STN Digital

Industry Leaders Weigh In: Who Is The 2017 NFL Social MVP?

NFL Social MVP

The Philadelphia Eagles were holding the Lombardi trophy by the end of Super Bowl LII.  But, which team held the trophy for NFL social MVP?

We at STN Digital, a sports and entertainment social media agency in San Diego, reached out to our trusted industry experts to get their take. The question was simple, “Who do you think was the best NFL team on social media in 2017?”

NFL Social MVP

“This is even more difficult than selecting a top MLB team in social. I’m constantly impressed with the quality, creativity, and approach of many NFL teams. The Jaguars, Vikings, Cardinals, and Falcons to name a few. It’s hard not to pick the Panthers given how many hours were invested in that social strategy, but I’m going to stay unbiased here (they are still among the most engaging and responsive in pro sports). The Miami Dolphins do video far better than anyone else in the game. The Packers do an excellent job of blending their rich history and current success with high-quality visual content. The list goes on.

One team deserves serious recognition however: The Chicago Bears. The most difficult thing to do right on social is write really good copy, and the Bears manage to consistently nail it every time. They know when to be fun and are extremely clever. They know when to get serious. And they know how to tell a story that resonates with fans in a powerful way using as few words as possible. Their twitter handle has a great sense of humor too.

The team is clearly committed to quality visual content. Every video photo looks crisp and every video is shot with digital in mind. Their graphics are also on another level, among the best in the league. It can be such a challenge to make an older brand feel fresh, but the Bears have done a superb job with this over the years. They also respond and engage with fans, which always gets you extra points in my book.

Bottom line, the Bears manage to hit on all cylinders despite operating as a more historically conservative franchise AND while rebuilding on the field. Any social media manager will tell you the impact team competitiveness has on digital success.  The Bears, however, manage to win on social even when the team is not winning on the field. A true testament of a very, very talented team.”

To check out the Chicago Bears, click here: Instagram & Twitter

Follow Dan on Twitter here!

NFL Social MVP

“Call me a homer, but in my mind the Atlanta Falcons take the cake here.  The social staffing additions they’ve made over the past year-and-a-half are paying dividends. They probably double as MVP and Most Improved.

Their diversity is impressive.  From an access standpoint, they give their fans the inside look at anything and everything. Team practices, travel, events, you name it. Their production quality on videos, graphics, and photos are stunning.  They mix it up well, their content is wide-ranging and interesting.

They know how to use each channel for its purpose too.  On Instagram, high-quality images and short video clips get fans pumped up in a medium where the visuals tell the story.  On Twitter, they’re playful and confident but not cocky on a medium where their brand voice comes through easiest.  Their social copy is short and straight to the point for brand-building messages. They never use more words than necessary.

I have no issue admitting that I probably see more Falcons content than others, so take that for what it’s worth. There are other teams that I think do a phenomenal job (Cowboys, Panthers, Cardinals to name a few) but Atlanta’s the best.”

To check out the Atlanta Falcons, click here: Instagram & Twitter

Follow Jaryd on Twitter here!

NFL Social MVP

“As someone who works closely with all 32 clubs all year long, it’s almost impossible to select just one MVP this year. Overall, I was thrilled with how every single club stepped up their game on social (and specifically on Twitter). Everyone was creating more meaningful content and interactions with their fans on a daily basis. Kudos to all of the social managers who developed and executed such fantastic strategies all year long.

I like to think of the social MVP as someone who checks off all the boxes. Live content, strong visual identity, brand voice, creative video content, and interactions with fans. While I truly can’t pick a favorite, I will showcase a few of the best examples in my opinion from teams this year.

Live Content – Team’s went LIVE more this year than ever before, bringing teams closer to the action every day of the week. The Dolphins, Seahawks, Steelers, Eagles, and Broncos CRUSHED their Periscope game this year. Everything from bringing podcasts, studio shows, press conferences and more to their fans every day.

Visual Identity – The Dolphins, Vikings, and Falcons, in my opinion, have created a stunning, consistent visual identity. The visuals are always relevant to their brand. They evoke emotion and ultimately allow their presence on digital to feel cohesive in a way that many other teams don’t have.

