SBD/October 5, 2012/Events and Attractions

Sports Marketing Symposium: Best Practices In Social Media Engagement

Panel agreed “quantity” in social media messaging has been replaced by “quality"
Best practices in social media engagement took center stage during Thursday afternoon’s final panel. The panel agreed that the early days of “quantity” in social media messaging have been replaced by “quality,” as brands look for deeper engagement in a cluttered environment. “We tell our partners, if you’re not posting engaging content, they are not going to get any distribution,” Facebook Sports & Media Strategic Partner Development Scott Hershkowitz said. “You’re not trying to reach your followers, you’re trying to reach their friends.” Fox Sports Media Group Senior VP Chris Hannan said the benefits of social media for television companies is that they can generate interest even if they do not hold broadcast rights to an event. He said the London Olympics helped FoxSports.com generate its best month ever, even though the company did not own broadcast rights for the Games. Hannan said the primary hurdle that social media in sports faces is data networks at venues. Fans at live games want to engage, but the networks are holding them back. “Having an upgraded platform with towers would be very valuable,” he said. Wasserman Media Group VP & Head of Digital Consulting Jennifer van Dijk pointed at the USOC as an example of an organization that used social media successfully during the Olympics. The USOC has rights to its athletes all year, except for the three-week span during the Games. “Leading up to the Olympics, they knew who they were, they raised their profile and created 350 to 500 videos that took fans behind the scenes,” she said. “Social and digital rights can give you a presence unlike you were able to have before, even if you weren’t a rights holder.”

USA Today Sports Group VP Steve Raymond said ROI in its traditional form, such as sales and revenue, is an overused and inaccurate term for measuring social media engagement. “You have to look at social media as a channel in which you can engage your fans,” he said. “I don’t have to be perfect in it. I think there is enough information to just be effective in it.” The group also hit on a number of social media tools as “hype” or “hope.” Van Dijk pointed at “augmented reality,” such as using special goggles to gain information about the people and places around you, as something that she had thought was a hype until a recent experience made her more hopeful. Hannan referenced NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski tweeting during stoppage at the Daytona 500 as a “hope” that social media was becoming more accepted by sports. Raymond said social media, in general, was “a little over-hyped” in today’s sports marketing world. 
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