Connect with us

Digital Media

Marathon Managers: Social Teams Reflect on 18-Inning World Series Game

Sue Jo of the Dodgers and Kelsey Doherty of the Red Sox had a lot on their plates in Game 3 of the World Series, which lasted nearly seven and a half hours.

Bailey Knecht

Published

on

World Series - Social Media - Baseball

Game 3 of the 2018 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers lasted a record-breaking 18 innings. Among those who witnessed that epic game in person were the teams’ heads of social media, tweeting through all seven hours and 20 minutes of it.

“You know that everyone stayed up really late — it was 2 a.m. on the East Coast for our fans,” said Kelsey Doherty, digital media manager for the Red Sox. “I tried to acknowledge our fans for staying up late with thank-you tweets, like, ‘We appreciate you,’ and acknowledge that our fans are warriors.”

“I try to keep it fun — you never want fans to log off from social because it’s not fun,” added Sue Jo, the Dodgers’ social media coordinator. “I get that it’s a long game. Nine innings is long, but 18 is a lot longer.”

SEE MORE: Chicago Bulls Strive to Digitally Innovate While Honoring Their Past

Jo — who is in her third season with the team but just her first season running the show — knew she wanted to maintain the social strategy she had leaned on all season.

“We kind of used the strategy we’ve built since I started, which is ‘make you feel like you’re watching with us,’” she said. “The whole point of social is to enjoy everything together, and that’s what my goal was. When we’re doing really well, I tweet a lot of things and post a lot of content. The fanbase gets very excited when something good happens, so I like to be there with them, like a fan, like they are.”

Doherty, who has been with the Red Sox for nearly seven years, said she focuses on a variety of components, both throughout the regular season and the playoffs.

“Our strategy is to provide four things,” she explained. “There’s the sales component — we want to fill seats. There’s the news component — we know we’re not really going to break news regarding trades or signings, but we want to be the official word on that stuff and give score updates. There’s the customer service piece, responding to fans. Finally, the last piece is just an overarching representation of the brand.”

With those strategies in mind, Jo and Doherty provided coverage for Game 3 as they normally would, having no idea that the game would last more than double the time of an average baseball game.

“For me, it was a very long day,” Doherty said with a laugh. “We were all very excited to be on the West Coast and go grab dinner at In-N-Out, but then it was like, ‘Oh, nevermind.’ I had been dreading extras. I was nervous of having to live-tweet extra innings because every pitch matters.”

SEE MORE: How the Seattle Storm Social Team Pulled at Community Heartstrings

Of course, the game did go into extra innings, and according to Jo, not all extra-inning games should be treated the same.

“We were set to win that game, and [the Red Sox] ended up tying it up, so the mood shifted,” she said. “It’s tricky going into extras. If we score to tie it or they tied it up, I try to read the room. If we tied to force extras, the content is different, like rallying the troops. If the other team tied it, I step back a little, let fans cool off and take in what happened.”

Once the game gets into double-digit innings, it’s time to mix things up, Jo explained.

“In the 11th, 12th, 13th innings, it hits weird baseball time, so I was just using GIFs and keeping it fun,” she said. “Hitting the 13th, 14th, 15th innings, at that point it’s really a more intimate way to talk to fans — you’re part of history. It’s not like a regular-season game.”

“I like to ask them questions, like, ‘Hey, are you still with us?’” she added. “Those get the most engagement. I posted on Instagram after the 15th inning, saying, ‘Are you still with us?’ and within 15 to 20 minutes, there were, like, 3,300 comments.”

View this post on Instagram

16th inning. You still with us?

A post shared by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on

Beyond the fact that the game lasted more than seven hours, there were also 14 scoreless innings and only five total runs.

“I used a lot of reaction GIFs,” said Doherty. “It’s one of those things in late innings where it’s kind of fun to have an ‘anything goes’ approach.”

“Fans get frustrated, so it was mostly just rallying the fans, saying, ‘Next inning, we got this,’” Jo said of the scoreless innings. “I got the Rally Ruler GIF out. It was about getting them excited… Really, my main thing with social is talking to the fans and engaging as a friend watching with them. At the end of the day, it’s about putting out the freshest content and great photos and GIFs and video clips, and letting them enjoy that.”

