Running Social for an NBA Team with Matt Tierney
On this episode Matt Tierney, Managing Editor Team Content for the Toronto Raptors, joined the Business of Social to speak about what it's like running all things social for an NBA team, the art of storytelling and the importance of building a relationship with the team.
He discusses all of the excitement that came with the team adding Kawhi Leonard, a top 3 player in the NBA, and the challenge of how to handle saying goodbye to DeMar DeRozan, who had been a franchise icon for 10 years.
Matt gives his take on #NBATwitter, the balance between sponsorship and social, where he thinks social is headed, and overall insight into the industry.
Here are the highlights:
[13:30]: The Importance of Building Relationships and Brand Authenticity
“Authenticity, respect, relatability these are things that I think are paramount to be successful in this job. The analytics focused crowd probably will scoff at that kind of thing, in terms of relationship building. It’s the same things as brands and working with our global partnerships team and developing branded content.
What I always preach don’t just attach your brand to something because it’s cool or popular. Make sure there’s a trust factor or talk to people who know what that person likes and what their interests are, and ultimately, the content will reflect that.
[00:00:14.58] DAVID: All right, he is the managing editor of team content at the Toronto Raptors, Matt Tierney now joins us on the business of social. Matt, what's going on buddy?
[00:00:22.01] Matt: I'm doing good, David.
[00:00:23.00] DAVID: What up, what up? I think maybe you're our first international guest on the podcast here, up there in Canada. Yeah, might be a first. I always kick things off with some random questions, so I'll start off with this, who do you think the best player in the league is right now?
[00:00:38.48] Matt: I mean no question, Kawhi Leonard.
[00:00:42.06] DAVID: Yeah, I like it. So you're at the stadium now there checking the final buzzer, what's going on back there?
[00:00:46.29] Matt: I mean, listen, we usually have a ton of meeting rooms that I can pop into. Today they were completely booked, so I'm actually up in the birds and nest where we watch our games and to get the ...
[00:00:56.44] DAVID: Can you give us a little preview on the video? Can we see something here?
[00:00:59.09] Matt: Yeah, we'll do a little turn, are you ready?
[00:01:00.53] DAVID: All right, let's see the ... Oh, that's awesome. That's a nice backdrop. You should have that as your backdrop as we talk, I like that. But so you say Kawhi Leonard, I know also you're a film enthusiasts, so the best film of all time?
[00:01:17.38] Matt: It's going to disappoint some people, but it's honestly true, it's more so I think because I don't know in the state that they did this a lot, I imagine that they probably did, but it gets played a lot here on cable television in Canada, but the Shawshank Redemption.
[00:01:33.16] DAVID: Yeah, I mean, that's the classic, yeah.
[00:01:36.09] Matt: People are going to mock, but like I don't know, I just ... That's it for me.
[00:01:41.10] DAVID: I love it. Well, I want to get into your story a little bit, because I know before the Raptors, you've been there for like a little over three years now, right?
[00:01:47.52] Matt: Four seasons.
[00:01:49.09] DAVID: Four seasons, and before then you were actually working at NHL, so tell me a little bit about just your story and how you ... What led you to the Raptors?
[00:01:57.40] Matt: Not one for listeners to document and follow as conventional route. I mean, I always was interested in the sports; I had a business background in school. And just trying to figure out once I left where I wanted to go to, and ultimately I knew I love Toronto, I lived ... probably I was born and raised around two hours outside of Toronto, so almost did that whole teaching route and went to South Korea and just take some time away.
But then a friend of mine got me a job in broadcast advertising here, and I kind of leveraged that and some of my connections there to get an interview at the NHL. I worked there for close to four years. For anyone who knows me, no shocker, I'm not a hockey fan at all, so I don't know how I lasted that long. But I used that time again to leverage the people in the same building obviously with the LLC, weekly sports entertainment and the Raptors. I got on the ball court, showed up a bit, I met some cool people, and then end up getting an interview for the Raptors gig.
[00:03:07.15] DAVID: It's awesome. So what is ... I guess, did you take anything? I know you are like more like in a sales role at NHL, but did you take anything from your experience there that helped you in your role at the Raptors?
[00:03:19.57] Matt: I'm going to be honest with you, it's completely different. At the NHL just a different culture. And I mean, the job role was different, and I mention to you before we started here like my passion is storytelling and content. I wasn't really getting that at the NHL, I think that's what I've been craving. Now I was in the digital space sure, but like I was planning like partner digital spend, so for me in all honesty I was ... that was mindless work, and I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to be able to kind of get in story tell and be around the sport that I had a true passion for.
