This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration.
By Chase McCaskill, @itsmechase
What is the key to successful digital content?
For Scott Sandalow, Content Manager for FC Bayern Munchen, content is more encompassing than social media. Social as is it is commonly referred, is just a drop in an all-encompassing bucket known as content.
Sandalow described content as, “Anything that our fans would appreciate. This can come in a physical, digital or emotional package. I don’t care where it comes from or who creates it. As long as it can make an experience for our fans better, I’m happy to package and share it.”
To understand Sandalow’s key to truly successful digital content, knowing his background is paramount. Sandalow’s love for digital media comes from a passion for marketing. While earning a degree in marketing from Columbia gave him core knowledge of the marketing space, it was his on-the-ground experience that truly shaped his understanding of the marketing/digital intersection.
Want more great content like this? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter!
Interacting with consumers for 12 years while volunteering for the Chicago Marathon and working as a promotions intern at CBS Radio taught him the consumer mentality. However, Sandalow was very strategic in designing his career path.
Facebook arose to popularity around the time that he was graduating high school. Recognizing the potential held by the relatively new social platform, Sandalow created a ‘Facebook Group’ for his favorite English soccer team: Leeds United.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, the group that started in 2005 would rise to be the largest Leeds United supporters group on Facebook and serve as the catalyst for Sandalow’s social media affinity.
“The rise of social aligned perfectly with the core functions of marketing. I took the basic tools of marketing and combined that with my inherent passion for social as it essentially began with my age group," said Sandalow. "I always tell classrooms that you are the subject matter experts on social media. The people who can naturally manage their own social accounts are the ones who will do well at it for a living.”
Social media being so native to his age group allowed Sandalow to approach the social space differently than most of his colleagues. After a few different stops doing digital media with teams like Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls in July, 2016, Sandalow landed at Bayern Munich as the Content Manager for their United States platform.
While the avenues and distribution for social content has evolved throughout Sandalow’s career, he has adapted with the changing social environment.
“The most important thing someone told me 10 years ago is this: the medium and the [social] platforms are going to change, but as long as you have good ideas and create great content, the rest will follow.”
This idea of ‘great content’ comes directly from a consumer. Sandalow pays close attention to what drives the passion behind the Bayern supporters because he believes his role calls him to be a Bayern supporter himself.
“Be able to find the voice of your audience. Especially with sports fans, they are so passionate and able to see through someone who doesn’t care as much as they do," added Sandalow, who has been in is role for Bayern for almost a year. "What I try to do is match the fan’s passion because, as someone who works in sports, I believe we owe it to them to care as much as they do.”
This is a uniquely refreshing way to view sports business. Oftentimes the front office is unjustly ridiculed for only looking to increase revenue, sometimes seemingly at the expense of the fans. Social media can be wrongly pegged as ‘just another channel for advertising revenue.’ For Bayern Munich US, their focus is not on selling tickets, but to sell affinity and a connection towards the club: an investment that illustrates the club’s appreciation for its international fans.
“I see too many teams and brands with social media hard sells that actually push people away because they treat fans as customers and products. We are just trying to treat our fans as people with whom to share this wonderful club. I want to return the favor [of their support] with content they will appreciate instead of trying to sell to them all the time.”
As social media is an ever-evolving space, Sandalow recognizes the importance of staying current on the latest social trends and the ‘lingo’ being used. There is no amount of research that can really be done to learn the interests of a certain age demographic other than directly engaging with them on social. Sandalow dedicates time to engage with fans of all ages, which gives him an idea of what the consumer expects.
Sandalow confessed, “It’s already happened to me, I have tried to make references that I thought were cool references that just aren’t anymore. There are core marketing principals that a content manager can guide over all the networks of digital content, but I think in terms of fingers on keyboards, you’d be crazy to not consult people of that age group.”
This targeted approach to knowing and understanding the content consumers’ desire shows the direction Sandalow sees the digital market heading.
“I think [the industry] is going to get a lot more targeted in how they’re managing social. I think we’re going to see people who are specifically dedicated to [managing] an Instagram or Facebook.”
With an increased emphasis on creating content targeting a specific age group, staying on top of pop culture trends becomes increasingly important. For Sandalow, this is as important as anything within the digital space.
“Know a little bit about a lot because you never know what could make a connection to your team.”
However, merely having a wide knowledge of trends within pop culture is not enough. The real value is being able to apply and intertwine those trends into the fabric of your content. The ability to take something seemingly unrelated, such as music or pop culture and tether that to your team makes for an exceptional content manager.
So to answer the question – “What is the key to successful digital content?” Empathy.
“Know a little about a lot and a lot about what you love.”