SEE MORE: FanSided Turns to Emojis to Help Differentiate NBA Coverage 

In the extra innings, the game had the chance to end at any moment, so Doherty and Jo had to be ready for anything to happen.

“When we took lead in the 13th, I went down to the tunnel because a certain number of us are allowed on the field afterwards, but I couldn’t see the game, so I had everyone texting me letting know what was going on,” Doherty said. “I was hearing crowd reactions, and realized something wasn’t right, that the Dodgers had tied it up, so I went back to the booth with my tail between my legs, and the game continued.”

Jo also tried to be prepared without actually being able to see the action.

“I would sit down in the photo workroom in the top of the inning and watch the game from there, then head back to the stairwell for the bottom of the inning,” she said. “You don’t know what’s happening, and you just hear the audience based on cheers, but you don’t know what they’re for. At that point, my phone was dying with 10 percent left and I was trying to find someone with chargers and charging in hallways. After I had charged it, I happened to hear the walk-off and everyone cheering.”

Because she couldn’t be watching all of the action, Jo added that she wasn’t even aware that Max Muncy was the player who hit the game-winning homer when she went onto the field to catch the celebration.

“For me, I don’t know who hit it, if it was a base hit or a homer,” she said. “Once I got out there, I had to watch who was hugging who and feel out who hit it. At that point, it’s funny because I just go out and I don’t know what they had done at that play, so I see after when I’m posting highlights. I had just started running onto the field, capturing content.

Live-tweeting from 5 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. isn’t an easy task, but Jo said the excitement of the moment kept her going through all 18 innings.

“It’s great, the adrenaline, and it’s almost second nature to me now,” she said.

Doherty agreed and also mentioned that caffeine played a big role in her night.

“I was just hitting ‘send’ on things at some points,” she said. “The entire postseason is like that. We’re up until 4 or 5 a.m., with hours of posting and team travel. We’re running on pure adrenaline, and you don’t even realize that until after.”

Although the Dodgers won that Game 3, the Red Sox went on the win the World Series. The work wasn’t done for either Jo or Doherty yet, though.

For the Dodgers, there was no celebration at the end of the series, but cordiality was still important on social.

“When we congratulated the Red Sox on social, those are things the Dodgers believe in as an organization and that we stand by,” Jo said. “It was a great series, and we like to congratulate teams. There were negative comments on that, but there were a lot of the positive comments too.”

“This season, we had our backs against the wall a lot, and we grinded it out,” she added. “You see that with fans and letting it unfold on social, those come-from-behind wins. It was awesome to see all of that, and the fans really enjoyed it as much as I did, seeing how far we came this season and that fight in the team.”

For the newly-crowned champions, the opportunities for content were endless.

“It’s finally, this week, slowly dying down,” Doherty said. “I stayed up almost all night after the World Series posting and responding. There was so much content and incredible photos from on the field to the champagne to video clips and highlights and interviews with guys tearing up who love their teammates.”

Once back in Boston, the Red Sox celebrated with a championship parade through the city. Even during the post-win madness, Doherty made it a point for her staff to appreciate the big moment.

“The parade was a beast, but I wanted to make sure we could all enjoy the parade and take it in,” she said. “When else will you have thousands of people cheering at you?”

Bailey Knecht is a Northeastern University graduate and has worked for New Balance, the Boston Bruins and the Northeastern and UMass Lowell athletic departments. She covers media and marketing for Front Office Sports, with an emphasis on women's sports and basketball. She can be contacted at bailey@frntofficesport.com.

Digital Media

Inside the Huddle: Talking Paid Social with Angela Welchert

For Angela Welchert, a social media partnerships lead at IBM, paid social has become an intregral part of her job and the company’s overall strategy.

Front Office Sports

Published

on

angela-welchert-ibm-paid-social

On February 22, a handful of digital media professionals from across the industry will converge on New York City for the first in our Huddle Series. Participants will get the chance to learn from these speakers and grow their knowledge of five specific areas within digital media: paid social, content distribution, platform strategy, monetizing social media, and vertical content.

In the buildup to the event, we’ll be introducing you to the huddle leaders who will be lending their expertise. Today, we begin with Angela Welchert, a social media partnerships lead at IBM. She will be one of the leaders of the huddle “Pay to Play: Executing Better Paid Social Campaigns”.

Welchert describes herself as a professional who does her best work focusing on the bigger picture.

