Sports Geek Podcast Presented by SEAT ConferenceWow EPISODE 10, we’ve hit double figures for Sports Geek Podcast.  Thanks for the support on this podcast we catch up with Russell Scibetti from to discuss sports business and more specifically sports CRM.  Russell will be presenting at SEAT Conference and announce SEAT Conference the presenting partner of the Sports Geek Podcast. We look at Twitter takeovers and how to handle Facebook moderation on your brand or team Facebook page.

More specifically, in this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • How Twitter creates a shared experience for fans
  • How a 19 year old cricketer shows Facebook is a player for viral content
  • Why email is still king in sports
  • The other “MoneyBall” how analytics is changing the business side of sports
  • Who is the Godfather of CRM?
  • Why Twitter takeovers are a bad idea
  • What to watch for if you run a Twitter takeover
  • Why you need a conversation plan for Twitter especially
  • How to determine what to do with Facebook comments in foreign languages
  • Options for dealing with poor or abusive Facebook comments

SEAT Conference - August 4th-8th in Kansas City

Presenting Partner of Sports Geek Podcast
Resources from the episode

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Episode 10. Double Figures of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode we’ll talk to Russell Scibetti from about the growth of sports CRM; take a look at Twitter takeovers; and also, how to best handle feedback on your team or brand’s Facebook page.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast. The podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host, who’s reading your Tweets right now, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. Thanks again for downloading and listening. Ten episodes of the Sports Geek Podcast. Thank you very much for the support so far. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the feedback and the stats.

Just to give you a bit of insight, we’ve had over 2,500 downloads from around the globe. As far as our top episodes go, James Royer with Episode 1, from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s still tops the charts. Followed close behind is Episode 5, with Nick Truelson from the Bulldogs, and Dan Pinne from the Storm. And Episode 4, with George Rose from the Manly Sea Eagles and Chris Zeppenfield from the Bobcats rounds out the top three.

With over 39 countries downloading, really appreciate all the feedback and support. As you know from last week’s episode, we’re proud to have the SEAT Conference on board as presenting partner of the Sports Geek Podcast, so please check out the killer line up that Christine and Chris have put together for the conference in Kansas City from August 4 – 7. You can go to I look forward to seeing you there, as well as Christine and all my mates from the SEAT Conference.

One person you will see there is our guest that was on ABC Grandstand this week. Russell Scibetti, from came on to chat about the World of Sports business, but especially his area of expertise, CRM. The initial discussion here on ABC Grandstand, Francis and I talk about the Ashes and some of the current topics surrounding the Ashes. One being whether a player should walk or not walk, as far as Stuart Broad nicking the ball but deciding to stand his ground, and not deciding to walk and not let the umpire make the decision. And also, the fervor that the fans around Australia were watching the game when Ashton Agar started making runs as the number 11. Kudos for Russell Scibetti for joining in the conversation without any knowledge of cricket whatsoever.

Francis: Sean Callanan’s with us now, our sports guru when it comes to digital media, still in moon boot and crutches.

Sean: I’d quite love the option to walk, or not walk, Francis. I’d love the option. At the moment it’s hobble, or fall over. So yes, he should have walked. That’s my stance anyway.

Francis: We’ve had Australian batsmen haven’t done it in the past, so I guess the wheel turns for all. Interesting times in the world of digital media. The fascinating thing was Friday night. I spoke to someone about this yesterday. In the past when an event like the Ashton Agar thing happened we’d be able to presume or feel what was happening on the other side of the experience. When Australia collapsed we’d previously gone on, we could imagine how English fans are feeling, and how delighted they are. With Twitter and social media, you can read and interact and get a real sense of the level of energy and excitement, and all the sort of bitterness of losing those wickets. It all converges at once and becomes very real. When that turned around and Ashton Agar started to compile his innings and #11 started to trend across the country, it was this extraordinary coming together, a sort of collective and shared event watching this young man become a sporting icon in the space of three hours.

Sean: Definitely, it does make sport a great experience. I have heard people say that Twitter has saved live TV. But for me, live sport has actually saved and made Twitter what it is. That’s what that whole Ashton Agar, the fact that he on debut has his own hashtag, if you will.

