SGP 053: Troy Kirby on ticketing, #sportsbiz and @SportsTao podcast

Troy Kirby from Tao of Sports Podcast on Sports Geek Podcast with Sean CallananTroy Kirby is a prodigious sports business podcaster and a sports business lifer working on the ticketing side of the business at UC Davis.   Troy has released over 350 podcast interviews since launching the Tao of Sports podcast in 2012 and he was one of the reasons I started podcasting.  Troy stopped by the Sports Geek office on a recent trip to Melbourne for a great discussion around podcasting but also Troy’s sports business career in ticket sales.

On this podcast you’ll learn from Troy Kirby about:

  • How Troy paid for his own way into ticket sales and how it paid off
  • How the Octomom got Troy started in podcasting
  • The importance of always learning in sports market
  • Why ticketing relationship is like a marriage
  • What should have the AFL & Collingwood done to fix crowds on Sunday night
  • Why ESPN and FIFA are upset with Vine
  • How will Snappy TV acquisition change sports rights online?

Resources from the episode

Is Vine a TV sports rights issue?


Ask Wimbledon if Vine is a problem…

This Vine went viral, wouldn’t they prefer views on their digital platforms?


Get well Neymar Jr




Attendance for SEAT 2014 is up 60% from last year.  Hope to see you there. Don’t forget to send in your best content and campaigns so I can profile them at #SEAT2014, email me or use contact form. If you want to connect with sports executives then Miami is the place to be, put your name on wait list for tickets.



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Podcast Transcription

Sean Callanan: Welcome to episode 53 of the Sports Geek podcast. In this week’s podcast I catch up with Troy Kirby from the Tower of Sports podcast to chat about sports business, ticketing, and of course podcasting. Also, why is Vine in the crosshairs of ESPN and FIFA?

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Greek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. Now here’s your host, who loves working with teams around the world, who needs sleep, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, and you are listening to the Sports Geek podcast. You are either doing that on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher, or even doing it at Sports Greek Thanks again for joining me. Today’s show I catch up with a good mate of mine, Troy Kirby from the Tower of Sports podcast. He was recently in Australia and was lucky enough to stop by for lunch and drop into the Sports Greek office. We did dueling podcasts.

I was in his podcast and he was on my podcast, so you will get double Sports Geek Sports Tower goodness this week in your ears. Also, later in the show, I chat with Al Crombie on ABC Grandstand about Vine and how it’s in the crosshairs of ESPN and FIFA over digital rights and people stealing content, and where that topic might take the industry. Also, other things, getting ready for SEAT not far away now. I leave next week. Well done to Christine. Over 750 attendees. I’ll talk a little more about Seat later, but here’s my chat with Troy Kirby from the Tower of Sports.

Here we are at Sports Geek HQ doing a podcast with one of the key podcast luminaries in this space. I’m going to bring out luminaries. Troy Kirby. Welcome to Australia.

Troy: Well, first of all, thank you very much, and I do want to say that I have never met so many very friendly people, as in one space and time, as in Melbourne.

Sean Callanan: Melbourne.

Troy: Melbourne.

[speakers pronounce 'Melbourne' variously]

Okay. But I have to tell you that I went downtown and if I were in an American city I had asked, “Hey, where do I get back to the Melbourne cricket grounds?” They would not have told me. Those types of things. Everybody was very nice. Sure your movies cost $21, which shock me, but I can wait to see Transformers.

But other than that, it has been great.

Sean: I’m going to the movies tonight.

Troy: Okay.

Sean: And I’m going to pay $21 twice.

Troy: To see Transformers?

Sean: Probably not. I know that’s already going to be bad, and I’m not ready to give Michael Bay that kind of money.

Troy: Oh. I feel that I have already had my soul ripped out from him three times. He might as well take it another.

Sean: Pretty much. So here you are in the Sports Geek office or cave with all of the jerseys and everything. I guess we have had a chat on your podcast. I wanted to return the favor. First of all, I want to get a bit of background on what is your sports business story? What do you do now? What is your current role, and sort of how have you gotten there, and then we will get into the podcasting stuff.

Troy: First of all, I do want to say that I have been meaning to come on your podcast. I seem really good at having people come on mine and then never returning the favor, so I do want to apologize. I kept saying, “I’ll do it, yeah, whatever,” and then it never happened.

Sean: No. I would much rather do it in person. So, yeah.

Troy: Okay. Well, but anyway, what I will say is the impetus of sports business in general for me was, I’ve worked in 10 years for college or for a minor league soccer team, various stuff. But until about 2012 I really didn’t understand what I could do with it beyond just working as an employee. I was selling tickets, I was doing other things. I mean, I can get into that in a second, but what I do have to say is the person that you have to thank for me putting out the podcast originally is the Octomom.

Sean: The Octomom?

Troy: The Octomom, because I was toying around with a podcast that my friend had. He did one called the Nothing Cast. I was a little part of it. So we had a chance to interview the Octomom.

Sean: Is this still on the internet? Can we get links to this?

Troy: I might have a copy of it somewhere. I think he took it down.

Sean: Ah, okay.

Troy: It was interesting and it was classy, whatever. But I think at one point he said, “I really love your work.” But the point is that it was weird because I was thinking, “I could be interviewing and talking to people within my industry and really getting all this stuff.”

I mean, I have nothing against the Octomom, but I was going, “If she’s willing to come on I think I can get my fiends to come on.” I had just moved down to California from eastern Washington University. So I was thinking of new stuff to do. I had more than enough time in certain areas and I thought, “Why not do this?”

I had Matt Harper, who is one of my best friends in the world, who is leaving his job and going up to move to Oregon.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: So he was coming through and I said, “Let’s just tape one. Let’s see what happens.” So I taped one, put it on the internet, because, of course, I’m an idiot.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: How dare you do that? Kevin Miller at the University of West Virginia reached out and said, “I really enjoyed that. I hope you do more.” It really caught me at the right time.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: I’ll talk to him. Sure. Fine. I don’t know the difference. There were a few other people and it just kept catching on. I only did one a week, and then of course I was crazy so I did two a week, then three a week…

Sean: Yeah, putting us other podcasts to shame.

Troy: You know what really caught me was that first 2013 going to spring training. Because I had never been to spring training in Arizona and I walk through, and it was, like, I never had to pay for a ticket, which is of course the antithesis of my own thing.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: But because I knew all the people there and they all wanted to be on the podcast andI was doing six a day. Somebody literally goes, “Hey, do this one. Hey, do this person. I need to make a call. You need to talk to this person.”

Okay, fine. And I had a blast for, like, a week. I was, like, “Wow, this is really cool.”

And more opportunities come from that. What I would say is, anybody who is out there who is listening to these types of things who are going, “Yeah, that’s great. You did 350 of them, but I can’t do that,” you know what? Yeah you can. It has never been done, you know?

I always feel fortunate. I think there are way too many people that like to complain about their lot in life. I shouldn’t even be walking right now. I broke my neck when I was six years old. Paralyze from the neck down. I was told I wasn’t going to walk again. I did. The point was you get up and you walk, but that is, I guess, where I would call the difference. Too many people are willing to live in that mediocrity.

What you do…

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: …I’m sure that there is enough time that you could sit on your laptop and look at Youtube videos.

Sean: Or there are days that I do.

Troy: But you know what I’m talking about.

Sean: Yeah, I do. Yeah.

Troy: Instead of doing that you do your own stuff. The amount of people that are willing to convince you not to do your own stuff are tantamount, because they say, “Well, there’s no money in it. There’s no whatever.” You’ve got to hustle at all times.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: So this has been a great prover to me to hustle. I wouldn’t be in Melbourne today, or ‘Melbourne’, if it weren’t for the podcast. I wouldn’t be in various places. I have traveled the state of Florida twice, Arizona, doing podcasts, doing other things. Wouldn’t have had those opportunities.

Sean: So one thing I did want to talk to you about is, I guess, the whole… Your area of expertise. So before you were a podcaster you were in ticket sales and sales strategies. As I have spoken with several guys on the podcast before like Chris Zeppenfeld from the Bobcats. Or, I’m sorry, the Hornets now. About ticket selling and how it’s different, how it’s a completely different philosophy in the US to Australia.

Do you want to give us a little bit of background of one that… Ticket sales strategy moreso than the podcasting stuff?

Troy: Here’s what I’ll say. I just talked to the Melbourne store. ‘Melbourne’. They were very nice, but a lot of times they were trying to figure out what I was saying. I was, like, “Look, I’ll walk you though the process.” As I’ll do here.

You’re talking about those life long commitments, those memberships, and that’s a huge part of it.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: That’s a marriage, but you can’t ask somebody the first time they meet you to marry you. But you also want to make sure that it’s more than a one off. It can’t just be a single date. So you’ve got to keep working towards the next date and doing those things. That’s what ticket sales can be.

The problem is, is that we have so many people that involve it as either a rip and tear or they don’t understand that tickets are the greatest ROI of any product you have ever had.

Sean: So take us through some of those terms for people who are listening that aren’t in it.

Troy: Okay. Rip and tear means that somebody just shows up, you rip it. You’re not developing a relationship with them. Sean, if you come to my event I want to develop a relationship with you to where you go, “Wow, that’s a person I want to know. If I have a problem, I’m going to help. He’s going to facilitate a lot of the things that I need.”

Here’s where I started to learn more about ticket sales. I had worked for one organization, Spokane Shadow. We did professional soccer and they did pretty well at ticket sales, but I only understood it from the point of calling people and going, “Hey, do you want to buy tickets,” etcetera. It wasn’t really understood. Then what happened is I worked at Seattle University and it was their GA.

Sean: Yep.

Troy: That’s a graduate assistant. I had gone there, an our basketball team was horrible. We had 17 people the last game of the season when I first started. Literally, parents didn’t even show up. So I get there and we’re sitting down and the guy that is supposed to call all of these people is the events guy and he goes, “I’m not answering the phones.”

I don’t know how you get to choose out or opt out of things, but apparently you do.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: I said, “Well, I’ll call him.”

They said, “Well, that’s $200 to pay for a phone.”

I said, “You know what? I will give you the $200 if I don’t actually sell it.”

They said, “We’ve only had one season ticket every year.”

Out of the entire building I was, like, “Wow, one season ticket.” This is horrible. But what ended up happening was they put my money where my mouth was. I went forward and I sold $3200 that first year. But that was because I also sought out information. I realized I did not know it all. Rob Cornilis, who is game face.

Sean: Okay. Yep.

Troy: I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. If you look on some of my old podcasts I did an interview with him, but he was really helpful in the fact that he did sales training, but he also didn’t treat us like the slimy sales people, wolf of wall street. That, to me, is something that I would like to preface. There are some people that may go, “Oh, come on. This is that slimy, ‘I want to sell you aluminum siding’. “

Sean: Yeah. The whole salesman, the used car salesman.

Troy: Yes. As I was telling some other people, that’s not what you’re here for. You don’t want to sell them on the maximum thing every time. What I want to do is find out exactly what you’re using it for, because what don’t want is for you to pull out that drawer of tickets at the end of the year and go, “What exactly did I invest in?” It’s the same with Apple. It’s the same with Harley Davidson. It’s the same with all those great brands that you talk about.

At the end of the day they want you to be happy with their product. I liken it to, you know, Apple has the option for you to have the big mega laptop, the huge one, but if you’re traveling a lot and your needs are that you need a Mac Air that goes in that little small space so you can type during every single plane trip, it’s not going to help them long term, and that long term vision is something we lack sometimes in sports. But, honestly, that’s what we should we selling them on. We should be selling them on the right product because otherwise they come back to us and go, “I’m never buying from you again and I’m telling 10 other people.”

Sean: Yeah, and that’s critical. I think one of the things with sports, and in Australia it is very much focused on membership, on the membership side of things. When I was chatting with Shane Harmon from Westpac Stadium he really fires on that membership is an emotional decision, which really fits along the lines of your marriage analogy. You want to start that relationship.

That’s what you’re selling, the relationship. You’re not selling the ticket itself or the 12 tickets because it’s a season ticket pack. It’s, you’re trying to build on that relationship, and that is something that sort of takes away that used car salesman sort of aspect to it.

Troy: Well, and that’s the thing. When you hear season ticket and you see the San Diego Padres or the Phoenix Sun’s have said, “Well, we’re doing memberships.”

No you’re not. You’re rebranding the name season ticket You’re trying, and I’m not saying that that’s necessarily bad, and I have interviewed some of them. They are great guys. Great women too. I mean, they are trying various things. I don’t say that there’s anything thinking outside of the box that’s a bad thing, but at the same time it’s a legacy buy. It’s an emotional buy.

The only criticisms I have ever had of memberships is that sometimes they go all or nothing, and when they do re-up every year they should have something different. If I’m a 29 year member and you’re a seven year or first year you should not be getting the same stuff. We should be having that argument.

I know you are a Collingwood guy. That’s your big thing. If you are there for 40 years we should be making sure that you understand how important that is as a person that has been a shareholder in that, and really a legacy for the long term. Longer than anybody else.

I’m not saying everybody doesn’t do that. I’m just saying that those are the things that I would look at and say, “They can be improved.” The one problem I’ve got, and I’ve mentioned that… This was something Mark at the Seattle Seahawks mentioned and a few other people when we were talking is this whole seven years behind nonsense that they have been feeding Australian sport or international… “Well, you’re seven years behind the pros.”

Really? You know what’s funny is 350 episodes I have interviewed quite a few people, and I have to tell you, there are some people in the US that are far behind you guys.

Sean: Yeah. I mean, I don’t subscribe to that theory. I like to say that Melbourne is the sporting capital in the world in the fact that we have a ridiculous amount of teams and we really are, for a population a bit over three and a half million, to have ten football teams in the grand slam, tennis in the Grand Prix… I think we’ve got our version of the Kentucky Derby. So it’s a really great place to play a trade from a ticket selling and sponsorship point of view. So you do have to get really inventive.

I think where the different lies potentially from an Australian US market point of view is potentially in sophistication around the data an the theorem side of things. Also, I guess, experimental budget around marketing and game day type of things. So, from a US point of view, they might have a little bit more spend in that space to go, “We’re going to try this,” whereas there’s not as much experimentation type budget, whereas they sort of want to follow the lead of someone else. So that’s where some of that mentality, to a certain degree, comes from.

But as far as how they go about using social, or how they engage fans or getting people to walk up and turn up to games and crowd numbers and those kinds of things, it can be right alongside, and in some cases in front of.

Troy: And that’s one thing that I would like to say. First of all, I don’t just use internal information or it just has to be specific to sports. I’m a big person as far as history and looking at other things. Thomas Freedman has a saying. It’s called cursed by oil. This is the problem that the United States sporting scene has a lot of times. Cursed by oil talks about the middle east, and it says, the problem is they don’t innovate because of the fact they don’t have to. They’re always going to get that abundance, and until 2008 we always had people that bought suites, we always had people that bought tickets. They were buying on credit. But we didn’t care.

But the problem is we weren’t like the Japanese, and the Japanese are not cursed by oil because they have no natural resources. So they have to innovate consistently, and the problem is in 2008 everybody freaked out, especially in the United States and especially with the universities and colleges. Athletic departments internationally are not the same as they are for the United States, but a lot of them have been able to cover budgets. A lot of them have been able to hit huge sales numbers without having to actually earn it, and now we’re in the space to where we actually have to earn it.