[00:03:55.38] DAVID: And if you're in Canada, if you want to work in the NBA you have one opportunity up there. So you landed the one opportunity you can get. Yeah, so tell me about your role at the Raptors, what do you ever see in day to day and kind of during the season kind of how's your team look like, I would love to hear more about that?
[00:04:13.33] Matt: Absolutely. I started as the community manager, an infamous position within sports digital is you kind of do all, there's no real like set manuscript and no duties, it's literally you come in and make it what you want to make it. And ultimately I guess you had to categorize it or summarize it, you literally report the news for your team online.
[00:04:39.10] DAVID: What's great is that a committee manager in sports, it's very systematic, you get to come in at nine leave at five every day, there's no breaking news, it's super, super easy job.
[00:04:49.39] Matt: You're as close in all of that.
[00:04:51.07] DAVID: Yeah, exactly. So you start off as community manager.
[00:04:55.13] Matt: So yes, and then probably I think a year and a half to two years ago ... I mean, we were a small team, and we still are to be honest with you, in the overall landscape. And I mean, I know that there's like a community within the other teams and they look at, and we kind of interact and see kind of, "Hey, what are best practices? What are you guys like? You guys travel? How many team members do you have?" So we're a little bit different in that we're under that silo of [unclear 05:22] sports entertainment who owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, and the MLS, both Marley's and 905 as a ... that's your A team. And I don't know if I said the Toronto Argos and the CFL recently acquired.
So they have a ton of teams and then they have centralized services, so we, everyone utilizes those, but as you know, and I mean, what you guys do sometimes you get overtaxed, you got to outsource, and you got to grow, so we're really small but essentially I kind of ... I'm a little bit older, so I had had enough of typing on the keys.
[00:05:58.05] DAVID: You always say that, how old are you?
[00:06:00.29] Matt: Do we reveal this?
[00:06:01.56] DAVID: Yeah, if you're down with it, it's cool, it's public.
[00:06:04.20] Matt: Yeah, no, I'll be turning 36 soon. But I mean I know the game ...
[00:06:08.42] DAVID: You're young.
[00:06:10.02] Matt: Thank you. I appreciate that. The grays on my beard will say otherwise.
[00:06:13.06] DAVID: The industry keeps young though, man. I'm going to tell you what? You and I talked about that a little bit too, it's like if you're in a day to day though it feels like you could still ... if I talk to an 18-year old pretty easily just some pop culture and all those things you got to stay on top of.
[00:06:25.38] Matt: I agree. Yeah, and I mean, listen, we hired a community manager for the 905 for our GD team, and ultimately after a year I kind of spoke with my superiors and we brought Em on as the Raptor's community manager, and I got to transition more into like the larger story tell and I'll still manage everything that goes out, but in terms of like the day to day execution it's a nice relief for me in terms of pulling that off I guess.
[00:06:48.48] DAVID: So then are you the guys dedicated the Raptors or you sometimes pull in different directions for the Maple Leafs or anybody under like that MLSE umbrella?
[00:06:57.12] Matt: That's a great question. No, each team has a dedicated squad; however, we've had a little bit of change come in once we did purchase the Toronto Argos. I kind of jumped on as like a little bit of a consultant role there and oversaw the first year under our oversight. So did some stuff there, trying to create a couple content pieces to put in place, and kind of get everything in order. So I don't think I'm going to stay on that again, I'm going to focus the Raptors full-time.
[00:07:30.25] DAVID: Yeah, it's full-time.
[00:07:32.56] Matt: Exactly. Not talking about just in the season, we're talking about every monthly.
[00:07:37.42] DAVID: Yeah, absolutely. So I want to get into Kawhi because obviously as I understand you're a State Aztec grad, one of my favorite players and someone I follow, and as a Laker fan I thought it was all set up for Kawhi to go to the Lakers, team up with LeBron, but in the dark of the night the Toronto Raptors come in, a team that nobody really thought was going to have an opportunity at Kawhi, and they traded pre-all-star which I think at the end of the day that deal was super fair. I mean, trading DeMar for Kawhi, probably the best pack as the Spurs could have got, and especially traded him out east so not traded him to the rival Lakers. When did you hear the news? And how did that change your day to day right away when all that came down?
[00:08:18.09] Matt: I mean, to say expectations soared through the roof is a complete understatement. And the pressure came on. I mean, the excitement is your initial thing, right? You just acquired a top three guy in the NBA. And listen, let me say one thing about Kawhi Leonard, I mean, I pride myself in my sports knowledge in terms of understanding and being up to date with the league and everything about it, and players, and all that.
