SBJ/December 13-18, 2010/Marketing

Paciolan teams with Facebook specialist for ticket opportunities

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Ticketing vendor Paciolan has signed a long-term deal with Facebook management firm Buddy Media to help its pro and college sports clients develop greater exposure for events and sell tickets on the world’s No. 1 social media network.

The agreement, called Pac Social Media, provides deeper integration between team websites and Facebook by setting new tabs on team Facebook pages for fans to buy tickets and take advantage of special offers, and share news of those transactions with their Facebook friends.

In addition, teams and facilities on their own can develop customized applets within those two tabs to create unique content to attract new customers through Facebook and keep all fans communicating longer on the social media platform, whether it’s a ticket offer, highlight reel or an interactive poll.

Buddy Media, a New York-based firm, has existing Facebook development deals without the ticketing component for the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins. The three-year-old company also works with the NHL and has deals with several top brands, including Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

Pac Social Media is just the beginning of the growing movement to sell event tickets on all social media sites, said Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow. “Companies like Paciolan are enabling their partners to be successful,” Lazerow said. “If you don’t come up with it, somebody else will.”

Somebody did. ShoWare, a smaller ticketing company, has technology in place for selling tickets on Facebook without those users leaving the site. Minor league hockey’s Seattle Thunderbirds went live last week with their program at ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., where the ticket vendor holds the arena’s naming rights.

Ticketmaster, the industry’s biggest ticketing firm, is developing similar technology but has no time frame for when it will start, said Jared Smith, COO of business operations.

The Philadelphia Flyers, a Paciolan client with more than 349,000 fans of its Facebook page, a number expanding at an average of 5,000 per week, will be the first team to use Pac Social Media at the end of December. The Sixers, their sister organization with about 44,000 fans on Facebook, will follow soon afterward, said Lara Price, the NBA club’s senior vice president of business operations. The same is true for the Ottawa Senators, according to Paciolan officials.

In the college ranks, the athletic departments at Texas, Cincinnati and West Virginia are set for the early stages of activation in 2011.

Pac Social Media in its most basic form serves as another ticket outlet, said Shawn Tilger, the Flyers’ senior vice president of business operations. “With social media as strong as it is and Facebook now rivaling Google as a search engine, it made total sense as a vehicle to sell tickets versus our traditional relationship with Facebook with just having our own page,” Tilger said.

In Austin, Texas, the official Facebook page of University of Texas athletics topped 384,000 fans last week. The school is one of Facebook’s largest accounts at the college level, said Chris Plonsky, women’s athletics director and director of men’s and women’s athletics external services.

“You have to be able to live and breathe in that space to do business … and drive revenue,” Plonsky said. “We have 450,000 living alumni, and we sell a lot of tickets,” she said. “We love that Paciolan has stepped up with this new application tied to our Facebook site. We are a demanding, needy client and we push the envelope. This is the next convenient platform for us.”

For Paciolan, the ultimate goal is to sell more tickets for its 500 teams and venues, but Pac Social Media is more than an extension of the box office, said Paciolan CEO Dave Butler. “If people are only focused on putting a sales engine on Facebook, they have missed the point,” Butler said.

“It is about helping people find events, share events with friends, and through them communicating in their natural fashion, driving more revenue as an end result. Just putting up an ad or a ‘for sale’ page is not going to get it done.”

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