So some of our problems that we talk about with sports business are that we’ve told each other that we are the perfect, we are the epitome… So there is no problem with what we do. Now we’re finding out that’s not only not necessarily true, but we’re not even living up to the numbers and standards we used to because of the fact we forgot to learn. That is where, I think, this is all changing. I think the international sports scene has the opinion and the option of actually moving ahead of the United States.

It’s great to have a virtual cash machine, but not when the suite sales are starting to crush. The suite sales are starting to drop like flies, as they have been in the last four years. I would challenge anybody to actually look at suite sales over the last four years for United States. They are called aging dinosaur for a reason. There’s a reason. Nobody is buying into them. They haven’t fit the needs, and if you look at the suites that are overseas, they are filled because they understand those needs and they understand what it takes to actually get people to buy in.

Sean: Well, I mean, that’s the thing. As much as there’s, I guess, concern and everything that you said, there’s also tremendous opportunity for the people putting in the hard work and putting in that extra effort to not, oh, we’ve got a great team, people will keep showing up.

So using the new technology that’s available around theorems and understand your fan and understanding what offer that fan with get… Not the, “Thank you for coming onboard, please marry me.” Take him along that escalator. Give him that one game offer, that three game offer, that kind of thing, and using things like we’re starting to do with the Facebook advertising and all the demographics. That’s now giving sports marketers the opportunity to say, “We now know what or fans are like. What know what else they like. We can hit them up with a specific offer.”

For as much as people are complaining about Facebook, there’s all this data that it’s providing. So for me it’s a huge opportunity for sports to do it right and to help lead sponsors and patterns in that direction as well. They are in that same space, so how do we reach our customer and those kind of things that sports offers out of the box.

Troy: And here’s what I’ll use as and sample. I know your audience is a little more international, but I would use Nascar and Formula One as perfect examples, where people don’t follow necessarily the sport itself. But they follow that person. Your membership is like an affiliate brand to that Collingwood or Hawthorn, whatever, to where you can actually say, “I can drive them to this specific sponsor, and if you don’t sponsor me they aren’t going to buy your product.” That’s who loyal they are.

I think that’s where the membership model actually supersedes a lot of the season ticket transactional, because a lot of times with the season ticket… Yeah, great, I bought a season ticket. I may have gone to all the games. I may not have. But I don’t feel the loyalty in the same way.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: I’ll give you an example more on the college side. When Settle University, in ’57, ’58, we played for the national title of college basketball back when they were the big powerhouse against Kentucky. So we played them back in 2008. So we had extra exhibition tickets. Now we thought, “Exhibition. Nobody is going to come beyond a few people.”

So we went outside and I was part of it. We handed them to Kentucky people.

First of all, they didn’t know they were going to be able to come, because even with 20,000 seats they didn’t have the ability. But I have to tell you, I had people with tears in their eyes because they had never even been in the facility. They had always wanted to be. But the point was it was such an emotional core.

These things teach you something. I mean, you have life lessons your entire go around. You can either accept them or you can not. The problem is, in sports business, we like to plug our ears and say, “We know it all.” I guarantee you that right now there is somebody who is an executive who is listening to this going, “Well, I know it all. I know what you’re going to say. I know all of this stuff.” That is the person that is going to be failing in a year, because they don’t understand this world changes.

There is so much about Twitter and Facebook and everything else that you have taught me that I thought, “Okay, I kind of figured it out.” That’s why I’ve gone from, like, 100 followers to about 2200, because it’s really that understanding that you don’t know it all and that you have to continue to understand that everything is going to change as you go along, and that’s where the membership model has the ability to really develop those things as a traditional… But they can’t also be there and kind of just rest not heir laurels too, because that’s a huge component that has actually cost them – by thinking that people are just going to automatically re-up.

Sean: Yeah. It’s not a holy grail.

Troy: Not at all.

Sean: There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. I think that’s where it’s weaving them altogether. It’s funny, you’re talking about loyalty and just it seems to be the hot buzz thing of everyone setting up loyalty programs around what you’re doing as far as what you’re doing on social and then what are you doing with your ticket span an turning up to games and spending on merchandise. But something as simple as years of service, that’s a very easy loyalty model to roll out and reward those fans just to begin with, and not to be chasing that, oh, he’s the new thing that’s going to be the real deal when it’s going to be a little bit of that. It’s going to be a little bit of the rewards stuff. It’s going to be a little bit of the delight and surprise your fans with certain things.

Then there’s going to be the underestimated. What still gets underestimated is great customer service or over-serving and those kind of things. It’s a whole picture, and yeah, you’re right. We are now at a time, and it’s not just the podcasts that we’re producing, where you can get access to all of that info to follow how did they do it well in the World Cup, or what are they doing over in London that’s different for the EPL and all those kinds of things.

Five years ago that wasn’t available. You would only be getting it via SBJ, sports business journal, or a few resources where it has now opened up, and you can be having that conversation or seeing what people are doing in the UK or in Europe or in Australia. Again, I think Shane made a really good point that New Zealand is seen as sort of a bit of a place where you watch from trains, because things happen their sooner and that’s where big brands keep an eye on what’s happening.

So what they’re seeing with the world of sports and crowds and who they’re moving is something that you want to pay attention to, because it will happen in Australia and it will happen in the US, and you’ve got access to all of that stuff.

So it’s just a matter of finding the right people that you need to follow to be able to filter that bit of information. But it’s all out there, and if you do have that… “We’re good. Our team is good.” The old winning is a strategy kind of mentality, which some teams still have, you really want to make sure that you are pulling at every resource you can.

Troy: Well, here’s the first thing I will say. Hope is not a strategy.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: So if you’re hoping you’re not going to win, let me just say this to you. The LA Lakers. The Manchester United. Most of them went through horrible years. Where are those dedicated fans over the last 20 years when they’ve been winning championships? Where were those fans this last year? They dropped out, because once you’ve sold them only on a proposition of winning that’s all they expect. When they don’t get it you’re suggesting the worst thing possible.

So selling to the ultimate fan, you have to realize, A, the ultimate fan is already there, and B, if you’re not settling on some of the casual fan… The casual fan will actually become your ultimate fan in ways that the ultimate fan will not, because the casual fan sometimes will not care about your standings. They care about a good time.

Sean: Yeah, and that’s what we’ve seen here in Australia with the big bash league. That has effectively been relaunched. It’s cricket. It’s rather than… We have cricket in various forms. We have it in five day format. We have it in one day format, maybe the length of a baseball game, and now there’s this 20/20, which is a nice three hour consumable.

It has never been pitched as a game of cricket. It is being pitched as and entertainment option. More and more sports need to be pitched in that way. You aren’t competing against other sports. You are competing against TV, Netflix, the movies.

Troy: The $21 movie.

Sean: The $21 movies. That’s what you’re competing against. In cricket’s terms, in the middle of the summer, you’re competing against the beach and those kinds of things. So it has to be an entertaining option.

So more and more sports will be, and they are, whether it’s NBA doing a specific theme night with Star Wars or dress-ups or whatever, there’s another reason you’re going. It might be to bring along those kids to become your next fans and those kinds of things because not everyone is going to have the motivation to go, “I’m super in love with this sport,” or, “I’m super in love with this team, but I want to go for the experience of taking my family to a game and having a great day out.”

So, really, you’re selling a completely different sell to what the standards spot would be, which would be, you know, from Barcelona, come and see them play because you love football. Say, “No, I want to go because I want to go and experience a game and see what it provides.”

That’s the difference, I think. There’s a lot of change happening in that space as well.

Troy: And the interesting thing about that is you bring up that every competition… I went to the one on Sunday night. Was it the Collingwood..?

Sean: Collingwood Carlton on Sunday night at the MCG.

Troy: Sunday night footie, right?

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: I had never been to a football game. It was interesting. I found it funny that somebody made the reference that it’s more exciting than the NFL and that they don’t understand it because there are too many rules. I said, “Well, that’s kind of a cultural thing.”

So I can respect that sports are different and I can respect those types of things. What I cannot handle and I cannot respect is that, when you have someday that gets on the next day, and I happen to be watching because I was up at four in the morning because I could not get to sleep…

Sean: Time zones.

Troy: The time zones. The person got up there and blamed the league when it’s his club.

This is not the 1970s and your event is not Gandhi’s funeral. Gandhi’s funeral, by the way, is the largest walk up crowd ever. It was two million people. So unless it’s those types of things… Apparently they knew from December that this thing was going to happen. So if you knew was December… This is kind of, like, when did they know, why did they know.

Sean: So, for the listeners, Troy is talking about Eddie McGuire, who is the president of the Collingwood football club and a Polish media performer. So he’s a TV and radio star.

Troy: He’s a Polish media performer who should have been embarrassed. I’m sorry.

Sean: Yeah. He was effectively defending, I guess… I’m not going to defend Eddie, but he was effectively just pretty much putting his stake in the stand to say, “We don’t want to have these terrible time slots again.” A bit of a power play.

The fact that 40,000 turned up when they have averaged 6000 – 70000, it was a combination of bad time slot and those kind of things. But yeah, they could have done more to get more people there, and it was a bit of deflecting of the blame I would have thought that Eddie was playing there.

Troy: But you don’t control the weather. What if, all of a sudden, the premiere had died that weekend? What if, all of a sudden, a freak snow storm? What if everything had happened? What if all of a sudden an earthquake had happened? You can’t control the outside things around you, so intend you need to focus on, how do we make sure that this game… I guarantee you that the Superbowl, even though it was played in New York and it was played in snow and it was the first open air thing, I guarantee you none of the NFL guys stood around and said, “That will be sold out.”

They had to sell every single ticket, and that’s the point. When the buck stops with you the bucks stops with here, that’s where you have to go. In his case, I’m not saying he’s a horrible person or whatever. What I’m saying, though, is he has to refocus.

The problem is too many people go on the ultimate fan and they think everybody is going to show up. Pretend that nobody shows up. Tell me how you would fix that if nobody shows up and you are eight months out, six months out, and that’s all I’m asking. I know I’m picking on him, but he was the only one that…

Sean: No, I completely understand. Yeah.

Troy: And I don’t know him from Adam. Probably a very nice guy. I don’t know. But my point is, is that I saw that and I was, like, “You know…” First of all, the worst thing you can do is blame the fans. So I’m going to blame the victim. I’m going to blame the person that could have come out, and then they’re going to be told… Okay, so if I come out and there isn’t enough of us, then I get blamed? Or I don’t come out because my kid is in school the next day. I get blamed?

I mean, to me, it’s the antithesis of what you should do. Now that sounds like something out of the 1970s playbook, but we’re not in there anymore unless I check my calendar again. So I guess those are my kind of criticisms, and I don’t want to be too harsh. I get it that it’s a sensitive subject. But it’s something that really kind of bugs me. That’s where people go, “Well, you’re seven years behind.” You’re not.

Sean: So don’t complain.

Troy: Yeah.

Sean: Look at the solution and not complain. I completely agree.

To wrap up this chat, one, where can people find you and all of your stuff and podcast? This is the plugging part of the interview. So your Twitter handle?

Troy: Sportstower.

Sean: And where can they find your podcast?

Troy: They can find it on iTunes. They can find it on Spreaker. They can find it on TuneIn. All of them. Stitcher. I’ve made sure they are on all of them because I always get somebody that emails and says, “Hey, you’re not on this platform.”

I say, “Okay.”

Sean: Are you on the Windows phone store?

Troy: Yes.

Sean: Did you have a real hard time getting it on there?

Troy: No, because I use a company called Libsyn that actually makes the app thing for me and puts all of that…

Sean: So you’ve gone down that route of Libsyn with the apps. So people can download the app as well.

Troy: I’m a very big supporter of what Rob does because I am not a tech guy, which is kind of funny because I’m in the world of tech. But I just want to be able to put it up, and I will pay the $30 a month so I don’t have to think about it.

Sean: Yeah.

Troy: But yeah, but he got it figured out for me. What’s funny is I’ve had other people that have reached out to me and said, “I had such a problem with iTunes and this, that and the other,” and I said, “Well, if you talk to Rob…” Look, if there are other things out there, he’s not paying me any money to do it. I’m paying him. But it really does… If it makes it easier for you I would anther farm that out. That’s an Americanism maybe. I don’t know.

Sean: I mean, my podcasts are on Libsyn as well. But yeah. iTunes is where most people find you and that’s where a lot of the downloads are. I think there’s probably, you know, for looking at the podcasting scene, if someone can sort of break that how to download a podcast… I mean, I’m sure you’re still answering that question.

“How do I download it? What do I do it with?”

Troy: That’s a huge one.

Sean: I mean, it has helped that now iTunes has the podcast app and people can start understanding that. But Android is another space. Like, if somebody is on Android, how do I get it? Oh, well, I’ll tell people I use PocketCast. I love PocketCast. That’s where I send people.

Troy: Yeah. What I would stress, though, and Libsyn doesn’t do this, but a lot of those companies out there do… Be careful that they’re not throttling. Because if they’re throttling what they’re doing is stopping you. If you get a certain amount of listeners then they stop allowing you to have so many things. It’s kind of like really bad wifi. You don’t want it.

So just make sure that you’re being protected.

Sean: Yeah. All the big podcasts are in Libsyn because it is a pay your fee per month, and if it’s popular…

Troy: I don’t want to think about it, yeah.

Sean: …It’s popular, so there will be links to everything Troy related. Twitter. LinkedIn. His podcast. All of his websites. He’s pretty much everywhere. If you’ve missed him you’re doing it wrong.

Troy: Yeah. as well, which I don’t even run. They asked me to be a part of it and somebody said, “Well, you obviously own that.” I go, “No, but I just publish a lot.”

Sean: You do do a lot of articles on that, so there will be a few links in the show notes. Thank you very much for being on the show and hopefully we will catch up with you stateside sometime.

Troy: I want to say thank you very much, not only for today, because we had lunch and everything, but just your friendship. I really do appreciate the fact. You have taught me a lot. I hope that I can return the favor in some way. But I just really want to say that it has been really nice to meet somebody of your caliber who has not only donated the time, but just been there. That’s a good thing. So what I would stress is anybody that’s looking to… When they talk about that networking stuff, don’t just give a stupid card. Just be a card. It helps so much more.

Sean: All right. We’re going to go to break so Troy and I can hug. Cheers.

Troy: Cheers.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Troy Kirby from the Tower of Sports. All the links to all things Troy will be in the show notes. That will be Check out his work on ticketing today and definitely give his podcast a listen to.

This week on ABC Grandstand with Al Crombie I caught up with him to chat about Vine and where it sits, and why it’s currently catching a lot of heat from FIFA and ESPN.

Al Crombie: Hey. Sean Callanan joins us in the studio, our resident sports geek from Good morning, Sean.

Sean Callanan: Good morning, Al. How are you doing?

Al Crombie: Well, better than you, because you’ve got to actually turn round to see the screen.

You’ve got to look at my mug, whereas I’m kind of watching this beautiful game.

Sean Callanan: I’m 100% committed to this radio program, Al, and I can see the show on the reflection over there. So maybe 85%.

Al Crombie: Wonderful. Five minutes to go. Columbia are pressing pretty hard. The Brazilians are starting to look a little nervous, looking a little bit cagey, but we will keep our eye, one eye, on this one. But of course you’re here to talk social media and…

Sean: All things digital.

