Posted on Dec 04, 2013 by James Foster
Posted on Aug 28, 2013 by Kathleen Hessert
The use of online for “all things sports” has grown exponentially and even overtaken conventional media in its legacy forms as the fans’ go-to information source. The growing appetite for sports online, and consolidation of online consumption, added to even greater growth of the use of mobile devices and social media has created a whole new world of information sharing. It would be impossible not to see and acknowledge a major shift in where and how people consume, and share their opinions, passions and sports preferences. Despite their past prominence when wanting to feel the pulse of sports brands and in particular, college sports brands, fan forums have lost their luster.
Stats of Significance
Worldwide, Facebook grew from 900 million monthly active users Q1 2012, to 1.11 billion Q1, 2013. Facebook Mobile has 751 million active monthly users. From June 2012 to March 2013. Twitter grew 44% to 288 million monthly active users. Monthly active users increased 94% in the United States. According to Neilson, YouTube reaches more US adults, ages 18-34, than any cable network. Instagram has grown from 80 million active users in July 2013 to 100 million users in February of this year.
The growing trend of platforms celebrating the use of photos and video also, in our opinion, adds to the decline in value of forum discussions where the visual is an add-on as opposed to the draw. More fundamentally, forum discussions remain contained in relatively small bubbles and authors remain largely anonymous. Whereas in social media, the sports fan’s canvas is as large (worldwide) as they wish. The fundamental transparency of social media also enables everyday fans with strong and sometimes well-informed opinions to become influential rock stars of once unimaginable magnitude. Everyday fans who can artfully turn a phrase in 140 characters, send a passionate digital sticker, a poignant Instagram photo or 6 second Vine video can, and is regularly quoted in the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal or on the front page of USAToday and SportsCenter lineup.
So the question becomes, as brands continue to seek vital business intelligence about their fans, prospective fans, critics
and competitors, do fan forums count? Are forum discussions still major indicators of the pulse of the fan as comments on Deadspin, Bleacher Report and Sports Nation fan the flames of sports passion? Has the isolated nature of closed, subscription-based forums significantly affected their traffic and relevance for brands searching the voice of the fan? In the college market in particular, fan forums used to be the preeminent water cooler for spirited conversations about our favorite teams, players, and issues associated with sports. However, those traditional niche communities seem to be going the way of the 32 cent postage stamp. Where do fan forums fall as the volume of sports discussion grows and opinion is amplified and shared like a tsunami swallowing up the coastline?
The Sports Media Challenge |BuzzMgr™ team took a deep dive into discussion regarding some of our client brands *All results were based on a slice of overall online word of mouth and exposure monitored and aligned with specific brand related searches. The results were telling.
The use of forums as discussion vehicles for one major unnamed client and related, monitored issues decreased significantly over the last year. And the decline of forum discussions went in the exact opposite direction of social media discussion. In our opinion, it’s fair to say, that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. have drawn the more pedestrian fans away from posting in forums, leaving a small minority of fans to use forums as their primary platform for discussing their favored university athletic program, rivals and issues of the day.
Forum Posts vs. All Conversation:
In one case, last year, the volume of forum posts relative to total conversation monitored decreased by 47.7%. Since college football is king on forum discussion threads, the offseason could have significantly contributed to the decrease, but it couldn’t have been the primary reason for such a dramatic drop off.
Fan forums simply aren’t nearly as influential as they once were. Social media networks, news articles and blogs, drive more of the online conversation. Forums are still important to keep an eye on and ear to periodically but I personally wouldn’t make any significant brand decisions based on the way the wind (or hot air) blows there. Give us your thoughts please. Do you or your fellow fans spend much or any time in forums or have you gone elsewhere?
Posted on Jun 14, 2013 by Administrator
The use of and engagement with photos and videos are driving a growing engagement trend in social media in 2013 .Think about all those likes, comments, shares, retweets, and improved engagement with key stakeholders and if all it takes is a photo, what’s stopping brands? Images tell more of the story than simple text does. Visually appealing social media
All kidding aside, there is real value for businesses and brands to increase social media content with visual components.
HubSpot recently conducted a study analyzing 8,800 Facebook posts from B2B and B2C companies. Posts with a photo generated 104 percent more comments than a post with just a link or text. Those posts also generated 53 percent more likes than the average post.
To adapt to the growing visual appeal Twitter and Facebook made efforts to incorporate visual components into its platforms which seem to be having significant effects.
- Facebook rolled out Timeline increasing the size and emphasis on photos.
- Facebook and Twitter both added cover photos, providing another visual dimension to user profiles.
- Twitter bought Vine (6 seconds video platform) enabling users to directly integrate the video into a tweet just like Instagram photos used to be.
