Every skilled blogger and marketer knows that you have to listen to what's out there first. You have to engage others to be successful. However, sometimes we sit back and engage with the same people over and over. In this series, Kanye has, of course, collaborated with those on his G.O.O.D. Music label. However, he also goes beyond that, working with the likes of Justin Bieber and Bon Iver. Bloggers have to occasionally step away from the people they listen to while sports marketers have to bring in any and all opinions, even if they're negative or simply ones they wouldn't normally listen to.
  • Remember to pay attention to your best fans. Looking at their distribution method, quality and availability, these Kanye songs are for his more diehard fans. He's not worried about turning them into singles and making as much money off the mainstream fan as possible. You see this point missed all too often in sports marketing. Teams will take their best fans for granted because they already 'have' them. Us diehards are already at the games, they have our money. The idea is that the team should now focus on attracting new fans, 'the casual fan'. Well, when only the best fans are showing up to games and the games are exclusively catered towards the casual fan, there's a problem. Teams shouldn't only serve their diehard fans but remembering to pay attention to them means we're much more likely to speak good things about the team to others. That word-of-mouth referral is just as, if not more, valuable than any marketing campaign. Also, this doesn't only apply to marketers. Sports bloggers will frequently try to change things up and stray from their core strengths in order to bring in a new crowd. In doing this, they dissolve their foundation. Related: Nice job Deadspin!

It's shocking that Kanye's gone from music pariah to someone others should look at when benchmarking their PR efforts, but that's where we stand. It'll be interesting to see where he takes things from here.

Photo credit: angelonfire

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