It’s not just Twitter. I don’t know if you’ve checked out the Sir Ashton Agar Facebook page? It had 47,000 likes by the next morning. There was a bit of that shared experience. People who weren’t on Twitter were posting similar stuff on Facebook. It does provide that shared experience when you’re tuning into sport and it allows you to connect with pretty much anyone around the world.

Francis: Particularly, previously in the pre-digital age, the shared experience was the crowd. You’d go to the games and you’d share it live or on television. It was sort of solitary experience. You don’t have to be there necessarily anymore to have that experience.

Sean: Well that’s true and that’s a challenge for those who want to fill those stadiums. To say the experience you’re having at home, one that hopefully you have your high definition TV and the coverage, and then you’ve got your stats by your side, you’ve got your tablet running where you can be having chats with your friends, whether it be Twitter or Facebook or whatever. The beer is cheaper, all of those kind of things. That’s the compelling argument against going to the game.

Obviously we can’t all get on a plane and go to England, but even for a local game. The game might be down the road at EMCG. There are people that’d say, ‘well, it’s more comfortable and the experience is better.’ That’s the challenge for people who are trying to sell tickets and fill stadiums.

Francis: Indeed. The better we get at watching the games at home, the more difficult it gets to sell the games for the clubs and the organizations involved in putting it on.

Sean: It does become a challenge to actually get more of the facilities that we expect and we like to consume a spot with at the stadium. We’ve talked about that before, about being able to have the ability to Tweet or check the stats, so joining that conversation while you’re at the game.

I actually agree with Mark Cuban. When I’m at a game, I’m invested in that game. I might check in at the stadium, I’ll take a shot and put it on Instagram, but I’m not going to have a backwards and forwards and ask people what they’re thinking because I’ll use the old fashioned means of listening to the radio, to get the commentary on the extra part of the game.

There is that fan that is growing up as a digital native, that, that’s how they expect to consume their content. They’re not a radio listener, they’re no listening to broadcasts, they’re listening to their Twitter feed or their Facebook feed.

Francis: So the increasingly, quickly changing dynamic of what you call CRM.

Sean: Exactly, and CRM, which is Customer Relations Management, and I believe we have got a good friend of mine from the business of sports, Russell Scibetti. He runs and knows a lot about the side of CRM and what teams are doing it. Are you there Russell?

Francis: G’Day Russell.

Russell: I’m here, how you guys doing?

Francis: Really well, we were just talking before, it was a Cricket experience for us the other night, but it was an organic one where the whole nation sort of stopped down. And even though we couldn’t be at Trent Bridge in Nottingham to watch the game, had this collective experience watching Australia and England play a test match in Cricket. It just was a little snapshot of how being a fan, and how to service those fans, has changed so dramatically.

Russell: Absolutely, there’s been a huge shift in the sports marketplace over the last few years. A big part of it is the incredible at home experience you have. Whether that’s through the televisions or through social engagement, with all these wonderful social media tools or just so many general entertainment options. Also, the economy changing over the past few years. On the team side, on the ticket sales side, it’s definitely had an impact and that’s one of the reasons why teams have had to make significant investments into what Sean mentioned, CRM, Customer Relations Management.

The more the teams can collect information about their fans and can customize the communications and options available for them, the more they’re going to be able to still bring them into the stadium to experience a live event and generate ticket revenue, as well as still provide that social experience for the people that still choose to stay home.

Sean: I did read an article during the week which just solidified pretty much everything I’ve been thinking and CRM completely backs this up. It runs live talk about social and monetizing social, but email is still the way to go when you want to sell something. Everything that you’re seeing in the CRM space, and in the sports and ticket sales space, would absolutely back that up, wouldn’t it Russell?

Russell: Absolutely, social is wonderful, but the challenge to monetize social can actually drive a lot of people out of the conversation. Some people just want to interact with the team. They’re not looking for the ticket messages, or the merchandise messages. Granted, sometimes that will work, but email is still the best way to generate direct revenue, both for single game sales and small packages.