Because of the fast adoption of the Instagram photo app, Facebook doled out $1 billion to make it it’s own. Instagram reached 100 million followers far faster than either Facebook and Twitter. The photo sharing app also tried something new, allowing users to share photos across multiple platforms. Needless to say, it worked. Many users currently use these platforms in sync.
A study conducted by MarketingLand.com concluded that “Brands shared 98% of their Instagram photos to Facebook, while just 59% of their Instagram photos to Twitter. The difference equates to a 66% more Images heading to Facebook than Twitter.”
So why haven’t some brands taken advantage, especially sports brands where color, pageantry and visceral appeal are baked right in?
First, a little background.
Instagram’s 100 million active users post 40 million photos a day. They generate 8,500 likes per second. PER SECOND. With these staggering numbers, Instagram attracts 59% of the world’s top brands according to SimplyMeasured.com.
SnapChat has grown on the tails of the same trend. However, “snaps” last only up to 10 seconds, then disappear. According to a recent USA Today article, “150 million ‘snaps’ sent daily around the globe, more than doubled the 60 million daily in February.” According to Snap Chat CEO Evan Spiegel, the service “satisfied a real primal communication need for teens to share something more emotionally engaging than a text message, without the permanence of a staged photo.” He goes on to say “You want to have this place to hang out and be funny.” Some sports leagues and teams are taking full advantage of Instagram and its reach to the casual fan.
Thanks to our Intern Matt Patton with Florida State University Sports Management Masters program for doing this heavy lifting on the following stats.
- NBA – 1 million followers, 1142 photos
- NFL – 450K followers, 1,110 photos
- MLB- 315K followers, 1639 photos
Which leads us to College Conferences, yes I mean you B1G, Pac-12 and SEC.
The ACC and Big East are the only Collegiate Conferences to have official Instagram accounts. Even then, they have minimal followings of 451 and 542 with 102 and 108 photos, respectively.
Then there is the Big 12. The Account that links back to the Conferences’ website is private. Purpose behind a private account? Beats us. This completely misses the mark by not allowing the fans to interact and engage with the brand. With no official Instagram accounts, college conferences are missing opportunities to engage fans who are already using these hash tags:
- #SEC- 100,318 Photos
- #Pac12- 19,472 Photos
- #BigTen- 13,104 Photos & #B1G- 6,354 Photos
- #Big12- 14,035 Photos & #BigXII- 1,136 Photos
- #CollegeFootball- 100,477 Photos
- #CollegeBasketball- 25,174 Photos
- #CollegeBaseball- 6,202 Photos
Tops Sports By Conference
- #SECFootball- 4,219 Photos
- #SECBaseball- 582 Photos
- #ACCBasketball- 379 Photos
College Athletics present highly visual experiences on and off the playing field which clearly inspire fans to capture and share. But the Conferences are leaving that passion on the table. College sports teams and conferences already have huge followings that live and breathe to support their brand and although allegiances are clearly with teams over conferences, there’s plenty of room for Conferences to join the parade. And I do mean parade because there’s so much more than the competition itself. Hardcore or avid fans may hone in on the competition but there are millions of casual fans looking for different experiences to share with friends and family online and off. Why aren’t they high priority targets to fill the fan funnel to replace aging college fan bases?
The ease with which Conferences can capitalize on social media is amazing. Sharing pictures of games, tailgates, mascots, they can reach millions of Instagram users, promote the ideal brand image and capture the coveted attention of Moms who won’t paint their faces but will buy the decal and prominently display it on her child’s cheek.
Difficulties with Instagram
The app is formatted for the most efficient use on a mobile device. According to Businessinsider.com “Instagram (7,302,000) surpassed Twitter (6,868,000) for daily active mobile.” On the website fans can’t look up hash tags or other users. And Instagram doesn’t have verified accounts. It’s almost easier to search Facebook or Twitter to verified accounts, then find linked Instagram profiles through these platforms.
Continuing, often, fan accounts may have more followers than the “Official Leagues/Team” accounts. For example, in searching “Alabama” on Instagram, there was difficulty finding official accounts.
- ALABAMAFANS has 7K followers and 92 photos
- BAMAATHLETICS has 10K followers and 132 photos
- ALABAMAFOOTBALL_ has 8K followers and 138 photos
- ALABAMA_FOOTBALL has 3K followers and 70 photos
None of these accounts claim to be official Alabama Athletics accounts. Some are obviously fan operated. In addition, individual team accounts have larger followings than conferences they belong to. For example:
- FSU- 5911 followers vs. ACC- 615 followers
- UCONN- 7480 followers vs. Big East- 474 followers
Numbers too easy to ignore? Apparently not.
Activating the Casual Fan
The hundreds of thousands of photos that college conferences can and should be taking advantage of, are listlessly left for others to share and that’s only counting the already engaged fan. Instagram presents a tremendous opportunity to reach casual fans who would otherwise not spend a second thinking about those brands.