But, I mean, maybe there's a similarity and a parallel to kind of everyone up in the states who kind of always forget about Toronto and don't get to see them a lot, the visibility isn't as high as other major markets. And that maybe have been the same thing with me and Kawhi's game in San Antonio, because I knew he was great and everyone talked about it, but I never really saw him enough to appreciate it, and oh, my God, seeing him up close this year in this half season already, like when I said he's the best player in the league like I'm not just being a homer, like everyone loves Giannis, everyone loves LeBron, and there's no doubt about it. But like I don't know if there's a single weakness in Kawhi Leonard's game.
And listen, I value two-way players too, so I don't know if this is a sports podcast or not but ...
[00:09:31.06] DAVID: Oh, it absolutely is. No, I think me too, that's why I was always such a huge fan of Kobe because he was always first team all-NBA defense and he was locking up the other team's best player. And I'm a Laker fan obviously, and now I'm a LeBron fan, but I think that's one issue in his game, I think at one point he can guard all five positions, but he's never really been that like nine time all-NBA or up for Defensive Player of the Year type deal. So a huge fan of Kawhi.
But let's talk about ... I mean, I really want to get into storytelling and how you approach that, you are losing a home favorite, somebody that kind of blood, sweat, and tears for the organization in DeMar, so I'm sure when you first got the news you were excited, but it's like how do we off board if you will from DeMar and not just close the chapter on what was a really amazing experience with him as well.
[00:10:19.28] Matt: Great question. Big shout out to DeMar though, what a good dude, I mean, an amazing basketball player, underappreciated basketball player in my opinion. And more so because what people don't realize about him too is he's legitimately gotten better at his game every single year that he's been there and it just shows his kind of work ethic. But then like you said, the offset, like how it affects me and my team and my day-to-day is, yeah, we lose a guy who kind of is that face who's willing to do some things and now you get a guy who's really not really focused on off the court.
And it's the truth, man, he's ... And that's not a bad thing, like he takes his job seriously, he loves the hoop, he loves to compete. And social media, sponsorships, all that stuff on the side.
[00:11:02.33] DAVID: And you and I talked about it recently at a Lakers game, it's like the first time the dude shows emotion and laughs on camera he is real killed and meme across social, it's like, well, now he's never going to talk or never show emotion, if we ever had an opportunity.
[00:11:15.22] Matt: No, I mean, exactly, it's like now all of a sudden he's wary of it and everything. And I mean, I have had minimal interaction with him too, which is odd given the nature of what I do. But I understood it, right? And I think you have to be okay with it.
I think an important thing that I learned kind of my first days here as a community manager was I spoke to the Maple Leafs community manager at the time, to just try to get a gauge of what the day-to-day like and how do we figure this out. And essentially what he says the best advice I could give you is pair up and kind of ... not necessary befriend, but kind of with the youngsters as they come up right at you.
Because we have an award-winning show called open gym, an documentary behind the scenes that is easily recognizing and it's excellent, and it's the behind the scenes access that every team really wants and we're lucky to have it. And it started with DeMar and on his draft year, so them, their relationship is he'll do anything for them and they've worked with him since he was a youngster, and the likewise in terms of creating social content and storytelling, I mean, the guys that I came in up with and Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell and [unclear 12:31] Wright, and Fred Vanvleet, these guys they saw me from day one and ultimately that allows me to do more.
[00:12:38.54] DAVID: I think that's a really interesting point, because not enough ... There's not enough people that focus on the like social equity that you have to build with these different athletes in whatever brand you're working with. If you're constantly going up to DeMar or Kyle or Kawhi and saying, "Hey, can you do like an Instagram selfie for me?" Like, at a certain point you're like, dude, get away, get out of my face. And I think picking your spots, but also, I mean, it's overall like a human thing, like relationships, right?
[00:13:06.20] Matt: Yep.
[00:13:07.00] DAVID: Like building those relationships and making sure you're not always asking for something and looking out for them, and building that relationship so when you do need something it's like, "Oh, man, that's the homie, I got you," type deal.
[00:13:16.11] Matt: And man, I couldn't agree with you more, and I'm definitely of that camp. I mean, authenticity, respect, relatability, these are things that I think are paramount to be successful in this job. And I mean, the analytics focus, a crowd probably will scoff at that kind of thing in terms of like relationship building and all that. But I mean, it's the same way with brands, when we're trying to work with our global partnerships team and develop branded content, what I always preach is ... as opposed to just attaching your brand to someone because it's cool and they're popular, like make sure that there's some trust factor or talk to people who know what that person likes and what are their interests are. And ultimately the content will reflect that.
