Sports Day at Social Media Week (LA)

I attended a number of panels, presentations and parties this week at Social Media Week in Los Angeles, one of 13 cities worldwide hosting the event. Tuesday included a number of sports related sessions. I took sketchy notes and am writing from an even sketchier memory. None of what I heard was an earth shaking revelation, but there were nuggets. Essentially, no one really knows where social media is heading, but there are a lot of smart people trying to figure it out. This may be of no interest at all to you, but if it is, I hope the following is worth a glance.

10 AM - Keynote - Jeff Berman, top dog.

Jeff was very funny but also very sharp. To an audience of @ 100, he gave a brisk 30-minute presentation with, as he noted, 130 slides. His background was in law and politics, but eventually he ended up at the NFL after having been at Myspace. He noted the advantage he has over most social media folk - a huge, rabid fan base.

After the jump, Berman's Nine Principles and more panels.

  1. SMO > SEO. Social Media is more important than search engines.
  2. How do we convert fans up a level - from casual to active, active to rabid, etc? Target and personalize content.
  3. Badging = personal branding = value to the NFL. He was a skeptic but has been convinced about badges (which he went over quickly and I don't know exactly what he meant - I think it's when you earn a virtual emblem/title etc.)
  4. "Like" on FB has been very successful for the NFL; but he always makes sure a post also has a "call to action" to increase engagement beyond just clicking "like."
  5. Set big goals.
  6. If we bat 1.000 in social media we are not doing our job (because there are so many huge unknowns in any five year plan).
  7. Test. Measure. Optimize. Repeat.
  8. A good plan now > A perfect plan in a week
  9. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
10:30 - Moderator and four panelists (MLB, NHL's SM Agent, USC, AEG: Kings/Galaxy)
Lots of agreement among these guys (there were only a few female panelists all day). Basically, their main goal is not to monetize their content but to build the brand - and do this by priming the pump to get and keep fans talking among themselves.
USC - our QB has twice the followers as we do; we promote the individual athletes. We use football's popularity to leverage interest in our other 20 sports.
Content - best use is the exclusive access we provide because no one else can do that.
MLB - now has someone live tweeting from every game.
NHL's #1 viral video last year was not hockey action - it was Tom Hanks and wife on Kiss Cam at a Kings' game.
Have to carve out areas and cooperate with partners (television, etc.) as well as league itself and franchises.
They do get $ by incorporating sponsors into their social media - but really only want to do it if there is an organic way to do it that is not forced in. But what is the $ value of a "like," anyway? Service your fan first, your sponsor second.
Legal departments at the league vs. timeliness online - a constant tension.
Two years ago, the NHL asked the social media agency for all Facebook posts six months in advance - that's how little they understood social media at the time.
Noon - Disruptive Tech is Changing Ticketing and Scalping
Really didn't talk about scalping at all. There were only @ 30 people at this one, which had a moderator and five speakers from the following: - Provide clients a way to sell tickets directly to their audience - Like Kayak does for travel, it searches for lowest price on tickets across the web Tickemaster - You may have heard of them - Like Priceline - you blind bid for tickets - We finally had our first woman speaker. Emails deals and packages to membership list.
Things are moving fast in this area; Ticketmaster two years ago had two employees working on mobile device ticketing, now they have thirty.
Letting people know that an event is happening is Job One. Social media is great for that. Affordability is the biggest problem - everything is keyed to the rabid fans who will pay any price, not to the casual fan who might like to go to an event (and make it sold out) but not if they have to fork over a lot of $.
Social media is a tool to solve problems and to improve event experience.
Some are giving $ rewards to people who share event info. Some are set up so that group paying is possible - you don't have to front the money for your 12 pals for whom you are buying the tix.
One guy suggested to a bar owner who complained that every Sunday people came in, sat down all day long to watch NFL but only bought two beers that he sell season tickets to the best seats in the bar - which he did!
Afternoon - Brand and Brand: Nokia and Burton Snowboards
50 of us saw a moderator and two guys (one each from Nokia and Burton) discuss their partnership as a case study.
The teaming began three years ago to promote a new phone but has expanded. Nokia gives $ and Lumias to the best rookies at Burton snowboarding events. They are working now on an app together.
Nokia - we wanted to appeal to a younger demographic, but were wary of being "the dad at the disco." Burton - we were late to social media but use it a lot now; Nokia was in early, since they are a tech firm.
Nokia - Not into paying celebrities to endorse product (except in India, where it is a very common and productive practice). Burton likes to give them gear to use and wear and be seeing doing so, but doesn't pay them. Only want to have it used authentically by stars who like to do outdoorsy stuff, not because it's another paycheck.
Nokia - Fighting a battle here in the USA with the bigger phone brands, but has the advantage of innovation: first wireless charging, Lumia phone cameras, etc.
Burton - Twitter is mainly used to service customers' questions and problems, very useful in that regard.
Burton (and this was said all day, from the NFL on) - it's amazing and thrilling to see how excited people get when Burton retweets or responds to them publicly on twitter.
Finally, Burton showed (at a party) their newest version of their annual snowboard movie, "13," which they wanted to make extra special because the "B" in Burton looks like a "13." It's gotten great response. It's much easier to get people to see the films now via online as opposed to the days of DVD or VHS or theaters. They did debut it in NYC a week ago.
Here's the trailer along with a list of cities in which it will be shown.
I'll be happy to answer any questions in the comments, though I may have exhausted my retention with the 1200+ words above...

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