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SBJ/October 31-November 6, 2011/OpinionPrint All
Three years ago, I was prepping for a meeting with a major brand to convince them that my celebrity client’s social media influence was more valuable than others’ and, therefore, they should invest their dollars in my proposed social media endorsement deal. Social media, the equivalent of the wild, wild west for marketing and measurement, was emerging into conversations. Until this point, Twitter was the opposite of popular and Facebook was a place online where college students hung out.
The major brand I was meeting with, like all, expected me to defend my client’s value with the standard “cold metrics,” known as reach, frequency, page views, impressions. But those traditional measurement standards had recently been blindsided by new, previously intangible, “warm metrics,” often disguised by buzz words such as engagement levels, viral factors, community conversations and sentiment analysis — all of which defy easy math.
Suddenly, there were no rules or measurement standards, and the communication approach was counterintuitive to everything we’d ever known. In preparation for this meeting, I was determined to mix the cold and warm metrics and prove both were needed to evaluate value. Out of this came a metric I call return on influence.
Fully knowing that the old-school, cold metrics were what
My celebrity client could have the exact same fans, followers and website page views as another celebrity, yet I knew my client’s ability to influence audiences and convert in the form of click-through, purchase, media consumption or sign-ups was
Brands, from sponsors to teams to individuals, can see a connection between return on influence and revenue available per social media follower.
Enter warm metrics. I call them warm metrics because they’re not as black and white or easy to measure. Historically, they were thought of as fluffy intangibles that were difficult to measure and easy to argue about. So how do we account for these and what is their relation to the good old cold metrics?
Drawing upon my experience in a previous life as the director of digital media and research for the Phoenix Suns, the position of needing to prove fan affinity wasn’t foreign. I worked closely with the team’s sponsorship division and defended our brand’s fan affinity daily to the big brand-marketing partners who spent seven figures on their sponsorship deals. These brands had options. From straight TV ad buys to the other local NFL, NHL and MLB teams, which were competing for our dollars. Fan affinity wasn’t anything new. However, social media was new and it provided a tangible way to demonstrate fan affinity. Why?
Social media communication is two-way. It’s a dialogue versus a monologue.
We now have a conversation instead of a promotion; an unprompted conversation that can be listened to, measured and recorded. No longer do we have to say, “Trust us, our fans really like the team,” in new-business presentations. We could show that fans really liked us.
This isn’t just about athletes. Intuitively, it’s easier for most people to grasp the concept of individuals or entertainment properties having influence versus corporate brands. However, all brands have influence, and it can be measured in the same way.
Next up is the question of turning influence into profits. Online activity is trackable and therefore accountable down to the literal transaction level, unlike outdoor and TV advertising. For example, marketers can track online behavior and traffic from a social channel all the way through to purchase.
By dividing the total revenue generated via social efforts by the number of social media fans and followers, marketers can calculate the value of each fan and follower. My findings, with brands varying from sports teams to individual athletes, show there’s a direct correlation between return on influence and revenue available per fan and follower. It’s a cause-and-effect relationship: influence increases, and subsequently revenue follows. The time interval of this relationship is the key variable we are still studying. When brands figure out how to control the amount of time lapsed between the cause and effect, the art of social media becomes scientific.
The more marketers accept the concept of measuring influence relative to reach, the quicker social media industry standards will surface. Social networking revolves around the art of people interacting with people, not logos. People have influence. Things do not. Ultimately, influence is power that differentiates.n
Amy Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org), founder of Digital Royalty, develops social media strategies for sports teams, leagues, athletes and corporate brands.
After our first attempt was swept away when Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, we convened Oct. 7 and discussed crisis management, the challenges of Twitter, the frustrations with today’s media and how to build and maintain relationships with the press.
There were a lot of takeaways from the discussion, and one that stood out to me was the role that Twitter plays in sports organizations, especially when it comes to the executive level. As NASCAR’s David Higdon said, “When you talk about the executive suite, there is a lot of distress on how far you should be going in. … So it’s a matter of helping them and educating them.” We wondered whether it was a generational issue, but most felt that the use of Twitter crossed all age groups and that it depended more on disciplines or personalities.
