By Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
Welcome to another week of the Social Media Seven, your weekly home for notable tweets, posts, facts, articles, and social media strategies in the world of sports. Thanks for joining us!
1) University of Michigan Athletics (NCAA)
The University of Michigan, home to one of the most storied programs in college sports, understandably has a passionate following. Often, it is said that, with great power, comes great responsibility. This rings true for strong brands on social media and in sports as well. With Michigan set to announce a partnership, they are taking an innovative approach to their marketing strategy. As seen above, the program's Twitter account announced that it will be going private for one hour, on Sunday, 7/31, from 7 to 8 pm. This unconventional method has turned many heads in the industry, as this tactic is truly something out of the box. While some may scorn them for excluding the public, this strategy helps Michigan create a relationship of "exclusivity" with its followers, while growing them in number as well. It also allows the athletics program a window to promote its strongest brand messages, content and information when followers are increasingly tuned in for that hour. Not only does this increase overall engagement, but also helps Michigan's positioning as an elite program. It should be noted that this may not be successful with smaller, local programs or teams that do not have as passionate a following, whereas the Wolverines are able to funnel a huge audience into a concentrated one hour time slot.
2) Colorado Rapids and New York City FC (MLS)
The two MLS squads, at the top of their respective conferences, encountered a rain delay during their match at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, leaving plenty of idle time for the teams (and social media staffs) while the thunderstorms passed. Instead of the usual round-up of the match so far, the teams took a unique approach in passing the time: tic-tac-toe. This light-hearted approach was fun to follow along, providing both fanbases a little entertainment. The use of emojis for tic-tac-toe, as well as the teams respective color schemes (burgundy is close enough to red) as markers is pretty clever, and it went over pretty well with the fans. Rain delay shenanigans have become popular in the past few years, with teams squaring off in dance-offs, jousting, and much more. While they aren't the first teams to have social media fun during these breaks, they certainly put the time to good use. Engaging fans during a game is easy, with play-by-play updates, highlights, GIFs, and more. Keeping followers interested when there is a lull is a challenge, and both teams performed admirably. Also of note, NYCFC, an expansion club in only its second MLS season, has 250.7K followers on Twitter, second behind only 5-time MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy, as of 7/30/16. They're doing something right, that's for sure.
3) Fresno Grizzlies/Fresno Tacos (MiLB)
Never heard of the Fresno Grizzlies (Tacos)? I don't blame you. However, the Houston Astros minor league affiliate is slowly making a name for itself, with its unorthodox, over-the-top marketing strategy. First, following the unfortunate Chris Sale situation (if you haven't heard, he took scissors to the White Sox throwback uniforms so he didn't have to wear them), the team had some fun at his expense. Fans love good-natured sarcasm and banter from their team. This tweet garnered national attention, huge for a minor league professional team. Known for their bold (to put it nicely) uniform choices, the Grizzlies have become that 'cool' team. Many followers, especially younger ones, appreciate the funny antics and persona around the organization. This carries over on Tuesday evenings, where they celebrate #TacoTuesday, and for a game in August, where the team re-brands as the Fresno Tacos for a night. Having some fun with their marketing strategy is what gets the public talking about a small team in Fresno, and even serves as a merchandise and attendance boost. Now, does anyone want that Taco hat?
4) Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
The Dallas Mavericks introduced their new Facebook messenger tool, Mav Bot, paving the way for more responsive content for fans and introducing a whole new way of interacting with the organization. Many business have begun programming Facebook messenger to notify customers on order statuses and provide an interactive help/FAQ option. However, Dallas is taking the next step, adding more functionality to the system and thus giving fans more access at their fingertips. In addition, the use of this Mav Bot will increase fan engagement, both in terms of quantity and duration, which are essential aspects in strengthening a brand's power for customers. It is said that the longer someone interacts with a brand or organization and its message, the more personal the relationship begins. It is smart for Dallas to invest in a tool that hopefully allows its fans to invest more (financially and emotionally) with the Mavericks. It will be interesting to see if/when other teams follow suit, and how they adapt the strategy to their own markets.
5) Team of the Week: Cleveland Indians (MLB)
The Cleveland Indians are having a tremendous season to date in the American League's Central division, and they continued their hot streak on social media this past week. When the scoreboard at Target Field in Minnesota mistakenly displayed a trade, with the Indians supposedly acquiring Yankees slugger Carlos Beltran, social media was all over it. Naturally, Cleveland also had to have its fun with a division rival. A funny thank you was the first of many digs at the expense of the Twins, which fans got a kick out of. They followed this up with a tweet the following night, where they poked fun on their own left field scoreboard at Progressive Field. In addition, the social media staff played with the team's Twitter bio every day, clearly enjoying the extra attention and putting it to good use. For a smaller market club that isn't a perennial MLB powerhouse, the Indians' marketing plan must be creative to reach those additional, casual fans and appeal to the younger demographic. So far, so good. In only a couple days, the team has added over 1,200 followers on Twitter. Their hashtag, #WINdians, may be a little corny, but it has proven to be effective for the first place ball club, garnering over 1.8 million impressions, according to Keyhole. I recommend scrolling through the team's Twitter timeline to see how well the account is run, with the engaging content they are producing and overall atmosphere they are trying to create around the organization.
6) Must-Read Article: User Auth: Attributes of authentic influencer partnerships
Our very own President, Russell Wilde Jr., put together a fantastic read on user authenticity and influencer marketing. He provides valuable insight into how, at Thuzio, they analyze three key elements before engaging in any influencer marketing. Read how this can often lead to increased brand exposure and overall campaign success! Be sure to check it out HERE.
7) Fact of the Week: NBA.com
“Since the NBA joined Twitter in 2009, the league has built the largest Twitter community of any sports league in the world with more than 22 million followers. The NBA recently became the first organization to surpass 2 billion loops on Vine and, since joining the platform during The Finals 2013, the NBA has built Vine’s largest community among all sports leagues, team and players, with more than 1.8 million followers.”