Brand Voice – So many great examples, but hats off to the Browns. Even with a tough season yet again, they were able to evoke humor and sarcasm to make the best of their season, despite the performance on the field. Eagles are a close 2nd.  They had outstanding interactions with fans from their account all season long. And this incredible championship Tweet reminding fans that there is indeed a human element behind these accounts.

Creative Video Content – Impossible to select just one, but the Cardinals, Panthers, Steelers, and Falcons really stood out. These teams brought creative, eye-popping, and new video content which not only told a story but looked good in the process.

Long story short – NFL teams as a whole crushed this year on Social and can’t wait to see what next season brings to the table!”

Follow David on Twitter here!

NFL Social MVP

“With respect to the Panthers, Cowboys, and Cardinals, my 2017 NFL MVP of Social Media has to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only did they have a turn-around season on the field, they had one on the interwebs as well.

The Jaguars have not had much to cheer about over the past few years. When the opportunity arose this year for the Jacksonville football team, the social media team capitalized on every facet of conversation. Everything from specialized photo/video content to back-and-forth banter with fans, to sending the most viral – and vicious – NFL tweet of the year.

The Jags also did a great job of cross-promoting, not only with their adversaries on the field but with other entities across all sports. A key initiative in Social Media marketing is to garner the attention of fans who may never come across your brand. The Jags capitalized on that. Well done, Sacksonville.”

To check out the Jacksonville Jaguars, click here: Instagram & Twitter

Follow Randall on Twitter here!

NFL Social MVP

“My pick for the NFL’s best social media team is the Carolina Panthers. Take Valentine’s Day alone. The Panthers’ Facebook feed featured a clever “catching feelings” edit. Kyle Love answering romance questions as “Dr. Love”. A link to a gallery of Panthers fans that have gotten married & more. Their social media channels capture the heartbeat and storylines of the team but manage to consistently stay fun, fresh and relevant. There are glimpses from inside the locker room that feel authentic, clever partnerships like “Sweet Victory” with Krispy Kreme.

They also had a nice mix of produced graphics and edits including the #MyCauseMyCleats videos. Whether it’s a player milestone or pop culture reference, the Panthers’ social team doesn’t miss a beat. They are able to cover both with creative content and a sharp voice that seems made for social.

While my pick is the Panthers, there were so many great social media teams across the NFL this past season. I also want to give a mention to the Chicago Bears for their creativity, social franchises, and well-produced video edits.”

To check out the Carolina Panthers, click here: Instagram & Twitter

Follow Tracy on Twitter here!

CONCLUSION:

So, what did it take to be the best NFL team on social in 2017? The answer isn’t cut and dry, but the teams that ranked above the rest clearly had a diverse array of content and didn’t slack on the details.

After hearing from the experts, we received great insight on what made teams stand out from the pack.  It wasn’t nearly enough to master a single element.  To be a true champion, it required the full package: live content, visual elements, brand voice, the ability to stay relevant with pop culture, and above all – originality.

In 2017, the bar was set high.  Here at STN, we think there are several opportunities for teams to rise during the 2018 season. With news like the Facebook algorithm continuing to shift our industry, it becomes increasingly important for organizations to find new ways of engaging with fans. As the industry becomes more “pay to play” and organic content takes a back seat, which teams will align with the right strategic partners to unlock their brand’s full potential?


STN is a social media marketing agency trusted by the largest sports and entertainment properties in the world. The Superbowl, March Madness, UFC, Stanely Cup, Emmys, and the Oscars are just a few projects we’ve worked on in the past.  We bring award-winning results (literally) and treat each client like they are our only client.  If you’re interested in learning more about how STN can help you, click the button below!

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STN Digital is a Social Media Marketing Agency trusted by the largest Sports & Entertainment properties in the world.  Unlock your brand’s potential.  Email us at info@stn.digital.


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How To Monetize Social Media With Jordan Maleh

Every day, more and more cords are cut from traditional TV.  With OTTs (over-the-top media) like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, how has streaming impacted live sports?  

On this edition of the Business of Social podcast, we chatted with Jordan Maleh from the Big Ten Network to discuss media rights and how to monetize on social platforms in the new digital age.