[00:13:59.41] DAVID: Yep, absolutely. So I want to get just to your core belief on how you approach social, I mean, for the Raptors. But I know you really did kind of geek out over the storytelling aspect. So when you look at a season or a week or a game, like what's your core belief when it comes to how to tell a story on social?
[00:14:19.00] Matt: I probably could be a little bit more strategic and plan ahead, and I think that that's something that I understand is important especially when you're dealing with multiple different stakeholders, whether it be global partnerships or internal teams that are looking at trying to build creative and build platforms even if you're merging into your mobile app or what have you. But I kind of ... I still ... I'm trying my absolute best to not turn into the office drone and to really still stay as much as I can around practices, shoot around, road trips, because that's where I get my stories from, that's where I pick up the storylines, and what I will understand will work best.
Because you could get a sponsorship with a player, even if that relates to a brand, but maybe that player and what you're asking them to do that's not their specialty. So the guys, you know what I mean, like there's different athletes who are candid, who are not afraid of the camera, who kind of come up naturally, and you can really ... And as a consumer you can notice that, you notice there's just dollars thrown at somebody and it was just done as a contractual thing versus something that like actually has a proper integration.
[00:15:39.32] DAVID: What's up, guys? What's up with your favorite Raptor, you want to make sure you go down and purchase this card, just like so like not genuine and like ...
[00:15:48.22] Matt: The way to eat this delicious burger.
[00:15:50.27] DAVID: Yeah, exactly.
[00:15:50.56] Matt: Come on.
[00:15:51.18] DAVID: Yeah, it's awful. So I mean, in the NBA and not they call anybody out, but what's like a common mistake you see in the NBA or you see in sports overall that you think more people should pay more attention to?
[00:16:07.31] Matt: How much time you got. I'm a crusty old curmudgeon, so I did a lot of stuff I hate. I mean, NBA Twitter has evolved and there's a lot of good things being done. And don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking poorly on the industry, but I think the one thing that really I don't adhere to and I try to really teach my community manager and the team is there's a couple things, there's an incessant need to feel as though you have to post a post like to flood someone's feed. And if something, and I've always maintained especially in the offseason, just jumping on memes and trends just to do it, just to feel as though it is just ... To me it's spam, and what value does that bring to your fan base and to the people who are trying to interact with your brand ...
[00:16:56.37] DAVID: So you guys didn't post a dinosaur egg or anything on Twitter a couple days ago?
[00:17:00.09] Matt: Nah. I was like, "What are you talking about?" But, yeah, and I think that's the biggest thing that I dislike about the industry is it really has turned into that, is who can quickly come up with something. And I understand the importance of being relevant but at what cost really?
[00:17:15.47] DAVID: Yeah, I agree, I think just trying to hop on that bandwagon of engagement when it doesn't really resonate with your fan base. And we hear that a lot on the show too, just please if you're out there listening, don't do that next time. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it's a perfect synergy between the moment, the pop-culture moment, and what you have going on. But more times than not.
All right, so moving on, I know you mentioned analytics a little earlier on, but in terms of success on social how are you looking at data, how are you using that to kind of push your storylines or kind of your overall strategy as you go throughout the season?
[00:17:51.07] Matt: It's a great question, I think that that's something that we struggle with all the time, trying to read ... and I mean, there's a push now towards any kind of our content and as much as possible being co-branded sponsored, bringing value to the brand, to the business. When it comes to on the flip side to brands that are looking to partner up, I mean, it really is depending on what they view as success whether it's growing they're following socially, whether it's literally just an associative partnership where they understand that their brand wants to get to a level and pair up with the recognition that the NBA team can give them.
And I think all you can do in that sense is listen to really what they do value and then try to cater your content or cater the partnership or the relationship to what they're looking for. It sounds simple but honestly it's so often it's overlooked.
[00:18:47.38] DAVID: Yeah, and the branded content I get that part, as far as organic content like when you look at like a game day and how you approach like telling a story of a game, what metrics are you looking at to say, "You know what? Let's stop doing this quarter update graphic, because it's not working." Like, how are you looking at that? Are you able to take a step back and look at that stuff often?