In particular, it’s also a great tool for identifying leads for bigger ticket sales. So if you teams can integrate their email marketing into their CRM it lets them . . . You send out a ticket email to your season tickets, to your prospects, the people that are clicking on that email and visiting your pages, they’re self-selecting themselves as potential ticket buyers. You put that information in front of your sales team, it’s a great way for them to identify the best prospects for larger ticket purchases.

Francis: How do you find that balance between remaining in a fan relationship with people who love your club or your franchise and them not feeling like they just been hit on like a cold call, door-to-door salesman who’s coming to collect the cash?

Russell: A lot of that comes down to the training of the staff. All different teams, they’re going to be calling on a wide range of fans and the conversations, some are going to be really obvious right away that they’re not interested in ticket purchases. If you have a well trained staff, you can still have a great conversation because you’re still talking to someone who’s working for the team. They’re inside, oftentimes they might have meetings with the key operations, so they have a really great perspective on what the club is doing. Well trained staff can even enhance a relationship with a non-ticket buyer when they’re on the phone.

It’s all about making sure all of your conversations and communications with your fans are engaging and rewarding and listening to the fans. And then, a trained staff member will also share that information inside your CRM, so that way if that name comes up again, you can see the information about those past conversations and maybe you don’t go into a hard ticket sale, maybe you take that person off your call list this time and you just send them an email. The more you learn about what your fans like, the more you can decide when to communicate to them, or how to communicate to them.

Sean: Russell, I was actually lucky enough, I’ve known Russell for a few years online, I was lucky enough to catch him in person last year at SEAT. At the SEAT Conference this year in Kansas City, you’re running a . . . you want to tell us a little bit about your session? You sent me an email about Paul Greenburg. Do you want to tell me a little bit about Paul and what you’re hoping to get out of the session?

Russell: Absolutely, I’m really looking forward to it. That session and to the whole conference. Paul is actually casually known as the Godfather of CRM. He’s been doing this for a wide range of industries and vendors over the past 20 years. I’ve gotten to know him over the last couple years through LinkedIn and emails. He was gracious enough to come out.

Sports teams have really only jumped into the CRM space heavily over the last five/six years, but there’s a lot that we can learn from non-sports organizations. Things like travel, hotels, casinos, grocery stores. So he is going to be able to bring that experience he’s had across multiple industries and give us a great opportunity to learn from those industries and also to ask him questions about the evolution of CRM. Paul is really tapped into the transition from traditional CRM to social CRM, where you’re having to get out of your database and get into a different social channel, and how you can get them to talk to each other. I think it’s going to be a great session.

Francis: Russell, thanks for talking to us. You’ll see Sean over there, hopefully he’ll be able to walk into the SEAT Conference.

Sean: I’ll be resting against a bar somewhere at the SEAT Conference with the moon boot on. It won’t be hard to find me.

Francis: He’s on the DL at the moment. G’Day Russell.

Russell: All right, take care guys. Thanks for having me. See you in Kansas City Sean.

Sean: Cheers.

Francis: Russell Scibetti there, talking to us from

DJ Joel: Like the Sports Geek Podcast? Find us on

Sean: Thanks again to Russell Scibetti for joining us. You can check out his website, Like I said in the interview, I’ve known Russell for a long time online. Definitely worth following his blog, and his Tweets @Scibetti. I’ll have all the links in the show notes.

Definitely looking forward to his session at SEAT with Paul Greenburg. Anyone who’s termed, the Godfather of CRM is definitely worth checking out. Check out the full agenda for SEAT. SportsGeekHQ/SEAT2013.

This week what I wanted to do, was look at a few things that have been happening in the sports digital space. One of those that seems to be getting a little more momentum is Twitter Takeovers. Normally, just to describe to you the mechanic of Twitter Takeovers, it’s normally where a celebrity, or an athlete will effectively take over a Twitter account and provide answers and respond to fans directly on your Twitter account.

For myself, I’m not a big fan of them at all. I’ll tell you why. For the first point, Twitter is transient by nature, so you don’t read every single Tweet. People aren’t always on board and watching Tweets, depending on what time you might do it. The first thing is, that people might catch your Twitter stream mid-Twitter Takeover, and not quite know why it’s definitely presenting a different voice, which it will do if you’ve given over the reins of your account to someone completely different. The poppy nature, you’ve missed the first five Tweets that set up the Twitter Takeover and then you’re just confused.

