Keeping social media “Real”



This story today from Fox News brought to light the not-so-secret practice of sponsors using their athlete’s social media channels to share a message.  It’s a tactic that I’ve used with athlete marketing partners in the past in order to share news about an onsite event promotion or to try and drive website traffic or social media chatter around an online promotion.  It’s great when it works – just about any celebrity is going to generate more positive buzz than just about any brand can get on their own online.  However, it can also feel forced and inauthentic if not handled properly.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when drafting what we refer to as a “Social Media Run-of-Show”:

1.  Encourage Collaboration:  Look at the big picture for all of the potential celebrities, sponsors and partners that may get involved in your social media outreach activity.  At a NASCAR event, for instance, that includes not just the brand, the track and the driver, but also the crew chief, pit crew members, team owners and associate sponsors.  You can generate a lot more traction by keeping everyone informed and getting everyone involved.  And, frankly, a partner re-tweeting a brand message can feel a lot more real than an original post that may be out of context.

2.  Suggest Messaging, Don’t Dictate Language:  While it’s much easier for everyone to follow a script, social media messaging can often come off as just that.  Whenever possible, take the time to explain the strategy behind your campaign to the relevant partners and spokespeople that you’re coordinating with, and let them craft the messaging in their own words.  Especially with athletes, posting a message in the voice of the sponsor feels fake.  Telling the story in their own words feels real.  It’s a balancing act for sure, but one worth considering for the sake of authenticity and a stronger connection to the fan.  Speaking of the fans . . .

3.  Invite Fans to Participate:  A social media promotion is really designed to generate buzz.  And that means two-way communication.  Invite fans to share a message, and reward them for doing so.  As a sponsor, re-circulate their content, surprise them with rewards for posting relevant content, and give them ways to get involved through live events (a Tweet-Up with other fans, Celebrity Meet-and-Greets and social scavenger hunts, just to provide a few examples).  Making them feel part of the promotion can really help extend your social reach.

Remember, the key to successful social media campaigns is to create an aura of authenticity.  Keep that in mind when working with athletes or other celebrities.

What are some of the most authentic athlete/sponsor social media campaigns you’ve seen?



The 1984 Olympics, and the Invention of Sports Sponsorship



Minor hand surgery this week makes it tough to type.  So thanks Grantland for bailing me out with today’s Olympic blog post.  Hard to imagine there was ever a time when corporations didn’t vie to be “the official whatever of insert big event here”.  But only 30 years ago it seemed like a long shot.  Good read for anyone interested in sports, marketing, LA or any combination of the above.

My connection to the LA games?  My cousin, Joel Rubinstein was Peter Ueberroth’s right-hand marketing wizard, and ended up following him to Major League Baseball.  I’ll never forget being a teenager on the field at Oriole games when he was in Baltimore, and my annual shipment of the Red book and Green book well before all the same information was available to anyone with a computer.

(Speaking of Olympics, has Shawn White not heard the story of Samson?  Never cut your hair before a big event.  Never.)

Good Times in the Big Smooth



The New Orleans Pelicans today announced a new partnership where the former New Orleans Arena will henceforth be called the “Smoothie King Center” (or at least for the next 10 years, budgets permitting).  This is a big deal for the team and for the city, and follows last year’s renaming of the iconic Superdome as the Mercedes Benz Superdome.  Not coincidentally, both deals were made in years that the city was hosting big events – last year’s Super Bowl in the dome, this year’s NBA All-Star Game in the arena.

From a fan standpoint, while “Smoothie King Center” may not be as compelling as “Madison Square Garden”, I’m sure the Pellies fans will come up with a number of great nicknames for the building.  Personally, I’m pushing the “Big Smooth”, but could also see the “Mixing Bowl”.  I’m sure you all can come up with your own ideas.  But the brand name itself doesn’t immediately make me feel that this is the home of an NBA-Championship Caliber team.

Of course, it’s still probably better than the KFC Yum! Center, the home of the Louisville Cardinals.  One of the more interesting things about that building is that Papa Johns has a sponsorship with the school, meaning that the pizza stands go two ways.  Signage can be flipped for Cardinal games to sell Papa Johns, but Pizza Hut (a Yum! brand) for everything else.  How’s that for baking your pizza and eating it too?

What’s your favorite (and least-favorite) sponsored stadium name?


Twitter and the Super Bowl


I often talk with clients and prospects about ways to grow their social media following. And one of the first questions I ask them is “How are you leveraging your other marketing channels to do so?”

I find that most organizations haven’t really thought about it that way. Maybe they include twitter or Facebook icons on their ads. Or, include a clever hashtag. But, any promotion using social media tends to live in an isolated social universe. Let’s promote a Facebook sweepstakes on Facebook! Well, sure you can do that. And Facebook makes it easy to target ads to parties who may be interested. But, why not think more broadly?

Which is why I found Esurance’s use of their Super Bowl ad so interesting. They decided to promote a twitter sweepstakes to the broadest audience possible – the Super Bowl. In a spot that ran just after the game ended (probably saving them some significant money while still reaching a huge audience), they promoted a chance to win $1.5 million just for posting a hashtag.

Now, whether this exposure is a good business decision for Esurance I can’t say, as I’m not privy to their inside strategy. However, it’s certainly a creative way to enhance their social media exposure using television to do so.