Listen, engage influencers, build relationships: Mariners' invitation to Russell Wilson hits three biggest social media best practices

I talk about the Mariners too much. I know this, my friends know this and everyone who follows me on Twitter definitely know this. So when I do it again right now in speaking to something smart their digital team did, I want to note that I do so as a lesson to other teams, to anyone working in or with social media—not to, again, find every reason I can to talk about the Mariners.

So what did they do, exactly? Well, they treated Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to a ballgame when he went on Twitter to ask his followers what he should do with his Sunday. MLB's Cut 4 blog has the full story of what went down, with the actual tweets and even an accompanying Vine.

I'm sure these types of ideas come naturally, and this was likely spur-of-the-moment brilliance from Mariners Digital Marketing Manager Nathan Rauschenberg, but to break down the anatomy of actions like this, here are a few reasons why it's effective:

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Social media unveils context-rich narratives behind games, highlights and headlines

Did you know Ron Howard is the narrator in Arrested Development? It was one of those facts I thought I knew at one time, then found out again, and was just as blown away the second time I "learned" it. What does it have to do with this post? Relatively little. But Ron Howard is a brilliant guy, so I took note of something I recently read and watched in regards to what he thinks is wrong with ESPN.

This is, oddly, plucked from a Grantland article on fixing the dunk contest

Just take that first part again:

It gets back to Vin Scully...Vin is constantly explaining to you who these people are and where they come from. And I think that the more we understand what's going on with the players, what makes them tick, and what could be motivating some of the decisions that they might make, on or off the field, the more engrossing the programming would be.


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Anecdotal--but heartfelt--evidence of the impact a great blogger can have on sports fandom

The walk between Safeco Field and the heart of Seattle's Capitol Hill is two miles, or about 45 minutes if you're doing the uphill trek at a somewhat leisurely place. I could stretch it into an hour if I stopped off for a late dinner at the taco truck-like joint holed up in an old KFC or the Dick's Burgers down the street. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons—during which the Mariners lost a combined 196 games—I made that late-night walk roughly 100 times. And it felt like three times out of four it was following a 3-1, 2-1 or 4-2 loss.

When I arrived home, usually around 11, I knew I had roughly an hour to an hour and a half before I'd be able to sleep—regardless of how exciting or dull the game may have been. So I'd fill it with some ESPN3 highlights of the XBox, random reading and then climb into bed for the last of the usual postgame routine: looking over game highlights on the iPad and, if I hadn't passed out yet,  reading the regular game recap to come online from Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing.

For myself and many other Mariners fans, reading those recaps and the other regularly-outstanding writing and analysis put forth by Jeff  was as much a part of the Mariners fan routine as the games themselves. For some, it was even more-so.

So it came as quite the blow to the entire Mariners community when Jeff announced he'd written his last post for Lookout Landing, citing the desire to make following and writing about the M's feel less like a job and more like the hobby it was intended to be—to make it fun again.

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Gawker's new reader-driven blogging platform would make sense for sports teams

I've long advocated for sports teams to launch their own independent publications. Independent from their websites— distancing content marketing intended for the most passionate fans from the overt marketing—and independent from other social media ventures. Other social media efforts would be integrated, of course, but this would be stand on its own. A hub, so to speak.

In looking for examples, KnicksNow immediately comes to mind, as does Duke's Blue Planet. They're highly focused, they are deeply integrated with Twitter and Facebook, they produce a wealth of interesting content (especially video) and they're powered completely by professionals associated with their respective teams.

That last note, though, has some downside as it limits the amount of content being published. The cost of each piece of content is equal to the internal resources required to produce that piece of content.

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Sports teams should value in-house content like they do clean bathrooms--wait, probably more

If you can't measure it quantifiably, then it isn't up for debate. It's a growing theme in advanced sports analysis. We all know there's more to sports than numbers in a vacuum, and to simply say so is beyond cliché, but just because we all know there's a number of subjective measures at play—from interpersonal dynamics to performance over small samples—that doesn't mean it's worth discussing. Without evidence, no one can ever be considered certifiably more right than someone else, and the conversation can't be definitively advanced, so such dialogue is discouraged. You're not supposed to talk just to talk, to ponder something because it's fun to ponder.

The same theme is prevalent nowadays in business as well. We have a set number of tools for which their value is a given. See: phones, business cards, conferences, meetings. Our advanced ability to track data has led us to demand quantifiable evidence for everything else—for everything new. Or untraditional.

