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

NASCAR’s Rebranded Content Production Team Working Wonders

Seven months ago, NASCAR’s executives merged the creative, design, editorial, social media and NASCAR Productions crew into one team, with one goal in mind.

Kraig Doremus

Published

on

nascar-content-social-team

Restructuring NASCAR’s content production has made huge dividends for the sport thus far thanks to influencers like GoldYeller and The Flippist. Image courtesy of NASCAR.

Seven months ago, NASCAR’s executives merged the creative, design, editorial, social media and NASCAR Productions crew into one team with one goal. The goal? Figure out ways to best share resources and content with fans.

“We brought together 65 people,” said Evan Parker, vice president for content strategy. “We have a strong team of creators, all with different talents like graphics, scripts, longform writing and social media videos. There’s less debating on what to create and more creating happening.”

The move has already begun to pay dividends with the February debut of Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon on FS1. The documentary, which covered the rivalry between Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon, was released on February 14, the Thursday before the Daytona 500. It made for a natural timing opportunity, given the two drivers’ many battles at the track.

READ MORE: A Look at the New Foundation of Richmond Raceway’s Ticket Sales

But it also made for a huge early test for the redesigned team, which they passed with flying colors. According to Parker, the documentary drew the highest rating for a feature in FS1’s history. Collaboration was a major reason why. NASCAR’s design team handled all graphics and clips, while out-of-network personalities ranging from Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to ESPN’s Ryan McGee and Marty Smith. Then there was in-house, Emmy-award-winning NASCAR Productions team, who provide the flexibility to shoot top-quality work at the drop of a hat

“We can simply fire up a camera and go,” said Parker. “We have camera operators, editors and writers ready to work. The hardest part of determining what to create is finding a balance between what we have to do and taking a creative risk.”

Now, with the team newly unified, the NASCAR crew has shifted their focus to engaging current fans while seeking out new ones.

“We want to reach fans who have attitudes and interest on the upswing about NASCAR,” said Pete Jung, vice president of brand marketing for NASCAR. “With new fans, especially young adults and Hispanics on the rise, we understand that they are an important part of our future. We want to be younger and more diverse.”

One way to reach those new fans is through a social media strategy that leans on connection far more than volume.

“Our social media focus is on engagement,” Parker said. “We’re not as worried about impressions this year but rather getting our fans to engage with the content. We’re creating content that is shareable and that fans want to have a dialogue about.”

The dialogue is important for the NASCAR social team and has been enhanced through influencers like GoldYeller and the Flippist. GoldYeller created five stop-motion Lego videos leading up to the Daytona 500, including one about Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s iconic 1998 victory, which came in his 20th attempt and was his lone triumph in the Great American Race.

The Flippist, meanwhile, created a custom, animated flipbook that also featured Earnhardt’s 1998 win, along with Austin Dillion’s 2018 triumph.

READ MORE: How Two Top Brands Market Products Via Partnership With NASCAR

“Not only are we seeing great social media engagement, but we’ve seen lots of growth in our priority markets,” said Jung. “We want to extend our reach to our target audience.”

As for the future, while coy on the details, Parker couldn’t hold back his excitement.

“We’ve got a binder full of documentaries and other unique projects,” he said. “We’ve got a goal to engage and find new fans and just a few weeks into the season, it has paid dividends as we’re creating content that gets people talking. Having a unified team has truly paid dividends.”

Continue Reading

Digital Media

Here to Stay: Generation Z’s Impact On Sports Content Strategy

Shorter attention spans, wider viewing ranges and a penchant for influencers. Here’s how the next generation consumes sports.

Avatar

Published

on

generation-z-sports

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Generation Z is already impacting modern culture and that’s unlikely to change.

The generation, born after 1997, will make up 40 percent of consumers by 2020 and already has a direct spending impact of $143 billion dollars. A recent panel at South by Southwest discussed strategies to capture their attention, as well as how Gen Z will radically shift the way content is distributed. 

“They’re going to be huge,” said Kathleen Grace, CEO of the production studio New Form. “They’re coming for us, and it’s pretty cool. They consume differently than any other generation.”

READ MORE: Bleacher Report Is Focused on the Second Generation of Social Media

The under-22 demographic consumes more than 3.5 hours of video daily, a majority of which is on mobile devices, according to Dude Perfect Chief Business Officer Jeff Toney. Much of the video is consumed in short snippets and by brand influencers connecting with the audience, a strategy that cultivates a special trust as well as offering plenty of engagement for those content creators nimble enough to stay ahead of the curve.

“You can’t become predictable,” Toney said. “One unfortunate thing is the generation is a little ADD, ‘Entertain me now if, I don’t like it, I have 1,000 other options to be distracted with.’ … The challenge is between continuing something that is popular and doubling down on what works, but, in parallel, introducing fresh, new concepts to continue to engage the audience.”

The impact on sports is yet to be fully felt, but it’s coming, said John West, founder of Whistle, a sports and entertainment media brand.

“The young generation is redefining sports; less watching on TV, less attending live traditional sports,” West said. “They’re still followers, but on social and they’re able to follow niche, non-traditional sports.”

That surge in non-traditional sports activity is driven by direct involvement  The proliferation of digital media allows participatory sports to reach more people looking to try and improve instead of passively watching elite athletes. Activities such as CrossFit and rock climbing benefit from improved exposure, which in turn can help spur participation numbers. But West, who has three children in Generation Z, said he often sees them outside recreating videos they see on platforms like Dude Perfect, from there they film it, edit it and add music before sharing and challenging their peers.

