By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
It's that time again! Welcome to a new edition of the Social Media Seven! This week we'll cover new features, statistics, and some incredible video and graphic work that will surely turn your head. Let's get started!
1. Recruiting: Florida State Seminoles
Florida State has enjoyed prolonged success in college football in recent memory, as year in and year out the program boasts some of the country's best talent. Much of this success is attributed to successful recruitment, which begins with a strong brand. FSU has become an elite program not only with its on-field success, but efforts that, among other things, include social media. Capitalizing on tradition, fantastic coaching and facilities, and professional successes of alumni is definitely a large part, but in this new age of commitment and social presence, social media has become a strong play as well. The Seminoles rate as one of the best programs in strengthening what I call their "cool factor" on social, with consistent updates on players, performance history, off-field service, and more. Their Twitter shares important facts about the program, coaching staff, and tendencies that make the program look attractive to players on both sides of the ball. Think of the 14 year-old kid that wants to play college football. Seeing facts about FSU's big-play offense or the legacy of student-athlete success under the coach is sure to be a strong swaying point, as will as being inspired by seeing the former 'Noles that are living out their dreams in the NFL. The graphics are strong and have that 'wow' factor, while staying true to the FSU brand. Lastly, I'd like to give two thumbs up to the decision of posting about the philosophy of a player's success. "You make the helmet, the helmet doesn't make you" is such an empowering statement that gives potential recruits the confidence in their self-worth and setting the mindset of hard work to justify excellence. What a great message to be spreading on social.
2. Live Video: Twitter Live vs. Instagram Stories Live
The future of live streaming video on social media took another leap forward this week as both Twitter and Instagram released new features onto their platforms. Twitter rolled out its integration with the former Periscope app, where users can now share live video through a tweet and then have the clip archived in the post when it is revisited or seen by others at a later point. This offers Twitter fans a lot more flexibility in sharing instantaneously, the core premise along with brevity when the platform was initially launched. Instead of recording on another platform and then having to post separately, or encountering issues with file length or size, live video offers the ability to share instantly and without hesitation. This new feature may have implications linked to on-field reporting and celebrations, pre and post game conferences, and other in-the-moment perspectives that may need to be captured. Think of this as an alternative to tweeting Vines (RIP) or streaming separately and annoyingly through Periscope.
Instagram's live video feature also appears to be pushing the scope of content being shared to in the present. While Twitter's promotional video seemed more refined, Instagram was clearly targeting the younger demographic of users, wanting them to share more and share often. There seems to be a greater level of engagement with these Instagram story live videos, with more engaging comments and likes. It will be interesting to see how teams use this function now at their disposal, as Instagram stories are still being developed content-wise and haven't been fully adapted by many teams on social as of yet. Will we see a shift in live content to Instagram, where images and videos already reign supreme? How will live video content differ between the two platforms, along with the existing Facebook Live set up? 2017 is already shaping up to be an innovative year in social media sports!
3. Did You Know?
While mostly everyone can agree that social media has become a focal point of sports marketing, the platform of choice always comes into question. Is Facebook and its large user base still king? Has Snapchat stolen away our eyes and attention spans? Will Instagram dominate the visual-content industry? Or is Twitter engagement the name of the game? There are a ton of questions, and no right answers necessarily. Each team has the ability to shape its own social strategy, after understanding the demographics of its fan base and followers, and developing what kind of brand image they want to portray. It is interesting to read just how close Instagram and Snapchat are in popularity with the younger demographic, and that can be challenging for programs and teams to choose from. Nonetheless, content that is lighter, funnier, and trendier should be focused on these platforms. Facebook still maintains a high usage rate, and thus cannot be overlooked. These other social media platforms have a lot to offer, but in terms of reach, especially with a typically older fan age range, there is no fighting Facebook in engagement. Keep these statistics in mind when you are considering a social media strategy for 2017!