Last week, I noticed that Octagon Worldwide CEO Rick Dudley joined Twitter and began following both SBJ/SBD and me (Sorry, Rick, I am a constant follower but have never tweeted, so you won’t get any goods from me!). I was intrigued. I’ve respected him for years, he runs one of the most well-regarded sports agencies in the world and is always aware of the latest trends. So why is he just joining now? I called, and Rick was, as always, upfront and self-effacing. He acknowledged he signed up on Twitter years ago, but never used it. Then about two weeks ago, at a senior management meeting, all the talk over three days was about the need to understand and participate in the social space. “Digital is running throughout our business,” Dudley said. “It’s becoming a part of everything we do. I can’t just rely on the tech guys to help me.” During the meetings, Dudley said, “They threw it back at me and said, ‘You have to live it and feel it.’ I said, ‘OK, I have to be a part of it.’”
Dudley got back on and started following both people and news sources. He is turning inward at Octagon for tips and advice, and while it’s only two weeks in, he feels Twitter will help even a sports marketing veteran like himself offer more. “I was a bystander when it came to talking about digital media. Now, I’ll be able to participate. This will help me bring more to the table, and being a very competitive person, I WANT MORE FOLLOWERS!” I told him he needed to start tweeting to get followers, and then asked what he felt would make for good copy. “It’s got to be interesting and timely observations,” he said. “You may have to take it out to the edge and say something thought-provoking and maybe even controversial. Where that line is, I have to figure that out.”
I’ll be following (he’s at @rduds) to see whether he crosses any lines. Let’s see how he does, a good example of a C-level executive looking to learn from and use social media. If there are other newbies out there joining, we’d love to hear your stories.
Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at email@example.com.
The following letters are among the responses to the publication of “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business (SportsBusiness Journal, October 10-16).”
As a longtime subscriber and frequent symposium participant over the years, I am very excited to see this feature on some of the talented women in the sports business industry. As the president of the NYC Metro Chapter of WISE (www.wisenyc.org), I was especially excited to see our very own Sue Rodin and other women whom WISE has honored over the years mentioned!
Thank you for sharing their stories. Looking forward to more exciting and diverse pieces from SBJ!
New York City
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I just wanted to thank you and your staff for collaborating and coming up with “Game Changers.” I am currently enrolled in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of Alabama, and this edition of SportsBusiness Journal was published at exactly the right time. Just this morning I read in a textbook about the still readily apparent inequality in the number of men and women working in the sport industry. It was so very refreshing this afternoon to flip through glossy pages of the SportsBusiness Journal and read about successful women in an industry that doesn’t have enough of them. Although you may find controversy over this project, but I hope you don’t, please take away this: You have put together a compilation of women who have inspired me and given me hope that I can make it in the sport industry some day. I hope to be one of these women that are “kicking ass in a largely male-dominated industry.” It was truly a pleasure to read this today and thank you again.
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I just read through the “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business” articles. These are fantastic and shine a well deserved spotlight on these innovative women. Very well done!
Craig RicksRicks is vice president of marketing for Paciolan.
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I really like the concept and think it highlights the depth and gains women have achieved in the business of sports.
Mike TragerTrager is a longtime media consultant.
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I commend SBJ for shining a light on a few of the many women who have excelled in the sports industry, and I hope you do more such lists in the future. However, I take issue with your statement in the accompanying column that the reason your Forty Under 40 list and others like it have been so dominated by white males is that there simply aren’t enough diverse executives for you to choose from. My advice to you is the same advice I give to hiring managers who say they struggle to find diverse candidates for executive positions: Look harder.
There is no shortage of talented minority and female executives, lawyers and agents in the sports industry. Finding them may require you to look a level below the C-suite, and to put pressure on the companies you cover to tell you about the up-and-coming women and minorities in their ranks. SBJ can actually be part of the solution to the persistent problem of lack of executive diversity, because lists like Forty Under 40 are frequently used by executive recruiters and in-house human resources professionals when looking for candidates to fill top jobs.
So, while I think you’re headed in the right direction with “Game Changers,” I know you can do more. Take it from me, who just turned 40 and never made your fancy Forty Under 40 list. That’s OK — there’s always Fifty Under 50, Most Influential Retirees, etc.
Rob SimmelkjaerSimmelkjaer is senior vice president of NBC Sports Ventures.
New York City
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Refreshingly candid admission about the criticism of the “emphasis on white men.” Good decision to focus one time on women. You should also consider one on minorities. Executives appreciate the exposure.
Chris BellittiBellitti is vice president of corporate communications for Fox Sports Networks.
New York City