We all know branding isn’t your company name, logo, colors or tag line. Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. This was a key point in Frank Strong’s recent article on Copyblogger, “Why Content Marketing is the New Branding.”
Strong writes: “As marketers, we try to convince customers and prospects to generate content about our brands. In other words, to talk about us.”
When it comes to sports teams (both collegiate and professional) there are few more passionate and engaged brand advocates as fans. While some big brands (like Apple or Google) can boast a pretty avid and engaged customer base, there is still no comparison to the die hard fans of sports teams, who are out there buying gear, tweeting, Facebooking, painting their faces, Instagramming their tailgater and chatting up a storm online about their favorite teams.
A few sports teams have already seen and taken advantage of the opportunity to use user-generated content to help fuel the conversation around their teams – using those fan generated tweets, Instagram shots and more to help market the team, connect with fans, sell tickets and merchandise and build their brand.
Here are a few examples of sports teams and leagues getting it right with social media marketing and using fan-generated content.
University of Oregon – The Quack Cave
The University of Oregon athletic department recently lead the NCAA in social media prowess by launching collegiate athletics’ first social media command center, which they aptly called the Quack Cave.
Powered by Postano’s visual social media monitoring dashboards, the Quack Cave aggregates and displays content from all of the official university social media channels, RSS feeds from the major sports news outlets, player tweets and fan social media posts.
A dedicated tab on the dashboard shows an aggregation of fan-generated tweets and Instagram posts from a list of popular Duck-associated hashtags. The Quack Cave team monitors the fan-generated content during the games and then pushes the best of that content back out to fans via their own dedicated Twitter channel.
The Ducks also use Postano to fuel an interactive fan-centered social media hub on their public facing site, with all of the best content from the Quack Cave.
New Jersey Devils – Mission Control Center
Leading the charge in taking fan interaction and social media to the next level, the New Jersey Devils became the first professional sports teams to develop the concept of a social media command center when they launched their Mission Control Center back in 2011.
Building a social media hub, the Devils selected 25 of their most dedicated online fans and entrusted them to monitor and facilitate the online discussion surrounding the team.
Since launching their Mission Control Center, the Devils have become a model for other teams’ social media hubs (including the Ducks, who in part modeled their program after the Devils) and has won several awards of for being one of the most digitally and socially engaged brands of the year.
Portland Trailblazers – #FindJJ
Center JJ Hickson recently renewed his contract with the Portland Trailblazers for the upcoming season and was looking for a way to connect with his new fanbase in the Rose City. Enter his creative social media campaign called #FindJJ (pulled off by the guys at the agency The Shyft), in which JJ would tweet out clues to his location around the city and the first fans to find him would score a pair of tickets to the Lakers game.
The #FindJJ campaign then used Postano to aggregate all of the tweets and Instagram photos with the hashtag and display them on his website – showing off all of the happy fans who had managed to track him down, win tickets and take their photo with the basketball star.