Al Crombie: …All things digital.

Sean: Everything that is happening in the world. One of the things that is actually happening around the World Cup, and it’s around the sports rights issue around TV rights and sort of where social media is playing in that space.

So I’ve spoken about a few of the different programs are coming up, and one of them that’s causing a bit of stir is Vine. So Vine is an app that was acquired by Twitter and then launched by Twitter. It’s a six second video clip. So you can take a six second video clip and put it out there. You vine it, effectively, by putting it out there and people can watch it, and watch it on a loop.

Sports rights, especially in the World Cup, are going, “Well, hang on. We’ve gone and paid a stack of cash for the TV rights. There are these people stealing our content, effectively, and sharing it.”

Now, if it’s you or I they’re not that fussed about it. If we were to show our fervor and stuff, or it’s even better from an organized point of view if you’re taking a Vine from the stadium or that kind of thing to show the event. But it’s when there are several media outlets that don’t have the rights and stuff like that. We spoke about it with Francis around the Olympics. Olympics, super clamped down. You can’t take an audio clip or a tiny video clip. They just have a raft of lawyers ready to pounce on anybody.

But it’s sort of becoming looser in this space. At the moment it’s ESPN and FIFA that are chasing down a few media outlets saying, “Hey, stop vining all of the top goals.” People wake up and they want to see the goals, and it’s a really easy consumable form. So it’s really eating into their both TV and their digital rights. There’s a bit of backwards and forwards with the rights holders and Twitter, copyrights violations and stuff like that.

But it is a growing, I guess, area of concern. A growing area of legality. I guess the best example, just in the last week with Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon, everybody would have seen that between the legs shot…

Al Crombie: Yeah. Sensational.

Sean: And they probably saw it via a Vine. Again, it was a random person that took it off their TV, but then all of the media outlets picked it up under – you would know, under fair use for news, which is sort of a gray area where sports programs are allowed to use content to say, “We’re reporting on the news.” That’s where the argument lies.

Now, that Vine has had 3.6 million views. So Wimbledon would be complaining that, “Well, you should be going to our site to watch that clip,or we’ve already monetized it and we’ve put it up on or YouTube channel because we’re the ones with the rights.”

But people have already gone, “Oh, well, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it on this Vine. I don’t need to see it.”

Al Crombie: Well that’s it then, isn’t it? A lot of people would be sitting at home thinking, “Six seconds? Gee, what’s the big deal?” But if we think about something like Nick Kyrgios shot or, say, Cahill goal, those kind of ones, that’s the stuff that people want to see. They’re not too worried about the other highlights. They want to see the absolute moment.

Sean: And the thing is, that also drags in the causal fan and the non-avid fan that’s not watching it. So that’s what all these teams that we work with, or leagues, or that kind of thing, want to promote and drive people back to their sites and show the full experience of the game. If all of these premium snippets just end up out on the web, weather they be via Vine… I mean, the other area that is of concern, and I guess there is contentious rights issues, is with GIFs.

You know, animated GIFs. Animated GIFs is where you can take some vision, for instance, and make it into a picture that just has stills effectively in it, but it effectively ends up looking like a movie.

So there are even rights issues talking about, “Oh, hang on. There was that big dunk in the NBA and now it’s on Tumblr and it has gone completely viral, but because it’s not video we can’t classify it. We can’t go after it.” But when you’re looking at it and watching it, it looks like video. It shows the presentation of it. I can take Cahill’s goal, make a GIF of it and put it up on Twitter, and it will play and be exactly like video.

So that’s the point of contention at the minute, and I think probably future rights discussions and those kinds things will probably tie those loose ends. It’s a developing space.

Al Crombie: Is there any way to actually track or monitor how much… Say, three million people watching this Vine and not going to official website, how much that will cost? Because it all comes back to rights and dollars.

Sean: Yeah.

Al Crombie: I mean, can they put a ballpark figure on how much this costs them, and hence why they’re getting so upset?

Sean: Lawyers can put money and dollar figures on a bunch of things.

Al Crombie: Yes.

Sean: Yeah. That’s the main thing. There have been a few media outlets in the US that have had their Vine accounts sort of shut down because they kept sort of breaching the copyright policy. So they have to re-up, build those audiences up, but I think that’s where it will come down to. Someone will say, “Hang on. You are siphoning off our audience, siphoning off the rights that we paid.”

So it will be a matter of saying, “We paid $100 million,” or whatever the money is for these rights, and then if you’re saying your rights, move on… Now, YouTube has technology to detect if you upload game footage or certain things and they can go, “Oh, hang on. We know the right holder,” and automatically take down, or the rights holder has the option to allow that idea to stay there, but with their advertising.

So there are some of the football teams that do a lot of work through YouTube. So Real Madrid is one of them. They would allow someone to remix Ronaldo’s goal celebration or whatever and not say take it down. They will just say that we own the rights to that video, to that content. We will claim that content..

So the technology to say, “Is it allowed,” is there. It just needs to be adapted for these new networks, and then potentially that might be a solution where they say, “We will let it happen, but there will be a pre and post rule, maybe on these kind of videos.”

Al Crombie: Sean Callanan is with us from Sean, sports starts have embraced social media. Their Twitter accounts, Facebook, obviously to build their profile, to keep in touch with their fans.

Sean: Yeah, or to give the illusion of keeping in touch with their fans in some instances. It can backfire on you. Maria Sharapova has had an instance this week where it has backfired pretty heavily.

Al Crombie: Oh, yeah. So if you haven’t been following, Maria Sharapova, obviously a big tennis star, massive amount of fans, was asked at Wimbledon this week because Sachin Tendulkar was in town, was at the game… I think he was in one of the corporate boxes. She was asked if she knew who Sachin Tendulkar was, and she said that she didn’t. And what a crime that is.

Sean: Oh, big mistake.

Al Crombie: That effectively annoyed millions upon millions of cricket fans in India who decided to provide her with an educationalist via her Facebook page, via her Twitter. For a short while her Wikipedia page was updated to say she does not know who Sachin Tendulkar is. So it just shows you, I guess, the fervor an fandom around Sachin Tendulkar in India.

Nothing wrong. You can’t expect Maria Sharapova to be across everybody in cricket, but yeah, people can be offended at the smallest thing. I get the power of the crowd. But yeah, the amount of the…

Sean: Just that direct link. They can click to her.

Al Crombie: I’m pretty sure she definitely knows, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I see an Instagram photo of her and Sachin Tendulkar in the near future to appease her new legion of Indian fans.

Sean: Indeed.

DJ Joel: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at

Sean: So where do you think Vine will land in the space of sports digital rights? Really interesting to see that Twitter recently acquired Snappy TV, which is used by a few leagues around the world, the NFL, the NBA… The AFL are using it here to enable them to put in live clips directly into the stream. So that may be a way for Twitter to appease these rights holders, but I definitely think they are going to have to move along with some technology similar to what the Youtube have to be able to protect the digital rights of the people who buy the rights.

If they don’t, obviously those rights may diminish if everyone just can simply watch the biggest highlight on a Vine.

That clock is telling me to wrap up this episode, get to, and let you get on with your day. This has been episode 53. You can find the show notes at All the links to Troy Kirby and all the other things that I mentioned on this podcast will be in that episode. Getting to the pointy end of the World Cup, so my sounds of the game and social media post of the week has got a Barcelona flavor, I should say, with Messi in action for Argentina. I was lucky enough to see him and Rinaldo in Barcelona. That’s where these sounds of the game comes from, and social media post of the week goes out to Neymar Jr wishing Neymar Jr a best recovery, as we all do.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Find all Sports Geek podcasts at Need help with your content? Book in for a content brainstorming session with Sports Geek now. Go to Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

SGP 042: A look behind @AFL with Tyson Densley

Tyson Densley AFL Social Media ManagerOn 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

AFL Social Media numbers by team

AFL 2014 Social Media Numbers

Social Media Post of the Week

Have you been following Zlatan Ibrahimović’s tweets? Arrogant or not, they have been very funny.

Closing 2 Cents

Lebron James Samsung Tweet

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Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your networks.  Thanks in advance.

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Social Media Training - Facebook, Twitter,InstagramLearn how your business, brand or team can use social media to drive business results.

Find out how I used social media to build Sports Geek and what I teach sports teams to engage fans and sell memberships and tickets.

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Find out more

Podcast transcription

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 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 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 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 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.

Sean: Yeah.

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.

Tyson: Absolutely.

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.

Tyson: Yes.

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.

Tyson: Absolutely.

Sean: And, good luck the season ahead.

Tyson: Yes, good luck with the course

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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,, 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

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 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

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 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 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. is the place to go to find out a whole lot more about it.

Recording: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Listen to Beers, Blokes, and Business at Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

SGP 040: Oscar Ugaz on #digisport trends and David Morris #Sochi2014 Silver Medallist

Oscar Ugaz chats about his time at Real Madrid on Sports Geek PodcastOn this week’s podcast we chat with Oscar Ugaz about the European sports digital scene and his time at Real Madrid.  Included in this episode is a sneak peek at our interview with David Morris Sochi silver medalist in the aerials from our chat on Beers, Blokes & Business.


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:

  • What Oscar thinks the keys are behind connected stadiums
  • How Real Madrid used Facebook gaming to raise money
  • Why YouTube is perfect fit for sports content
  • What the Australian Olympic team learned about social media after London
  • How athletes like David Morris dealt with huge influx of social media attention
  • How Google+ is finding it’s way into sports market
  • How digital fans will be given the Front Row treatment at Old Trafford

David Morris appears on Beers, Blokes & Business, subscribe on iTunesResources from the episode

Social Media Post of the Week

Manchester United announced Front Row an initiative to bring digital fans closer to the players at Old Trafford using Google Hangouts.

Send in your nominations for best social media post of the week – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine… for whatever reason fan engagement, sponsorship activation, cool content….

Closing 2 Cents

 YouTube is ready to take on sports market.  Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.  That's almost an hour for every person on Earth  @seancallanan from @SportsGeek

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 40 of the Sports Geek podcast. On this week’s podcast, we chat with Oscar Ugaz about his time at Real Madrid and what’s next in the world of sports digital in Europe.

We have a quick chat to Olympian and silver medalist, Dave Morris.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host, who suggests you should really rethink that bad password, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. That’s right, my name is Sean Callanan, from Sports Geek, and welcome to Episode 40. We’ve made it to the big four-zero. Thank you to everyone who has listened from the get-go. And if you’re just new and checking out the back catalogue, thank you for joining us.

This week on the podcast I chat with a good friend of mine, Oscar Ugaz, who works in digital marketing in Europe. He’s in France at the moment. We talk about his time when he was working with Real Madrid, and some of the things he did there.

Also some of the trends that he is spotting in the world of sports digital, not only in Europe, but also in Latin America. We talk about topics like connected stadium and why YouTube is ready to disrupt the world of sports.

Also a little bit of a sneak peak, we are lucky enough to chat with Winter Olympian and overall good bloke, David Morris. He recently came back from Sochi, winning a silver medal in aerial skiing.

We chatted with him on Beers, Blokes, and Business. That’s going to come out tomorrow, on Monday, so we’ll have a little bit of a snippet of that episode, where we talk about social media and the reaction from fans, and how he dealt with it.

Don’t forget the Sports Geek One-Day Educational is now out. You can check that out at Stay tuned for some more info on that later in the podcast. We’re going to give you a special promo code. But first, here’s my chat with Oscar Ugaz from France.

I’m very pleased to welcome Oscar onto the Sports Geek podcast. I caught up to him a couple of years ago via Skype before I had a podcast, so I’m really happy to have him on. Oscar Ugaz is in France today. Oscar, welcome to the podcast.

Oscar: Thank you very much, Sean. Thanks for having me.

Sean: And you are in France today?

Oscar: Yes, today we are in a winter day in France. Very, very nice.

Sean: First of all, just to introduce yourself to the listeners, if they follow @SportsBiz on Twitter, or @DigiSport, they might have seen your Twitter handle, @OscarUgaz, pop up every now and again. But do you want to give everyone a little bit of a background of your story in sports and digital?

Oscar: Oh, yes, of course. I have an experience of 15 years in digital. I am a former advertising executive working for Wunderman; I am still working with them. But in 2007, I was hired by Real Madrid to be the Digital Business Manager, and I worked with them for several years establishing the digital strategy that nowadays the club has in place.

From that point on, I have been in the sports field and I have been working on advising other sports organization since then, since I left the club.

Sean: It must have been a really exciting phase, because you’re really in that spot around the same time I started Sports Geek. It was a little bit after that, but it was really around the time that social networks really developed. Facebook came along and Twitter came along, and sports teams started to adapt that. Were there some real lessons in those early years in moving from pure digital to what we now know as social media?

Oscar: Yes, indeed. We are talking about 2007. Now in 2007, where Facebook and Twitter are not the size that they are nowadays. They are not as well known as they are nowadays. In that time also, for example, Real Madrid, the data case that I worked on, Real Madrid has not developed a big digital strategy.

They have their portal. They have made some very, very specific analytics for mobile. When we started to develop this new strategy for them, the first thing we do is the website, and stuff like that.

But at some moment, we say, “You know, we are in 2007 and there are these new behaviors in people. People are using these new platforms, this new social media. People are engaging; people are talking. Why don’t we enter into that sphere?”

There was also always a fear – and this is still a fear in most sports organizations and in some brands – that we don’t want to go there because we are afraid of losing contracts, stuff like that.

But after a discussion, and we insist, insist, and we convince them. We start to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, just like a test. At the beginning it was a test to see how fans behave in these environments where they can speak and have an opinion.

Then we will see if we can translate that to our website, our official web portals. At the end of the day, the social media and the social media environments became a big monster on their own. They had their own lives, so we decided to start creating strategies, and created a specific force and a specific business around these social media environments.

Sean: So you’ve moved on from Real now. You’re in a consulting business working in digital marketing. How much of your work now is still in the sports space?

Oscar: Nowadays I work in Latin America and in Europe. Let’s say that around 50% of the job that I am doing right now is related to sports. We are working with some sports clubs in Latin America, and we are also advising some organizations in Germany, and also in Spain.

It is 50% of our job right now, but it is most of the same. It is based on digital and how these organizations can take advantage of these new platforms, and these new solutions.

Sean: So how has the transition for you been a different go from what we would call “Club Land,” working for a team, and just for their purposes to, one, being in the same space as me, working with multiple teams? But then, also, working with these multiple industries, or brands, and governments, and those kinds of things? How much of that digital strategy and the work that you are doing in digital is applicable and transferable across those industries?

Oscar: I think that many, many things are very transferable. For example, when they’re related to sports, at the end of the day, it is a business. You need to develop some kind of value. It is obvious that you need that.

But at the end of the day, all of the things nowadays in digital are based in content. It doesn’t matter if you are selling sports, if you are selling a country, a tourist destination, or a car. I am working in all of these industries.

What you need in all of these situations is content. If you don’t have relevant and remarkable content, it is very difficult to have an impact in digital or in social media. Because nowadays, it’s a word that everyone is using, it’s “content”, but it’s real.

If you don’t have nowadays something interesting to tell in the digital sphere, you have nothing. Because you are not getting attention, and without attention, you are not going to be able to transform that into eventual sales, or into eventual value to the company.

