Social Studies: Cowboys' Shannon Gross On Draft, Player Departures
Cowboys Senior Social Media Manager Shannon Gross (@DallasCowboys) has been with the organization for 15 years. After starting as a manager in one of the franchise’s pro shops, Gross worked as an e-commerce manager before recognizing the potential opportunities available in the developing social media market. Gross: “We had accounts, but it was just basically an RSS news feed and we weren’t putting any content around it or anything. I saw that and saw the direction social media was going. To me, it was the re-invention of the internet.” Gross also oversees accounts for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, AT&T Stadium, The Star in Frisco and Cowboys Fit, the gym at The Star.
Promoting the Draft on more than one account:
We were able to get more content and everything, and we were able to put that stuff on Cowboys accounts, cheerleaders’ accounts and cover it from a Cowboys angle. We didn’t do a lot different than what we do when it wasn’t in Dallas or Arlington. The biggest difference was all the events leading up to the Draft. There was a lot of stuff in the community in the weeks leading up to the Draft. There were a lot of former players involved, ownership -- Charlotte Jones Anderson was very involved in all the community stuff around the Draft. So there was a lot of buzz in the community and a lot of extra content we were able to create because of the things that were going on leading up to it.
How hosting the Draft influenced social media plans:
We were camped out, kind of had our command center out here at The Star. So, it was basically business as usual, but we were able to provide some coverage on-site and do a little more than we normally would.
Lessons learned from the Draft:
I don’t think we would change anything. We didn’t realize the opportunities that we would have with the community stuff and, really, we were able to take advantage of a lot of that stuff around the community. When you think about, "Oh, your city’s getting the Draft," you think about the event itself, the in-stadium part, all that coverage, but you don’t think about all of the things leading up to the Draft to promote it.
Creating content that introduces your new players to the fanbase:
We try not to promote them on our Cowboys channels until we actually talk to them in person, even if they’re verified. We just have this phobia that we’re going to promote the wrong account, they’re going to gain a ton of followers and it’s not going to be them. We go see what their personality is -- are they savvy on social media, what kind of things do they like to do. Then our social team meets, and we talk about different opportunities with different guys and some possible content that we could create around them. This year, we were able to create a video series called "Earn the Star" that, basically, we were able to sit down with all but one guy. He got lost in the building somehow and we couldn’t find him. We sat them down and did a three-part series of a short video, about a minute and a half, and just asked them some questions to get to know them as a person.
Saying goodbye to players like Dez Bryant or Jason Witten:
That’s a very interesting dynamic because they leave the organization in different ways, and on the social side of things, you have to understand what your fans are feeling and how that effects them as a fan. You basically have to become a fan and say, "Okay, this player’s leaving the organization. These are the terms they’re leaving on. As a fan, how do I want to receive that information?" Most of the time, we try to focus on the good times. We try to pick the right picture -- you always remember Tony Romo smiling, or he had the hat on backwards, or something like that. So, you have to create the right mood around what you’re doing. The Witten thing was interesting because our whole social and digital team, we were on a retreat in N.Y. They scheduled the press conference literally the day we were leaving. So we had to leave a couple of people back to cover it.
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