Imagine how a casual fan might react to seeing a top picture of the day from a conference sporting event that captures what it’s like to actually be there. Imagine a bold shot of throngs ready to see their teams square off. Or making a Mom a fan for life simply by capturing a player taking a moment to talk to a child or as is the case of USA Football, give parents props for Fathers Day just by sharing a pic of father and son.
Visuals have already made a major impact on how fans view social media and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. College Conferences need to get on board and connect back.
Posted on Jan 18, 2013 by Kathleen Hessert
Let’s talk TRUST… a quality that is highly valued, seriously tarnished, coveted by all. Most of you won’t remember November 8, 2008 but I do. That’s the day @Shaq joined Twitter and took social media out of the hands of nerds and to the masses. How do I know? Because I took him there. But much more important is what prompted the event. There was a very believable impostor of NBA great, Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter. Not someone feigning to be a girlfriend, but someone pretending to be an NBA superstar. The person was so artful in his charade that the team fell for it. Not only did they think Shaq was on Twitter but a member of the Phoenix Suns staff regularly engaged the fake Shaq generating more followers for the Suns and more fun for the local guy who had a complete “playbook” of Shaq-isms for the year. He had studied Shaq’s language and other nuances. Instead of getting lawyers involved I prodded “@The_Real_Shaq” to take to the twittersphere and the rest is history. As of this hour, Shaq has 6,580,540 followers.
Who Can/Should We Trust
I don’t know who’s at fault in the Manti Te’o debacle, but I do know trust is at the crux of it. There’s plenty of doubt to go around and the internet and social media are clearly components. There will be sports teams that use this as an excuse to try to shut down all use of social media by anyone associated with its program. There will be families that put computers behind locked doors and somebody will suggest a new law or two because so many of us were duped.
But it’s important to remember that the issue of trust isn’t just a challenge for the young and impressionable or the less educated or sophisticated. Trust is an issue for all of us. For CEO’s, their employees and stockholders, for brands and their customers, for first responders and those they’re scrambling to rescue. It’s an issue online and offline. We want to trust and at the same time dare not to. Many in the conventional media world would like to rely on old time methods of ferreting out stories and sources on foot and by phone. But studies show that in the media’s scramble to stay alive and relevant, they’ve drifted to often unskilled and untested citizen journalists for story ideas, and sources to ignite their own product even when the digital word-of-mouth is more rumor than fact and often as stale and misshapened as the bread crumbs I add to my homemade turkey dressing.
There’s a company called Storyful that has built its two year old business around verifying social media conversations for media outlets and major corporations so that they can “get closer to the story, faster.” According to its website, clients include: ABC News, Reuters,The New York Times and other venerable news organizations. “We separate actionable news from the noise of the real-time web, 24/7. We unearth the smartest conversations about world events and raise up the authentic voices on the big stories… discovering and verifying content… to identify new, credible sources close to every story.” Good for them and good for all of us.
A Call to Study Trust in Social Media
For months now I’ve been exploring the issue of trust and social media. It’s critical because social media isn’t going away and it’s way past the tipping point. It would be nice to have a template to verify our facts, and our hearts. Short of that, we need some mechanism to get us at least part way there and yes we need a heaping dose of skepticism.
Through tools like the Internet video platform- Google Hangout it’s easier to verify the face behind the tweet. I use hangouts regularly to connect and get closer with clients, friends and family around the world.
Anyone doing serious study into the issue of trust and social media let’s talk! Contact me @kathleenhessert on Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Facebook or the old fashion way by emailing me at email@example.com or call at 1-704-541-5942.
Posted on Dec 19, 2012 by Kathleen Hessert
It’s been a week since Pope Benedict XVI posted his first 140 character tweet and today: 2 more tweets. A success? Certainly in number of followers and worldwide attention to the Church and Pope himself. The effort has been lauded for beginning to modernize the church’s brand image & showcasing a wish to connect with a new generation of Church “customers”. But it can’t stop there. A single, though monumental event is not enough.
Social media and Twitter is not intended as a broadcast mechanism. It’s a conversation. And for tangible and sustainable success, the Church needs to build an ecosystem & social culture for itself within and well beyond the Vatican. If it’s to be the genuine person-to-person connection Twitter can be and the church needs; if it’s to be a forum to build trusts & engagement then start building your social media ecosystem. The Queen of England speaks to her subjects via Youtube each year. Prince William and Kate invited the whole world to participate in their wedding via an array of social media platforms and crowdsourcing opportunities. So what can the Church in Rome and around the world learn from the momentous Twitter event? Smart social media monitoring tells us a lot and is a way to take the voluminous data, turn it into knowledge and ultimately valuable insight. Read More…