Jordan has been a Marketing Manager for the New York Knicks, the Director of Digital Marketing at Michigan University and is now the Director of Digital Marketing & Communications at the Big Ten Network.

Listen to the full show here: (and please subscribe to our podcast!)

Here are some of the highlights:

In 2018, where is live sports going with OTT (over-the-top media)?

“As a rights holder, that’s the competitive advantage we have. We are in a great position.  Our bread and butter is live sports.  We basically became the leader in the space when we launched our app BTN2GO, the first app to ultimately produce and stream live games.”

How do you transition linear and live sports to digital and OTT, but also respect the bread and butter [selling the rights] that has got the network there in the first place?

“I think about that every day.  As a rights holder, we also own the ancillary rights. Technically, we own everything revolving and aligning with a school. So the question from our perspective is, how do we extend the window of live sports? We need better areas to sell our digital opportunities. For example, we are becoming more focused with on-campus opportunities — how can we tie in advertisers there?

The ultimate question is, how are we maximizing our rights, not only from an over-the-top perspective but from a digital and social perspective and what are sponsors interested in?”

How far are we from large corporations moving away from traditional ads like TV and more towards a digital-first approach?

“The percentage of people streaming are continuing to rise, however not to the scale of viewership in the traditional matter. But those percentages are rising and the brands understand where the consumption is taking place.

The challenge is that the space hasn’t matured enough.  Today, Nielsen can say these are households and this is what you sell against. No one has said that about digital in terms of total views, this is what you sell against, here is what a CPM is and it changes based off a scale.”

As we move into 2018, how do you begin to put together a package for digital sponsors?  How does it work?  Is it views?  Is it impressions? website visits?

“A great example is Libman, the green mop company who wipes the basketball courts at every Big Ten school across the country. They are a great client because they’re open to new ideas.

During March this past year, they were open and had a detailed plan.  From our end, we started churning ideas of not only highlights but also custom content. We attack it by a simple number of activations. So, how many pieces of custom content could we produce? That was the number we were looking at.

Libman was our first digital-only sponsor.  Last year during the basketball tournament, they had no linear opportunities, they weren’t interested.  This year they’re back. So you start to get a sense of how successful it was.”

The Facebook algorithm: do you think the change has opened space for other networks to help with more organic reach?

“My initial reaction was that content is going to be swallowed for a while.  But as you talk with sports-minded people, the leverage we have is the content and how it creates an expression or an action with people.  It’s just natural.

However, another opportunity we’ve thought about is Facebook groups.  Most people in groups are seeing group related content in their feed. We’ve been thinking about creating 14 BTN Facebook groups that live within our Facebook page.  The question then becomes, are you investing too much time into building a ‘group chat’ where you’re sharing content that you own the rights to?  And then a year from now the model changes and the algorithm opens up again.”

What are your thoughts on the Instagram algorithm and how old posts are coming back to the top of the news feed — making it difficult for real-time sports updates?  

“We’ve begun to shy away from date-specific content.  We have an advantage because we are first to market with our highlights.  But we’ve found that each highlight must be really unique for it to rise to the top.  It can’t just be your average dunk.  

We’ve tried to find a healthy mix.  We’ve tried posting more and also slowing it down, but it’s still hard to tell.  We just have to throw things against the wall or slow it down ultimately.

Again, this goes back to us as a rights holder.  How are we maximizing our rights where we don’t need to lean on the platforms themselves.  Yes, they are an outlet, they are a distribution platform but can we create content that we know will be successful no matter the algorithm and can guarantee revenue.”

David Brickley:  “The reason you hire someone like Jordan Maleh, with a background at the New York Knicks and Michigan, is because you need someone that is willing to dig into it.  Someone that is constantly tweaking and geeking out over the process, in order to make sure you’re squeezing every ounce of brand potential on the different social platforms.”

Is email still a major approach and KPI internally?

“At BTN, we are lean when it comes to CRM so I believe that’s one opportunity we have to ramp up during the next fiscal year. We have the social and digital space, leaving us room to grow when it comes to email.

