Category Archives: social media

Always Assume The Worst

Today, Major League Baseball teams, in support of GLAAD Spirit Day, changed the avatars of the Facebook and Twitter pages with many posting messages of support for day’s goal of raising awareness to help reduce bullying of LGBT youth. The hashtag of #spiritday was also utilized. 

Frames of avatars were the color purple. 

As you can imagine, responses from numerous fan bases were, well, not so positive.

A brand can have the best and well thought out intent with any type of crowd sourcing or promotion of an initiative. But it is critical to think of one thing with any posting, and that is “what’s the worst response that we could get, and will that response overshadow the intent of this messaging?”

A prime example was McDonald’s #MCDStories, which did not end well

In this case, the responses probably overshadowed the intent of MLB teams. This should not discourage anyone from postings that will generate a large amount of response, but the key is to bear in mind the worst possible backlash that could come. 

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Four years of racing and social media

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Today four years ago, I wheeled my car into the parking lot at 1500 Highway 19/41 in Hampton not too long after I got a phone call gauging my interest in a job that entailed a growing trend of social media and implementing it at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Now, four years later, it’s so hard to believe how big social media has taken off. In 2009, most brand barely had a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter. Now, they cannot afford not to, and more energy than ever before is being directed towards social media than before.

Any time you work within sports, chances are good that you’ll have some memorable experiences, and there have certainly been more than a few for me at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

1. You’re the brand advocate.

Thanks to mobile devices in part, more fans than every before reach out to brands with feedback and questions around the time of events. I’ll never forget then fan who was unhappy with a seat location on Friday of race weekend and let us know about it via social media. We were able to get their seating info and get them taken care of, and that fan went out of their way to make a post on our wall singling out our customer service efforts. That process began because of social media. There was also a Facebook wall post from a family member of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan, lamenting that the upcoming race would be their family’s first without them. We were able to do a few things for this family on race weekend – and fans in a campground put up a makeshift banner ensuring fans to sign it in memory.

You are the face of your brand on social media and if fans are excited about your brand, or displeased, you are the first one that they will turn to.

2. Social Media Is Two-Way

Yes, it is a valuable tool to sell tickets, but social media cannot only be about promotional elements. Do what you can to show your fans that you’re just like them…ask about their lives, find out what makes them tick. When you know your fans, you can produce better content.

3. Victory Lane

I’ll never forget being in victory lane during my first race weekend. It’s the place all drivers and crew members strive for, and being in the midst of it is surreal. The cool thing was that Richard Petty Motorsports was in victory lane…which meant seeing Richard Petty himself. I instantly thought of my grandad who died in 1998 who was a huge fan of “The King.”

4. Wear A Flak Jacket

You have to have thick skin in this deal. If fans on social media are unhappy with your brand, you may very well be the one feeling the biggest punch of that criticism. Don’t take it personal. I’ve been through two pretty heavy crisis events at AMS.

The first came in 2010 with the news that we would no longer have a spring race. Having to be the person to tell fans that the days of joining us for a March race weekend were over…was very sobering. Even though you knew the backlash was coming, that didn’t make it easy to face.

The second one was a year later with our Labor Day Weekend race being postponed from Sunday night to Tuesday morning due to rain. Obviously, many fans were not happy and they quickly took to social media to express their displeasure. In a situation like that, all you can do is keep your head up and make sure all response is aligned and to keep everything even-keeled. 

5. Laugh at yourself.

Accidentally playing “Crazy Train” instead of The National Anthem over the sound system at an event with 5,000 people is embarrassing at first, but becomes funnier as time goes on.

 

Social Media Job Search Pointers

It usually happens almost as if it is on clockwork.

When I tell people what I do for a living and what brand I do it for, the question quickly follows: “How’d you get into doing that?”

Of course, this is also when there’s the assumption that working in social media is not much more than getting to hang out on Facebook and Twitter all day, but if you work in social media in any way, you likely know there is far more to it than that.

But social media jobs, especially within sports, can be compared to gold bullion. Everyone wants them, but they are not many of them out there to be had. Still, this is May, and odds are that there is another crop of college graduates eyeing jobs within sports and social media. Here are a few pointers to get on your way to a job within sports and social media.

1. Write, write and write!

Find a way to write, however you can. It may be with a freelance publication, someone who may need help with a Web site or even a blog. A critical part of social media is written content that is clear, concise and compelling. Find ways to write, and it can help immensely in polishing your writing and communications ability.

2. Observe

Like and follow as many brands as you can. Almost put together a list, sometimes written down of a wish list for what you’d like to see a brand do and perhaps look at a social media strategy and come up with ways to tweak it for your own use.