"Why do we want to do this again?"
"Because it's cool. And our most passionate fans will really get a kick out of it."
"Yes, but how do we know? What does that do?"

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Kobe's @nikebasketball Twitter takeover: A great model for teams to follow

I have long held the belief that companies are best-served in their social media use by having as many individuals in the organization effectively using Twitter and other outlets as possible—as opposed to focusing only on building a strong following through company-branded accounts.

Sports teams can be as engaging as they want, putting together as many contests they wish and even giving fans a great behind-the-scenes look at athletes when they're around, but it won't resonate nearly as much as multiple members of the team independently messing around on their smartphones, giving fans a window into their day-to-day lives and illuminating narratives that are eventually underscored during their on-field or on-court performances.

So it makes sense then that, because Kobe is an integral part of Nike Basketball, the team there wanted to ensure—and be a part of—Kobe Bryant's success in connecting with hoops fans on Twitter. But if we're looking to glean a bit of guidance from this, it's worth noting that the motives and the relationship here is similar to what we see between teams and athletes.

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Steve Sabol: A pioneer in illustrating the narratives behind a brand

The fact that social media is just a medium is one of the most-forgotten notions behind what's become a revolutionary technology. It has, undoubtedly, changed forever the ways in which we communicate and who we're able to communicate those things with—but has it fundamentally changed the things we communicate, and how those things make others feel? I don't think so.

It's impossible for us to deeply care about something we don't know anything about. We can't fully understand decisions if we don't know the rationale behind them and we can't truly appreciate acts of greatness if we don't know the work that went into putting individuals into positions to achieve them.

And that's what we have today in social media marketing: attempst to fully illustrate the narratives behind the brands, players and teams we support. But again, that's always been the idea, and no one did it better than Steve Sabol. No, he wasn't the creator of NFL films—his dad Ed was—but he turned it into the artful marvel we've come to know today through masterful film-making and, of course, amazing narratives. From USA Today:

"My dad has a great expression," Steve Sabol told USA TODAY Sports last year. "He always says, 'Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me the truth, and I believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.' "

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Timing and strategy of Ichiro trade underscores the constant influence of the casual fan

As a fan, I want to influence my team. I want to make them better. It isn't easy to do, it may well be impossible in most cases. And while I may be the minority, I can't be the only one who thinks that way, that maybe if I yell enough, try to explain the team enough to my circle of friends or even just nag enough on Twitter maybe it'll make the smallest of differences. But the thing is, it's never fans like us, the fans that want to, that actually make the difference.

As evidenced by this Ichiro trade, events that have happened throughout sports history and happen each and every day, most times it's the the casual fans who collectively hold the most influence.

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Google+ Homecoming Tour with NBA stars is a strong move for the social network

Social technology is defined, more than anything, by the people who use it. Harking back to days long ago, I vividly remember there were two specific groups of people when I was in middle school: AOL Instant Messenger people and MSN Messenger people. It wasn't based on their technological preference, but sometimes really came down to what type of person they were. Even now, it never surprises me when ask someone which they used after raising this observation.

You can even see it now. Facebook is the everyman's social network; there's a lot of noise but you can use it effectively to stay in touch with friends and family, while also creepily monitoring the activity of acquaintances. Twitter, on the other hand, is the network for content producers, for celebrities and members of the media.

In order for Google+ to be successful, and not go the route of Wave, Buzz and whatever, it has to be the social network of someone, even if it isn't the one they use exclusively. With the announcement of the Google+ Homecoming Tour, they seem to making creative efforts to get move in that direction.

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Dallas Stars do a great job of listening, being open and showing personality

It's all too often you'll see someone ask "How should _____ use social media?" How should sports marketers use it? What about journalists? If you were a police commissioner, how would you use it? And if you were a restaurant owner?

For just about everyone, the long-term strategy is a bit different. But the absolute best practice in the short-term is the same for everyone: listen. That's it; before you develop a content strategy or start thinking about how you're going to monetize your Facebook page, take a look at the content around you. What are influential people in your target market saying? Develop a complete understanding of that, then act.

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Twitter at the ballpark--curation and geolocation could be key for teams

For me, getting scorched in the dome with a foul ball borders on being inevitable. See, when I go to Mariners games I usually sit about 20 rows up from third base and spend an inordinate amount of time on my phone because, in-between batters and innings, I am constantly checking my Twitter list of Mariners writers and bloggers.

Now, I'll be the first to acknowledge that if Ray Kinsella were sitting to my left, and Terrence Mann to my right, they would not approve. But in today's age, how different is this than keeping score? I'll admit it isn't as traditional or romanticized, but it keeps me engaged in the game and gives appropriate context to eveything that's going on. Whenever I tell someone about this practice, someone who also utilizes Twitter a bit, they give it a shot and usually enjoy it. It's such a great addition to the game, like those people who listen to the AM radio, but it's better. It makes the games more enjoyable and it makes me a better fan. The obvious question then is, how can marketers spur this kind of behavior?

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RIP Fanhouse--would be smart for teams to scoop these writers up

For those of you who didn't know, today marks the last day of existence for AOL Fanhouse as AOL is now outsourcing its sports coverage to Sporting News.

For those of you who don't have any experience with the site (unlikely), it was AOL's sports flagship, offering a wealth of content from a team that grew to 100 writers. For those of us who read the site consistently over the years, today is a weird day. I go so far as to say Fanhouse was my favorite sports site but it's been in my browser bookmark bar since 2005, matched only in that run by Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and GMail. Watching Fanhouse go after it spent the better part of a decade in my rotation of sites I'd randomly check in on whenever bored is just a bit weird.

News came this weekend that only four, four, of Fanhouse's roughly 100-person staff will be retained by Sporting News. While it's sad to see so many writers unsure what to do next, I'm excited to see the projects they'll start, with Sam Amick's being one example. While other writers will latch on elsewhere, I hope some make their way in-house, as team-side bloggers. For any team looking for that type of thing, or even looking to fill a Digital Media Coordinator-type role, I can't help think that these guys would perfect for that.

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All sports teams and leagues should allow embedding of online video

It seems as though every time I venture onto a NBA or NFL team's official site, I'm shocked by the amount of video content I find. I don't know why I should be; with the number of interviews, behind-the-scenes access and other stuff, that's probably about the amount of content I'd have up there if I were somehow running the show. But still, I'm shocked. 

The probable reason: I don't expect to find all this video because I simply don't come to official team sites to get my news. There's too much other stuff going on there. I'll come to team sites to buy tickets, check the schedule, see what promotions are going on and maybe even peruse through the team store, but will not go straight there for my news. Team websites, for most purposes, are overt marketing material. I'm not going to dig through that for my news.

The solution, as mentioned, is allowing users to take team or league videos and drop them in whatever site I would like.

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U-Dub displays creativity and hustle on National Signing Day

Out of context, the accompanying image is pretty lame. It's a fax machine, and someone holding a piece of paper it had just spat out. On college football's National Signing Day the fax machine becomes just a little bit more exciting. When that image of a fax machine is actually a live stream, and watching it print out a document is accompanied by University of Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian announcing on his Twitter feed that's it's a letter of intent from highly touted Seattle-area wide receiver Kasen Williams, then that lame antiquated piece technology becomes pretty damn cool.

This idea actually started last year, with the University of Alabama copying the innovation and adding a girl in a mini skirt. When arguably the most prestigious program in the history of college football steals your idea, you're doing something right.

Seeing what the Huskies had done, I reached out to good friend and UW Assistant Director of Communications Jeremy Cothran to get a feel for where this idea came from and the approach to social media inside the program. Here's his response, which came via email:

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To take next step, sports organizations must expand social media use beyond marketing & PR teams

It's inevitable, this social media wave will eventually crash on the rocky beach that is reality. While I look forward to the day the self-titled "social media consultants" get their comeuppance, I also dread the undue skepticism and criticism the true professionals and evangelists will eventually face.

It's going to come, there will be a time when the higher-ups and non-marketing people look to their social media team and wonder why the buzz died down, and why the impact on the bottom line just isn't there to the extent they want it to be. Ultimately, these skeptics are the guilty ones.

Right now we do see some non-marketing and non-communications inhouse professionals utilizing social media. Owners like Mark Cuban and Jim Irsay stand out as "Isn't this neat?" examples but in order for social media to reach its marketing and fan engagement potential, social media use—and effectiveness—must be more widespread within organizations than it is now.

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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?

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What role will teams' level of social media acceptance play in recruiting college athletes?

Following a borderline embarassing defeat at the hands of The Ohio State University, Miami Hurricane football players were banned from using Twitter by head coach Randy Shannon. The coach said it was a team decision aimed at reducing distracions.

Twitter use obviously wasn't the reason for the loss. Generally, things don't become a distraction unless you let them. With Twitter, you can reduce use all the way down to just a few short texts per day. However, without restraint many things can become distractions: alcohol, girls, deep-pocketed boosters. You get the idea.

Let's abandon the question of whether or not it's truly a distraction for this post. Many college students enjoy using social media and, more importantly, it stands as one of only a few ways for amateur athletes to build their personal brand. So, it's worth asking, will teams with harsh social media restrictions risk appearing less-appealing to athletes looking to market themselves during their time in school?

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Four ideas for Golden State Warriors' 'Tweedia Day'

Social media is hip. There's no way around it. Like watered down beer and ironic NBA jerseys, social media is in right now. As a result, everyone wants—er, has— to take a stab at it. Now, there's two different approaches from here: attempting to understand social media and harness the influence it brings or developing a random assortment of offerings guided more by buzzwords than actual strategy. I'm hoping the Golden State Warriors' idea to include bloggers, podcasters and others in their media day is more the former than the latter.


The forward-thinking franchise put out a call today for active social media participants -- bloggers, vloggers, microbloggers, podcasters, Facebook users, web writers, and online photo journalists -- to submit an application on the Warriors' website "for a chance to represent their fans, followers and readers at Media Day, which has traditionally been an event closed to the general public."

Consistent with the standards of its referenced namesake, the Tweedia Day application asks fans to state why they should be included in the Warriors 2010 Media Day in 140 characters or less, with no avail of Twitlonger. According to the release, selected social journalists will "attend Warriors Media Day on Monday, September 27, and take part in the festivities right alongside traditional media members, while covering the events on their new and social media platform(s) of choice."

Definitely a good idea. Now, how do they follow through?

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Why professional athletes should own their social media identity: it's about relationships

Last night, a colleague of mine successfully dragged me to a social media meet-up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Generally, I hate these things. It's awkward; there's the people who already know each other, random loners being led around by their smart phones and, if you're lucky or buzzed enough, you may even get the opportunity to passive aggressively question the validity of someone's job. It's a hoot. And every single time I go to one of these I get into the same argument.

It, of course, starts with me describing my job. Aside from publishing this blog, I work for LexBlog. LexBlog designs, develops and builds blogs for lawyers and law firms while also educating them on how to use these blogs and other social media to build relationships geared towards client development. The next question from the galley is, inevitably, "so you guys, like, write their content and manage their Twitter account for them?" I respond with "no, because that wouldn't make any sense" and off we go.

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Social media turns good sports fans into great ones. Why isn't that enough?

Imagine a time ten years ago, before social media became so prevalent and trendy. It isn't hard. In fact, it's refreshing. Now imagine someone going to the head of marketing at a major professional sports team and asking them what they thought about a technology and marketing strategy that would take some of their better fans and turned them into their best ones. These are the type who buy season tickets, throw down for merchandise and spread the word at every turn.

According to a survey recently conducted by Catalyst Public Relations in conjunction with SportsBusiness Journal, that's what we have in social media.

The results show that 61 percent of MLB fans and 55 percent of NFL fans consider themselves bigger fans of the respective leagues since they started following their favorite teams on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites. In addition, more than half of MLB fans (and 43 percent of NFL fans) said they spend more time watching and following the league now than they did prior to their social-media engagement. [...]

“What these numbers show is that social media is an extremely effective vehicle for engaging passionate fans, especially the younger and the more affluent fans,” said Bret Werner, Catalyst’s managing partner. “Increasing the enjoyment factor of fans increases the likelihood that fans will engage leagues and their sponsors through multiple touch points.”

To the hypothetical marketer from the year 2000, that'd be enough. Now? Nope.

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Kevin Durant has built one of the strongest brands in basketball by not caring about it

Professional Athlete Best Practices by Kevin Durant.

Sounds like a legitimate book title, doesn't it? I'd read it. It's come to the point where every action and public comment put forth by the Oklahoma City star is unanimously praised by anyone who chooses to comment on it. Through a focus on hoops and remaining humble, Kevin Durant has built one of the strongest and most respected brands in sports without ever intentionally doing so.

Borrowing a phrase from one of the greatest television ads ever, Kevin Durant does what I'd advise every athlete, team, company and individual to do: let your game speak.