We have a good understanding of who our audience is.  Right now, we are trying to skew younger.  With the younger generation, I think most people would say it’s social over email. But I’m with you, I’m an avid email fan.”

How do you talk with higher-ups in your organization, who may not be in the day-to-day,  about changes made in the industry that impact your entire department?  For instance, the Facebook algorithm and how strategies that worked today, won’t work tomorrow.

“We have a head start because our engagement tends to be more volatile anyway.  Since we are a TV network we tend to rely on big plays, but we also look at overall tonnage.

Again, we try to tie it back to revenue, which makes the conversation easier. Going back to Libman, we focus on the number of activations.  If we’re working for more reach, then that’s where we need to get into the ad model of boosting posts to try to reach a larger scale.

Our executive team has an understanding of what takes place and the ebbs-and-flows.  But for now, the algorithm means we’ll have a little bit more ad dollars coming from our end.”

What’s the number one KPI that your role is responsible for at BTN?

“When I first got to BTN it was viewership, viewership, viewership.  Then it shifted to streaming, which falls in line with downloads. So, last year, it was downloads and usage of the BTN2GO app and retaining those people.

A message that came from our president was that we are now a content company.  So the model is to get as much content out as possible while maintaining our core principles of eyeballs streaming and the overarching theme of maximizing our rights.

I foresee the next KPI as social ROI, once we are able to figure that out.”

What are your thoughts on mergers or acquisitions in terms of sudden opportunities for a social platform and audience as it moves over in the deal?

“From an outsider looking in, the question becomes what takes place with the regional and social handles?

A similar example is the SEC network under the umbrella of ESPN.  So really it’s, who is the king?  You’ll probably fall under whoever is the king.”

Who do you think is doing it right or smart on social media?

“In the sports world, the group thinking is incredible. With that said, in order to stay ahead, I believe you have to remove yourself.  Business Insider is a platform I look at, in terms of how much content they turn.  In the sports world, I tend to rely on Bleacher Report.  I marvel at how fast they turn content.

Coming from a different lens, one thing I look for is who is stealing content?  That’s important to us as a rights holder.  We understand who is stealing content and sometimes platforms make it easy.”

How do you balance wanting to increase your brand message with people stealing content?  How does that factor in?

“If it gets excessive that’s when it’s no help to our brand.

In terms of buying the rights, the overall pillar is how we maximize that.  We want to be in a position to have conversations about partnerships with people from those platforms who are interested in our content.”  

BTN is doing some cool, new things to increase television and digital viewership, can you tell us a little more about the programs you have coming?

“We’ve recently created a new campus program that we are really excited about.  We are hiring people to be ‘boots-on-the-ground’ who are both producers and editors that we call Multi-Platform Video Producer-Editors, or MVPEs.

Our goal was to have someone fresh out of college, who could be embedded within the athletic department.  The idea is that this is not a newspaper, or a blog coming from a press conference.  It’s someone within their walls, seeing the day-to-day.

After a really successful fall and winter pilot at Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State, we hope to expand the program to 7 or 8 schools.

The next steps are to figure out the ad sales opportunities.  Now, we’re able to sell more locally.  We’re excited about the opportunity, we’re trending in the right direction, and I think this model can be carried out across all 14 schools within the next 3 to 5 years.”

And our random question for the day, can the XFL be a successful business model that actually pays off?

“I’m optimistic!  I don’t know for how long, but I’m optimistic in the entertainment.

As we talk about being a difference maker and going against the grain, I’m not going to question Vince McMahon.”


The Business of Social Podcast is brought to you by STN Digital.  STN is a social media marketing agency trusted by the largest sports and entertainment properties in the world. The Superbowl, March Madness, UFC, Stanely Cup, Emmys, and the Oscars are just a few projects we’ve worked on in the past.  We bring award-winning results (literally) and treat each client like they are our only client.  If you’re interested in learning more about how STN can help you, click the button below!

DROP A LINE


If you liked this post, check out a few others. Click here!