The other thing is about the voice. You’ve spent a couple of years now, developing a consistent voice, and a consistent way for responding to Tweets and responding to fans. By doing a Twitter Takeover, that can become quite jarring. You really should have a conversation planned, so there is a bit of guidance for people who are running your Twitter account. Hopefully you do have one talented individual that is running the account. But there might be a case where they might tear an Achilles, or leave, and you want to provide a smooth transition from one person providing you the Tweets to another.

You might have multiple people running the Twitter account, so you must have a conversation plan of sorts. We’ve transitioned a few teams and a few staff members who are running accounts for teams and it’s really important to have that conversation plan. A Twitter Takeover to a certain degree, veers away from that plan, because you’re using a completely different voice.

The other feedback that we’ve seen from fans from Twitter Takeovers is that it clogs the timeline. You might be very keen, it might be a half hour thing to do, but fans start complaining that there’s too many Tweets in their timeline from a particular account. It’s something you’ve got to be aware of whether you’re doing a Twitter Takeover or anything. You’ve got to be weary of how many Tweets is enough. Because not every fan is going to be following hundreds and hundreds of accounts. They might only be following a small amount of accounts.

We’ve actually found that with some of the studies that we’ve done with some of the teams, a lot of fans will stop after they follow the team, followed all the athletes for a team, and followed a few celebrities and that’s it. So if one of those accounts starts over Tweeting a little bit, there’s a chance that you’ll upset them and you might get an unfollow.

My main beef with Twitter Takeovers, especially when there’s a quite capable athlete or celebrity that is on Twitter. They really should be following the motto of Twitter, which is, “join the conversation,” and they should be doing this activity as themselves. It definitely provides the authenticity. That’s why Twitter has gone through creating verified accounts. The fans know it’s them. There is a little bit of lack of authenticity, especially if you’re running a Twitter Takeover and you haven’t provided photographic proof. How are the fans to know that it is player X, or a celebrity doing the Tweeting?

I’ve seen a few accounts run a Twitter Takeover and all they’ve done is said, “Hey, it’s so and so running the account now,” and there really isn’t any proof for the fans to know that that is the case. So if you’re going to run one, you want to make sure it’s really obvious to the fans that they are talking to them. And if you are going to run one, you have to be very consistent with the Tweets that are coming through.

I did see one recently with the AFL, ran one with Carmichael Hunt, part of multicultural round and because Carmichael was Tweeting, he pretty much said, “Sorry guys, I’ve got to go, the Mrs. says we have to go shopping.” Some fans picked it up and saw it thinking that oh, the AFL tweeted on the wrong account. Now kudos to the guys at the AFL and Dan, who’s a former Sports Geeker, he did go through and reply and explain to the fans. But it’s just that little bit of point of confusion that sometimes can reduce the effectiveness of that kind of campaign. Whereas had it been directly from Carmichael Hunt’s account, and potentially re-Tweeted from the AFL account, it would have been a lot clearer that that’s what was taking place and effectively that they had brought in Carmichael to be Tweeting and responding to fans.

For mine, I definitely prefer the Twitter chat model, where it sort of includes everybody, and it’s not just replying which is very much a one to one thing. You’re not really getting the growth and the reach that you might want to do if you’re doing lots of replies. That’s my take.

My main thing is that you lose the consistency of the voice that you’ve developed for your Twitter account. As soon as you hand over your account to someone else, if the fans can detect that, it can potentially jar with what they’re reading and it can get a little bit confused.

Another thing is, there’s still a lot of people that are still new to Twitter. It can be a bit confusing for those people. That’s my take, you know, I’m not a massive fan of Twitter Takeovers.

I prefer the Twitter chat model, in a similar way to the guys at SB chat, Lou and Joe W run on Sundays or Mondays, here in Australia, and the way that we’ve done it previously with a couple of our teams. The Oakland Blues do a really good job with Blues Chat and Dave Burton of the LA Crows has a lot of fun with Crows Chat, going backwards and forwards with the fans. I think that’s a better one because it does get more fans engaged, and it does provide the opportunity to bring in your celebrities. Whether it be your athletes or your big celebrity fans.

