Posts Tagged ‘social media


You’re Invited! Joe Pa Virtual Birthday Party

 So I’m a diehard fan of college football and of social media. The convergence is very cool and in my opinion extremely appropriate considering the masses of displaced fans. In that vein, we at Sports Media Challenge came up with a test of whether or not we were in a different orbit than the rest of the sports world.

 Shaq’s emergence on twitter has been a monumental success which just set our imaginations loose here in Charlotte, NC. Twitter seems to shine around events. I actually tracked twitter conversations prior to, during and after the Longhorns Thanksgiving day game to determine if the conversation escalated during the live game or not. It clearly did.

So we thought  we would combine the mass power of twitter and other social media platforms to reach out to Penn State and college football fans to create a surprise virtual birthday party for the legendary Coach Joe Paterno as he turns 82 on Sunday.  It’s not in Joe Pa’s nature to intentionally draw attention to himself especially as he’s readying his team to play in the Rose Bowl on Jan.1st. But we can do it for him and show the sports world and frankly world in general, the power of what we  call fan-generated media.


Happy, happy Joe Pa birthday blog

An aside here. My new found twitter friends have been invaluable @meglyn, @publiside, @lisahoffmann in this effort as have the SMC staff  Brittany, Hannah, Ryan and Jackie-a hardworking intern. They’ve generated ideas and implemented them at all hours of the day and night. This social media stuff may be “free” or low cost, but certainly not low maintenance.

So for the sake of those trying to figure this social media thing out like we are, here are a few points to keep in mind – challenges and fun involved in this worthwhile project of creating the sports world’s  first ever virtual birthday party.

  • Short lead time. Through social media & with twitter you can launch a major project like this in a week’s time but if you can get more time ,do.
  • Hash tags for critical tracking. It took us a couple of days to remember to put #JoePa82 at the end of our tweets to make it easier for us to see what kind of traction we are getting and make necessary adjustments. Buzz Manager will track and analyze conversations across all social media.
  • Priorities.  It’s definitely a bad time to try to enlist any help for a project like this outside of bowl preparations.
  • Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants. Inviting people to a virtual birthday party is one thing, making it easy for them to understand what that means and how to participate is something different , especially if they don’t spend much if any time in the social media space.
  • Community Relevance. The larger a twitter community “followers” the better,  however, all the followers in the world won’t help you if your interests in the project don’t intersect. You can’t rally the  fans around football if they’re more interested in baking cookies.  Cool twitter community growing every day

 There are obviously many more lessons learned which we can talk about later but hopefully this will start you thinking about the possibilities of word of mouth marketing and the many routes to get you there. So if you’re inclined to celebrate Coach Paterno’s 82nd birthday “virtually” or are simply willing to be a part of this social media experiment, check out the birthday blog   and…

1.      Spread the word to those who might be interested

2.      Post links to videos, audios, or add your text  best wishes to Joe Pa in comments

3.      Check back to see the lead up to the big day on Sunday (watch for other big name coaches to send their bests to Joe Pa on the blog)

We don’t expect Joe pa to be checking the internet so we’re pretty sure it’ll stay a surprise for at least a couple more days.  More to come tomorrow …



Cool twitter community growing every day

Sports Marketing Innovation & Fan Engagement

I walked out of the Bobcats game last night into a wall quote: If what you did yesterday is still big today, then you’re not doing much.” Coach K was talking about his ball players but it reminds me of the whole genre of sports marketing. Too many people seem too satisfied with the successes of the past and are deaf to, or simply fearful of innovation. I’ve been evangelizing social media in sports for about 4 years and my voice has just dissipated in the wind. Finally I think some people are hearing and maybe even listening to the message.

After explaining that Kobe’s record breaking 81 point game garnered 1440 fan posts (comments) on just 4 sites within 48 hours an assoc athletic director at a major program said, so what? I asked: “if you had received 1440 letters or phone calls on one topic in that short timeframe would you have dismissed them?” You can conservatively estimate that each online post generates at least another 5 offline conversations. Essentially the virtual watercooler transitions to the actual watercooler. If they care enough to go online and write or even simply read a blog post or discussion topic they’re going to share that experience with other fans.


I don’t think I would get the same response today because whether it’s college, pro, or Olympic brands the powers that be are at least curious. In the same vein, someone else asked me, “What do we care about what the fans are saying, they don’t know what they’re talking about anyway?”  The answer: They’re talking about your brand whether you participate or not.