3. Twitter Chats

One of the most invaluable tools for those within and looked to be within many industries are Twitter chats, where you can more or less talk shop and exchange best practices with others who are experienced within their fields. #smsportschat and #sbchat are must-dos if you want to get plugged in within sports and social media.

4. Get Experience, However It Comes

Social media can at times be a hybrid position, depending on your brand. It’s not uncommon for it to have a tie-in to marketing, sponsorship, ticket sales, facility operations and more. Volunteer to help out, even if it means helping an area of a sports team or organization in one of its lowest levels. It’ll help you gain a great understanding of how entire organizations work and not just one area.

5. Be a Fan! 

In the end, a lot of social media is about connecting with fans. Don’t forget to be one! Now, it’s important, in a large way not to look at social media as getting to hang out with (insert your favorite team here). But it’s vital to never forget what it is like to be one of those of which you are trying to reach and connect with. 

Go to a game as a fan every now and then. Even if you ‘know’ someone who can get you great seats with a parking pass, avoid it. Sit in the cheap seats, eat the stadium food and pay for parking. Remember what it’s like to be that diehard fan.

Pinterest Still A Good Option For Sports Brands

During the Christmas holidays, when I told my mom that the brand whose social media I manage had a Pinterest page, she was somewhat surprised and curious. What in the world, she wondered, could a sports brand gain on Pinterest?

Actually, there is and continues to be quite a lot still to be gained from pinning and repinning.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of options out there to engage an audience via social channels. Some, like Facebook and Twitter, are more established that others.

Each time a new social media channel comes along, there’s the tendency to expand social reach there and do what you can to make your brand’s presence make an impact and stick.

That’s where brands such as Pinterest were about a year ago. Once the opportunity to create a Pinterest brand page, there may as well have been a ‘Oklahoma Land Rush’ to set a sports brand’s page up on Pinterest.

Now, a year later, it’s easy to move away from Pinterest and focus on areas such as Facebook or Twitter.

But Pinterest can still be very valuable for brands, as odd as some casual observers may find it.

For starters, if you have any merchandise to sell, it’s a tremendous tool, especially if its new.

Photos of great moments or fans having a great time? That can be a gold mine on Pinterest. If you can get fans to re-pin content like that, it can do a lot of engage fans – especially in off-peak times.

Here’s a look at who does it well among sports brands

The Portland Trail Blazers cast a wide net, posting content for current promotions, great historical moments and even use it as a means for fans to keep up with them on other social networks.

The University of Washington does a nice job of upselling the entire experience of being around Seattle and the UW campus.

In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins use multiple boards to push out images of current and former players plus images of Penguins and hockey inspired food. Few things can energize fans for about the at-game experience than posting about and talking about food!

And who doesn’t love posting about their young fans? The Atlanta Falcons have taken advantage of that with a board of baby photos of fans in Falcons gear.

Pinterest is not a one-size-fits-all network. And with different brands looking to emphasize different things, that’s a good thing.

Stewart’s Gesture Adds Another Comparison To Earnhardt

It’s a dangerous thing when anyone compares a present NASCAR driver to Dale Earnhardt Sr. It’s almost like comparing someone to Michael Jordan or Bear Bryant. No matter what they do, they’ll never match all that those icons were able to do.

But Tony Stewart is treading close to Earnhardt territory not only on the track, but off it.

Like Earnhardt, Stewart has won multiple championships, gained a reputation as being an aggressive driver on the track and still seeks a Daytona 500 victory (Earnhardt finally won Daytona in 1998 after 20 years of trying).

And then there is this – that after Sunday’s Daytona 500, Stewart visited fans injured in as a result of the wreck near the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Here’s the  thing, though. There were no cameras, and Stewart didn’t appear to be doing it for attention. The visit was only reported after word was leaked to ESPN and Stewart’s camp confirmed that he did indeed visit the hospital.

This wasn’t a PR / image friendly TV spot. This was an ambassador of a sport saying, ‘get well soon and keep your head up,’ so to speak.

It’s not too different from what Dale Earnhardt was known for. There are stories within NASCAR from when Earnhardt was alive where there would be a family in need and Earnhardt would help them – only if everyone agreed not to let anyone know he was behind it. 

Within two hours, one driver may have done more than any statement at press conference could ever do. 

Kurt Busch at The Varsity

When people ask what it is I do at Atanta Motor Speedway, I sometimes best describe it as, social media, but also a little bit of everything else. Part of that ‘everything else’ includes producing video content. It’s certainly fun looking back at some of the video pieces now compared to then, seeing how far the progression has come in that area.

One of the more fun videos was in 2010 when we had a promotion with Kurt Busch at The Varsity. I mean, NASCAR drivers, race fans and Varsity hot dogs, how do you top that?