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks put together an amazing video this week, serving a multitude of purposes. The trailer for the mock movie suggests that baseball is actually all around us, touching everything we do and everyone we know. The video does a great job promoting the sport itself, making baseball feel like more than just a game. It truly is a lifestyle, as a part of our everyday lives. It also builds a sense of brand loyalty to the organization, as fans realize their ties to the D-Backs and how they personally connect to the team they call their own. In addition, there is baseball to be played in just a few months, and it's never too early to start promoting for the new season. The video shares a confidence that better things are yet to come, as people are concurrently thinking the same thing as the new year quickly approaches. The video, in the end, aligns itself with followers on numerous different levels, and the layers of retrospection, nostalgia, excitement, and more all combine to make this into a strong production. Content like this is what I enjoy the most about social media sports, because it reminds me why I love the game so much and why I feel a certain way about my favorite team. It brings out a smile on my face along with a happy wave of memories, something that we hope is synonymous with the holiday season. Well done, Arizona!
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Even with college football starting its bowl season, it's already reached a point where programs are also beginning to look towards next year. With that comes schedule releases, and many schools have broken out their respective creative geniuses for the job. One that stands out in particular is from Oklahoma, where the Sooners' social media team really brought the boom. Sharp, clean, and distinct graphic work that is the perfect balance of information and design. The colors are true to OU, and the schedule pops on any timeline. I love the execution of the graphic and how it doesn't over-do anything, which is a trap that many programs fall into. Beautifully done.
6. MLS Expansion: Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC
It's not every day that a professional sports league gets to add a franchise to their existing system. For Major League Soccer, the league's tremendous growth continues this offseason, with the expansion and inclusion of two new clubs, Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC. Aside from a lack of creativity in naming, the two organizations have hit the ground running in different ways, building a roster and developing a fanbase prior to kickoff. For Minnesota, the team is building on its existing NASL infrastructure, adding talent through the league's acquisition mechanisms and pushing forward with a stadium plan. This new stadium looks beautiful in renderings, and there is a ton to be excited about. The Loons, as they're nicknamed, broke ground at the site this week, and did well to capture the excitement behind the project. Giving fans a feeling that it's their own home, one distinctly community-oriented and so "Minnesota", is invaluable, and the social media team put together two distinctly different but effective videos highlighting aspects of the project and big day. They also put together a really cool introductory highlight video for each of their signings and Expansion Draft picks, with can be seen above. Atlanta, on the other hand, is building from scratch, not having any semblance of a team even a year ago. They've made tremendous strides in acquiring exciting young talent from overseas, and branding the club successfully in the city, having sold somewhere over 25,000 season tickets. In previous weeks, they've had strong graphic design work announcing their new signings. Putting together a quick 30 second recap video of the Expansion Draft was a smart idea for fans that may not understand the process but get the information they need in a short, efficient manner while also seeing the in-person perspective instead of reading a press release. Good strategy!
7. #SportsBizTips: Atlanta Braves
For all of the aspiring sports business professionals out there, myself included, it's good to step back and reflect once in awhile. Take the holiday season and the new year to evaluate where you are, what you are willing to sacrifice, and where your dreams and aspirations lie. Continue tweaking that roadmap to success. A special shoutout to the Atlanta Braves for spreading some knowledge about the industry and how to get your shot. Like they said, money isn't everything, especially in the beginning. Experience is. Keep working hard and playing your part, and good things will come. Wishing everyone the best of luck as we pursue our passions.
Thanks for joining us for another edition of the Social Media Seven! Enjoy the excitement of the fast approaching holiday season and spend some time with your loved ones!
Parth Shah is a second year marketing and finance student at Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business in Boston, MA. He has a strong passion for social media and digital marketing, as well as a love of sports, which is parlayed into the weekly Social Media Seven. He hopes to pursue a career in sports business, and understands that learning and growing every day is the key to continue moving forward. Outside of the industry, Parth has enjoyed holding many leadership positions, from community service opportunities to high school sports teams to within his fraternity, and is the author of Motivation: A High School Student's Guide to Success.