In five years word-of-mouth marketing has reached an audience the size of which it took 50 years for television to build and fans care more and give more credence to what other fans say and feel than what they hear from traditional marketers these days. Fans have taken control of the way they interact with brands and some forward thinking (and still very conservative brands/properties) are acknoledging the fact and even toughening their skin enough to truly engage the fans. We at Sports Media Challenge call it fan-generated-media or CGM for sports & entertainment. Every day our Buzz Manager(TM) online monitoring service tracks and our sports and entertainment specialists analyze tens of thousands of blog posts, video & audio clips, photos, discussion board conversations etc to glean the most relevant, actionable information for our clients.  Find. Listen. Engage. Lead. That’s the process. And to the credit of clients like Penn State Athletics, they have spent time listening and with our help are now engaging their fans. Checkout this creative student created video to promote the basketball program.

Shaq’s not conservative but Shaq on Twitter is a game changer! It took only 5 minutes for the blogosphere to pick up on RSM McGladry’s creative sponsorship of Natalie Gulbis and I expect the same of their Special Olympics golf initiatives.


These brands are careful to say the least. They’ve built, enriched and need to protect their brands which is exactly why they’ve embraced social media and insist on measuring it’s effectiveness through Buzz Manager(TM). All of this reminds me of another CEO client of mine over the years, Roger Milliken. Mr Milliken reminded his employees, “We’re not here to massage history. We’re here to make history.”


Interactive Shaq: a model for athletes in a 2.0 web world

So everyone is asking:

  • did Sports Media Challenge really get THE_REAL_SHAQ to twitterYES
  • shouldn’t every athlete do the same?  NO
  • why haven’t leagues aggressively adopted social media and in particular twitter? CAN’T IMAGINE
  • and on and on, and on…

Last week Buzz Manager(TM) was trolling the internet and fan-generated-media known by others as CGM (blogs, chatrooms, YouTube, twitter etc.) for Shaq like we do for all of our clients. It’s critical for us to listen to and measure the amount of chatter & public sentiment about their brands/issues.

By listening to fans we can and do uncover relevant and even actionable information. In fact, we FIND, LISTEN, ENGAGE & LEAD in that order. Buzz Manager alerted us “Shaq is twittering”. Wait a minute- it wasn’t really him. But as I told the Big Man, it could be him and he could do it from his phone. He could reach out and talk directly to fans and them to him. No mirrors, no curtains, just Shaq and the fans.

Word of Mouth is powerful- incredibly influential. @THE_REAL_SHAQ got over 12,000 fans (and counting) to “follow” his tweets in a week. Sure they love his humor but more than that, they love how they can reach and virtually touch a larger than life superstar. They’re saying things like,

  • “Great little piece about Shaq on Twitter, Devin. It really is one of the biggest pop culture events of the year.” – Schrik
  • “just got a twitter really only to make sure i can see what shaq twitters about” – maybejack
  • “New to twitter. I hear Shaq is here so ya know I had to join. I look forward to hearing whassup from everyone!” – tweetAZ
  • “But it was just cool that Shaq talked to me! I think he’ll make Twitter mainstream.” – modite
  • “Shaq + Twitter = Best Thing To Happen To The Internet Over The Last Week. BY FAR.” – schlizzag
  • “I’m not even a huge basketball fan and I still think it’s neat to see Shaq on Twitter.” – jonvictorino
  • “any basketball player with the insight to twitter is worth following. plus, it’s shaq!” – DanielThePoet
  • “can i just say that following Shaq’s tweets is one of the best things about Twitter?” – sushipanda

What makes @THE_REAL_SHAQ successful?

He genuinely enjoys and values talking directly to fans. Interactive Shaq knows something about and appreciates how technology connects the world. He’s willing to share bits of his personal and professional life througHout each day. Once a week won’t keep the masses glued to their mouses! The Suns to their credit quickly jumped on board a unique opportunity and provided the team’s infrastructure to amplify Interactive Shaq.

We often talk to clients about building, enriching and protecting their brand legacy. In fact, SMC is working hand in hand with a company called Legacy Direct.  All sports personalities have images, some even reputations, the smart ones use their athletic platform to build personal brands and influence millions. In the sports world, there are few brands bigger around the globe than Shaq. His authenticity and willingness to reach out to fans endears him and converts influencers to advocates and advocates to evangelists. Wow! The power of word-of-mouth. Follow THE_REAL_SHAQ and kathleenhessert Digg it reddit Yahoo MyWeb Google StumbleUpon

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