“To us, sports has been defined by leagues,” Toney said. “Traditionally, it’s only a select few who can compete on the professional level. But people who don’t have those inherent genes are competitive and like to compete with friends.”

Advertising consumption habits are beginning to change with those content shifts.

A Nielsen study found the demographic has an 86 percent recall rate of products, suggesting massive potential for stickiness. But according to West, Generation Z is also more likely to find content when it’s shared by a friend and allows them to engage directly. It’s incumbent platforms to provide the influencers and creators to establish genuine and authentic relationships with their key audience, which Generation Z users feel they can trust more.

“This generation views social influences and creators as their new celebrities,” West said. “There’s a relationship that can be developed that is tough to develop with LeBron James and Tom Brady.”

To that end, Toney said it’s important for creators to give users a view behind the curtain to get to know them better. For sports teams, in particular, that means showcasing its athletes away from competition. By and large, Generation Z cares far more about the name on the back of the jersey than the front. “When I was growing up, I’d follow the Detroit Tigers, doesn’t matter who’s on the team,” Toney said. “Nowadays, you’re not following a sport, you’re following a player because they fall in love with the personalities.”

READ MORE: How 3 Prospects Grew Their Personal Brands off the Field Before the NFL Combine

West said that despite how much older generations want to believe the social influence won’t stick, he doesn’t expect this media model to go anywhere.

“It’s amazing to me in traditional media and sports, they’re still skeptical the influencer is a fad,” he said. “We don’t see any data that when a 24-year-old turns 25, they un-wire. The habits they’re forming now are generational shifts that grow up with them.

“Embracing the power of social entertainers and the brands they’ve built organically is step one.”

It’s up to sports media to adapt accordingly.

Continue Reading

Digital Media

Big Ten Network Elevating Digital Game During Conference Tournament

The Big Ten Network will leverage its contributor network to increase social content during this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

Avatar

Published

on

big-ten-march-madness

Photo Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament starts Wednesday in Chicago and digital will be the name of the game. It’s the second year BTN has exclusive rights to the first 10 games of the tournament, and Jordan Maleh, BTN senior director of digital marketing and communications, wants to make sure the network is optimizing its reach, not only for those with access to the Big Ten Network but non-viewers, too.

“Live events are our core business and we’re thinking year-over-year, how do we adapt to digital?” Maleh said. “In terms of elevating and impact, the plate has become a little more full. So from our end, it’s knowing how we complement the events and games and understand how to maximize our rights.”

BTN has long featured school-specific social handles to push school-specific content and while those follower counts are lower than the mother ship BTN accounts, the engagement is increased because of how rapid school fan bases can be, Maleh said.

That’s especially true when the social content leverages the tournament broadcast rights.

READ MORE: Pac-12 Network Grows Viewership Thanks to Cross-Platform Integration

BTN uses third-party editing company WSC to cut and post highlights across social media. Those highlights are sponsored by State Farm, while Gatorade-sponsored vignettes of iconic Big Ten Tournament moments will be pushed across the channels. All the while, on-air talent from BTN will be synced with the Opendorse platform and push video from their personal handles.

But the most ambitious part of the digital strategy revolves around BTN’s multiplatform video/producer, or MVPE program, which will feature seven videographers creating custom content for each of the 14 school-specific accounts.

“From our end, a unique angle different from other networks is the content we break down to school-specific,” he said. “That’s where you get every highlight and every piece of content for that school. That’s where you see Tom Izzo and Cassius Winston walking into United Center or celebrate if they cut down the net.”

MVPE began last year with three pilot schools — Michigan State University, Penn State University and University of Minnesota — to best maximize the network’s rights and provide more comprehensive digital content. The MVPE program was partly modeled after the NFL’s Live Content Correspondents program but adjusted for BTN’s school campus model. The network embeds the freelancer with the athletic department and provides equipment, ranging from laptops and cameras to GoPros to capture exclusive content.

“From our end, we never had a presence onsite,” Maleh said. “We want to make mobile-first content as fast and the most efficient we can. This is day of, hour of and minutes after.”

It’s worked, in a big way: This year, the program expanded to include seven total schools to prove its sustainability and profitability, with the intent to eventually cover all 14 schools. According to Maleh, MVPE coverage included approximately 55 percent football and men’s basketball and 45 percent Olympic sports.

“That’s a huge value add for the schools,” he said. “A lot of departments might not have the bandwidth to cover, so that’s where we come into play.”

The Big Ten Tournament will be a departure for the program as the seven correspondents are all in Chicago producing for each Big Ten school which will expand the depth of digital coverage of the tournament, Maleh said.

The Big Ten Tournament MVPE content will be presented by Yahoo! Sports, and Maleh is excited about the program’s future. The first year, it generated 4 million video views. This year, that number soared to 26 million. The 2,987 social posts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter generated more than 97 million impressions. Between impressions and views, sponsorship buy-in can ultimately help the model remain sustainable, Maleh said.

“We want to be a scalable content consumption model,” he said. “There is growth, extreme growth, and with our future goal of all 14 schools, that’s scalable and that’s an interest for us.”

READ MORE: How the NFL LCC Program Brings Fans ‘As Close As They Can Get’

Maleh hopes the program is something other conference networks might model initiatives on, continuing the network’s innovation pattern. It would only be natural, given the Big Ten Network’s legacy as a pioneering brand on television.

“We take pride in being the first collegiate conference network,” he said.  “As a benchmark, we do compare against the landscape of other conference networks, but from an innovation standpoint, we like to be the first network to do X.

“We like to be first in the space. We have been and hope to continue to be.”

Continue Reading

Trending