That’s a problem that you confront in any business that you are in nowadays, that if you want to activate it in digital. So I think that experience that we have with a brand like Real that is very big and has all the attention, but in some ways has big difficulties to create content beyond the football match.

You have the football match; it is big content, but its content has already been sold to that tenant of the rights. It is the guy who is paying you the big amounts for broadcast rights.

You say, “Okay, how can I create more content? Something different to try to bring more attention, and try to transform that new attention into money. Because how can I create additional business out of the social media?”

That’s the same problem that, for example, tourist boards, or car dealers, or whoever you think of, all have the same content problem.

Sean: Definitely over the last three to four years, that explosion of content has happened across the board. Sports teams are overflowing with content, but still you’ve got to shape that content for your fans in a way that they can consume it. Because all sports teams, whether they be Real Madrid or the Melbourne Storm or the LA Lakers, they’re competing against these other content engines and content companies that are now coming up and competing with sports teams.

Whether they be USA For The Win, or, or anything like that, the sports teams can’t just be putting out the vanilla met report, or the press conference, they’ve got to be in that – like you just said – remarkable and interesting content to engage their fans. Otherwise, the fans just start tuning out.

Oscar: Yes, that’s very true. The problem is, I am talking about football clubs in Europe and in Latin America. These people have very big difficulties creating relevant and remarkable content. I am not talking about the United States, for example, because in the States, they have been very creative, and they are willing to test new stuff.

In Europe and football in Latin America, beyond the match, the highlights, the training footage or stuff like that, there are very, very few examples of people creating some content by thinking out of the box.

I think that one of the very great and big examples are Manchester City, for example. Manchester City is a club that is creating concepts like the tunnel cam, or are creating concepts like, “Okay, we are going to play the training match using GoPro cameras.” Stuff like that.

I think because they are not in the front lines–they are not the first, and the biggest, and the most popular football club in the premier¬¬–I know it is important but they don’t have anything to lose. They say, “Okay, we are going to test things.” That is the attitude. That is the attitude that you have to take, you know I think that they are doing pretty, pretty well.

Sean: We have definitely seen an insatiable appetite for sports fans, definitely here in Australia, and the same in the States, in the U.S., in the pro teams in the more content the teams produce. We’ve seen it as digital teams have grown. They’ve gone from one to two-person man teams.

As they put in more content producers, the numbers, the traffic, it all increases because the fans have this insatiable desire. From what you are saying, to me, that sounds like a massive opportunity for all the teams to follow the leads of the Manchester Cities, to produce that extra content. Because their fans are craving for it. They just don’t know if the opportunity was there, if that content was produced for them, that they would be consuming that more and more.

Oscar: There is also a big constraint there. It is not only based in the resources you have to pour inside the club more producers and more budget to create that. It is also, I think, about attitude and about conceptual openness to do these types of tasks. Because most of the content created by the club is created by press areas that are very traditional in the way that they manage.

The guys who, for example, are creating outstanding and incredible content around football, in YouTube, for example. It is driving millions and millions and millions of fans of people who are not football clubs. I don’t know if you know them.

Sean: Yes.

Oscar: These are guys who are creating relevant content. They are creating concepts like the football fan, the guy who goes around the games and shows the behind-the-scenes, or the bowels, of the club. Or, I don’t know, the guys who make fans and make rap battles between Ronaldo and Messi, and stuff like that. It is driving huge, huge, huge amounts of traffic and of attention.

That is an arena in which a football club finds it very difficult to enter. Not only because they are traditional. It is also because they have, “Okay, now, we have to protect the image of the players. We have to protect the image of this thing and the other.” You have a lot of constraints, and that’s why you are sometimes forced to create not so interesting and relevant content.

That is a barrier that in some moment needs to be broken down, because if not, all the traffic is going to go to these other creative types, you know, who are creating the content that people nowadays are following.

Sean: Another question that I’m really looking forward to when I’m in Europe is checking out some of the stadiums and seeing what the trends are at stadiums, both in London and in Europe. There is a really big debate in the U.S. at the minute, around connected stadiums.

As you know, I’m part of SEAT Conference where I run the digital track. They’re always talking about Wi-Fi and DAS, and can the fans get access to the Internet. It’s becoming a necessity in the States. We’ve also got CISCO rolling out some networks with some of the major stadiums in Australia, because of the demands that so many fans with smartphones want to be able to do things.

There have been an interesting, I guess, opposing points of view. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Mavericks is really in the camp of, “I don’t want my fans using their phones. I want them to be engaged with the action.”

Then you’ve got the new Kings’ owner, who wants to provide that fan as much Internet as they need, so they can have that extra, contextual benefit of being at the game. It might be live replays that you can pull up on your smartphone.

So they are sort of the two opposite ends of the spectrum that are currently happening in the U.S.. What’s the connected stadium debate like, happening in Europe and in Latin America?

Oscar: I think that in Latin America they are still not in that level of connecting the stadiums. In Europe there are many, many things that are entering into this environment. I think, not because they are thinking in a strategic way, like in the States. But mostly because other ones are doing it.

That is a bad thing about all this digital. “Oh, because my competitor is doing it, I am going to do it also. Because I cannot say that I am not a connected stadium and the team that I fight every Sunday, the other team has it.”

That is the situation right now. I think that both Mr. Cuban and the people who are opposite to him in these things are both right. I think that in these stadiums you have this big problem of people saying “Why go to the stadium if I can sit on my coach, or in my armchair, and I have my big, plasma screen, with my tablet, and all the things, and I get all the information there?”

You have to give them reasons to go to the stadium. Some of the reasons will be that you have the same connectivity and you are going to use the same multimedia options in the stadium. “Come on over here.”

On the other hand, I think that Mr. Cuban is very right. The thing that you cannot do is go to the stadium – and I think that that is happening in some of the stadiums in the States – that you go to the stadium and you sit down in a very big room, like at your house.

You sit down there and you pass all the time watching not the game, but also watching what is happening in other four or five games, at the same time, and playing fantasy games. Because at the end of the day, that is not the experience of a match. I think that both are extremes, that you cannot fall in one extreme or the other, because it is not healthy.

The other thing I think about connected stadiums is that it’s great, you have to provide this content to the fans, these services. But I think that is something that is very expensive. And if the football clubs do not have a good strategy on how to extract money out of it, or how to extract value–and believe me, many, many clubs do not have them, at least in Europe–it is going to be a very big, and expensive, nice-to-have thing.

I think if you want to extract value out of a connected stadium, the first thing that you must have is a very compelling and very well-established CRM strategy. To know, okay, these guys came in, they bought these things. I can put that in the database; I can have all this information. I can see how I can construct insights and information, and I can create new products to sell these guys. Because this is not just, “Okay, I have it; it’s very nice, but it’s very expensive. But I have connection, Wi-Fi in the stadium.” It does not make any sense.

There are football teams, for example, in Europe, where these are projects that are developed by the IT department of the club. But for example, the guys and the sponsorship do not know how to extract value out of that. They don’t have the tools to say, “Okay, how can I use this Internet connection inside the stadium to maybe sell some new products for the sponsor?”

It’s part of the silo culture of many clubs in Europe, you know. IT is one area, and it is totally separated from sponsorship, and it’s totally separated from digital marketing. They work separately; they don’t talk to each other.

One of these projects is a totally technical, IT project. The other guys don’t know how to activate it. So that is one of the other big constraints about this.

Sean: Definitely, yes. It is something that even the first time I went to SEAT in 2011, it was all the IT guys. That was one of my first conversations with Christine after that, saying, “We really need to get the marketers in here at this same conference”, because the IT guys will set up the great systems, but it is the marketing guys who will implement these activations and sponsorships that close the loop.

Oscar: That is not happening, right now. Unfortunately, from my experience, that is not happening, right now.

Sean: Yes, so last year in Kansas City, the guys at Sporting KC, and Sporting Innovations, pretty much used the sporting park, where Sporting KC play, as a really good example of, one, what a connected stadium can be, in that their smartphone app would connect to their Wi-Fi.

As you walked around the stadium, different offers would come to your phone because they knew where you were in the stadium. I think there was a shot-on-goal, and literally, by the time I had taken the phone out of my pocket and brought it up, I was able to see a replay of that.

Now, they are in a really great situation, and I’ve got to get Asim from Sporting Innovations on the podcast to talk about it. But it is that N2N solution, and there are so many moving parts of getting the TV guys to work with your digital, getting the infrastructure of the stadium, but when it does come off, it does fit really well for the fan. That’s the end.

But the other thing is, with the Sporting KC model, it was all connected to their CRM. So they were always getting more data about their fan, to better serve that fan better offers, better deals, those kinds of things, while always profiling those fans.

Oscar: At the end of day, you have to envision some type of return, because we are talking about a very, very expensive investment to create this infrastructure. So who is going to pay for that party? Someone needs to pay for that.

Maybe it’s a sponsor, okay, but the sponsor will need to have options, and will need to have tools to activate that. “Okay, I am going to sponsor, and I am going to pay for this. How am I going to have a return?”

It’s something that needs to be very clear. I think that very few people are making that exercise nowadays in the sports properties. They are just implementing the infrastructure because everyone is doing it. And it is something that is very, very sad to have happening.

Sean: It does take you to that ROI question. We’ve all been playing – I don’t know if I want to say “playing” – but working in social for a couple of years, now, and that ROI question keeps coming up. I think social, overall, is a longer game, and you can measure the ROI on a campaign-by-campaign basis, running specific things. That’s how you can start measuring ROI. But what are some of the things you look for when somebody says, “We want to run this campaign, but we want to make sure it brings in returns?”

Oscar: I think that one of the things on which you need to focus here is how are you’re going to measure value, when you create these companies.

For example, it’s a sponsor campaign, and the sponsor says, “I’m going to measure my values in,” I don’t know, “‘likes’ or comments.” Well, it is this problem; I think that is the most superficial thing that you can do.

I think that you have to create experiences for the fans, but that have a revenue stream behind them. That’s the thing that happened when we created, for example, in Madrid, the Real Madrid Fantasy Manager.

We said, “We have all these millions of fans on Facebook and we have all these thousands of guys that are using our mobile application. Where are these people in 2010? What are these people doing now in social platforms or in mobile?

They are playing FarmVille, or they are playing Mafia Wars. Now we are talking about 2010, when Zynga was very popular. Okay, if we have this, why don’t we create, again, a social media game?

The thing that we do is we act like normal, licensing guys. We go and we talk with Zynga and they say to us, “We are not interested. We are focusing on our own games.”

So we decided that we would make a complete reverse engineering of that game. We sit down with the developers of those games, who have experience creating fantasy games. Together with these guys, we make a reverse engineering of these Mafia Wars, of this FarmVille, and we mix that with a social media game.

And we create the Fantasy Manager, a game that has been very popular and has demonstrated that Real can extract money out of that fan base, because we started bringing real money out of that thing.

So that is something is not in any other clubs. You have people that have the capacity to sit down, do that exercise, and do that reverse-engineering of a game. Because at the end of the day, you say, “No, you are digital guys. What you need to do is start to close licenses.”

You have to think in some other way, you know. You have to think in some other way. At the end of the day, also, this Fantasy Manager game nowadays is played by over 30 teams around the world. You know, because Real created that game, we the team of digital, created that game, Real earns a royalty for each one of these games.

You are playing a game, for example, the AC Milan Fantasy Game, and you are making money out of that. A percentage of the money that AC Milan is making goes to Real, because Real was the creator of the game. So Real Madrid transformed themselves into a publisher of games. Who says that a football club needs to be a publisher of games? Why not?

Sean: And we have seen that with Major League Baseball events media, a lot of teams and leagues are setting up their own digital media departments, both as a content producing house, but then also spinning off and doing those games and fantasy games, and those kinds of things because it is still focused on revenue.

Fantasy is still one of the biggest traffic drivers on a lot of sports. So there is money to be made form an advertising point of view, having premium versions.

I’ve heard Peter Stringer talk about similarly, their 3-Point Play Facebook app around the same time, was a really great way early on, when those games on Facebook were starting to really catch on. It worked really well and tied into their CRM strategy perfectly.

Oscar: Yes, but there you are thinking out of the box, you know. The other example is the all-night video. We arrive in Madrid, we say, “We are the only football club that does not have a paying, all-night, video channel. We are the only club who does not have it. Why don’t we make it?

So we started making all the analysis, and we discover that we lose money. We lose money because we are asking all the other people, all the other clubs that have these types of solutions. And they say, “People nowadays are pirating the content, so we are losing money.”

We say, “We don’t have the content. We are not going to have the possibility of creating a channel. We are going to lose money.” And what happened?

It was 2010. YouTube appears, with YouTube Partner Program. You can upload your content and what do you do? YouTube will start selling advertising over the content that you create. What happens, 50% is for you, and 50% is for YouTube.

But the most interesting thing is that YouTube has this technology that allows you to say, if someone is using your content – let’s say that I, a football club upload my match, and I don’t publish it to YouTube. It’s there.

But there is a guy who takes five seconds to make, I don’t know what, a resume of the best goals. The system identifies that he is using five seconds of my content. They say, “This is the content of Real.” And “Real, you have two options. You can say ‘Block it’, or you can say ‘Sell advertising, and I want to have 50%’.”

At the end of the day, you are using this great technology of YouTube, not to fight with the fans. Because the fans want to take the content, want to take the match. They want to take the interview; they want to make their version. They want to make match-ups.

You say, “Do the match-ups. I am not going to fight you, because it’s impossible to fight with thousands of guys. Do it, you are free, but in the meantime, I am going to make money out of it.”

Sean: Definitely, I’m a big believer. I think YouTube will become a bigger player in sports. They had a very successful campaign with the IPL doing that. And it is rumored that they may try to get some of the NFL, which would be a really big reach.

But yes, the fact that it’s a platform that works; it’s a platform that everyone is consuming their video on. And yes, the ID-matching ability they’ve got, we went through the same when we launched the Lego Car video.

It pretty much says, “Yes, we found another video that someone stole it.” And you have that option to get it shut down and send everyone back to your site, or leave it out there and let the fans consume it. I think that’s a really progressive way of thinking about it. Why wouldn’t you want to monetize your content on all these different ways?

Oscar: And the thing that you have just said is very, very important. Because, indeed, maybe in the future, YouTube is going to be a potential tenant of rights. It is going to be a dealer of the rights, okay. And there is the opportunity; there is where you’re going to take the revenue.

If YouTube, let’s say, in five years, came to a football club and said, “I want to buy your rights. I’m going to pay you $10. And you are going to remain in that position today.” “No, no, no. The value of that is not $10; the value of that is $15.”

You Tube is going to ask you how you know that, and you are going to say, “I now that because over the past five years I have been on your platform and I know the real value of that.” That is the moment when all these efforts and details are going to pay off. It is not going to pay off now.

It’s the same thing that happened with Real, for example. Five years ago, Real started doing all these social media platforms, and one of the guys that entered more into this type of thing was Bwin.

Bwin is company that is in betting, but it is also in entertaining and being the entertainment. It was a sponsor of the shirts. Last year the shirt contract ended, but Bwin did not walk away. Bwin said, “I am out of the shirt, but I want to be the official partner/sponsor of digital Real Madrid.

That happened after five years, before, of working with these guys, working with them, making the Fantasy Manager. Showing it to them and saying, “Here you have insight; here you have information. I am not just sending you an email at the end of the campaign saying how many ‘likes’ you have, how many ‘comments’.”

“No, I am sending you a deck, a complete deck, telling you and informing you of the things that you did in the campaign. Maybe next time you have to do this to obtain more revenue, or more results.” Stuff like that.

That creates a different relationship with that partner. That’s why now, five years after that, after you have started making all those social media that don’t pay off, nowadays, it is paying off. Because you have retained a sponsor that is paying you for this digital platform, and because of these digital efforts that you are making, that were not paying off, now are paying off, after five years.

It’s not money, right now. It’s not, “I am going to create an application and I’m going to make money, money, money all the days, as usual.” No, you have to think differently. You are going to take the value in some other, different way, in the middle- to long-term.

Sean: Definitely, I think we’re on the same page. I definitely think it is long game. The thing that social allows you to do is it allows you to take your fans along on that journey. And wherever you end up, they are already going to be there, because they’re going to be following you on all those different platforms that they’re following you on now. And who knows, there might be a couple of platforms that are being built right now. Whether that’s in Silicon Valley, or somewhere in Europe, or even in Australia.

Oscar: This is called the “innovator’s dilemma”. It happens in any industry. The innovation comes in little segments, in little business models that don’t work, that bring in very little money. So big companies don’t pay attention to that. Obviously, they don’t pay attention to that because the big money is in some other place.

Football clubs don’t pay attention nowadays to the Internet, because the say, “How much are you making? You are making maybe $20,000,000 a year. I make $20,000,000 just signing a deal with a sponsor.” No, they don’t pay attention.

The problem is, when this social media, this digital, begins transforming something big and you are not prepared. That is what has happened, you name it, it has happened with the book industry, the music industry. It has happened with the mining industries. Any industry where technology has entered, it has happened.

It is something that is called the “innovator’s dilemma”, and it is a concept that has been around for many, many years. Now it is happening here. What is happening here is going to happen.

You have to be prepared. It is normal. It is normal that marketing doesn’t pay attention to you. It is normal that you are just five guys in digital, the five crazy guys in digital that no one is paying attention to, that no one is giving you a budget. It’s normal. But the thing is that they need to fight against this innovation dilemma.

One big example, and great example, that did this ten years ago, in breaking the innovation dilemma in sports and now are doing great is MLB. MLBAM are a great example of breaking the innovation dilemma and doing great things for the Major League of Baseball. It is a great example of this.

Sean: Exactly, and that gives me a good time to wrap up our discussion. I know we could talk longer, but I hope that our schedules allow us to catch up when I’m in Europe. But if not, I hope that you can make it down to Miami for SEAT. Maybe that is when we continue this discussion.

Oscar: Okay, I hope so. I hope so.

Sean: Thank you very much for coming on the podcast, Oscar. I will have links to your Twitter handle, @OscarUgaz and you’re LinkedIn, so if anyone wants to catch up with you, they will be in the show notes for this podcast.

Oscar: Thank you very much, for having me, Sean. See you soon.

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Sean: Thanks, again, to Oscar, for joining me on the podcast, all the way from France. Hopefully, I will catch up with him when I’m over in Europe. We’re just trying to organize our diaries to see if we can connect. But as I sort of said there in the conversation, we’re also hoping that he can make it down to SEAT, in Miami in July.

Don’t forget, you can still register for SEAT. I’m working on the digital tracks, and spoke to Christine last week. It looks like it’s going to be a really fun conference. The agenda for the conference, for both the digital, the CIO, the IT track, and also the CRM track run by guys like Russell Scibetti. I hope I got Russell’s name right.

It will be really good to go. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get Oscar to come in and sit on a couple of the panels. You can also check that out at And all the links to Oscar will be in the show notes. So definitely connect with him and follow what he does on Twitter, and LinkedIn, and the like.

This week, also, we had an Olympian turn up to the Sports Geek offices. Dave Morris, who, if you’ve been following the Sochi Olympics, especially in Australia, he won the silver medal for the aerial skiing. He is a friend of one of the blokes, so we had a chat with him, and here is a little bit of a snippet from that chat.

Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties when recording, so it was recording on our back-up track, so it’s a little bit tinny. But he does give up some insights on what it’s like when you are inundated with social media mentions and requests around a big event like the Olympics. Dave Morris, Olympian.

Sean: So I have a question from a Sports Geek point of view. At the London Olympics, the swimmers and swimming team sort of blamed social media for their downfall. In that they were reading too many tweets; it got in their heads. I guess, you have just now lived that. What was it like in the lead-up to? We’ve already said that you were flying under the radar, but there would have been tweets coming in.

Dave: Absolutely, yes.

Sean: And stuff like that. What did you do to manage that? And the second question is, what was it like afterwards?

Dave: The Australian Olympic Committee really learned from London and the mistakes – I say “mistakes” – the stuff that went wrong there. Yes, the social media got to a lot of athletes and it was very overwhelming.

So they had what they called basically a “media black out”, which was amped up a little bit more than it was. But it was basically they didn’t want you tweeting or doing any social media while you were at your training venue, whether you were training or competing. Which is very, very fair. People got all arced up about it. I’m like, “But why would you want to be tweeting as you’re ready to go down the end run?” You’re just not concentrating.

Sean: There was a security issue, too, because there was some security issues.

Dave: They didn’t want people saying, “I’m going to this bar.” And then having anyone turn up. I thought it was very fair. You were allowed to tweet in photos, and whatever, once you went back to your room and stuff. That was fine, but they just suggested that it was the best option to just stay totally away from it. Because you do get overwhelmed by it.

Once I got the medal, I got the full brunt of social media in my face. It was three whole days of basically, non-stop. And there’s no way I could have done that before my event, if I’d had any exposure whatsoever. Because, you know, I went under the radar, which was the plan. But guys like, they’re like, “BAM! These guys got a win.” That’s very overwhelming.

Sean: That’s the advice that I’ve given my clients, as sports teams, or with football clubs. They get, you know, I just did a training session with North Queensland Cowboys, and they get that intense pressure over 30 weeks.

Dave: Yes.

Sean: Over a 30-week season. So if Jonathan Thurston has a good game, he gets a flood of tweets coming in. But with the Olympics, you know, they did make a mistake in London and they needed to correct it. They tell you, “Don’t read all the newspapers before you go in.” And that’s all obvious, but they weren’t ready for this new media, to say, “Don’t listen, don’t be tweeting.”

Man: Internet trolls.

Dave: I’ve had the Internet trolls, and my brother helps manage my Facebook fan page. I’ve got people who are just hating me, and I’m like, “What have I done?”

Man: What could they say wrong?

Dave: He deletes it before I read it, because I was going to say before, “Thank you, very much.” But I’m just like, “What have I done to do that?” But I take it as a compliment someone writing to flip me off.

Man: They make fun of you, like the fact that you wear the girls’ uniform, instead of your pants.

Dave: Well, that’s the truth.

Man: Oh, is it true?

Dave: Yes. I wore a woman’s uniform for a couple of years, then you have a boy’s one on. You know, people want to take the time.

Man: We haven’t meant you any kind of trouble.

Sean: You mentioned that your brother helps you with your Facebook fan page. Do you run your Twitter and your Instagram accounts?

Dave: Yes, I do manage my own Twitter, but Dad and my brothers, Pete and Josh, help me out. But that’s true, it’s nice to have them take the load off that. But I make sure I know what’s going on.

But in the games, I went, “You know, I’ll read just a little bit in there.” Because that’s what I do on a daily basis. That’s the routine. But I did really step back from it. I took my pictures as I normally would, but I left it all up until the end. Then, once the matter was done, 980 emails the next morning.

Sean: Wow.

Dave: Like, “All right. Here we go.”

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Sean: Thanks, again, to Dave Morris, for coming in to Sports Geek HQ. Again, apologies. Kicking myself for the technical difficulties with the audio. But I guess after 70 episodes, you’re going to have one or two glitches every now and again. But it just shows, especially with audio and video, always have a back-up, and always have a secondary option, otherwise we would have lost it completely.

You can follow Dave @AerialSkier on most platforms. And you can hear that episode in full at, or you can get that on iTunes and Stitcher. But if you just go to @BeersBlokesBiz on Twitter, you’ll get the latest links for the show.

This week’s social media post of the week, and it’s actually quite topical, considering the conversation I had with Oscar around YouTube and some of the options in that space.

YouTube have announced, from YouTube and Google+, I effectively using the two terms interchangeably, Google+ with Google Hangouts, which is effectively a YouTube product. I see it as a YouTube product. They have announced Google+ Front Row with Manchester United, a means to bring fans from the digital space to Old Trafford.

So I’ll have a link to the show notes of Manchester United announcing that on Facebook and Google+, and the video that Google UK produced to promote the event. The fans will be able to dial in using Google Hangout, and that will actually be shown on the front row at Old Trafford.

So it’s a really good way of connecting digital fans from an online point of view, to the off line, connecting them to the stadium.

Again, I think Google Hangouts, and we’re seeing more and more teams do them, I do think the invite-only and hand-picked fans is the way to go. Manchester United is running effectively a competition to decide which fans will be in that front row.

I think it’s a really great way to engage your fans and bring them back. So I think, everything I’m seeing, from what the Google+ team, and what the Google+ sports team are doing – you saw it with the #sportsconference – they are really trying to push into that sports vertical.

So if you haven’t checked out Google Hangouts and how you could use them, I highly suggest you do because I do think it is going to be, I guess, the one thing that may potentially come out of Google+.

I’m not saying that Google+ is dead, or it’s the next platform to explode, but I definitely like Google Hangouts and the products it offers in the YouTube space. So check that out, Google+ Front Row with Manchester United.

I don’t want to run too long. I’m trying to keep my episodes under 45 minutes, so that clock is ticking to tell me to dedicate Episode 40.

I did have a nomination for Steve Menzies, Manly Sea Eagles legend, coming back at the age of 40 to play in the Sevens Tournament. I was going to talk about the 40-yard dash, considering it has been the NFL combine recently.

But as a Detroit bad boys Pistons fans, I can’t go past one of the biggest bad boys of them all, Bill Laimbeer, especially since I was lucky enough to meet him on one of my earlier trips to Detroit. I caught him at an airport and got his autograph. I’ll take a photo of that and put it in the show notes. So I’m going to dedicate this episode to Bill Laimbeer.

You can get all the show notes, all the links of everything that was discussed today at As it is, you can track down and stalk, or I should say follow and connect with all of the guests – over 50 now. Simply go to

And please, look at the episode catalog. Like I said, I’m very proud to get to 40 episodes. Thank you for all the support, for all of the people who have tweeted in, posted, and replied that they are listening to the podcast.

If I’m not getting that feedback, I won’t be doing the podcast, is probably one way of putting it. It really does spur me on to continue to produce this episode.

One example of that is from Richard, from Canberra, who is asking about IFTTs in one of the emails that I respond to. When you sign up for Sports Geek news, if you go to and sign up now, I’ll actually send you a few tips around how to use IFTT.

He asked, “Is IFFT more like a curation service?” IFTT is; it’s If This Then That. I use it as a bit of a traffic controller and an archive for all things social.

So I’ll put a link in the show notes to my IFTT profile. It does things like automatically sending Instagram photos I like to my Drop box, or I’ve got an archive of which photos I’ve liked.

I’m also saving them in a Google spread sheet. So if I want to reference them later, I might send them off to Tumblr. If I like a YouTube clip on YouTube, it will be sent to my Tumblr, and things like that.

So it’s pretty much you set up a bunch of channels and then it allows you to either archive, or send those posts to other platforms. I use it a lot with Instagram. I use it a lot with YouTube. And just I use it a lot from an engagement point of view.

So if I’m engaged with a client and we want to keep track of all the Instagram photos that are coming up around an event, I’ll set up an IFTT rule that will save all of those “likes”. So we have a record of how many we liked and what pictures we liked, and what type of users were sharing the photos of note.

One last thing, I did promise a special promo code for our One-Day Educational. For those of you in Melbourne, I would love to see you there. If you know someone who is running a business, working in the social media, or the marketing space, and want to get a good feel for how they can use social media in their marketing mix, we’d love you to recommend and tell them about the Sports Geek One-Day Educational.

So for this week, for this episode, I’m going to put out a promo code The promo code is going to be “Oscar.” That will get you $50 off the registration price. So thank you for listening. I’m more than happy for you to pass that on; that promo code, again, is “Oscar.”

Hope to see you there, March 31, at Honey Bar. It will be pretty much four, really deep-dive sessions of all the material that I’ve been using in sharing and training sports teams. But really I’ve looked to adapt it to any kind of business. So if you’re looking to use social media for your business, or if you know someone who does need to do that, I would love it if you would share it with them.

Simply go to You can get all the information there. Find out about Josh and Steve, who are also going to be there, talking about their experience in using social, as well.

Okay. Time for the closing two cents. I’m going to dedicate this one to YouTube. YouTube is really ready to take on the sports market. A quick stat: over 6,000,000,000 hours of video are watched each month on YouTube. That is almost one hour for every person on Earth.

Announcer: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Give Beers, Blokes, and Business a listen, where Sean catches up with some savvy blokes. Listen to Beers, Blokes, and Business at

Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Man: I love what you’ve done with the name, by the way. The One-Day International, the One-Day Educational. Monday, the 31st of March, 2014, at the Honey Bar. Check your local guides for more details. is the place to go to find out a whole lot more about it.

The psychology of being a Sports Fan – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 25th February 2014

What @SportsGeek reads…

Olympic snowboarders find advertising loophole at Sochi

House of Lakers: What if Frank Underwood where the Los Angeles GM?

Facebook to buy Whatsapp for $16 Billion

Do your players have a game day social media plan?

The world’s top 10 most innovative companies in sport

NBA, tech execs gather in New Orleans to debate role of mobile technology in live sports

“Pitino: Social media largely a waste of time” – I’d like to debate that!

LinkedIn, Love it or Hate it?

Daytona Rising will turn speedway in first-ever racing stadium

Sochi 2014: Team GB want social media protection

Nice work by @Pacers to capture Danny Granger saying goodbye to his team mates

17 GIFS of most painfully awkward high fives in sport

Want to help decide where next #SportsGeekODE is?

Register your interest for next #SportsGeekODE event

SGP 026: Digital and Crisis Management with Essendon FC ‘s Justin Rodski & Marc Bertieri

Digital & Crisis Management with Essendon FC 's Justin Rodski & Marc Bertieri on Sports Geek Podcast episode 26This week on Sports Geek Podcast we head out to see the new digs for Essendon Football Club in the AFL now named True Value Solar Centre.  I chat with Justin Rodski & Marc Bertieri about the tough year the Bombers had with the ASADA investigation dominating their season and how they plan to bounce back in 2014.  On ABC Grandstand with Francis Leach we look at two sides of social media with the #SFBatKid and Sydney FC dealing with trolls.  We take a look at new platforms available that teens are migrating to.