Managing Social For The Largest Events In The World with Madeline Mesevage

How To Leverage PR For Your Brand With Beck Bamberger

The Future Of Social Media With Bryan Srabian

How Brands Can Capitalize On Influencers With Ashley Iaconetti

 

The Business of Social Podcast examines the digital advertising industry and analyzes how brands successfully increase their ad revenue and brand affinity through cutting edge content on social. In short, we talk to the experts so you’re able to keep your thumb on the pulse of the ever-changing landscape of social and digital media. (Powered By STN Digital)

 


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The Future Of Social Media With Bryan Srabian

STN Digital

He’s been called a Social Media Trailblazer and a Digital Guru.  When we first met in 2014, after only 10 minutes I knew right away… “Wow. Bryan just gets it!”

On this edition of the Business of Social podcast, we chatted with Bryan Srabian, from the San Francisco Giants, to discuss the future of social media and how the sports industry is fighting to stay one-step ahead of the curve.

Bryan Srabian is the VP of Digital Media & Brand Development at the San Francisco Giants. He also teaches a Sports Master Program (Sports and Social Media Marketing) at the University of San Francisco.

Listen to the full show here: (and please subscribe to our podcast!)

Here are some of the highlights:

With the shift in the Facebook algorithm, how has the organic reach dropped at the sports level?

“Organic is a challenge. The days of hitting your max are really gone unless you’re doing something above and beyond like winning the World Series that goes viral.  We’re learning that if you have great content, it’s worth carving out a budget and trying to maximize the eyeballs.  

From a sports perspective, we are a little different than brands because our fans are actively posting and connecting with us.  The algorithm is another piece of the puzzle that will continue to change and evolve.  We just have to stay ahead or at least with the curve.”

New platforms & networks?  How do you choose whether or not to invest time and energy when it could potentially be a total loss?

“Only a few years ago people were afraid of missing out and began jumping on everything.

It’s a balance and you’ve got to be smart.  You have to be active on a personal level and in this day and age, it’s hard to stay on all the different social networks.  That’s why I believe we are seeing the maturity in some.”

As we head into 2018, where is the untapped potential in terms of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and where would you rank those different platforms?

“The one thing we’re not mentioning is YouTube.  We don’t consider it a social channel, it’s more of a content channel. Our video team even brought it up at a meeting this week.  It’s a platform we haven’t really explored or use a lot, but we should continue to create content for them.

Instagram and Facebook continue to lead in terms of massive numbers and what people are on.

Twitter is vital in terms of sharing news and information in real time.  Social media professionals know how critical Twitter is, not just personally but on the professional side of things as well.

Snapchat is interesting because they’re still secretive.  We don’t know a lot about it, its smaller than Instagram but their demographic is vital to us.

We’re putting a little more money into Facebook this year, in terms of ad placement and digital spend. But we’re also looking at Twitter and Instagram for a stronger video presence.”  

How do you set a social strategy for sponsors and partnerships with the landscape changing so frequently?  

“I should emphasize we have not figured this out.  It’s a real challenge for sports teams and how you fully monetize when you’re talking about sponsors. The first step is to have good communication with your partnership team.

In general, we try to have a ‘social first’ mentality.  When a Giant fan logs on to our Instagram account and sees our post, it should be something they want to see.  If it’s a sponsored post, you must make sure it brings value, whether it’s entertainment, education, or something witty. If it’s too much of a sales offer or an off-brand marketing message, it’s not going to do as well.

Our goal is to really communicate what the partner’s vision is. What’s the vision and try to create those branded posts that are almost seamless.”

Has HQ Trivia unlocked a new way of social engagement?

“The live aspect, the community aspect, and the instantaneous of it. And it’s only ten to twelve minutes. I’m really excited about the whole aspect and I agree with you, I think they’ve really got something on their hands.

There is something about appointment television when people are all connected at the same time.  The conversation that happens the next day at the water cooler or on social media is inherent.

They’re doing a lot of things right.  I’m excited and I hope we can take the spirit of that and integrate it into something this year.”

How much effort do you put into establishing more users on your own properties such as email subscribers, website, apps, etc.?

“Email is still a strong base for us, but not as strong as maybe five or ten years ago.  However, it still provides a good return on investment in terms of direct purchasing.  The use of push notifications and our mobile app are things that I think are big assets for sports teams.