DJ Joel: Sports Geek Podcast: Available on Stitcher.

Sean: What I want to do is answer a question that I had come in this week from a client, where they had a question on how to manage Facebook feedback. The problem was that they had comments in another language on their Facebook page and had a few people engaged in this discussion, so it became a thread. The first thing was that they didn’t know what the comments were, and they weren’t quite sure how to handle it.

First of all, we’ll look at the problem of multilingual feedback on your page. There’s a few options there on what you can do. And also just look at general feedback from a Facebook point of view and what you should be looking to do, and what policies you should have in place to manage it.

So the first thing was trying to figure out exactly what these Facebook fans were saying. So what we used was Google Translate. So if you go to, you can grab a piece of text. It even tries to detect the language that you’ve done, or that they have done, and it will try to convert it to English. It doesn’t always work, in this case there was a lot of, it appeared they were using some kind of Estonian language, but they were also using slang, so they had numbers replacing letters in some cases. Because we didn’t know what they were saying particularly, and we wanted to make sure the people who could read it weren’t offended, we just went through and deleted the comment.

Now deleting the comment doesn’t actually delete it for the person that made it and their friends. So it’s one option, especially if you’ve got a comment of a super passionate fan, that’s really upset after a loss, or is having a go, or is using a bit of strong language. Most strong language is caught automatically by Facebook, but sometimes it is missed. You have the option to delete that comment. It only hides it from your general fan page and your general fans. It won’t hide it from those people who made the comment and their friends.

In the case of stronger trolls, sometimes deleting the comment will actually fire them up more. So this method is quite a good one in that they’re not really notified that it’s no longer available to the general public, and it doesn’t put a red flag for them to say, “Hey, why do you keep deleting my comments?”

The other options you have, that will probably come before deleting them, and for mine, as long as it’s not offensive or breaks any rules, then most of the time you should pretty much leave the comment because you’re just going to get more bad feedback by trying to shut down people complaining. The silly comment that we all see, “if a team didn’t spend so much time on Facebook and concentrate on training, would win more,” I’m sure all of you have seen those type of comments. There’s nothing you can do with those passionate the fans, you might as well just leave those comments there, it does help your edge rank overall.

You do have the option to respond to the fans. Again, if it’s just an angry fan, it’s not really worth responding to them. If they do have a genuine concern or a question, you do now have the ability to reply in a thread. You can reply directly to their comment which is very useful. Unfortunately you can only do that on the desktop, not the mobile. Responding to the fan makes sense.

If you do have a repeat offender that constantly is negative and is attacking other fans, it’s always a good plan to on respond, tell them that, “these are the rules that we’ve put down in our social media, we’d like you to follow them.” If they don’t adhere to those kinds of warnings, then as a last resort, you can block those fans from your page.

They’re the main things that you’ve got in front of you from a Facebook feedback point of view. Facebook is doing a relatively good job of catching a lot of the bad, from a swear words point of view, and automatically hiding them or marking them as spam. Also marking people who are coming on with pages and cheering links being marked as spam pretty normally.

Please check the legislation in your country. I know currently in Australia the onus is on the Facebook page owner, which is very dangerous, and very tough. If someone puts up something that is slanderous or against someone, unfortunately, the responsibility on that falls to the owner. It’s better to err on the side of deleting than getting yourself into a bit of a legal minefield.

That’s it for this week. You’ll be able to find the show notes for this show at Again, thank you to all the people who have given a review on iTunes, both in Australia and if you want to leave one in the US and UK stores, please do. I really do appreciate it.

This week’s Sounds of the game comes from the North Queensland Cowboys on Monday night football. Send them to me at Or, you can leave a voice mail, as Bob did, during the week, asking about the Dwight Howard move. I replied to Bob because I did talk about it on Episode Nine, on Dwight Howard’s move.

So, that’s it for this week. My name is Sean Callanan, you can find me on Twitter @SeanCallanan or @SportsGeek. Until next week, thank you very much for listening.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Find all Sports Geek Podcast’s at Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast.