On this week’s podcast I chat with Tyson Densley from the AFL (Australian Football League) about the goals of the AFL social media team and what they are looking for in season 2014. On SEN I chat with Kevin Hillier about the AFL and NRL social media fan bases and what does it say about each league.
Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.
Looking to improve your skills in social media? Come along to our Sports Geek Social Media One Day Educational on March 31st listen to podcast for promo code ($50 off).
On this podcast you’ll find out about:
- How the AFL have engaged fans via user generated content
- What the AFL plans to do with live replays during games on social platforms
- How the social media team is gaining attention in AFL Media
- The tough balance of banter and content the AFL manages every day
- Which Paris Saint-Germain striker took Twitter by storm
- What NRL and AFL teams lead the way on Facebook and Twitter
- What do the latest Facebook pages changes mean for sports teams
- Which football code provided the best atmosphere for Sounds of The Game
Resources from the episode
- Follow Tyson Densley @TysDensley on Twitter and on Linkedin
- Keep an eye on former Sports Geeker Dion Bennett (@dion_bennett) keeping the AFL accounts ticking over on Twitter @AFL, Instagram @AFL and Facebook.com/AFL
- Download new AFL app here
- AFL #TrickKicks and #AskTheCoach
- Our breakdown of AFL & NRL social media numbers
- Zlatan dares Twitter to give him more than 140 characters
- Collingwood launches Collingwood Forever as discussed by Jonathon Bernard on ep 22
- Don’t forget about Manchester United Front Row on March 16 as discussed on ep 40
- @Socceroos and @England exchange some Twitter banter
- Ep #42 dedicated to Collingwood’s Darren Millane who wore 42 but was tragically killed in a car crash in 1991 at age 27.
- Have you signed up for Sports Geek News? You missed this last week.
AFL Social Media numbers by team
Social Media Post of the Week
Have you been following Zlatan Ibrahimović’s tweets? Arrogant or not, they have been very funny.
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 10, 2014
Closing 2 Cents
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Sean: Welcome to episode 42 of the Sports Geek podcast. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with AFL social media manager, Tyson Densley, ready for the start of the AFL season and we look at the world of football twitter banter. Do you dare to Zlatan?
DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer.
And now, here’s your host, who’s looking forward to playing a game of pickup in Miami in July, Sean Callanan.
Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel, yes, I am pretty much focusing all my rehab to be ready to hit the blacktop in Miami when I’m over there for SEAT 2014. So, if you’re thinking about coming along, definitely do so. It’s going to be a great conference. I’ve been looking over the agenda with Christina over the last couple of weeks and it’s really coming along nicely. So, simply go to sportsgeekhq.com/seat2014 and get your tickets. This week’s show, I have a chat with Tyson Densley, social media manager for the AFL, look at user-generated content campaigns, finding the balance on platforms as a league as opposed to a team, and which platforms are delivering results for the AFL. Later in the podcast, I’ll have a chat with Kevin Hilliard from SEN Harf Time on those social media numbers that we chat about with Tys in the AFL and the NRL, and look at Facebook versus Twitter, and then also look at the world of football, some fun between the English football camp and the Socceroos, some sounds of the game from a really big A-league game. I’ll have a look at the latest changes to Facebook pages. And, yes, it is a tongue-twister, but do you dare to Zlatan? Some really funny tweets in a Nike campaign coming up and more about the Sports Geek one day educational later in the show, but first, here’s my chat with Tyson Densley from the AFL.
Ok, very happy welcome on the Sports Geek podcast as the AFL season is about to kick off, the social media manager for the AFL, Tyson Densley. Welcome to the podcast, Tys.
Tyson: Thanks, Sean. Glad to be here.
Sean: Very busy week, AFL season kicks off with this damn split round that takes forever with Collingwood kicking off on Friday night versus Fremantle. What’s it like at AFL headquarters this week?
Tyson: Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic. The long weekend we had in Victoria doesn’t really help us. Leading into round one we want as much time as we can to get everything together. So basically, what we are finding this year, that we probably haven’t found other years, is that everyone, every stakeholder in the AFL wants social integration So we’ve been trying to drive it for years, obviously, but everybody is starting to see the sort of tangible results now and we’re starting to get more and more requests. Which is both great and more challenging for us to squeeze everything in and get all their campaigns ready in time for round one.
Sean: I was talking to Michael Briggs from the ARU in the previous episode, last week. Give us an idea of what is the team at AFL Media and then diving more into the social team.
Tyson: Yes, we have a team of about 105 at AFL Media. There is a huge content on there, so we’ve got about 25 people in the editorial team, a journo, sort of covering edge team, some of those based interstate where we have a couple of teams in WA, South Australia, and Queensland, New South Wales. Then, we have a pretty big video department as well, so we produce a lot of studio shows, both our own and for clubs and for non-football related stuff as well. So, it’s really a bit of a publishing house. We have a custom publishing team as well, so a really big design team, and then the social team we’re trying to grow. We have grown this season we have gone from a huge 2 members up to 3. We’re really looking to being able to devote more time to it. We’ve been stretching ourselves a little bit with one of us to look after the strategy and work Monday to Friday and Dion Bennett and Ann Fedorowytsch cover the games. Dion, last year did every game, and the year before that I did every game, so looking forward to splitting that up and making things a little bit less crazy for Ann and Dion.
Sean: Well, people who listen to the podcast and have read stuff on the site will know that Dion is a former Sports Geeker. It’s good to see that he’s succeeding, doing quite well, in the AFL space. So, effectively, AFL Media, for the people who are listening who are not in Australia, it’s very similar to a Major League Baseball event’s media model. We are building up that business and providing more support to the clubs as well as providing your own media outlet for AFL themselves.
Tyson, Yeah, that’s probably right, NFL Network as well as MLB Advanced Media. We’re seeing it all around the world that content is so, so rich for every organization that makes sense for someone like the AFL with such a huge fan base to produce the content and we’re seeing results with afl.com.au being the biggest sports site in Australia.
Sean: And it has been, you were saying before how social is now becoming the thing that everyone wants and you’re becoming a, “Hey, we want social to be part of it.” What was it, 3 years ago; it was Jonno Simpson was running AFL Media now he’s at Twitter. Now, you’re doing more campaigns that are integrated across all things. You want to take us through some of the stuff that you’ve been doing in this off-season leading into the season?
Tyson: Yes, it’s probably nothing entirely new. We’ve been doing a lot of user-generated campaigns just as a way to generate interest in the season, to get everyone talking about footy, getting out there and showing us that they’re huge footy fans. We ran the number one AFL fan comp across February where we put out a search for an official fan ambassador in each club so we asked fans to share videos and photos just showing us that they were crazy footy fans.
Sean: What platforms were being engaged in that? I saw a few of my mates, saying “Vote for my photo!” I’m like, “You’re 40, nearly 40, you’re not 12!” But, you do get all types when you run those kind of things. What platforms were you using for that?
Tyson: We asked fans to send in content on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Youtube, we didn’t use Facebook for that campaign. We used Stackla to aggregate all the content. It’s a little bit more difficult with Facebook and the privacy settings so we didn’t have Facebook, we had all the other major platforms and we aggregated those with Stackla on a page on the website. And we also had prizes not just for showing you are the number 1 fan but also prizes just for voting as well. So we had a ton of fans jumping on just to vote. They weren’t in footy mode yet, it was still cricket season for them, they didn’t want to get out there and have a kick or throw on all their heavy winter merchandise. They were still able to vote for their other favorites and make sure that the fan that won for their club was the right representative.
Sean: You’re saying it’s a year-long thing, how are those fans going to be part of the content plan for AFL going forward?
Tyson: The competition was just leading up to the NAB challenge for the preseason but the major winners at each club are going to get some behind the scenes access, running out with their team, getting into the rooms, that kind of thing as well as the usual merchandise and sharings to pump up the season as well. Number 1 AFL fan, that ran throughout the NAB challenge and finished a couple of weeks ago and we’ve turned that around and launched a trick kicks comp straightaway, again that’s using Stackla, but we’ve enable Facebook integration with this one. We had switched off the capability for fans to post on our Facebook wall just because we’ve got such a huge audience and we didn’t have the resources to answer all the questions that were coming in.
Sean: And it’s pretty common, once you do get to a certain volume, things like letting people post on your wall, again being a league, you’re a big target. If you happen to have any beef it’s easy to get, yourself, and Ann, and Dion read the AFL tweets every week of complaining about things, it’s natural now, we’re turned off for nearly every club because you can’t manage it.
Tyson: Yeah. We’ve turned it back on at the moment just as an experiment, as a way just to collect the entries for the trick kicks competition where we’re just asking fans to film their videos of some trick kicks. We’ve had some players send in videos as well. But we did find it difficult because we’d post so often to Facebook. We’ve got so much content. Our key role is to drive fans to afl.com.au to consume our content. We have so much content that we need to post out that we found that we had posts from 3 days ago or 20 posts ago that fans were still asking questions on that it was just a little bit difficult to track those. We don’t guarantee that we’ll respond to every question on Facebook, we try to do that on Twitter. It’s easier for us to follow the mention stream. We’re probably at a point where we need to invest in some software with Facebook that we can better track those.
Sean: That monitoring and customer service side. The thing is, you’ve got 18 clubs that are doing a lot of that customer service side with their fans. Then you’re splitting out from a social point of view to have AFL members manage via AFL member type, social account. How much has that grown from that initial AFL and AFL Facebook page to start splitting the focus of that kind of stuff.
Tyson: We’ve stayed pretty narrow and focused on Facebook. The only other page that we run is the AFL fantasy page. And when I say, “we run” we’ve actually got the Dream Team Talk boys looking after it.
Sean: Adam is a listener, he is following the same path as Leigh Ellis who is now on the Starters, to be taken in by the league.
Tyson: Yeah. They are doing a great job with those accounts. Last year we just couldn’t do it justice because fantasy is so enormous. The year before we had a journo dedicated to interacting with the fans, helping with the trades and their decisions leading into each round. And last year we didn’t have that journo so we just couldn’t do it justice. I’m really glad we’ve got the guys in this year and it’s been fantastic.
Sean: You’ve done the trick shots kind of stuff. The other stuff I wanted to ask you about was, you ran and asked the coach. And coaches, I’ve trained a few and explained to them why social media is there and why they should be on it and how they should engage. In the AFL, there’s a few on social media and there’s a few that are not. How did they find the, as a coach, thing and take us through it? And then what was the fans reaction?
Tyson: I must admit I was a little bit nervous when I threw out the idea. I knew we had the coaches coming in to do a bit of the preseason media segment, to film some video segments, chat to our journos, that kind of thing. I asked if we were able to have some access, have the coaches for half an hour to answer questions with the fans. We did that just on twitter with the ask the coach hashtag. I was a bit nervous, but some of the younger coaches are on there, and know how to use it well, but when it comes to Mick Malthouse and Ross Lyon and some of those guys that can be pretty cold and short in press conferences, I thought they might not be great on Twitter when it comes to answering fan questions but they all bought into it. They actually enjoyed that they were getting different questions that they wouldn’t usually get. Fans just wanted to know what book they were enjoying at the moment, some funny stuff around the club, who’s the most annoying player, all that kind of stuff that fans love to hear about. And once the coaches sat down, we had so many questions rolling in that they enjoyed, sometimes, being able to pick and choose which questions they were able to answer, but the majority of them said, “No, you tell me which one you want me to answer and we’ll get to it.” That worked really well. Fans just don’t usually have that direct access.
Sean: We’ve done Twitter chats and those kind of things with clubs, did you then take that content, because Twitter is great if you’re on Twitter, but there’s still a lot of people that haven’t yet figured out what Twitter is? We’ve got the stats there of comparing the AFL and NRL and Twitter’s numbers compared to Facebook are 3 to 1 in the AFL from a clubland point of view. Did you take that content and then re-purpose it back on afl.com.au? Say if you weren’t online or if you weren’t tweeting at that time here’s all the answers that Mick Malthouse or Paul Roos answered.
Tyson: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what we did. We used Twitter custom timelines for some as an experiment. Others we just used the more traditional, embedding the fan question and then embedding the tweet, and put that straight up on the website. Because there’s some of the coaches, we could only grab them when they are in from interstate, we can only grab them when they are over here for the no-challenge games. They might come in really early in the morning and we know that that’s not prime time for Twitter so we made sure that we re-purposed that on the website and those articles are really popular.
Sean: Again, similar question to what I had for Michael last week with the Wallabies and similar to what we do with the A-league, at a league level, social is a different beast than at a club level. So, if you’re Collingwood or Carlton or Essendon or whatever, you are for your fans and you don’t really care about the other fans. Whereas, you’re Switzerland in this. You’ve got to be neutral and you’ve got to bear it for the gang. How tough is that balance on what you provide on social to be as impartial as you can be?
Tyson: Yeah, that is a challenge. As far as the content that we put out there, we know that the stuff that involves all 18 clubs is going to be far more popular. And we also have a bit of a challenge in that we don’t have the access that some people might think we do have. We have a really big community, but we’re not at training every day, we’re not always at every game which is a resource issue. Whereas, the clubs are out there every step of the way. So, we don’t try to produce the same content as clubs. We try to complement what the clubs are doing. We work together to support their campaigns and they support the campaigns that we’re running as well. But it is that we’re pushing to get more of, and that’s access at games, which is going to come when we have more members of our team. Because as the traditional round works, there’s so many overlapping games, that we need to be able to provide coverage of all the games and not just focus on the blockbusters or anything like that.
Sean: Yeah. It is a fine line because you are part league custodian/information provider, but then also you’re the curator of all the news. So, again, Essendon has a big win, that’s probably a bad example Essendon and the relationship from last year, but Essendon, big win, and you retweet that and everyone starts going, “Oh, the AFL are playing favorites” or you promote a tweet that the Giants are doing because they are doing a great activation and it’s like, “Oh, you’re promoting them over my team” because every fan is looking at it through their one eye.
Tyson: It’s an interesting balance, because we do see it within the AFL media team which, technically, is independent of the AFL and is really working towards becoming independent and for the most part it really is. At the same time we claim to be the official account of the AFL so it’s an interesting balance. We watch with interest when cricketer Shea set up their independent arm and they’ve really diversified that they are independent. Whereas, we think we’ve got the balance right and think that it can be the official account of the league. That you can also provide independent articles.
Tyson: Andover might be having a bit of a joke about something that’s happened on the ground and the next day we might be tweeting about an official press release that’s something that’s really important news and nothing to joke around about. But we see it the same way as you might watch a news bulletin on TV, you’ll have your serious info at the start and then you might have some more entertaining stuff towards the end of that. We think that it’s something that we’re striking the right balance with, but it is a constant challenge. But I think all community managers have those challenges with fans where they’ll often think that you’re driving an agenda that I can guarantee you that we’re not. We’re just trying to provide coverage and act as if we are fans. We have a great job in that we are able to sit there and consume games and tweet about it as though we’re a fan and really that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to produce the content we know we’d like to see if we were a fan.
Sean: You’re pretty much following the same league as the NBA, the NFL, MLB, you’re still the official account even though you are a separate arm and those kinds of things. When people read it from the AFL, it is from the AFL. That whole Cricket changing their Twitter handle and saying it’s digital, I understood the reasons behind it to be independent, but to me, now I can’t bear it for Cricket Australia, because it’s not the Australian cricket team, it’s a digital department.
So you don’t want to say “I love my iPhone” and go hang on, that’s means it’s iPhone media. So you take that same sort of premise when people say they love MLB they’re not talking about loving them. They’re talking about loving the game. So I think that’s a distinction that is really important. I’m actually looking forward to taking time to talk to the guys at CA about the reason behind that decision and why it came about.
Tyson: Yeah, we think as long as we educate the fans and reckon with the fans about who we claim to be, so the official account, you know you can add Twitter by it, but we say, as well as the latest news analysis, opinion, that kind of thing, so, I think fans know by the game they get from us.
Sean: And so going back to, sort of touched on before, the size of you know, Facebook numbers, and Twitter numbers and, you know I’ve got the stats here for all the clubs. And you know there’s a few clubs that have gone over 200K, same two clubs, have gone over 50,000 in Twitter followers. You know Facebook is still, it’s like three to one at that club level.
What are you seeing from the platforms, just from a trends point of view, are you seeing a spike in traffic, are you seeing more engagement with the latest changes, those sort of things?
Tyson: Yes, we went through, we spent a lot of time studying Facebook’s ad algorithm, ‘cause we have so much content to promote that we don’t want to post too often, so we know that as soon as we post again, it’s more likely to drop our previous post out of the feed. And on any given day we might have 10 videos and 50 articles that hit the website that we have choose whether or not we want to put it to Facebook or not.
So we studied the algorithm a lot, we were still finding that, you know we find that text-only posts on Facebook are not… I hope I’m not getting too technical, but text-only posts on Facebook reach a lot more fans, and for us that’s great. Posts with photos, again, get more engagement, but as a general rule, they’ll reach less people, so we want to reach as many people as we can, but we still want to provide those great photos, again.
Sean: So, again, one thing that we’ve found. Like one thing I took was don’t fall in love with the reach stats, ‘cause sometimes they’re, you know they’re always changing. But what we’ve found, especially in the last three months, since Facebook made that tweak to its news feed, is that they do want links as opposed to a text feed, so we’ve been sort of migrating a lot of our teams of course, to say, use links more.
If you put a picture up, it’s easy to share and people are going like it if it’s a picture of their favorite player, obviously.
But the difference between the model that we used to do and the model that I taught Deon was, he had Deon use it, you know, he did all the testing of what was the best sized image that would work and look great, and we came up with it, it was like 404 X 404 square, and it was a nice big image. And he still probably using it, because that’s the biggest one.
But now, if you share a link and you bring in that upload image or put in your own custom one, that whole image is clickable to back to the website, so they’re not clicking the image to look at the image again, and you can customize the link underneath it. So, what we’re seeing is Facebook is serving up that more, so it’s tweaking the edgerank a little bit, serving that up more means more fans like it, and we’re really seeing a big spike in the number of likes in the like the last three months, so it’s not just because footy season is coming around, we’re seeing it both in AFL land and NRO land and cricket, that that like spike is really, really happening, and part of that is the story-bumping stuff that Facebook has, but I’ve sort of been telling all my teams to play around with it, but they’re really pushing the link side of it to be the way that they go about it.
Tyson: Yeah, and page managers need to be really mindful and just sort of remember what their key objectives are, so we, our key objectives that drive traffic to the website. So we are pretty heavy on links, but we also have some awesome videos and photos to share. So, we mix it up all the time.
We find that, and when I say text-only, I mean with a link included, but we’ll generally remove the thumbnail because we find that reaches almost twice as many people as the post with the thumbnail. But we really like to mix it up.
And one of the latest trends we’re finding is that Facebook is giving a lot more preference to native videos than YouTube videos.
Sean: Oh, definitely, yeah.
Tyson: And I think that’s because they’re about to roll their video ad product, so I think they want people to become familiar with their native ads.
Sean: So, I mean everything with Facebook is always native, and yeah, the videos, like again, I have seen you put out a few short videos in the Facebook native lead. We’ve done it as well. Especially when you’re rolling out a brand campaign or something that’s super, as a way to put a bit of a tease there, so.
Tyson: That’s, one product we’re just about to launch for this season is instant highlights, instant videos with Snappytv. So that’s…
Sean: Sort of Twitter amplify stuff?
Tyson: Yeah, so we’ve seen the NBA use it with the slam dunk contest, and it’s just those instant replays, so they have those up on Twitter, and you can also embed them in Facebook within about 15 seconds of it happening. So over the next two or three weeks, that should be rolling out to us, and we’re really looking forward to being able to sort of get some great hangers and great goals out there on Twitter within, you know hopefully 30 seconds and then…
Sean: Yeah, so we spoke a bit, they had that VLC Open, and that’s where it is, tune-in TV. It’s like wow, I saw that, oh, better tune in.
Sean: The quicker you can turn it around, the better it is.
Tyson: Yeah, and I remember when I first started there was some, you know some hesitation as to whether we should be providing video highlights, is it taking away from the broadcast, but it’s that education process in showing that, you know, if a fan sees a five second highlight video on Twitter, then they’ll decide, oh, I need to watch the game now cause I saw a great mark. They’re going to tune in if they think… so that’s something we’re really looking forward to rolling out this season.
Sean: Well yeah, I mean it’s good, ‘cause yeah, initially, oh, it’s going stop people watching, no it’s not. People see something, you know, if you find out that, you know, Gary Ablett’s on fire, you tune in. You don’t go and say, it’s not enough.
And so the good thing about the amplified product is that you can say tune in here and send them to the app, and get an app subscription and so if I am in a bar and I can’t get to a TV, I can watch it there and then.
Tyson: Exactly, yeah.
Sean: Everything that teams do randomly around the world as far as, you know, sharing highlight clips on YouTube and stuff like that, none of that has come back and say, oh, that stops people watching TV.
Tyson: No, no.
Sean: If anything, it makes them watch it more.
Tyson: Yeah, and when you see those instant highlight videos, you’ll know there’ll be some directives in the banners above and below the video driving you to download the app, AFL Live, and just on that there’s been a huge update to our app in the last couple of days, so, there’s a new AFL Live pass where, and you know everyone’s interested in data at the moment, obviously that’s something that is in our long-term objectives to get to know our fans better.
So there’s a new way for a login process where when fans join AFL Live Pass, it’s not just live streaming now, it’s also advanced stats. Well, it’s advanced in the world of AFL with shot charts and heat maps and those kinds of things, so that’s something that is rolling out over the next few days. Obviously that’ll be in time for round one, so if you haven’t updated your AFL app, make sure you do it.
Sean: Well, I will include the links to the official AFL app on all platforms, so it’s on Apple, Android, Tablets.
Sean: And, I’ll include them and looking forward to the season hit. And I want, just to finish up, what are your goals from a social point of view for the AFL?
Tyson: Yeah, so we still feel like there’s a lot of AFL fans out there that we can add to our community, so we’re still driving that growth agenda with social media accounts. But I think this video, instant video product is something that we’re really looking forward to, so we’re also, as well as, we’re hoping the instant replays will drive more conversation during the game and we’re hoping to take that and use that in a lot more of our products, so The 10, which is a weekly video, it’s the top 10 highlights of the round up, something that we’re going to crowd-source this season, so if you see a huge highlight, we want fans to tweet #AFLThe10.
Sean: So similar to SportsInAt10, yeah?
Tyson: That’s right, so. Using Twitter custom timelines and the more live shootout shows we’re doing, we’re looking at ways to bring in fan Tweets. One of our Gen Os, Ash Brown is writing a Sunday column that’s effectively just answering fan questions that are coming through Twitter. So with the hashtag #AfterTheSiren he’s looking for the questions every week.
We’ve just explained to our media department that we have this huge community, we should be using it. We’ve got such a passionate fanbase that they’re talking to us all the time. Let’s use some of those great questions we’re getting from the fans and great interaction and enhance the products that we’re already doing. So, that’s something that we’re looking forward to improving this season. Is just the use of that fan engagement that we love.
Sean: Terrific. Well, thank you very much for coming on the podcast, I’m sure I’ll see you at the footy some time during the year.
Sean: And, good luck the season ahead.
Tyson: Yes, good luck with the course
Recording: Sign up for Sports Geek news at SportsGeekHQ.com/signupnow.
Sean: Thanks again to Tyson for joining me and coming into SportGeekHQ for that chat, I know it’s a busy week, the week before the season kicks off. As I said, kicks off tonight, so I have to actually get this podcast out today, Friday, with my beloved Pies taking on grand finalist Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, so both AFL and the NFL will be in full swing here in Australia and really dominating the sports social landscape.
Just a few things on that thing, have you found a Facebook posting? What strategies are working for you, are you going with the text-only posts that Tyson was talking about and seeing the extra reach? Or are you moving towards what we’re seeing, especially with some of our clubs, is moving towards using more links and really pushing that news feed changes that Zuck seems to want everyone to have. A personalized newspaper, so they’re really pushing links.
Love to hear your notes in the comments or send me a tweet @SeanCallanan, love to know what you think.
Also, have you gone with user-generated campaigns like Tyson was talking about there with their trick shots campaign and, number one fan campaign? I’ll actually be putting out a bit of a call for great campaigns. I’m actually putting together a keynote for a seat similar to the one that I did last year around digital campaigns and I really want to showcase some of the best around the world, so I’ll be putting a form up on the website. I do my best to get keep track of what everybody is doing. But if you’ve done a really great campaign and you don’t think it’s got the limelight it deserves? Please send me an email, email@example.com, tell me about it, I’d love to know about it.
But also I’ll be setting up a form to capture some of that detail, cause I want to really showcase some of the best campaigns from around the world for my SEAT keynote. So my next discussion is Kevin Healy, I was filling in for Harf this week, and the discussion we had there with Tyson we talked about AFL and NRL social media numbers. I chatted with Kevin about that on SEN.
Recording: Sean Callanan our sports digital media guru for SportsGeekHQ.com.
Kevin: 14 to 3, Daniel Harford with a family commitment today, so I’m here, good day, Sean.
Sean: Good day, Kevin, how you doin’?
Kevin: I’m going very well, thank you. Now we’ve got the NRL season underway, and we got the AFL season starting this week. Are we going to see a massive impact on social media with these two monoliths about to collide?
Sean: Well, it is a good time to just check in with the numbers and see where everyone’s sitting. As you said, the NRL are off to a really good start online if not in the stands. A bit of concern about the crowd sizes and things like that.
Kevin: No one went!
Sean: But online, going gangbusters. Both leagues. So just a really good comparison of how the fans of different leagues tackling the two major platforms, Facebook and Twitter.
Kevin: It’s always been the difference between the two sports and having worked in rugby leagues and obviously down here and born here and stuff, people do want to know about the NRL, but they don’t’ necessarily want to go.
Sean: Well I think that’s a historical thing, it’s more made-for-TV, it’s a product that does work very well on TV. Eddies travel issues, they don’t have the convenience of being able to walk down to the MCG straight from a pub in the CBD, they’ve got to you know catch a train out to ANZ stadium and things like that so there are other difficulties there and it’s… you know the fact that they can just sit at home watch the NRL in high def, at home or in a pub, does make a bit of a difference.
But from a social point of view, it’s interesting to see that from a Facebook point of view, the NRL fans love their NRL on Facebook. But from a Twitter point of view, The AFL sort of holds the lead.
Kevin: Does that surprise you, that there’s that demarcation between the two?
Sean: Not really, there’s a few little outliers there that always help twist the stats, so the Broncos are well way out in front as far as overall numbers. With nearly over, they’re about to approach 350,000 Facebook fans, which is an amazing number, but you’ve also got to remember the historical significance the Broncos pretty much had Queensland as a whole state behind them for a good 20 years.
And it also shows that the one team, the one team town who I think does help. So the Melbourne Storm, same, pretty much have everyone in Melbourne behind them lead the way.
Kevin: Geez, you know, 300,000.
Sean: Yeah, well when, you know, when you’ve got the, and really the uptick is Facebook has been really big in the last couple months in the changes that Facebook’s made to try to get more content out to fans. So it’s really become a real big content platform.
Kevin: There’s two levels here isn’t there, there’s the way the league uses two platforms and then there’s the way the clubs use the two platforms. Is the leagues using them well?
Sean: Oh yeah definitely, I mean again from a league point of view, the, I hope it’s not evil, but the NRL are at 666.
Kevin: The devil’s game!
Sean: The devil’s game. And the AFL will I’m sure get an up-tick once the season starts, but it’s a real traffic driver, Facebook, you know. That’s where fans are getting a lot of their news. And what we’re finding is a lot of fans will follow their team. So you know you’ll follow the Doggies, and I think that’s partly because there’s a like button, you know. As a Collingwood fan it’s very hard to hit the Like button next to a Carlton logo, so, from a Facebook point of view, most fans are following their own team. But from a Twitter point of view, because it is a bit of breaking news, it’s conversational, it’s something you can watch while you’re watching your TV shows and listening to SEN, a lot of people are following multiple teams. So they’re getting their news, finding out, and those kinds of things, cause the teams are really good and that’s where the breaking news is.
But the concern is there’s only, again, our only estimate because we don’t have the numbers is 11, you know, 30 million people now on Facebook or around about that number, but there’s only around 3 million on Twitter.
Kevin: Why is that? Because Twitter, I’m sorry, Twitter is great, I’m not an indirective person as far as putting stuff up, but in terms of garnering information, Twitter’s fantastic.
Sean: Oh yeah, completely agree, and you are in the camp of, once you’re in Twitter it’s awesome, but it’s the ‘getting the person that’s not on Twitter’ to figure out why, yeah, why am I doing that? Why are you, why are you looking at these messages? So that’s a problem that Twitter is trying to solve both here in Australia and also around the world, is you know, what is it like being a new person on Twitter. Like it’s not like it was ages ago when you’d come on, it was a small community and knew a lot of people. Now there are a lot of people, there’s a lot of noise, so who do you follow, that kind of thing.
So part of what sports has done well has said, you know, jump on Twitter cause you’re going get a bit of extra information, you’re going find that the changes to the teams, so that’s one of the reasons people get on Twitter, but then they sort of, what do I do next, how do I use this platform and that’s something… you know as it gets integrated with TV, gets put in, you know the conversation happens with things like a block and a voice, and that kind of thing that’s when more people will start jumping on we saw, you know last week with the Oscars and Ellen doing a selfie and it got 3 million retweets. It’s those kind of moments that Twitter needs to get more people on board.
But at the moment, all the numbers say, you know, in the AFL, there’s three-to-one Facebook to Twitter numbers, and in the NRL, it’s like five-to-one. So there’s real opportunity from a growth point of view from a Twitter audience point of view…
Kevin: Are people a bit scared of Twitter? To get on Twitter, that they think it’s going, you know, take over their lives, or potentially?
Sean: Potentially, you know, there’s some who say they don’t want to do it ‘cause he doesn’t want to share what he’s having for lunch. And that’s a really old style thought of what Twitter is, and it’s not that.
Kevin: But you can be passive on it, you don’t have to…
Sean: And that’s being 40 percent of people on Twitter don’t tweet. So they do use it as a news resource, so they would follow their footy teams, they would follow ESN they would follow to hear his commentary on the game. So once people do get that, understand that fact, you know that growth will come. But at the moment, you know there’s only two teams out of that whole list that have more than 50,000 Twitter followers and that’s Collingwood and Essendon, so you know and they know we need the numbers of you know 100,000 that kind of thing in Facebook land.
Kevin: So I mean from a business point of view, for a club, that’s great upside.
Sean: It is a great upside and the main thing is it’s not necessarily about these numbers, it’s about converting these numbers. So even though, you know, Collingwood and Essendon have got 200,000, it’s about converting them into members. So these numbers are great little benchmark to say yes, we’ve ticked these off, but it’s really how can you convert and how can you tell the story for your fans to convert them to become a member, so it might not necessarily need to have the 350,000 that the Broncos have, if you can get a really high conversion rate to get more people to be members, then that’s great and that’s what you’re focused on.
So that’s the thing that those numbers don’t show, they don’t show the conversion of a fan seeing all your content, building that relationship, and then when you say, hey there’s a mini membership or come to our games and start converting.
Kevin: There’s a Twitter membership that you can do.
Sean: Yeah, potentially, but there’s a few teams that are working towards, you know, digital-only memberships, so if you can’t come to the game, that kind of thing, but, you know you want to build a relationship with your fans, and keep them in touch to the club and that’s what Facebook and Twitter and that offer.
Kevin: Pete is giving us a buzz, good day, Pete.
Pete: Hey guys, I am a little bit ambivalent about the whole social media, and I think it’s very easy for people to criticize, you know, Andrew Demetriou as being old fashioned about Twitter, but the reality is, a lot of social media is just whispers in a crowd. You know, yes you do have people engaging, but at the end of the day, it’s all about dollars. And I wonder whether the amount of the expenditure on Twitter justifies the returns, because yes, Collingwood might have 200,000 Facebook followers or whatever the gentleman said, but the reality is unless you can prove that you know you’re converting these people into memberships and therefore generating revenue, all you’re doing is enabling them to talk, and that can be a very expensive exercise in terms of moderating, monitoring, responding, etcetera etcetera.
Sean: I completely agree Pete, and that’s what I was just saying, that you’ve gotta have a strategy to convert, I mean, I can give you plenty of case studies of teams engaging their fans, driving more traffic, getting more eyeballs to their website and driving more fans into their database so they can start sending them email newsletters. It definitely has helped the bottom line for clubs, because it does drive membership, it does drive merchandise aisle and it does drive ticketing.
But you’re right, if you don’t have a strategy behind that, you are just someone just creating noise and not driving your goals.
Kevin: Good on ya Pete, thanks for your call, and you’ve got a workshop coming up?