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Universities outsourcing social network security through UDiligence

We've seen all too often that college athlete athletes—or ones who are about to be—cannot be completely trusted on their own in the world of social networking. A majority of athletes will get by fine, communicating with other students and colleagues without looking stupid, but for the idiots who slip up there is a safety net for the schools.

AOL Fanhouse has a great article on UDiligence, a service that keeps tabs on the social networking activity of a school's student-athletes to avoid potential public relations disasters. A summary:

UDiligence was founded by Kevin Long, a former congressional press secretary, and a business partner. They have invested more than three years and a substantial financial sum into the patented social network monitoring system, complete with bells and whistles, and currently work for more than a dozen athletic programs nationally.

Long says his system is monitoring Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- of more than 6,000 student-athletes from New Jersey Institute of Technology to the University of Nebraska.

Pricing depends on the number of student-athletes and portal configuration but costs from $1,350 per year for 50 athletes or less to $5,000 per year for over 500 athletes.

I'll always advocate education over restriction and punishment but it's impossible to say that this isn't a fantastic idea for a business.

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NFL's Super Bowl site a perfect example of social media for the sake of social media


The NFL's new Super Bowl site features a page that allows users to see relevant and realtime content from Twitter and Flickr; there's Tweets from smalltime users as well as prominent media outlets. Sounds pretty neat. The problem is, it's one of those sites you look at once, say to yourself "well, that was interesting" and go right back to doing work or Facebook stalking with no plans to return. Such is the problem with social media, some companies and individuals get into it for the sake of appearing hip or technologically savvy without adding any real value.

The idea itself is certainly a good one, and this may even be a decent format for displaying images, but they could've done something much better with Twitter. Why not have separate streams and directories for select writers, bloggers, players and fans along with a chronological timeline for all posts with their #sb44 hashtag? At least that layout makes sense, as opposed to sliding over a virtual mural.

So, well done NFL, you look really cool and hip to those who don't use Twitter on a regular basis. To the influencers who do, the site isn't anything more than something shiny to look at for a minute or two.

Every stadium and arena should have free WiFi

Finding WiFi where one was otherwise not expecting it is one of the simple joys in life. This should not occur at any major sports venue, where wireless internet should be standard for everyone. Now, why should that be the case?

Every iPhone-using sports fan with an addiction to social media has been through it. You take a fantastic picture capturing a great moment, like the one above, and when you go to push it out over Twitter, Facebook or the like it takes forever because everyone else has the same idea. At times, texts won't even get out. Thanks AT&T.

The solution is free WiFi. The reasons to have it far outweigh any possible arguments against it.

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Manchester United setting a poor example for professional sports in social media

Manchester United of the English Premier Leage, quite possibly the most popular professional sports team in the world, has unilaterally banned its players from maintaining any kind of presence on social networking sites. The motives behind such a move and the team's prominence throughout the world could set a dangerous and stupid example for other professional sports teams.

The organization has already gone as far as having three players remove their Twitter accounts while the Facebook content of three others has been pulled. The article speculates that one of the reasons the team has done this is that, besides not wanting athletes to give out confidential information on the club, the team really wants the team's fans to visit their own online entities instead of those of their players, especially when they're located on third-party sites like Twitter and Facebook. This makes no sense.

While the article is only speculation, it would be extremely unwise to assume that the team's fans will go to their content. If you can, you go to them, especially when your players are doing it for you. Because this is so unintelligent, I have to assume that it's only half the reason as the organization likely wants to avoid any potential controversy caused by athletes communicating directly with fans.

We've seen this in other leagues. The NBA has already lost great NBA personalities Gilbert Arenas and Brandon Jennings from Twitter. Jennings' departure was more self imposed although I'm sure he was wary of causing any uproar with incidents like one where he got into an online argument with a fake Jordan Farmar account. While it wasn't admitted publicly, I'm sure Arena's exit was league-forced.

Whichever reason Man U is going with for banning players from social media, it's wrong. As a fan, you have to hope this decision has no bearing on those of other professional teams, both in the EPL and elsewhere.

Super Bowl a sign sponsors shifting away from traditional advertising

It's been known for some time that sponsors are looking to be more careful—and creative—with their advertising dollars. This year's Super Bowl appears to be a big real-life example of that as many past advertisers are choosing not to produce an ad for this game. This story has been discussed a bit over the past few weeks but The Boston Globe has a good article summarizing the trend today.

The most interesting point: Pepsi, was the biggest advertiser in 2009, and other companies are looking online instead. When the cost of one 30-second Super Bowl ad ranges from $2.5-3 million and then production can cost up to a million more, it's easy to see why advertisers are looking to other more engaging outlets.

