Posts Tagged ‘twitter


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


Recession forces fans to find new ways to keep in touch with their favorite athletes

Recession forces fans to find new ways to keep in touch with their favorite athlete

Initially when reading about the economic downfall, the term “recession proof” was synonymous with professional sports. Now the headlines are reading that the pro leagues will indeed be affected by the recession. Brandweek recently reported that Ad sales were down 15 percent. The NFL has said that they are lowering the cost of playoff tickets this year by 10 percent. According to the SportsBusiness Journal, the Cowboys, recently looked to borrow $350 million during the worst credit environment in history, this after a $126 million loan that they acquired last year.

The NFL, MLB, and NBA are not going to see any real drastic changes- they are still doing really well. Sports players make some of the largest salaries in the country-without a doubt. (The average MLB player’s salary was $3 million in 2007.) But from the consumer end, it is nice to see that something is being done to ease the blow of soaring ticket prices. To pawn a phrase from Sarah Palin, “The Joe Six Packs” are having a hard time keeping up with their favorite teams.

Us regular Joes welcome the big whigs down to our level. League executives are beginning to understand that times are tough, and keeping their products affordable is going to help out everyone. They are learning that if they don’t become flexible during this hardship they could potentially risk severing bonds between their fans and teams. Ending relationships that have taken years to build.

While we are waiting on all of the team execs to jump on the bandwagon, here is what I suggest… take advantage of social media. There is a whole world of interactivity at your fingertips. Relationships are waiting to be made and strengthened. Not just for fans like you and me, but for everyone.

Have you heard? Shaq is on twitter? The big Aristotle is out there building relationships that will long surpass that of his tenure with the Suns. This is the perfect time to take advantage of  what is an opportunity to interact with your team, favorite athlete, or fellow fans without any direct involvement of an organization. Just you and whomever you choose to communicate with. What an awesome opportunity! Share information, opinions, statistics all in a matter of seconds- and it is free. Chances are someone will talk back, which would be way sweeter than an autograph. If you are like one lucky Shaq fan, you could even land a phone call call from your favorite athlete.

Shaq greets Pheonix Suns fans

Shaq greets Pheonix Suns fans


Are athletes using social media to its full potential?

Great article (“Sites to behold: Many high-profile athletes have embraced the Web as a way to connect with fans and raise their profiles, but others haven’t yet clicked with the Internet“) by Tod Leonard in the San Diego Union-Tribune…

I agree with his position that athletes and sports personalities have only scratched the surface of the possibilities the internet holds for their careers and their brands. It allows for fan engagement far deeper than any traditional fan club, autograph session, or other established forms of marketing. And some athletes are definitely doing it much better than others!

Athletes and their representatives need to remember that just having a web site doesn’t cut it. I think having a poorly designed, non-user-friendly site with bad content may actually hurt an athlete’s image, making him or her look out of touch. More importantly, fans aren’t going to consistently visit a site that is never updated. Athletes may be better off with no web presence at all if they’re not going to commit to doing it well. Leonard mentions LaDainian Tomlinson – arguably one of the biggest NFL names -having an outdated official web site. Perhaps L.T. listened? When I navigated to the first item in a Google search,, it goes to a blank page with “Coming Soon” at the top.
Chris Cooley logo merchandise

Chris Cooley logo merchandise

Take for example Washington Redskins TE Chris Cooley… his popularity and name recognition have gone up exponentially due to his well-maintained blog, which has enabled him to grow the Chris Cooley brand. He even has a logo now and merchandise for sale.
Chris Cooley knows what others will hopefully soon realize: fans crave real information about their favorite athletes. Things like the Cooleys decorating the house for Christmas, that Tiger Woods’ daughter Sam was a tiger for Halloween, and Shaq asking his Twitter followers whether he should eat at Schlotsky’s or Subway for lunch, are the types of details that make athletes “real”. Sometimes fans can forget that athletes and celebrities are people too!
Athletes reaching out to fans online, especially via social media, converts fans into advocates and advocates into brand evangelists.

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


Shaq on Twitter Becomes Viral

Sports Media Challenge’s (SMC) proprietary search engine, Buzz Manager™, discovered that Shaquille O’Neal had an account on a social network called Twitter. SMC contacted Shaq to verify that this was really him. As it turned out, the Twitter name “ShaquilleONeal” wasn’t actually Shaq. Sports Media Challenge encouraged him to counter the impersonator by creating his own Twitter account under the name “The_Real_Shaq.” After creating this account, SMC contacted major mainstream media outlets and social media websites to alert influential content providers to the situation. There were dramatic changes within 24 hours. It is safe to say that this story has become viral in nature.

Something as simple as creating a profile on a social network has extended the reach of Shaq’s brand and helped to turn casual fans into strong brand advocates. This type of interactivity and openness ties fans to Shaq on a mass scale in a way that can’t be matched using any other method.

Where the story has spread:

The story was discussed in the New York Times, as well as many of the most influential blogs and blogs networks on the internet:

Deadspin: The most influential sports blog on the web (as ranked by SMC’s Sports Blog Index). It has over 350,000 visitors to the site per day.

 SportsbyBrooks: The second most influential sports blog on the web, with well over 100,000 visitors per day.

The Big Lead: The third most influential sports blog on the web, with over 80,000 visitors per day.

Ballhype: Arguably the most influential network for sports blogger on the web. The story about Shaq has remained the top, “most hyped” and most discussed story since being posted 24 hours ago.

Yardbarker: Also one of the largest and most influential networks for sports bloggers. Many websites actually linked back to an original post on Yardbarker as their source.

Other influential sites discussing the Shaq Twitter feed include: Yahoo Sports Blog, Fan Nation (a property of Sports Illustrated), Slam Magazine, Dime Magazine, Sportaphile, Sport Crackle Pop, Give me the Rock, Bright Side of the Sun (most influential Phoenix Suns blog) and many more.



The REAL Shaq is on Twitter… and the blog crowd goes wild!

sports-blog-index-logo3Every Monday trough Thursday, Buzz Manager Blog reports the Top 5 Topics discussed by the most influential sports blogs, as rated by Sports Media Challenge’s Sports Blog Index.

Over the past 24 hours, the most popular topic among the most influential sports blogs was Suns C Shaquille O’Neal now using Twitter, a social media site for microblogging or short messages updated for other users. Also highly discussed was now 11-0 Ball State’s win over Central Michigan on Wednesday, with many wondering if Ball State will be able to earn a bid to a BCS game over other highly-ranked non-BCS conference teams such as Utah, Boise State, and BYU.  Former Vikings and now Jaguars WR Troy Williamson sparked conversation following negative comments regarding his former coach, Brad Childress. Bloggers were amazed by the Arizona men’s basketball team committing fouls in the final seconds of a tied game versus UAB, which Arizona ended up losing 72-71 after UAB made a free throw. Rounding out the Top 5 was praise for the honesty of golfer J.P. Hayes, who was trying to get through PGA Tour Qualifying School, for reporting himself to officials after he discovered he inadvertently used a non-conforming ball, resulting in his disqualification and loss of any opportunity to play on the PGA Tour or the Nationwide Tour.

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