As part of our active membership of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Social Media Council, it’s our duty to discuss, debate and disclose details and information about the issues facing the industry today.
Effective immediately, we’ll be contributing a monthly column to the IAB UK Social blog pages and that kicks off today with this blog post covering off the ASA’s new remit, Tiger Woods’ sponsorship with Nike and acceptance of modern day commercially arranged endorsements.
You’re forgiven if you don’t stick around for the whole thing; although compelling, if you’re no boxing fan then I doubt you’ll be that intrigued.
But, what amazes me is that HBO managed to get these two men in the same room for that amount of time. The ‘Face Off’ series is – to my surprise – nothing new. HBO have been pulling this off for some time now, but the best part is they’ve been posting them up on YouTube.
At the time of writing the video only has 302 views but, with the world lining up to watch potentially the biggest fight of the year (and in spite of it weighing in at a hefty 12minutes), there is huge huge viral potential here. HBO have, unlike many other US-based media owners, allowed the clip to not only be embedded but also to be seen outside of the United States. With two weeks to go between now and the first ring of that bell, the build up is only just beginning and this video will fly.
“You don’t make a viral video, you can merely set the conditions and hope that something goes viral.”
HBO have a history of being fairly savvy online, their Twitter presences stretch far and wide and happily interact. One quick glance at the @HBOBoxing stream and you can see not only conversations with the fans, but also RTs of their content as well as that of their other flagship shows such as Game of Thrones.
This kind of social media integration cross-channel and cross-platform is exactly the kind of thing media producers, globally, should be implementing right now. HBO are clearly leading the way and one can only wonder what they might have lined up on Fight Night to help manage the huge global audience tuning in to watch Haye take on Klitschko.
It may seem silly to point it out, if you’re reading this you may even think that it goes without saying but – just in case – if you’re seriously lining up something for that ad space – like Yeo Valley before – do yourself a favour and think about social.
It’s a new month and so we embark upon a new theme of conversation for 1000heads.com.
For April, we’ll be sporadically focusing on all things Retail and, as resident sporty-head here at 1000heads HQ, I’ve taken it upon myself to apply some of my usual sports-based thinking to that of the retail world.
Ready? Here we go –
Let’s look at sports teams. Each and every one of them, no matter the sport, all look to make the most of their home games throughout their respective seasons; the increased support, the familiarity of the surroundings, as well as benefiting from the negative factors affecting the opposing away team – all combine to make the home advantage a very real and tangible asset.
The events themselves will provide attendees with a customized training program, as well as expert training and guided weekly runs on Wednesday evenings. On top of that, guests will get to enjoy complimentary shoe trials, weekly tech sessions and post-run training refreshments, all leading up to the Boston Marathon. Nike created five branded events, with topics ranging from utilising Nike+ technology to keep track of your runs, race day preparation, to developing different stride patterns and working out which one works best for you.
Even though Nike doesn’t have an official relationship with the Boston Marathon, it’s clearly not letting this stop it getting involved with people’s preparation for the big event. And with an event such as a marathon the preparation is the most important part, the ‘on the day’ involvement is minimal, and not likely to have much of an impact on the people taking part.
But by providing social reasons for people to come to the store – above and beyond being a customer – Nike are creating more opportunities for people to have an immersive experience, and benefit from a deeper level of engagement with the brand, the staff, its products and the store itself.
Here at 1000heads we’re always preaching to our clients that every touch point of their business has the potential to be social and conversational, thus making them a potential source of brand advocacy, retail included. Obviously it helps that NikeTown stores are so impressive, but there is definitely something to be learnt for all brands which have a retail presence.
Retail stores are not just a sales channel, a queue for the tills or a scrum for the best bargain. Retail locations can be far, far more than that, and can provide you with a reason to turn the customer into a true brand advocate.
“Radio was put on the map by the abdication of King Edward in 1936, 17 years later TV was put on the map by the coronation, and the Olympics is going to do for digital, what the coronation did for TV and the abdication did for radio. This is going to be the digital Olympics and it’s going to cause people to flock to the BBC’s digital output like never before.”
“We’ll be offering every minute of the games live and on demand with social media laced throughout this. We’ll be reporting on what the athletes are saying, we’ll be guiding the audience to the athletes, we’ll be reporting on what the organisers are saying, we’ll be carrying our content out there into the social media space, we’ll be listening to what our audience have to say about the Olympics and we’ll use what our audience say in our reporting.”
“Digital will be at the heart of what the BBC does around the Olympics, and social media will be at the heart of digital.”
Those quotes are taken from an interview I conducted on Monday with the Editor of the BBC Sport website, Lewis Wiltshire. It’s a fairly big ambition as you can no doubt understand.
However, from a broadcast (and interactive) perspective, the BBC are well ahead of the game. Which is a shame as the rest of the sporting world has a long way to go before they can even begin to match the Beeb’s innovative appetite for digital engagement. Allow me to explain –
As resident ‘sporty head’ here at 1000heads, it’s down to me to keep abreast of the latest and greatest developments across this particular category and the one thing that has always left me frustrated is that the ‘industry’ (if I can call it that) as a whole, seems to lag behind the rest of the commercial world when it comes to practically anything social media related.
But what Lewis’ quote above shows is that sports brands, bodies, athletes and personalities are all going to have to step up their social game pretty sharpish, or simply get left behind as the sporting digital revolution takes hold and flies past quicker than Usain Bolt running for his next bucket of nuggets.
With journalists now using quotes direct from athletes’ Twitter feeds, YouTube clips increasingly making it into sports reports, and sports stars also increasingly taking hold of their own content, companies with a vested interest in the biggest sporting event in the world need to have their social media and digital activations plans in place and planned in depth before the opening ceremony.
The dominating feature of sport and social media currently is that of an uncoordinated mess of tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook fan pages, blogs and foursquare check ins. What the industry needs is some strategy – some order to this madness.
From our perspective here at the ‘heads, this means effective social signposting (directing people to the right places), the streamlining of social presences and ensuring that the right content is in the right places.
All of these things (and many more) are going to be key in the upcoming months. Brands and sports bodies need to mould the habits of their fans and followers now so that once the games hit, they can make themselves heard above all the noise.
“It’s just not the same anymore. It wasn’t like this in my day, players were real people and you’d meet them in the pub after cheering them on from the stands”
Hey there, my name’s Joe Weston and I’m an account manager looking after all things sport-focused here at 1000heads. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how sport (football in this case) can really benefit from the use of social media.
If you’re a young(ish) football fan, you’ll have heard the above quote common complaint from the previous generation who followed football when it was played by real men; when tackling hard was allowed, diving was a completely different sport, and the closest thing you got to a neck warmer was a halftime whisky.
But, all clichés apart, the point that’s being made (and it’s a point which is made by a very large number of fans) is a valid one. Over the last 20 years in particular, the divide between the player and the fan has grown to an almost catastrophic size. Catastrophic in the sense that football is close to losing a whole generation of fans who have fallen out of love with the game (a generation it should be noted which have not only the disposable cash available for merchandise and match day tickets, but also the word of mouth influence to inspire the next generation of fans). If you want proof, just say the three words ‘Premier league footballer’ to anyone over 50 and see what their response is – trust me, it wont be positive!
But let’s take that first quote and look at in more depth – in particular “players were real people”. This clearly hasn’t changed; footballers still talk, sleep, fart, sneeze, cry, laugh and moan about the weather like we all do (even if they do get paid £200,000 per week). But why has this perception been allowed to happen when we have the tools to stop it?
This is where social media comes in.
Social media is about breaking down boundaries, providing a human face; it’s the personal touch, an insight into what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s everything that allows you to connect with people and brands on a personal level. Brands have grabbed this opportunity as a wave of savvy marketers have realised the opportunities available to them, but sports teams are lagging way behind.
At the Social Media Week ‘Sport and Social Media’ event I attended last week, I was struck by a number of things. The first thing was how such basic, almost rudimentary social media tactics and implementations can have the most unbelievable results. None of the presentations provided any ground-breaking, boundary pushing social strategies, and I certainly didn’t leave thinking that these are the social innovators of our time. But I did leave thinking, “Bloody hell those results are phenomenal!”
The audience is clearly there; over 4 million people like Chelsea FC on Facebook and it’s growing by the tens of thousands a day.
But the second thing I left with is that teams aren’t doing enough. Why aren’t there more footballers on twitter? There are a few notable examples – @rioferdy5,@cesc4official and @kevindaviesbwfc of course, but they are the exception to the rule. It’s also clear that these are players who have decided to do it off their own backs, but why aren’t more clubs demanding that their players are on Twitter?
Just look at the success of Rio Ferdinand [aforementioned @rioferdy5]; it’s simply phenomenal, at 529,000 followers and counting. OK, it may not be the same as having a pint with him down the pub after the game, but I do know that he is a big fan of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, I know what music he’s listening to (even if it is in his Bentley), I even know when he arrives at training.
In short, I get to feel like he’s a human again.
That is why there is so much more to be done in this field. One club (however much it pains me to say as an avid Man United fan) that does seem to have picked this up and run with it is Arsenal, who claim to have up to 20 professional players active on Twitter. They have clearly encouraged their players to get involved and get active, and this is reflected in the results that the club is having in the social media arena.
So, what would I like to see?
More clubs encouraging their players to embrace social media channels, that’s what. Focusing on the most popular first – Facebook and Twitter. Obviously they can’t just let them roam free on these channels as there are obviously dangers; clubs need to set out strict social media guidelines for their players to adhere to.
There have been a couple of high profile mistakes made by footballers (@ryanbabel got fined by the FA for posting a mocked up picture of top ref Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after perceived bias in a match) so guidelines need to be in place.
But by setting out parameters, agreed topics and even providing social media training, football clubs can make a real difference to their fans and followers. Clubs always state that they want to bring their fans closer to the action and make the club have more of an impact with its own fans, giving them rewarding experiences; some simple social media steps can make a huge impact.
If any clubs out there want to get in contact and ask us any questions about setting out strategies for social media then do please get in touch – we’d be happy to hear from you.
The incident in question has seen the man mountain Shaq ‘dissing’ Orlando’s ace Dwight Howard. The taunts, that included this gem, are not really the reason Ben has decided to discuss the barney, instead focussing on how Twitter is changing the media landscape for those at the top in the world of sport.
Citing examples that include Lance Armstrong announcing the birth of his son via the micro-blogging tool, Ben sees the ‘direct line of communication’ Twitter offers as a major factor in its pervasiveness,
“Shaq, who is not one to shy away from practically anything, has embraced this new line of communication to let his thoughts and feelings be known, and the same goes for dozens of other sports figures. From Mark Cuban (basketball) to Shaun White (skateboarding), the allure of direct communication has helped spur Twitter adoption.”
Of course what is missing here is the third party, what is (or even was) mainstream media. No longer does a sports star with an opinion need to be quoted to reach millions; he can simply do it himself – which, if you like your sporting heroes unmediated, is a brave new world…