“I like to focus on looking at the grander scheme and really drilling down into opportunities that are executable,” Welchert stated. “Throughout my career, I’ve heavily contributed to driving forward social presence for companies and organizations.  Now leading paid partnerships for IBM, I’m focused on identifying opportunities for us to really optimize social.”

Welchert also describes her current role with IBM as the highlight of her career. Prior to landing that job, Welchert graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where she studied business administration and marketing.

Before moving to New York, Welchert jumped into the world of social marketing at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as a social media strategy consultant. In 2011, Welchert migrated to the Big Apple to become the director of social media at Berkeley College before joining IBM in 2014 as its global social business manager. In 2018, she was promoted to the social media partnerships lead.

“In the first six months or so that I’ve been in this role,” Welchert remarked, “I’ve spent a large portion of my time reevaluating how we’re executing and strategizing when it comes to paid social, which is a very heavy investment for IBM. I pride myself on bringing a multidisciplinary attack to the way we’re approaching paid social.”

Over the course of her career to date, Welchert has become very conscious of the multi-faceted nature of social media marketing. In order for other young professionals to find success in the field and specifically in paid social, she recommends that they do the same.

“Social marketing is both an art and a science. The science side of it with targeting, reporting, and optimizing is important. However, you still need to be very cognizant of the art side of social media when it comes to content creation.”

READ MORE: Front Office Sports Digital Media Huddle Series at Bleacher Report

In her brief time at IBM, Welchert has already made a significant impact for the organization. Specifically, her changes to what platforms the company invests money are paying dividends.

“IBM is a massive company, with over 400,000 employees globally. Sometimes change can be slow moving. So I believe the most impactful thing that I’ve done so far in this role is bring together our leadership team including social, paid media, corporate advertising, and our agency of record to change the way we do paid social.”  Welchert states. “we are now in the process of deep diving into our paid social investments, to create a new process that will better position our paid media teams for success. By doing this, we will see significant cost savings for IBM, but we will also improve the return from our investments.”

Meet Welchert and hear more of her thoughts on the current digital landscape at the Front Office Sports Digital Media Huddle presented by Opendorse in New York on February 22. For tickets and additional info, click here.

Continue Reading

Digital Media

DC United’s Broadcast Deal Could Further Demonstrate Digital Media Potential

FloSports’ broadcast deal with D.C. United exemplifies the company’s mission to raise the profile of sports outside the Big Four leagues.

Published

on

Photo via DC United

A positive in increasing segmentation of sports media could be the corresponding rise in the popularity of sports outside the Big Four.

That’s what digital streaming service FloSports has in mind for a variety of sports, most prominently soccer in the United States. The company recently secured a multi-year agreement with MLS side D.C. United for coverage.

“We’ve always had our eyes on trying to get into soccer,” said Mike Levy, FloSports vice president of global rights acquisition. “Strategically, it really only made sense if we could do it with a really good, smart, strategic direction. We held out until we felt like we found it.”

FloSports started in 2006, largely with wrestling and track and field content.

READ MORE: How Wayne Rooney Added Millions of Additional Brand Value for D.C. United and MLS

Most of D.C. United’s home and away games will be aired on FloFC.com, the provider’s 25th sports vertical. The broadcasts will be in both English and Spanish. Also included in the deal with D.C. United is rights into original D.C. content, like behind-the-scenes programming.

“D.C. United is committed to providing fans with an innovative and high-quality viewing experience for all of their regionally broadcast matches,” said Sam Porter, D.C. United senior vice president. “Our deal with FloSports presents a new and unique opportunity for fans to get behind-the-scenes access to the D.C. United first team … while also providing a world-class broadcast production for viewers.”

Levy said the reason major professional sports have captured the American mindset is because of the previous media efforts and marketing. He said the future of other sports is up to the marketing and media opportunities presented to them — and soccer is in an ideal spot with its global popularity and U.S. youth participation.

Traditional media properties like NBC and FOX provide excellent live soccer coverage, Levy said, but there’s a deeper opportunity with the off-hour programming to explore and become a content destination.

“We believe you have to figure out how to create an emotional connection,” Levy said. “You have to do a lot more than just broadcast live sports. Any given Saturday night, there’s a thousand sporting events to choose from in the linear and digital stratosphere. And that’s just sports; there’s general entertainment and news too.

