Social Studies: How The X Games Incorporates Competition, Lifestyle
Jason Krutzsch (@XGames) has seen the X Games' social presence grow from its earliest days up until now as the event's Dir of Content Strategy for Digital Programming. Starting out as an intern between his junior and senior years of college, Krutzsch was then hired as a paid intern on the X Games’ marketing team. How much have things changed? Back then, the X Games had a presence on Myspace and Foursquare. With X Games Aspen beginning Thursday and events in China next month and Norway in March, there is plenty of content to produce. Hosting events in foreign countries requires a different approach than in North America. Leading up to the X Games Shanghai in '19, Krutzch's team worked to launch a Weibo and WeChat to create "original X Games social media content for the Chinese marketplace.”
Working with athletes to curate content:
That has been a priority since Day 1. It’s taken different shapes and forms depending on which platforms are the most relevant at the time. We’ve always been big on athlete takeovers or collaborating with athletes on projects. In today’s day and age, the tool that we use the most for this is an Instagram Story takeover. We’ve always tried to be really aggressive working with the athletes to give them a platform to tell their story. We do this thing called the “Real Series," which is a video project where we showcase athletes in film. Each one of those gives us a great opportunity to work with the athletes producing those films to show more behind-the-scenes and what it takes to produce these video parts through platforms like X Games social.
Evolution of athletes’ use of social for their brands:
Social media has given everyone a platform, and athletes, especially in action sports, have the content to fill those channels because they are doing amazing things every single day. They are out there in the field producing the content, so it naturally lends itself to distribution in the social environment. It’s allowed these athletes to build their personal brand. Now they have their own distribution. They can generate their own audiences, tell their own story and really showcase the different content they are producing to their following.
Conveying lifestyle elements via social:
That’s something we spend a lot of time and energy thinking about. The events give us a big platform to celebrate a lot of these different components. We book big music acts, we do a photography contest. We’re really celebrating the individual style and personality of our athletes. In Aspen, we’ll have a little more than 26 hours of live television content, 15 1/2 on TV and 10-plus live on social. Throughout these different verticals, hopefully we are telling a broad cultural story that ties in film, photography, fashion and music.
Best platforms for action sports:
It’s evolved over the years. In its current state, the platforms we see the most engagement on are Instagram, Instagram Stories and YouTube. We look at Instagram and Instagram Stories as two different verticals. The reason is it’s where the athletes are. It seems we can engage the most, where they are publishing their original content and it gives us the best opportunity to celebrate, showcase, interact with athlete-generated content in that space right now. Longer-form content, a lot of the feature stuff we do, “World of X Games” projects and X Game highlights. We see YouTube as a destination for people to go watch.
How event locales become part of the social content:
The city or country or wherever we are doing our event really becomes the backbone of our story. We try to celebrate the culture and what it feels like to be there and showcase what’s actually taking place. In our social presentation, there is a story arc of our team, our talent showing up to the city, the first day of practice, the end of the first competition, celebrating the weekend and then closing out our trip. It becomes a pretty key pillar in the story we want to tell.