StubHub is becoming a partner and it’s a place fans are going to on a consistent basis.  It’s important to understand that those partnerships also have big databases and touch points as well. How can we use them to get our message out?

Our job is to continue to tell the stories and use our media outlets as a way to continue to reach our fans. It’s funny that we didn’t mention traditional media until later in this discussion, but they’re still a viable option for us.”

Outside the Giants, who do you think is doing it right or smart on social media?

“I am going to give a shout out to the Sacramento Kings.  They continue to do some really cutting-edge things.

They don’t have the same fan bases for example as the Warriors or the Lakers.  But, you look to teams like them who are really doing innovative things, some visual things, some fun things and you try to learn from them as well.”

Where do you see the MLB going in the new digital world, in terms of how people view these games and stream them live?

“It’s very critical to our success.  In-market streaming was just live last year.  For the first time, if you were Direct TV, Comcast, or Xfinity, the dish subscriber through NBC Sports, you could watch games via your computer, iPhone or whatever.

The MLB TV app continues to be one of the tops in terms of engagement out-of-market games.

The fans might not be sitting and watching a two-and-a-half-hour game on television, but they want to see the highlights in real time.  They also want to see stats and have access to the players in different ways. It’s up to Major League Baseball to continue to innovate the overall fan experience.” 

Statcast has been a huge development by Major League Baseball in the way that fans are experiencing games.

Twitch is a network that’s something to watch and understand.  It’s the E-league and I’m really intrigued because video games play such a big part of the culture now.”

How have arenas changed to facilitate mobile, Wi-Fi, and social sharing and how are they continually looking to facilitate the web experience, while people are in seats watching games?

“In 2004, the Giants became the first park with Wi-Fi access. It wasn’t until 2007 when the iPhone came out that it really became a big deal.

We’ve had to continue to build up our Wi-Fi. Fans are continuously taking pictures and posting on social media to share their experiences. Our main job is to make that experience seamless.”  

How do you balance arming your fan base with the ability to share, but also protecting the licensing rights with live streaming, is that a worry?

The live aspect isn’t a threat yet, because of the perspective people are getting.  There is something cool about streaming. In fact, we encouraged it in the beginning.  I haven’t seen any instances, from my own perspective, where the league has stepped in to shut anyone down for streaming live from a game.

However, now that Wi-Fi and cameras continue to get better and stronger, you might see more of this becoming an issue. At the same time, we want to engage with fans and I hope we are open to sharing in different ways.

Rights are obviously an issue that everyone takes seriously. Within the social scale, we’re trying to engage and share as much content as possible. As of now, it hasn’t been an issue.”

Going into 2018, how are you measuring success on social and what would you say would be the number one initiative inside that building in terms of your strategy?

For social media in general, it’s not just about reaching a certain number of followers, engagements or retweets. It’s about helping our different departments reach their goals.  Whether that’s partnerships, tickets, or community relations department, it’s about finding new ways to tell their story and maximize that on our social networks.

We’re trying to be brand ambassadors for many people internally.  At the same time, we want to stay connected, innovative, and try to stay ahead of the curve.”


The Business of Social Podcast is brought to you by STN Digital.  STN is a social media marketing agency trusted by the largest sports and entertainment properties in the world. The Superbowl, March Madness, UFC, Stanely Cup, Emmys, and the Oscars are just a few projects we’ve worked on in the past.  We bring award-winning results (literally) and treat each client like they are our only client.  If you’re interested in learning more about how STN can help you, click the button below!

DROP A LINE


If you liked this post, check out a few others. Click here!

Managing Social For The Largest Events In The World with Madeline Mesevage

How To Leverage PR For Your Brand With Beck Bamberger

How To Monetize Social Media With Jordan Maleh

How Brands Can Capitalize On Influencers With Ashley Iaconetti

 

The Business of Social Podcast examines the digital advertising industry and analyzes how brands successfully increase their ad revenue and brand affinity through cutting edge content on social. In short, we talk to the experts so you’re able to keep your thumb on the pulse of the ever-changing landscape of social and digital media. (Powered By STN Digital)