“All these types steal attention spans. So, we look for opportunities where fans aren’t getting that deep level of attention these sports deserve.”

Levy said FloSports will continue to seek other soccer rights deals to further prove soccer deserves the attention level the other major professional leagues receive from traditional media.

Other sports, along with wrestling and track and field verticals, FloSports has zeroed in on include Brazilian jiu-jitsu, fast-pitch softball, and rugby.

FloSports also has rights in basketball with the Euro League and Australian and German professional leagues and is a large platform for high school hoops.

READ MORE: Immersive Media’s Infancy Creates Industry Opportunities

“We’re looking to expand the international pro game in the U.S.,” Levy said. “Basketball is something we’re excited about.”

Football provides a large challenge as it is dominated by traditional media, but Levy said FloSports is seeking deeper penetration in high school sports, as well as some collegiate opportunities. Levy also said he sees tremendous opportunities in baseball at every level outside of Major League Baseball and currently broadcasts a variety collegiate games.

The proliferation of the internet and streaming services has provided the ability for platforms like FloSports to grab serious viewership in sports that previously saw almost zero coverage, even ESPN’s famous off-hour programming, in the past. Sports fanatics will devour content in their preferred sport if it’s available.

“There’s never been this level of fragmentation with this movement to digital,” Levy said. “Through that, we believe all sorts of sports have the opportunity to rapidly grow them as they get passionate viewers, and we can do our part to feed into it.”

Continue Reading

Digital Media

A Pivot Back From Video Feels Unlikely for Sports Media in 2019

The pivot-to-video experiment produced mix results for some, but don’t bank on sports publishers turning a hopeful gaze toward long-form written content in 2019 and beyond.

Published

on

pivot-video-feels-unlikely

Photo via Unsplash

For the better part of the last few years, sports media outlets shifted a lot of resources from written content to video.

FOX Sports was arguably the most notable example of pivoting to video — and still to this day only publishes video content on its website. Initially, the result of the drastic alteration in content strategy was an 88 percent drop in web traffic.

To further complicate things, it has since come to light that Facebook’s video metrics may not have been completely accurate. Long story short, the trend of the pivot to video was not a successful one for the industry.

This being said, a full transition back to focusing on true long-form written content is not something that many industry professionals see in the cards for the near future.

LISTEN: Addressing the Challenges of Working in Social Media 

“Personally, I remain skeptical that long-form written content will really take off as the primary offering for most major sports publications,” said Jared Kalmus, assistant manager of SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty. “The fact remains that web publications depend on clicks to drive their revenue streams, and the effort and writing talent required to publish long-form content is prohibitive when compared to quick-hit ‘click-bait’ posts.

“The ideal approach is likely to have some type of matrix between long-form features and quick news updates, but this requires a staff expansion for most publications. That’s a big ask as most publications are struggling to even pay their existing talent a living wage.”  

The ease of publishing what are essentially small stories in a series of tweets or other social media posts further complicates things. At least this is how Joe Serpico, a reporter for Fox Sports Radio 1340 AM in the DMV area, sees it.

“It pains me to say this, but I don’t see written publications being any better even with video not taking off as planned,” Serpico said. “That’s mainly because of social media. When breaking news happens, we rush to Twitter and Facebook to get the information. A lot of beat writers give most of the information they’re putting into their story in tweets or Facebook posts. These days, we see writers incorporate tweets into their articles too.

“The video experiment did seem to backfire, but I don’t think it will help written publications be the primary focus again. It is social media that has changed journalism most.”

READ MORE: 3 Predictions for Sports Digital Media in 2019

In talking with other writers throughout the sports space, you’ll find many who share a similar opinion. Creatives with a writing background continue to be unoptimistic about the state of the space, especially with stories like that of former Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy, who published an account last month of his transition to a full-time job delivering packages for Amazon, becoming more and more common.

This is not to say that other types of creatives are doing anything wrong.

The social media space has given rise to a massive number of talented videographers, graphic designers, animators, and so on. It does spark interest about the time we live in as media consumers, however. The space shifted to a massive focus on something, it was a statistical failure, but it doesn’t seem like it’s really going to change things all that much.

Could 2019 prove that feeling wrong? We’ll have to wait and see. 

Continue Reading

Trending