[00:19:04.28] Matt: I mean, your baseline metrics that these platforms will give you honestly it's a true indicator. And now, not always, like you don't completely abandon it just because it doesn't do as well. Like, what kills me sometimes is when we're looking at content and I'm very proud of like a content series that I came up with or some rich storytelling off the court, and just a picture of Kawhi and Drake does that, right? And it's just you're just like, "Come on, man. This is just killing me inside." But you understand it to a certain element.
But one thing that I wouldn't be surprised is, and we, I've actually been given the green light to go ahead and do it, I don't know if I've got the strength to pull the trigger on it, but essentially it is I could very well see NBA teams kind of cut out live coverage in games. There's so many competing outlets out there and they don't have the rules and regs and they don't have the restrictions that we do as a team. So ultimately why are we trying to compete with them when people can get that content faster and from a different source? So where's our niche? Where do we play, right?
And I think one thing that we have that some of these publications strive and they don't have is that behind-the-scenes access and content to our players, right? So the focus has always been around there, after that it's managing internal relationships, and trying to figure out who can we get at what time so it's relevant, etcetera.
[00:20:42.33] DAVID: Yeah, I struggle with that as well, because I think it's important to tell a different narrative and not just kind of state vanilla with 19 other accounts, like Kawhi with a dunk and here's the quarter update and here's the halftime stats. However, as a Laker fan if I see LeBron dunk from the free-throw line, I'm like refreshing on Twitter the Lakers account like waiting for the highlights. So it's that balance of like being the one-stop shop in a way but also not becoming just this nba.com like stat generator that's just like ... Because back in the day they actually used to do that, used to connect the stat into the Twitter and just had like play-by-play announcements too.
[00:21:18.47] Matt: I know, and what's the point really? Like, and you look at text updates and things like that and what value is that really bringing up? If you're following the game you're following it probably ... you're not necessarily sitting down and saying tonight I'm going to get all my updates from Toronto Raptors Twitter, right? But if we can provide you something different than we will and I think ... Honestly I think the strength in how you stay relevant in with so many competing different [unclear 21:48] is the people you hire, and that's another big thing that I've always profess.
And also something that bothers me a lot is I find too many times people try to copycat and try to be cool and try to be someone they're not. And ultimately if you're a person and you're running this Twitter account as the Toronto Raptors, you obviously have to adhere to what the Toronto Raptors brand and ethos means. But to me I think your personality should come across and be infused in it, and not try to be what's the new buzz trend word. You know what I mean? Like, I mean, listen, there's some things that my community manager says that I have no idea what he means, but the younger Toronto kid and he relates to that Toronto audience and it works.
[00:22:29.48] DAVID: That makes sense. So how does Kawhi help with overall engagement and just your social strategy? I mean, I'm assuming like you said you had a top three player, that's always a tough wrap too, right? Like, yeah, but they have LeBron or, yeah, they have Steph Curry as kind of the excuse of why maybe you're not performing as well as the others. But I mean, you've seen the difference, so has there been just a huge spike and just a lot of excitement around that.
[00:22:57.09] Matt: Listen, it's a good point. I've seen a difference, it still isn't anywhere near those other top tier players and that's largely because they're engaged socially and they do a lot of stuff off the court and Kawhi doesn't. But just his sheer presence has already peaked a lot of coverage and love from the states and from marketing said we were kind of not really getting before.
And I mean, listen, strategically with him is we understand the narrative or we understood the narrative coming into the season, and there was a lot of rumors and hearsay that Kawhi wouldn't come here, he wouldn't play here, it's too cold, all that nonsense was really thrown out, and no one ... And that's the one thing about Kawhi is no one really knows but his camp, right? So anyone who like claim to know what he was thinking was incorrect.
[00:23:50.15] DAVID: There was a lot of sources based on what his uncle was thinking during the whole free agency or the trades. It's crazy.
[00:23:55.43] Matt: Yeah, exactly, right? But what I did realize was ... and from the very start is when we announced and we released that picture of him finally for the first time in Toronto, and he had a hint of a smile, and then the internet melted - I understood right off the bat that just facial expressions in content containing Kawhi is extremely important in how you shape the narrative piece. So we could get a great in-game candid shot or off the court of Kawhi, but if he looks like he's not engaged ...
[00:24:33.34] DAVID: Having fun?
[00:24:35.05] Matt: Yeah, well, then a false narrative can spin all over the place. So we have the power to control that narrative somewhat, and we try to stay cognizant of it.
[00:24:45.20] DAVID: He's such from like that Tim Duncan school of thought. I mean, Duncan ... being a Lakers fan, just all those different matches we had throughout the years, he just never showed an ounce of emotion. Dude drops 50, he hits a game-winner, I mean, just like stone-faced. Same with John Stockton, it was very similar. There's certain dudes that it's like they're zoned in and they're not showing you ... they're not dancing, they're not playing the air guitar like Lance Stephenson.
[00:25:09.43] Matt: Then like you said earlier, man, honestly like I couldn't have been more excited to get a guy like Kawhi and it hurt me, because I really love DeMar and I love how we did and we dealt with each other. But ultimately I was super excited for the basketball side of it, and I understood that it probably was ... it was a down tick on how my day to day would go. But again, the flipside is team performance is probably going to trump all, you could have really candid guys but if you're 12 and 44, how many people are tuning in?
[00:25:43.24] DAVID: Yeah, absolutely. So give me ... I mean, it really is a Toronto being the only team outside the states and obviously NFL is simpler where all their teams are in the state. Give me one pro and one con for not being in the continental United States for the NBA?
[00:26:02.59] Matt: I mean, the cons are endless, just we could have acquired LeBron, Steph, like all of them and somehow still we wouldn't be getting prime time games, and the like, so those are obvious. But I mean, listen, we're not sitting here sulking, we're growing, right? And you've shown in the past five years that we're not just that friendly team up north, we're a team to kind of be reckoned with. So I mean, you could list cons all day. But then the flip side is the pro where you're kind of overlooked, right? And often that kind of breeds a mentality and it fosters an extra edge of competitiveness.
[00:26:46.00] DAVID: And we saw that when you guys made that run to the playoffs. I mean, there's just that underdog mentality. I don't think any fan base showing up outside in the cold, and that really has done that across the league, so you see that difference for sure.
[00:26:59.32] Matt: You should see how cold it is today, man. I don't wants to step outside.
[00:27:02.45] DAVID: One pro I think too is Drake, so how have you used ... as your social audience, is it too much? Do you find a way to use him to your advantage as well when it comes to a huge celebrity that's like just like all about Toronto?
[00:27:17.36] Matt: Listen, absolutely, I think one thing that people can't discount is he's one of the biggest global icons there is, and he's from here, and he is our global ambassador. We work together with him and OBO brand on a lot of stuff. Our welcome Toronto nights, our city edition uniform jerseys, I mean, there'll be a lot of ... Everyone, you know, there'll be a lot of jokes, there'll be a lot of this and that, but I mean, there's no doubt that he's helped elevate the culture in Toronto, he's popularized basketball. And I mean, it's traditionally a hockey town, but Drake has helped to change that. And initially for sure we went overboard on Drake content, because listen, you're tapping into ...
[00:28:04.15] DAVID: It worked.
[00:28:04.56] Matt: Yeah, you're tapping into a lot of different fan bases. And now he's not here as much, but like it's almost like he came in, you laid a foundation, it's strong now and we kind of grow together.
[00:28:17.26] DAVID: Yeah, I mean, think about if the Raptors at the high marketing level, VP of Marketing, it's like what if we partnered with the large celebrity and he kind of is able to bring that coolness factor and that pop culture. Imagine the amount of money that would need to be given to somebody. "Hey, Beyonce. Can you come to the Oklahoma City Thunder game and just like sit courtside and talk about how much you love the city and how big of a fan you are of our top players?" I mean, talk about like just earned media value from a dude that just like is down to just ...
[00:28:47.25] Matt: You want to talk about the ... Everyone is obsessed with influencers these days.
[00:28:50.55] DAVID: I know exactly.
[00:28:51.46] Matt: He's the biggest influencer in the game. And he's naturally a fan of this team, because he's locally here. So, and like I said, that's the biggest thing again when we talk about content, branded content, how do you work with influencers? It just has to be natural, the more natural the better the content and the better form in my opinion.
[00:29:12.17] DAVID: So what's the one thing you wish you could do more with the Raptors?
[00:29:17.56] Matt: One thing I wish I could do more. I'm honestly I'm not full of complaints, I actually I understand that some of the access that we get and our players and our culture are honestly second and none, and people will say that to say that but it's true here in Toronto. And I mean, you look at DeMar for instance and like a guy who when he left he took it hard because he probably envisioned himself being here in the city.
If you come to Toronto and you play hard and you embrace the city, trust me, it'll come back to you tenfold, right? So honestly there's not something that I ... Outside of maybe a couple extra bodies to help ...
[00:29:59.57] DAVID: Yeah, like it's all, yeah.
[00:30:01.06] Matt: Yeah, right? But I'm pretty happy with the situation I'm in.
[00:30:05.34] DAVID: Cool, man. So I want to get into more rapid fire and kind of ask you some questions off the top here. So what's the one social or marketing tool that you use the most that you couldn't live without?
[00:30:17.07] Matt: Like, talking platforms here?
[00:30:23.56] DAVID: Yeah, anything that you use daily that you're just like ... whether it's like a content management system or analytical tool or posting tool?
[00:30:32.00] Matt: Honestly it used to be for me like a long time ago like scheduling TweetDeck would help, and that's something very simple. I'm not in the weeds day-to-day.
[00:30:43.58] DAVID: But we still get a lot of TweetDeck answers to that question for sure.
[00:30:47.21] Matt: Yeah, it's what I remember, right? I get memorable. But I mean, my phone, right? I'd love a new up-to-date phone, there's my answer.
[00:30:56.55] DAVID: All right, so from a Toronto Raptors social perspective, what social platforms seem to be working the best right now or what content seems to be resonating the most right now?
[00:31:06.00] Matt: I mean, no question it's always Instagram. I mean, there's a big push towards Instagram stories and the value and the creativity that you can bring.
[00:31:14.30] DAVID: We need to get sponsored by Instagram by the way. I mean, the same answer, I mean, I know we see it too, but Instagram just I mean a hundred times more interaction for organic than you're getting out of any other platforms.
[00:31:24.53] Matt: Yep, selfishly personally I think I told you this in LA too, I love Twitter, and I'll never not love Twitter. Twitter is what I go to every day; it's my news information source, and also my comedic value when I need it.
[00:31:39.20] DAVID: From like a content standpoint with the Raptors, is there anything right now that's working? And I love to get granular here, like photo carousels or pushing people to IGTV or doing some different cross promotion things, like anything fun or unique that you guys have found like a little nugget that you're using consistently?
[00:31:56.40] Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think it's tough, man. NBA Twitter and there's only so many new things that you could come up with and you can experiment with. So a lot of this stuff no matter what is kind of regurgitated, so it's how you kind of put your own spin on it.
What I really like and enjoy and it's kind of been passed on from myself and to the next community managers is having like little set standards. So I mean, we will visually will appeal to Instagram on halftime by doing like a kind of a three-grid halftime views that encompasses the story of the first half by whoever's playing well with a high quality visual. We do some fun on Twitter, at the end of the game we have a set post where when we win we have the same caption, "Ball game Raps win." And then we have a gift that we use that encompasses our opponent, and whether or not we like to take jabs at them or ... Do you know what I mean? Or their fan base, so that's where we play a little bit and have some fun. Look, there's little things that we mess around with.
[00:33:03.13] DAVID: What inspires you and how do you stay on the cutting edge?
[00:33:07.10] Matt: What inspires me is our players, and their personalities and understanding that they have so much more to themselves than then people realize. I think like we could get beat over the head with daily scrum interviews that literally give us nothing, it's the absolute worst thing you can imagine. And we've tried our best ...
[00:33:31.14] DAVID: Have you ever seen that Steph Curry commercial, like the footlocker commercial and it's like, "What are you kids doing? Like, we're just taking it one game at a time." Like, most athletes don't sound like that. Do you? Like, yes, you do.
[00:33:39.54] Matt: If I admit it, that's the NHL, right?
[00:33:42.00] DAVID: Yeah, robotic.
[00:33:43.21] Matt: Yeah, we interacted with the Maples Leafs account and we kind of threw some old hockey sayings and slogans.
[00:33:49.08] DAVID: Sports clichés, yeah.
[00:33:50.40] Matt: Yeah, because that's what it is. But I mean, I think ...
[00:33:54.20] DAVID: What's your favorite? My favorite is at the end of the day it is what it is, which if you think about that statement that makes absolutely no sense in the human language.
[00:34:01.27] Matt: It is what it is, it's my least favorite sentence of all. I hate it.
[00:34:05.22] DAVID: It doesn't make sense.
[00:34:06.25] Matt: It's like also when you're going to a restaurant and every single time the waiter says cheers, it's like they give you a glass of water, cheers, like no, it's just water, man, or like, hey, do you want extra salt? No. Cheers. No, I don't know, what? Like, are we celebrating myself?
[00:34:22.34] DAVID: Exactly, I agree. So it has I guess in sports is something that I think we all follow and kind of stay on top of, any advice for your fellow SM sports folks that are working in the industry?
[00:34:34.51] Matt: Authenticity, man. I've said it a bunch of times in this podcast, just you have to be yourself, you have to make sure you do your homework and be knowledgeable, and have your finger on the pulse for sure. But be authentic, don't try to be someone you're not, don't try to copycat others. Understand your brand; understand who you're speaking to, man. Like, Toronto, Torontonians as individuals they like certain things so don't deviate because something else is popular, talk to them.
[00:35:04.28] DAVID: Awesome. All right, man, so don't get bad at me when Kawhi leaves this season for the Lakers, but I will say ... I apologize in advance. I always ask this to folks on the podcast, if there's anybody you can recommend in your network that you think would be a good guest to provide value to this audience, is there anybody that comes off the top of your head that you think would be good for us to talk to next?
[00:35:27.29] Matt: It's a great point. I mean, a couple people that I interacted with a lot that I respected within the industry. I don't know if you've chatted with him before, he used to do what I did with the LA Clippers which is Chris Serafino.
[00:35:41.59] DAVID: Yeah, I've heard of him.
[00:35:43.20] Matt: He's a very smart guy, he understands, I mean, listen, he understands social to a T. He left the Clippers now, and he actually came to Toronto for awhile. Yeah, I think he was here at Shopify for a bit. But he's a smart guy, culturally understands a lot in the industry. And he was always someone that I enjoyed once we played the Clippers of team account interaction, because again, he would appreciate banter and would never really like take it too far, so he's a guy I think that would be great for the podcast.
[00:36:17.32] DAVID: Awesome, man. I appreciate that. Well, there it is, man. Any predictions for this season, are you guys going to get to your first finals? What's going on?
[00:36:25.55] Matt: Predictions are dangerous. One thing I'll say is ...
[00:36:30.11] DAVID: Don't jinks it.
[00:36:31.39] Matt: I won't, I won't. It may actually fall under our clichés, but health is key, whoever is healthy and clicking at the right time can determine a lot of different things. So whoever was the best the start of the season in March, in April, doesn't really matter, it's who kind of enters the playoffs clicking on all cylinders and who has a full squad.
[00:36:52.25] DAVID: Well, someone was saying, I think it's Charles Barkley was saying recently on Inside the NBA, like Michael Jordan did not allow Malone and Stockton to win and Reggie Miller to win, and those Knicks teams. They're all amazing teams with Hall of Famers, but Michael was that good. And LeBron in the East, I mean, hurt the Raptors a lot and hurt the Wizards a lot and hurt the Celtics a lot. So now that he's gone there's just this golden opportunity that I think your GM, you guys saw that opportunity, it's like, "All right, let's go get Kawhi and let's like take advantage of this opportunity." Because all it takes is a warrior's injury potentially or just like ... If you're in the finals anything can happen type deal.
[00:37:29.18] Matt: I think we're both happy that LeBron James is not in the East, right?
[00:37:34.59] DAVID: I'll take it. Yeah, all right, there he is, Matt Tierney from the Toronto Raptors. Thanks so much for taking the time, brother? I appreciate it.
[00:37:39.30] Matt: Absolutely. Apologies for all the noise, but it's game day.
[00:37:42.57] DAVID: No worries. I love it, man. Thanks, Matt.
[00:37:44.27] Matt: Take care.
[00:37:50.00] DAVID: All right, episode 26 in the books, Matt Tierney. Good stuff, man. I think one thing that we haven't talked at all, like 26 episodes in, is just the relationship building. So many of you work in sports and work in brands and you have talent that you have to interface with, and I think not enough people understand the relationship building aspect that has to go into that. If you're going to ask somebody for an Instagram selfie or ask somebody to do something for you on social, that can't be the only relationship you have with that talent or that player. You need to be able to build that relationship and ask them how things are going, ask them how their day is, and not always ask, ask, ask. And that's obviously good for any type of situation you're in, but I think specifically in sports.
There's so much that you really need from the players in order to have a cohesive social strategy, so I think it's important to build those relationships and you may build an amazing relationship like he did with DeMar Derozan, you see him exit, so all that social equity kind of goes away and now you kind of have to rebuild that with your next superstar in Kawhi. So I loved how he broke that down because I think that's a really important thing we can all keep top of mind.
All right, it's the business of social podcast powered by STN Digital. Thanks so much for another edition here on episode 26. Thanks to Matt Tierney, thanks to my guys here in the studio, David Frerker, Auntie Lightning, and Will Kelly for all their help on the program. This has been another edition of the business of social powered by STN Digital.