The aforementioned Globe article has a bit more insight on what Pepsi has planned along with indications the web is a better investment for advertisers.

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Sports Information Directors beginning to value social media over mainstream coverage

One of the primary goals of public relations is to have any actions and events that highlight the subject in a positive light be covered and publicized by the mainstream media. Say you work on the media relations staff of a university athletic department and your school's basketball team spent part of Christmas Eve at a food shelter helping feed those are less fortunate; you want that covered. Well, stories like this—and other 'harder' news—may soon be covered and spread much differently.

Mike Enright, UConn's Associate Athletic Director/Communications, believes social media could change everything.

He believes the day may come where UConn fans will pay to read plus its Facebook and Twitter extensions to feed the appetite that sports sections used to fill. [...]

“Our athletic director (Jeffrey Hathaway) is emphasizing social media,’’ Enright said. “Forty percent of our budget is for development of social media. It’s where we’re going. It’s going to become more and more a focus of our job.’’

Social media presents a range of new opportunities and a complete increase in control of coverage for universities and professional sports teams but on the other side of the coin, this may present a whole new challenge for journalists.

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Athlete blogging done right: Mark Titus' Club Trillion

When it comes to athletes and social media, the experts in the area preach about education. Athletes must be educated on what they should say and what they really shouldn't share. Often times—at least on blogs—their language is cleaned up to the point that it lacks any kind of distinguishable voice. So, what happens when you play things a little bit more loose? When the athlete actually writes and sometimes comes dangerously close to going a bit too far? Mark Titus of Club Trillion gives us an idea of how athlete blogging could be done, and its potential effect.

From Pete Thamel's great New York Times article (free subscription required; shorter registration-free blog post here):

He is so popular that student sections in opposing arenas hold up signs and chant his name, and the Ohio State star Evan Turner admits that Titus is the most popular player on the team.

And what's so appealing? The blog title itself hints at Titus' style and sense of humor:

trillion is basketball slang for a player entering the game and not recording any statistic other than minutes. That leaves the box score with 12 zeros, or a trillion, and Titus’s followers are known as the Trillion Man March. (People have actually booed him for getting a rebound and ruining his potential trillion.)

Athletes, teams and the marketers they work with could learn a great deal from Titus, who doesn't consider himself a journalist, but more an entertainer. His take: "Here, I have some stories and jokes to go with them."

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In sports, engagement marketing is crucial

Marketing in sports has always been about buzz. It's about building a passionate fan base. Sports marketers must stir that passion, find those who are fervent when others are frustrated and spread that positive attitude. Before moving onto the cause of this of the buzz and passion, it's best to define it.

Sean Corcoran of Forrester has a great blog post on the three types of media marketers utilize. The one most relevant to this post: earned media.

"Earned media" is an old PR term that essentially meant getting your brand into free media rather than having to pay for it through advertising. However the term has evolved into the transparent and permanent word-of-mouth that is being created through social media. You need to learn how to listen and respond to both the good (positive organic) and bad (spurned) as well as consider when to try and stimulate earned media through word-of-mouth marketing.

Sure, this relates to everything from consumer electronics to travel to shoes, but nothing more than sports. Wins and losses are determined within the field of play but opinions on those outcomes, and any moves causing them, are everywhere. Newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, bars, offices and dinner tables.

Now, how does one influence that earned media?

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Athletes should avoid ghost blogging when possible

Twitter and blogging have become an essential part of the marketing strategies for many of today's prominent athletes. With the rising popularity and apparent 'hipness' of blogging, one has to wonder how much of the content is actually produced by the athletes and how much is ghost written by their PR team and more an attempt at marketing than connecting with fans.

When it comes to ghostwriting, I have to side with Neville Hobson, who is Head of Social Media Europe for WeissComm Group. His take:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with ghost blogging when you disclose the fact that your blog posts are ghost-written by someone other than you, the named writer (or whoever in your company is the supposed blogger). If you really do believe in transparency, truthfulness and trust, that’s the extent of disclosure you would make – the fully Monty.

But let me further say that the very idea of someone writing your posts for you, even with disclosure, is a very bad idea and not worth doing at all. A blog is about the people you engage with through your writing getting some insight into you, the person, over time in addition to connecting with your thinking, views, opinions, etc, as expressed in your writing. So I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, client or anyone else.


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