On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • How Essendon plan to use True Value Solar Centre to better deliver content to fans
  • Why Essendon started #EFCListens in response to ASADA investigation
  • How Essendon comms team handled supplements investigation using social media
  • Bombers Birthday app built on Facebook to give Bomber fans personalised birthday messages
  • How social media helped the world rally around SF Bat Kid
  • Why Sydney FC’s Frank Farina spoke out against social media trolls
  • How athletes like Socceroos can leverage social media to build their personal fan base

Social media allowed the world to join in with #SFBatKid journeyResources from the episode

Social Media Post of the Week

Richard spoke about Arsenal Twitter Takeovers last week’s episode, here they recap #AskArsene with a video post on Facebook.  Please tweet in your nominations for social media post of the week to @SportsGeek or @seancallanan.
Honorable mention to Dallas Mavericks for parody of Volvo Van Damme ad with owner Mark Cuban.

Well done to FFA’s Brian Gibson on sharing the Socceroos Team sheet with Player Twitter handles.

But Shane Harmon’s Westpac Stadium takes out the Social Media Post of the week by trolling Mexico with this tweet, getting press around the world.

Closing 2 Cents


Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your networks.  Thanks in advance.


Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 26 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we talk crisis management and fan engagement with the Esesndon Footy Club out of their new facilities. We also look at where are teams moving online.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host who wrote the intros while flying across country, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. That’s right, my name is Sean Callanan and thank you very much for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. This is episode 26. You can find all the show notes at Really looking forward to this show; had a good chat with the guys at Essendon, Justin Rodski and Marc Bertieri. We had a video chat about what happened over the last 12 months.

Just to give my international listeners a bit of background before this interview, the Essendon football club went through effectively what was called a supplement scandal where the AFL investigated them and there were a lot of legal proceedings and very much a cloud hanging over this season. The findings came in and they were eventually suspended from participating in the finals or the playoffs and their coach has been suspended for 12 months.

So it was a really big news story and one that did take a lot of crisis management, so we talk about that with Justin and Marc. And then a little later on, I chat to Francis about dealing with trolls and some recent development with the guys at Sydney FC and how they handled it, and also where the team’s moving online. Are they moving away from Facebook, and what can sports do about that? But first, here’s my chat with Justin Rodski and Marc Bertieri from the Essendon Football Club.

Sean: So here I am at the new facility for the Essendon Football Club with a couple of savvy digital guys, Justin and Marc. So first of all, can I get you guys to introduce yourselves and tell us what you do at the Essendon Football Club? So first, Justin.

Justin: Yeah, I’m Justin Rodski. I’m the general manager of communications and digital media at the club.

Marc: I’m Marc Bertieri. I’m the digital marketing manager, so I play a role in social media, the endgame presentation, also the onsite advertising management. We do a mobile app and a bit of email communication as well.

Sean: So I guess the first thing is this new facility. You’ve only just moved in. Justin, do you want to tell us about the plans the Bombers have had, and obviously there’s still construction going happening here.

Justin: There is, there is.

Sean: You can hear the banging in the back of the move out here, the move from the traditional home at Windy Hill and to the new facility.

Justin: Absolutely. It was a massive move, you know, nearly 90 years at Windy Hill. A lot of tradition and heritage there, and a lot of connections with the local community. It very much started as a pipe dream to come out here about three years ago. Unfortunately, Windy Hill with the footprint size just couldn’t cope with the demands of what the football club needed.

Out here, we’re on about three times the footprint size of Windy Hill: 100,000 square meters, largest flexible indoor training space in Australian sport. It’s got our own pool, rehab facilities, hot and cold baths, there’s a basketball court, a massive gym, two ovals – one the size of the MCG, one the size of Etihad. There’s a one kilometer running track around the precinct here, huge admin facilities, community space.

You’re sitting in the board room here, which is a lot bigger than what we had at Windy Hill. In terms of a multigenerational outcome for the Essendon football club, the performance here has been absolutely fantastic – 26 million dollars’ worth, this is what you get and it’s something that the club desperately needed. We’d fallen behind the rest of the competition and in this day and age, new facilities aren’t going to win you a [promanship], but having the facilities and the resources to attract the best people to the club – not just the best players, but the best people to work here both in administration and football is critical – and that’s why we made the move.

It’s been really exciting. In all of the staff and the football department and the players that are starting to filter back now, there’s a renewed energy, and obviously off the back of everything that happened this year, the timing of this just couldn’t have been better. So as I said, we’re really excited to be here, and there’s really a great sense of energy and excitement about the future.

Sean: Yeah and Marc, you were telling me, you took me through a bit of a tour before about the admin stuff and the marketing stuff and the football department and the players are in a far closer proximity than they were at Windy Hill. Has that made your job a little easier from a digital point of view?

Marc: Yeah, I mean, it’s really easy to access here. You have the coaches and the players downstairs, and just the flow of the building is just fantastic for that. It’s just a lot easier touch points as far as having administration. We used to have administration on a different floor. With everyone in one place, you know, in one office, it’s been fantastic for that, and it just makes it easier for everybody all around and, as Justin said, it’s extremely exciting.

Sean: So Justin, you did touch on just before about the year that you guys have had. It’s been highly publicized, the supplement scandal and the investigation and all the media hype around it. I was also watching it from your point of view and sort of seeing the kind of managing that comes. You know, how hard was it embracing your fans and taking them through that journey and also having that, I’ve said before I think I said it on Harf, digital media and half lawyer. Does that work well together? What’s it like trying to manage that crisis?

Justin: Extremely difficult. There’s no doubt that from the very start, we’ve been on our back foot. Often, in any crisis situation, rule 101 is to know the facts, and unfortunately from day one, we didn’t know the facts. We were continually learning new information every day and every week as the public was. There was an enormous amount of speculation, rumor and innuendo through the media.

Thankfully, and it’s something that’s been overwhelming in terms of response, our fans have been incredible. We decided from the very start that we would be as open and transparent with them as we could through all our channels; understanding that the most direct way was through social media. We made a point to try and communicate with them as often as we could.

At times, there was information that was too sensitive and we couldn’t, but ultimately the challenge of the whole communication piece around what took place was extremely difficult. There was an extraordinary set of circumstances unprecedented in Australian sport. So we just did the best we could to inform them with the information we had along the way. I don’t know if you want to add to that.

Sean: Yeah, I mean, Marc, I mean, I work with a lot of guys like yourself and whether it’s going through a losing streak and you’re, you know, you get to read, fortunately and unfortunately in some cases, everything gets taken. How did you step back and not take everything so personally? I know I’ve had a few digital guys who, going through a bad losing streak, they start feeling defensive and want to defend the club or defend the player. It must have been very tough for you because you were reading, and you were right on the front line of everything.

Marc: You’re exactly right. I used to work at a digital agency previously, and some of my friends were saying when they were meeting their clients and stuff, “Imagine being the Essendon social media guy at the moment,” like that was a joke, and they were like, “We actually know that guy.”

It was extremely tough. You know, I’ve supported the club my whole life and you’ve just got to try and inform to the best that you can as far as if there’s a view out there that’s not just your standard troll out there saying whatever they say. You’ve got to try to inform and keep people educated as best you can with whatever devices you have that are available such as a website, as far as a press release or anything like that. It was extremely difficult, and I think I’m desensitized to a lot of words that come through now.

Justin: It’s critical working in a footy club or in sporting environment with fans and media that you remain objective and above all of that. It’s so easy not to, but it’s just critical and the volume of media interest and requests and I’m sure social media activity was just incredible. I remember one night, Mike [Shehan] was talking at a sports event, and apparently he said – and I think he might have been joking – but he said, “James [Heard] is going to stand down tomorrow.”

And of course, someone who was at the sportsman’s night sent out a tweet or something along those lines and before you know it, social media is abuzz with the fact that James is standing down. It started to circle into the mainstream media guys who start then to call me. This was at eleven o’clock at night. So I rang James straight away. I said, “James, what’s the deal?” And he said, “Mate, there’s no truth in it.”

So I just tweeted and then from that tweet, it was used to quiet some stories the following day. Social media went nuts retweeting it. It was just incredible. It was great to be able to have that immediate opportunity to squash a rumor like that.

Marc: I think from a news reporting and media point of view, I think social media sort of became very mainstream this year, and to a certain degree with what I had with you guys. Prior to that, traditional media wouldn’t report on things being said and rumors and that sort of thing, where they’ve sort of said, “Well, hang on. It’s getting out there anyway.” So The Herald Sun and Fox and all those guys now are starting to report that it’s fact, and it does make a job like yours 24/7 in that instance, and to a certain degree, there’s that “Got to break it, Got to be first.”

It’s very tough from a club point of view, because if there is no news, all you’re doing is saying there is no news, and again, you’re trying to be transparent and you come across as, “Oh, they’re hiding or they’re not revealing.” And it’s like, “There is no news.” How often can you defend news that’s not there?

Justin: That’s right, and if there’s an article that’s 75% accurate but 25% inaccurate, do you respond to the 25% that’s inaccurate and just not respond to the 75% that’s truthful? It became very difficult to manage what was wrong and right and, in the end, we needed to go down a path, especially early on, and the strategy was that we wouldn’t comment on anything. We thought it was going to eliminate any of that, but it left us open to a lot of speculation.

Sean: Yeah, I mean the thing is if you don’t put up a Facebook post, people are going to comment on that. If you don’t put up that tweet… So there is a bit of that batten the hatches mentality. Moving away from the media stuff, you know, the key thing for you guys is your fans. They’re kind of throwing you their support. So, what kind of initiative came out of the crisis? I talked about how you were helping your fans grieve almost, taking them through this process, letting them vent and letting them be upset, but saying you’re still part of the club. What kind of things came out of that?

Marc: Well, I think the biggest thing that we did was that we launched a campaign with the hash tag #EFCListens. That also included an e-mail address where fans could essentially contact the club through e-mail and also on Facebook and Twitter to let us know how they’re feeling, tell us they’re angry, essentially, like you said, grieve about what took place this year, missing finals, ask us any questions they had of us and that’s been a really important body of work that we’re still continuing.

We’re still listening, and soon we’ll be going back to the fans and letting them know that we’ve listened, and here’s our plan moving forward. So, I think [post-saga] and post-season, that’s been the biggest thing that we’ve done and the fans have responded really well to it. They’ve responded really well to the club in general. We had a sell out – over 1500 people. We haven’t had those numbers for ten years.

At times, it’s amazing. Fans are very loyal and passionate people, as you know, and through adversity, that’s often the time they come out and support you the most. And we’ve got a lot to thank them for, and we’ve got a lot of faith to repay them, because they certainly showed it to us this year. The club, the players, and the coaches are all extremely committed to making sure that happens.

Justin: That’s a really good point, and as far as our open training sessions as well, it was more of a process of getting our fans together so they could see the team they love so much and be close to them and meet other supporters that are maybe going through the same thing, and we really just tried to promote those as sessions, come and see the players, come and be around your fellow supporters that are going through the same thing. Toward the end of the year, I think we had an open session every single week, and the turnout was fantastic. It gave us a chance to talk face to face to our supporters as well, so those were really pivotal at the end.

Sean: And I think as we said before, the new venue does provide that change of chapter, the new leaf. What kind of fan events and ways you can activate… What does this offer you from a digital point of view? Not only the access, but also new content and the ability to produce content.

Justin: Well, the biggest thing, Sean, is at the moment it’s just a shell, but we’ve got the space to build a new virtual studio. Currently, plans are well underway to delivering that outcome to the club. We very much share a vision to have a 24-hour digital channel at the Essendon Football Club which would include live broadcasts of shows, panel shows, training sessions, field reporters around the club.

We ultimately want to take Essendon out into the world and as one of the biggest clubs in Australia, we want to have a similar output to the bigger clubs around the world, and we think a virtual studio here will certainly take us to that next level.

Video growth, as you know, is certainly increasing year after year, and I know the mobile app for us has gone through the roof, but when the NBN finally keeps rolling in – and everyone keeps talking about the NBN, NBN, but it’s true – video is growing, but not quite at the same level, compared to overseas. And we want to be prepared for when that does arrive to be able to produce content at that level and give our fans a platform choice, essentially.

So that’s one of the main things, building the studio. We’ll continue with our TV show, “The Hangar,” which will clearly be filmed on location around the club and the players and the coaches have bought into that and that’ll be on Fox Footy again next year. From the digital point of view, eventually the show would end up on our own digital channel, so there are a lot of exciting things happening around the digital space. Marc do you have anything?

Marc: Yeah, just with the more space. You know, you’ve got the indoor training hall and the ambition that was there at Windy Hill. We can bring bloggers, we can bring people from Twitter, ask them to come out to the new facility, maybe watch an open training session, give them live session reports, and really embrace them in this space, because at Windy Hill we didn’t have the technology and we didn’t have the space to operate, whereas out here we’ve got the space and we’ve got the technology. So Wi-Fi capabilities and stuff like that. It’s all very exciting and it’s a dream to get a projection screen where people can come to the club and watch the boys. It’s just the kind of club and facility building together. It’s very exciting.

Sean: Well, you’ve got the similar facility to the guys at Golden State Warriors who ran that Google hangout live from practice without interviewing the coach while the guys are doing three-man weaves up and down the courts. You know that your fans look at that and want to be part of it, want to pick which camera I’m watching at the minute, whether it’s the rehab group over in the corner or the guys doing kick to kick or that kind of thing. I guess just having the size of the venue.

The last couple of weeks ago, I was at West Coast, and the guys effectively called it a dungeon because it was the old equipment, which is what you’ve moved away from, from Windy Hill. You’ve got this space and room to grow.

One thing I wanted to talk to you about is an app you launched a couple of weeks ago on Facebook called the Bombers Birthday App. Do you want to take us through what that was and the idea behind it?

Justin: What it basically does is users on Facebook can enter their data on their birthdays, so that’s their full name, e-mail address, birthday, and also, whether they’re a member of another club. They then go into a selection panel where they can select five or six players from the team, and on their birthdays, they actually receive a notification that goes straight to their Facebook notifications. They also get an e-mail with a discount or a special offer from the Bomber Shop, and also they get birthday greeting that has the code also for the Bomber Shop whatever discount we’ve got going on at the time.

It was kind of brought about from how popular I saw that birthday cards were in the club. A lot of the complaints we received were people who were saying they didn’t receive their birthday cards and people love to interact with the players’ birthdays as well. So there was an opportunity there, I felt, for our largest online audience being Facebook, we should try to work out that user a little more.

It works just via their data, and it’s gone really well so far. We’ve had one Facebook post I believe that’s gone out as a news story and I think we’ve had uptake of about 4,000 people so far. It’s just something we see that’s going to be built out. It’s going to be bigger. It’s going to be better. We’re going to work out all the…

Sean: I guess the other good thing is it’s not a 124words or less campaign; it’s an annual thing. You sign up and you’re going to get a customized e-mail from Joe Watson saying happy birthday, so as a Bombers fan, you’re going to go, “Yeah, cool.”

The other side of it is we’re collecting the data, we’re qualifying our fans, we’re finding out who our members are. Like you said, from a promotion point of view, you pretty much say, “Yeah, here it is,” you know. Is there any plan to extend that using other kind of advertising products?

Marc: Yeah, we’re just trying to iron out all the kinks in it at the moment, just to see what the reaction is. We’ve had good feedback. We’ve had negative feedback, but the main message that we’re talking about at the moment is that it’s something that can be built up.

Ideally, I’d love to get those five or six players together in a room before the season starts and get them to go through every single name we can possibly think of under the sun and actually have a video message to send out from Joe or whoever it might be. That’s the extent I’d like to take it out to, but it’s something new as far as the pace of technology.

I haven’t really seen brands use that personal Facebook notification before, and I thought it would be a really good combination with the birthday greeting. As soon as we get those kinks ironed out, I hope it can be something that will remain in the club for the next five years or whatever so we can really build it into something special.

Sean: Well that’s the thing. Once everyone has their birthdays, you know, if you haven’t had a birthday in nine months, you have to wait until next July or whatever to get the notification. It is going to be drips and drabs as people have their birthdays and say, “Oh look, here’s my card. You better sign up.” Looking forward positively with the new facilities, what sort of plans do you have for next year with Bob Thompson at the helm and the new plans coming up? I know you just announced a new naming rights sponsor this week.

Justin: Naming rights of the new venue will be announced shortly and we have a new co-major sponsor with Fujitsu coming onboard for the next four years. It’s a very exciting time for the club. The playing group and the team is in a good place to challenge next year. They’re certainly on the cusp of a really exciting year on the field.

For us, it’s about continuing to engage with the fans and give them the best possible digital experience they can have and take them inside. It’s a little bit cliché, but it’s true. We want to take them inside the hangar, inside the locker room, give them insight into what happens on match day, and provide them with the analysis and the summary of a match by the coach straight after the match on their mobile phones. These are the sorts of things we want to continue to deliver to our fans. We have an amazing culture of digital engagement with our fans ever since Essendon got its own website. You know, with Danny Bishop and -

Sean: For those of you who don’t know, Essendon basically opted out of the AFL website deal and had their own website for 13 years, and you only just came back two years ago?

Marc: Yeah, we did a half-transition two years ago and now we’re fully reintegrated into the Telstra network. [Brad Patton], I should mention, was the original developer and Danny Bishop, they came on. That’s been a little bit of…. That’s involved some communication and education around that transition back, but our fans have always engaged with us extremely well through digital platforms and we think now we’ve really started to provide them with the sort of content that they want and with Collingwood, we dominate the digital matrix and we want to continue to do that. Most importantly, we want to continue to give them the best possible digital experience they can get.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast. Good luck for the offseason. We look forward to seeing plenty of content coming out of the hangar, or whatever the hangar may be called when you do get a naming rights sponsor. We’ll make sure we’ve got links to all things Essendon in the show notes. Thanks for joining me.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Justin and Marc for having me out at the newly-named True Value Solar Center. It was christened just a couple days after the interview, and also what happened a couple of days after the interview is they changed their Twitter handle. They lost the underscore. They were @Essendon_FC and now they’re just @EssendonFC. A little bit cleaner; doesn’t require a change in keyboards to get to that pesky underscore.

Which leads me into another question: Matty_Stevens follows me on Twitter, did email me, asking me a few questions around personal branding and how he could break into sports digital media. And he did ask, could he change his Twitter handle and get rid of the underscore. I don’t have any underscore. I was lucky enough to get rid of my account from the get-go. SportsGeek originally was @_SportsGeek_.

If you can get rid of it you can, but to a certain degree it doesn’t really matter in the wash-up of everything. It is a bit tough to type at times, but really the content you share and the connections you make are far more important than underscores. I can only quote Will Anderson, whose handle is @_WillAnderson, who joked that he’s going to legally change his middle name to underscore. I don’t think it matters too much, Matty.

I think what does matter is the content you share and the connections you make on Twitter and even more so on LinkedIn. Make those connections now. Connect with the people you want to work with, and then share the content that forms your opinion, what you’re reading and then share the work that other people are sharing to make those connections.

My other suggestion would be to use the tools and the platforms that you hope to be working on, so Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Really dive in deep and try to understand the inner workings of them. If you want to work in sports digital, I’m a big fan of the term, from my IT days, dog-fooding. It’s a term that’s a means of eating your own dog food, which means as a developer you have to use the applications and tools that you’re building. That way you can figure out all the thins that are wrong with them so you can fix them. I’m a big believer in that as well. If you’re going to work in the sports digital and the sports social media space, then you must be a person who uses them every single day to really understand how it can work because you really want to do the testing on your accounts and now when you get given the keys to a team or a brand account.

Okay. Now onto my discussion with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Francis: Live and direct from Sports Geek HQ, Sean Callanan with the world of sport in the digital realm. Hello, Sean. How you going this morning?

Sean: I’m good. Thanks, Francis. Doing well.

Francis: We’d both rather be in San Francisco right now, wouldn’t we?

Sean: Yeah, we would be. If you look on #SFBatKid, you’ll see something pretty special happening. It’s not great for radio, but I’m showing you the front page of the Gotham City Chronicle. A young boy fighting leukemia, he had a Make a Wish come out, and he said he wanted to be Bat Kid. They started to put something together and put an ad out to the public, and it’s actually happening now. He’s already stopped a bank robbery. He’s had a tour down the main street with thousands of people cheering him on and I think he’s headed out to meet up with the guys with the Giants. I think he’s saving one of the team mascots.

Francis: Have a look at the hash tag #SFBatKid and take it in, the size of the crowds involved; the costume this kid is wearing is just extraordinary. He looks like he just walked off the set of the latest Batman franchise flick. He does have a car. Yes, he does have a Bat Mobile, and this is all sort of organically taking on this massive momentum through social media.

Sean: That’s the thing. The Make a Wish Foundation said they do get wishes all the time, and this one was a little bit extreme, that he said he wanted to be Bat Kid. Nut once they started putting it out there, the whole of San Francisco got behind it and it just, the sporting and the flow of information coming out of San Francisco… Why wouldn’t you? I mean it’s this kid’s one wish and they all want to get behind it, and the fact that people are cheering from five stories down to watch this kid run down the street is really a good story.

Francis: It certainly is, and it reminds us of the positive impact social media can have because elsewhere in the world we do tend to find out the negative effects. And one of them was in the world of sports. It’s interesting, we had Frank Farina in on the program last week and he wanted to talk about this as well, and he responded last week to some nasty and toxic comments last week via Facebook towards his players and some of the people involved with Sydney FC. He wrote a blog about it and talked about the impact it had on them, and it was an interesting discussion around that. Did he fuel the fire of the trolls by doing so or did he actually raise a serious issue in relation to conduct online and personal responsibility. And I asked him about it yesterday when he joined us here on Grandstand Breakfast Radio and the reasons why he went to the lengths that he did to keep this to light

Frank: It’s the new beast in sport. It’s another thing you have to deal with as clubs, coaches, and players. Twenty years ago, it was not around so it wasn’t an issue, but sometimes there’s a schoolyard mentality where if one person says something and you’ll have a few that will jump on board, mostly anonymously. It’s a necessary evil we all have to deal with.

Francis: Frank Farina there, and you actually work very closely football club franchising and sports people who are trying to navigate their ways through this.

Sean: Yeah, it is very tough because everyone does get a voice and it is the anonymity that the internet can provide. It gives some people a puffed out chest.

Francis: It appeals to our lesser angels, let’s put it that way.

Sean: Yeah, it does. I guess one thing I do when I’m talking and working with athletes particularly because they get the brunt of this more than a club, is they have to have a pretty thick skin about it. I try to embrace the positive side of it, because there will be those fans. I like to think sports fans online are mostly, and I’ll use Seth Godin’s term, positive deviance, most of them are, “I’m a supporter and I want to show my support,” but there is that vocal minority. That’s the thing that can appear to be far bigger than it is.

I’ve done it before where I’ve spoken at an event and you see 100 tweets of, “That was great. Good work. Love that talk,” and then you have someone say, “Oh, that was hopeless.” Human tendency is to look at that kind of thing. It’s something you’ve always got to manage and remember to put in that box. If you can amplify the ones that are positive and showing that support, you can turn that around a little bit.

Francis: So you can kind of choose what to focus on.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. There’s no reason for you to be following those people, there’s no reason if you’ve had a bad game to go check social media. From a psychology point of view, you’ve got to realize. You know there’s going to be that kind of vitriol in some cases. And in some instances, you go, “I don’t need that.”

Francis: Do you advise your people not to respond to trolls in the way Frank chose to?

Sean: Primarily, because trolls really thrive on oxygen. They really do want that recognition of, “Ha! I’ve got to them”. That’s what they’re going for. But there is a certain part of it of don’t give them that air, don’t give them any oxygen and don’t acknowledge them. There is some point where, and I think this is where Frank was trying to get to, where you say it is very difficult. The people who are behind us, you support us. That’s where your community can come in and say, “Hey, that’s out of line. Pull up.” Your fans can be the ones that are effectively providing that first level of defense.

We do see that with a lot of clubs where a post goes up for a club or for a player and there will be a few, and sometimes it’ll be opposition supporters who actually are supporters of your team. They’ll just say, “Oh, there’s an easy beating.” You’ve got to, as fans of your club; you want to show a bit of spine and say, “That’s not on.”

Francis: We’ve looked at traditional forms of social media to say that now, because it hasn’t been that long in the realm that we’ve had these Facebook and Twitter, but they’re becoming, in some ways, a first generation platform, aren’t they? Younger people are moving away from them altogether, which is going to make it harder and harder for that conversation to be curated by sports organizations.

Sean: Definitely. More of the platforms that we’re seeing…and when I was doing research for this, there are articles saying teens are moving away from Facebook. That’s the reason why, because parents and grandparents are on there and it’s not cool anymore. But when I was looking at it, those articles have been written for three years in a row. It’s sort of like, “It’s September, October or November. Let’s write that article.”

There is a bit of movement of teens across to new platforms like Tumblr, where it’s a little bit darker, to a certain degree. And they can be a bit more of themselves and express themselves. And then there’s a big move to mobile apps and more of these messaging apps, like WhatsApp and SnapChat, those kinds of ones that aren’t public and aren’t open.

Francis: What’s different?

Sean: Well, SnapChat, fortunately and unfortunately, it’s sort of known for the whole sexting realm because the whole idea of SnapChat is you are friends with someone and you can send them a picture. They get to see that picture for however long you can say. So I can send you something and say you get five seconds. You’ve got to hole your thumb on the picture to see it. If you take your thumb off the picture, it goes away and it’s destroyed. It’s sort of meant to be a little message and, boom, it’s gone.

They’ve obviously had a whole lot of issues around sexting and people sending inappropriate photos with kids thinking, “Oh, cool. Because it’s going to get destroyed, I wont get done.” But people were screenshotting it or taking another camera and taking a photo of their phone. It lends itself to a whole raft of issues. Because of the non-public nature of it, the fact that it’s all completely private, does lend itself to that bullying mentality and makes it really tough as a parent, if you’re looking at teens and that kind of thing, to help police that and keep an eye on what your kids are doing.

Francis: I guess also, in the realm of what you’re talking about, the sorting context, the idea that you can have some sort of community that can self-police those sorts of behaviors gets even more difficult in an environment where there’s a proliferation of platforms and also the instantaneous nature that means it’s going to come out and get out really quickly.

Sean: That’s the danger of these platforms themselves, but the other danger from the sports point of view is that if teens and younger kids are moving away from these platforms, how are sports going to connect with them? That’s something to be seen. I don’t see the benefit of SnapChat.

They’re trying to move into telling stories and public type of thing, so a sports team could be on SnapChat and put it up and say, “You want to see a picture inside the room? It’s going to be up there for 24 hours.” And you can see it. So they’re trying to move into that space, but it’s sort of built on a private messaging system.

Again, digital natives, Athletes that are coming up the ranks that are using these products, and again, they’re probably using them with their friends, if they start letting fans leach into that group, then they’re getting into that problem territory.

Francis: You’re about to take off to Sydney to talk to the Socceroos?

Sean: Yeah. The Socceroos are in camp. So we’re going to go up and talk to them about some of the activations that we’re going to be doing, We’ve done Socceroos before and we’ll do some things on Facebook. SO really just some ideas for them as athletes to be really good digital citizens, how to engage with fans and how they can leverage what is going to be an absolutely massive opportunity at the World Cup next year.

We really want them to be primed to be able to share that inner sanctum experience. What better way than coming from the players themselves? Especially when who knows when FIFA and all them will come up with what you can and can’t do. I think the players will get a free pass on a lot of that. It’ll be really advantageous for Socceroos to be able to get their content from the players.

Francis: Sharing a once in a lifetime experience. Good on you, mate. Have a good trip and I’ll talk to you next week. Sean Callanan. We can find you on Sports Geek HQ?

Sean: or on iTunes.

Francis: It’s Grandstand Breakfast.


DJ Joel Follow Sports Geek on LinkedIn:

Sean: It was good to catch up with the Socceroos a couple of days before their match with Costa Rica. It’s really good when you’re trying to train athletes to give them some actual examples of what they can do. Rather than just say engaging and talking to the fans, it’s really good to show them how to do it. You’ve got to remember they’re not digital marketers, they’re not content producers, they’re athletes first and foremost. Giving them a few tools around, “This is how we’re going to do it. This is how we’re going to do a chat session. This is how we answer fans. This is how we favorite a fan’s tweet to show them you’ve seen it,” is really valuable and just gives them some simple tools for them to take away the big thing that we do with athletes is time management and understanding where to keep social media in their schedule.

Speaking of time management, that clock is reminding me that I need to wind up this show. This is episode 26, and you can get the show notes at And whom do I dedicate this episode to? I had a few nominations come in via Twitter for Gavin Brown, Wade Boggs, and Rod Woodson. Because I talked to the guys at Essendon, I’m going to have to go with Marc “Bomber” Thompson who wore 26 with distinction for the Essendon Footy Club and is now going to coach Essendon for the next 12 months while James Heard is suspended.

This week, social media post of the week? Wow. A few big nominations this week. There are a couple honorable mentions I have to throw out first. One to Dallas Mavericks who do a great job with parody music videos. If you haven’t seen the Jean Claude Van Damme Volvo commercial yet, you’re living under a rock. But the Dallas Mavericks were very quick with their parody, which is really a key thing when you’re doing a parody is to get it out there quickly so you can sort of catch the viral juice of the original video. They did a Mark Cuban version of that video. . So they get an honorable mention.

Also, another from Brain Gibson who runs the Socceroos. We actually came up with this idea on the morning of the Socceroos match, where we put the twitter handles and Instagram handles on the official team sheet and put it on twitter and that got a little bit of press and a pretty good response from the fans on Twitter, just to see the different Twitter handles of the players.

Really, I cannot go past Shane Harmon and Westpac Stadium’s tweet where they trolled a whole country. They sent out a tweet in the lead up of the New Zealand-Mexico World Cup qualifier. It got a stack of retweets and press coverage around the world. Really good job showing that any account, even a stadium, can have a little personality and have a little bit of fun on the Twitter.

This week’s sounds of the game comes from the Socceroo’s match, this is Terrace Australis.

[Recorded cheering]

So well done there, Brian Gibson, for capturing that one and getting out in the crowd. Get out of the media box and get pictures and sounds from the game. Thanks to those of you who checked out my side project podcast, Beers, Blokes and Business. This week, it hit number one in the business category in Australia on iTunes. Again, if you’ve been listening or reviewed it, thank you very much. For those of you who want to listen, I suggest you listen to episode four, especially yourself, Matty. It’s an episode on career jumping. I talk about how I started Sports Geek and how I got there.