Sean: Yes, we’ve got a one day educational, so I’m going do a one-day workshop sort of taking everyday businesses through how they can do it. And again, same as what Peter was just saying, there’s no point just saying I’m going to be on Facebook because everybody else is. It’s like why are you on Facebook, why would you Twitter, and why would you use things like Instagram. And they’re not going fit for every business, and they’re not going fit for every strategy that you’re trying to do, but there is some really cool and innovative and cost-effective ways for businesses to reach customers more so than fans, not talking about ham and cheese squads and things like that for footy, but there is the ability for you to grow your own fan base and grow your own customers.
Kevin: And when is it, and how do they find out about it?
Sean: So it’s March 31st, if you go to SportsGeekHQ.com/ODE and for Harf Time listeners, if they use their special code “Harf” they get 50 dollars off.
Kevin: Oh, really? Good offer.
Sean: So send me a tweet @SeanCallanan if you’ve got any questions.
Kevin: All right, good on ya Sean, thanks for coming’ in as per usual.
Recording: Learn from Sports Geek at our Sports Geek ODE one-day educational. Go to SportsGeekHQ.com/ODE.
Sean: So I will link in the show night’s to that AFL and NFL post comparing the Facebook and Twitter numbers of all the teams. Check it out, any comments you have, much appreciated. I’ll probably be breaking that down with a few other leagues and have a good look at how they are going around the world in the next coming weeks.
Social media post of the week. Congratulations and a really nice Twitter bed between the New England Football account and the Socceroos. I’ll have a link to that in the show notes, good work there. But I really have to go with the Nike campaign led by Sweden and Paris St. Germaine Striker. Zlatan Ibrahimovic I think I’m getting that wrong completely, but check out the data’s left hand tweets, really having a lot of fun with the platform. Even asking Twitter to change the 140 character limit because he wanted to say more to his fans. Had a lot of fun with it.
This week’s ‘Sounds of the Game”, thanks to Brian Gibson for sending it through, it’s from the A-league Derby match between Sydney FC and the West City Wanderers, 40,000 people sounded like this.
Yeah, some quite amazing scenes there at AON Stadium with both the Wanderers fans and the Sydney FC fans getting right up behind, really great club atmosphere. Speaking of Brian, during the week, he did say it was one of the best games he’s’ been to live, and it was the best way to experience the sport in my humble opinion I’m looking forward to catching a few games this weekend.
So that leaves me to dedicating this episode and that is why you can hear that clock ticking in the background. This is episode 42, so you can find the show notes SportsGeekHQ.com and taking the nomination from Mattwell60 on Twitter, who nominated Collingwood legend and great who is unfortunately killed in a car accident age 26 in 1991, he wore the number 42 with distinction as now been retired by the Collingwood football club. Darren Millane, is who I’m dedicating this episode to.
Okay, wrapping up this episode, don’t forget the Sports Geek one-day educational as I said there on the spot with Harftime. That’s on March 31, we’ll be covering things like Facebook advertising, how to use custom audiences, how to reach new fans, we’ll be running a few campaigns in a few clubs around membership, and brand campaigns for the start of the season. So really on top of that at the moment.
You would’ve also seen and I’ll put a link in the show notes that Facebook are changing pages once again, and news feed again. So it’s an ever-moving target, Facebook. Primarily they’re making pages look more like personal pages. So single column. Tabs, effectively getting the boot. But that doesn’t really matter most tabs and applications are really died off recently. It’s all about using mobile phones more-so than apps.
So yeah, some changes there, again link in the show notes, they’re going to be rolling out soon, it’s something to be really aware of what changes and where they’re headed.
And just a quick reminder, don’t forget the Manchester United Google Plus front row activation that we discussed back on episode 40 with Oscar Ugaz. That’s happening on March 16th, so keep an eye on Man United’s Google page, or all their properties, they’ll put it on all their properties let’s see how that goes I’m really interested to see how it looks and how it looks at Old Trafford with the fan’s heads there bobbing along next to the pitch.
So the final plug, is for the podcast. Again, thank you very much for all the tweets and the messages that I get about the podcast. Any feedback, please and more than welcome to get it either by Twitter or by email. If you want to ever listen to sort of the insights of podcasting itself, we did a podcast on podcasting on Beers, Blokes and Business. So if you go to BeersBlokesBusiness.com/episode31 where I do take a little bit behind the scenes of how I built this podcast and also how I’ve built the Blokes podcast. So if you’re looking at podcasting, have a listen to that one.
Well it’s time for the closing two cents, this one goes out to the king. King James. And their message is, be careful what you tweet. LeBron was unfortunately having problems with his mobile phone and he tweeted that his phone had died. But unfortunately his sponsor is Samsung. He deleted the tweet, but nevertheless, you’ve got to be careful.
Unknown: You know, I love what you’ve done with the name by the way [inaudible 00:45:14] March 31, 2014 at the Honey Bar, pick it up. SportsGeekHQ.com is the place to go to find out a whole lot more about it.
Recording: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to SportsGeekHQ.com/iTunes. Listen to Beers, Blokes, and Business at BeersBlokesBusiness.com. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.