Also, episode 13 is a good one on motivating staff. Episode 10 is on building apps. If you go to, you’ll find out more. You can go to to get it on iTunes. Thanks again for your support. I really do appreciate the ITunes reviews, both on this podcast and Beers, Blokes and Business. Those reviews and posting it on your own social networks, Facebook and LinkedIn, really do help spread the word and help me to get a wider audience for this podcast. You can always go to and share any app that you like on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Closing two cents. Since social media does allow to provide personality for your team, live it, breath it, and more importantly know it.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Find all Sports Geek podcasts on Check out which teams work with sports geek at Thanks for listening to this Sports Geek podcast.

SGP 015: Fancam, Athletes hacked & changing focus of sports digital teams

Sports Geek Podcast Presented by SEAT ConferenceIn this Sports Geek Podcast we chat with Tinus Le Roux from Fancam discussing digital activations and developing campaigns that are fan centric at SEAT Conference.  Recently a few AFL players social media accounts were hacked so I chat with Francis on ABC Grandstand on what you can do to protect your accounts from hackers.  We look back at how the focus of digital teams are changing to meet the demands of teams for revenue and sponsors for exposure and leads.  We also chat with Kylie Caflisch from Team Blackshirts about starting her career in sports.


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

  • How Fancam is delivering for sponsors
  • The difference between U2 fans in US and Aussie Rugby 7s fans
  • How to reset passwords and remove iOS devices who have access to your Twitter
  • Why secure passwords are mandatory
  • How digital teams are moving up on sponsorship sales cycle
  • The importance for sports teams to derive revenue from digital efforts

Check out the #SEAT2013 FancamResources from the episode

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If you have a question for the podcast please leave it using Speakpipe plugin on the left of this page.

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 15 of the Sports Geek Podcast. In this episode we chat to the guys behind Fancam, look at athletes getting hacked, and the changing focus of sports digital teams.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast build for sports digital and sports business professionals. Now here’s your host, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, and you’re listening to the Sports Geek Podcast, this is episode 15. You can get all the show notes and links to this episode at

Thanks again for all the feedback to the SEAT podcasts, both episode 13 with my presentation with Philippe Dore from Nascar. Then also the mega-interview podcast last week with episode 14. We actually do finish of the last of our SEAT interviews today, speaking to Tinus Le Roux from Fancam, and Kylie Caflisch.

Then we get back into the swing of things with a few segments on Grandstand. Looking at the few athletes getting their social accounts hacked. How they could have prevented it, and how you can protect your own social accounts, both personally and for your team. Then we look at the changing focus of sports digital teams, just a bit of a look back of the last few years and now what teams looking to. But first, here’s my interview with Tinus Le Roux from Fancam.

Sean: Here we are, final day of SEAT. Everyone’s starting to go, there’s a tour for sporting packs soon. So we’re just trying to get a few interviews, and I’m here joined by Tinus from Fancam, and I’m going to get you to say your name because I don’t want to muck it up.

Tinus: Tinus Le Roux.

Sean: Le Roux, Le Roux. Apologies for not getting that right. You came in on Monday and you did the Mini Fancam?

Tinus: Yeah, we spent some time the whole week, but we had the opportunity to capture the audience with our technology, which is kind of cool. They liked it, and it’s a great opportunity to show people what it’s about.

Sean: So for the people who don’t know about Fancam, one, tell us where they can find it and what it is.

Tinus: Okay, so it is a visual product so it is best if you access our website if you are close to a computer. It is, it’s easy enough. What it is is we figured out how to take gigapixel images very fast. A gigapixel image, let’s start with that, is a high-resolution image. To give you an idea of the size of these things, if we printed it out as a billboard, it would be two football fields in length. So it allows us, basically to capture everyone in the stadium with face-level detail.

Sean: At the conference, James Taylor got up in the front and took the click, click, click and it took 15 to 20 seconds, around about that.

Tinus: Yeah, it’s a relatively fast process. Basically, it’s a composite image, so it’s like building a puzzle. James would take, depending on what the scenario is, the technique to fish from the [MCG] to a small conference room. We have different recipes, if you like, of how to capture these images. Then there’s a team back in Cape Town that know how to put them together, so it’s called stitching…

Sean: Yep.

Tinus: …to make that a seamless whole, that’s the…

Sean: So in the end, and I’ll share the show links of the SEAT Conference mini Fancam, but I’ll also share some who you’re sharing, one from the Stanley Cup.

Tinus: Yep.

Sean: You must have a bit of a stadium bucket list of number of venues you’ve been to. Have you kept count of the venues you’ve been to?

Tinus: I do the boring stuff; I spend time in the back office. James has a more impressive list there. We’ve been lucky because we were first to basically understand how to monetize the concept. Stadiums include Bird’s Nest in China, recently did Championship League final in London. Stanley Cup, that’s the second year that we’ve done that. For AT&T we did the NCAA finals a few times. So yeah, we’ve got a nice list of places.

Sean: So I want to get into the campaign side of it. First of all, I must apologize that I did not get you guys into my presentation because one of the key things that Phillipe and I were looking at was a campaign that is killer content, that provides engagement, and gets data. Your Fancams take all of those three boxes, because you end up with this very content-rich site. You know, 95,000 people and you can see every single person. It provides engagement because people want to find themselves, tag themselves, tag their friends. Obviously, the holy grail of the CRM, guys, is to get the data.

Tinus: Yeah.

Sean: I haven’t yet gone and tagged myself on the SEAT one, but I will. They can tag themselves with Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Tinus: Anything we choose. I mean, when we were in China. We just did activation for RedBull in Moscow, where we integrated VKontakte, which is their social platform. So, yeah we can capture a lot of data [that way].

Sean: So you were talking quickly there about some of the stadiums you’ve done. From the monetization point of view, who are the people who are wanting this the most, and how are teams or stadiums making some money out of it?

Tinus: I’m going to take one step back. You spoke about content and data. We do hit all the boxes there. The reason we do is because it’s fan-centric. As you know, it’s really difficult if you’re a brand, to make either funny campaigns or cool campaigns to engage.

Sean: Oh, what–you mean you can’t just–may we please have a viral video?

Tinus: Yeah exactly.

Sean: Like, that’s the best brief.

Tinus: So, it’s because of the nature of the product more than to the design of it. It’s focused on each and every fan.

Sean: [sighs]

Tinus: Did it just stop?

Sean: Oh no, it’s still recording.

Tinus: Okay.

Sean: Okay. That was a technical hitch, and apologies for that. I might edit it out, or I might just keep it because that’s the live podcast. So apologies for doing that.

Tinus: No don’t. So, back to the fact that it’s fan-centric. We create content that’s actually customized content, because if you zoom into your face, that’s the center of your universe. Everything else gives context. I experience something completely different, because I’m in a different part of the crowd. It’s like the case where you open the world map when you’re in Australia, then Australia’s the center of the universe. When I’m in South Africa, it’s there–same thing. So we’re lucky there, in that the content is fan-centric. That allows the engagement, and everything that comes with it.

DJ Joel: Go to for more sports digital marketing resources.

Sean: We’re back with Tinus from Fancam, and we’re talking before about how to monetize it, and how to monetize Fancam. Everyone’s looking to do a digital campaign, but how do we pay for it?

Tinus: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Look, we have clients in rights holders, clients in sponsors, and sometimes it’s an agency. Mostly it’s a brand, because brands are looking for digital content, and targeted digital content. You spoke about the Holy Grail earlier. Brands end up paying for this, but it might be through a team. We’ll work with teams and help them how to incorporate the Fancam into their offering to brands. One of the strengths is that it helps integrate marketing campaigns.

If you already have a video that you want to promote, that you’ve already spent money on, then we put that on the big screen. If you’ve already paid for signage rights within a stadium on the LEDs, we change the LEDs to only have Coca-Cola’s name there. It gives the brand a bit of ROI, and it allows the team, when they sell onto the brand, to close the marketing loop. So although we work with teams, it would be to help them to sell it on. In other cases, we work with agencies who already sit with those budgets and rights.

Sean: So when you take photos of 70,000, 80,000, 95,000 people, I’ve heard actually Will Anderson talk about being at sports venues in the US, and how they always have Kiss Cam. It doesn’t happen as much in Australia because in Australia a guy will just drop his trousers and do a brown eye, and do something inappropriate. Now, you’re taking shots of thousands and thousands of people. I’m sure you’ve got some where they go, “Hey, we’re taking a shot get ready,” and you’ve had to do some pretty nifty Photoshop work in some parts of the crowd.

Tinus: Yeah, yeah. With the guys in the back office, I’ve seen some interesting stuff. There’s one piece of data that I find really interesting. We captured, I think I mentioned earlier, all 24 U.S. dates of the U2 360 tour, which I think was appropriately named. I think there were a million fans captured there. We had one guy that flipped us the bird, as you say down under, and then we did a Sevens game in Australia.

Sean: Oh, that’s a party atmosphere and that’s pretty crazy, the Sevens.

Tinus: Our ratio for that was one in a million in the US. Out of the 15,000 fans, I think we had to remove the middle finger of 98 individuals. So you have a lot of really excited, high-energy guys on the photo, throwing their fists up, because obviously the paying customers didn’t want the bird in there. So, it is different in different cultures, but that’s why we have the Photoshop guys.

Sean: So the last thing, I believe this is your first time at SEAT conference?

Tinus: Yeah.

Sean: One, how have you found it, and what have been your key takeaways from the conference?

Tinus: I found it really interesting because I sat and just tried to learn and understand what are the problems the CRM guys face, or digital activation guys. Data and Wi-Fi have been the two words running around. I’m not sure how many people know how to implement either, and that’s going to be interesting. I’m a bit worried that there might be too many buzzwords. There have been a few really good panelists that really cut to the core. So let’s take the digital activation stuff. Cool is cool, but tying that into revenue, there’s a gap there. I think there’s a space in the industry for a lot of common sense. I think people are starting to find their feet, there not just jumping from one platform to the other.

Sean: Yeah, the latest bright and shiny thing.

Tinus: Yeah, and I think you hear words like roadmap a lot. I think that we’re starting to see some principles being instilled, and they’re surprisingly old principles. What is value? Why are fans at sporting events? Why are they at, in our case, like music events. The reasons are the same. Be it an event in Moscow, or a Sasquatch music festival up in Washington. I think articulating those reasons why people engage, why do they gather together around a band or a team?

If you understand that, then digital activation comes naturally. Making decisions about CRM, and what the value of data is, becomes easier. I’m starting to see, just as a bit of an outsider, I know it get in the game with CRM and stuff like that. I’m starting to see more clarity in the marketing guys, not drowning around saying “oh, these features, those features, this activation, Instagram now, Vine there,” and it’s more principal discussion, which is really good news.

Sean: Well thank you very much for joining us. Where can people find you on Twitter? What’s your Twitter handle?

Tinus: I am @TinusLeRoux T-I-N-U-S L-E R-O-U-X.

Sean: And, and we’ll put the link for the SEAT 2013 mini Fancam.

Tinus: is a good place, and I’ll make sure that the SEAT one is up there as well. That’s a good place just to get a basic overview of what the technology is, but we’ve got 120 examples up there.

Sean: I look forward to seeing you in New York next year for SEAT 2014.

Tinus: I’ve already booked the tickets.

Sean: All right, thanks for joining me.

Tinus: It’s a great pleasure, man.

DJ Joel: Find all Sports Geek podcasts at

Sean: Thanks again to Tinus Le Roux from Fancam for joining me on the last of SEAT. Technical difficulties notwithstanding, we got through it. Check out to see everyone who went to the conference. A fair few of the attendees have tagged themselves, just proving the point of what Tinus was saying that provides the engagement and also provides the data.

On my return from the US, there was a bit of a social media storm in the world of AFL. Where a few AFL players were targeted by hackers and had their accounts hacked in quite a high profile way. They sent out a few obtuse tweets and a few weird Instagrams. It caused a bit of a ruckus, but obviously it was not done by the players themselves. On ABC Grandstand I discussed with Francis Leach on how they could have prevented it, and the importance of securing your social identity.

Francis: Saturday morning, Francis Leach with you. We’d like to spend a bit of time with our good friend Sean Callanan, the digital sports guru from Sports Geek HQ each week, to talk about sport in the digital world. He’s with us here this morning via the telephone, the old fashioned technology. Good day Sean, how are you going?

Sean: I’m good thanks Francis, and yourself?

Francis: I’m good. My account on Twitter hasn’t been hacked, which makes me the minority. There’s been a lot of that going on lately, tell us about who’s been copping it.

Sean: There’s a few that copped it this week. First, it was Buddy Franklin’s Instagram that was hacked, saying “See you later Hawks, I’m going to the Giants.”

Francis: Imagine if he did. Imagine if that’s how he announced it with a meme, and just said “see you later,” with a big hand waving. That would be a world first, wouldn’t it?

Sean: Yeah, it would, but the fact that it had the hashtag “#moneyoverloyoulty” in the thing, you could see sort of see that it was either just a bit of a cruel joke by Buddy, or that his account had been hacked. Then, there was a bit of a spike of it. A few of the SL footballers were targeted. Dale Thomas from Collingwood had his Twitter hacked. Jack Reiwoldt had his Instagram hacked as well, there was a few others. There was a bit of scrambling it seemed in the mayor incumbent department in a few of the AFL teams to say “Come on boys, you’ve got to protect your accounts a little bit better.”

Francis: Now how do you do that?

Sean: Well, the easiest one to do some protection with is actually Twitter. It offers what they call two-factor authentication. If I can get into full geek mode. It allows you to register your mobile phone, and have Twitter send you an SMS to verify it’s really you. If anyone tries to change your password, and that kind of thing, it will actually notify your mobile. It’s a far more secure way of securing your Twitter account than just your username and password. So that’s one way that you can definitely lock down your Twitter account. Instagram unfortunately doesn’t have two-factor authentication. Twitter just brought it in because the New York Times was recently hacked and put up a post, and caused a bit of a [furor] because people actually thought it was news.

Francis: It can be very serious. We’ve seen this in the markets in the past. I think there was a false tweet that came out of Wall Street in New York last year, which caused a huge run on a particular stock on Wall Street. A lot of money was lost, and there was an investigation into insider trading to see whether somebody had manipulated the market by sending out a false tweet in order to be ahead of the game and cash in.

Sean: That’s pretty much why Twitter has sort of bumped up their security with the two-factor. It remains to be seen whether Instagram and Facebook do the same. You can register with your mobile phone with Facebook as well, but the primary thing is to make sure that your password is a strong password.

Francis: So being able to sort of decipher and break down people’s passwords is something that people spend a lot of time doing. It’s not a guessing game, there’s a sort of black art to doing it.

Sean: Yeah, the main thing is you’ve got to make sure that whatever password strategy you’re going to use, it’s a smart and strong password. There was a meme after Buddy’s was hacked, was the hashtag, “buddyspassword,” and “Buddy23 won’t cut it anymore.” Most likely that’s what happened. There was just a brute force strength attack on their Instagram accounts. The idea is you can just keep pummeling away until you get the right password. From a proper protection point of view, they want to make sure they’ve got different passwords for everything. They want to really review what apps they’ve connected their Twitter and Instagram accounts with. If they’ve connected with a dodgy app, that might get access to their password. If they’re using the same password on Instagram and Twitter, and God forbid their instant banking as well, that just opens up their whole identity.

Francis: Are you suggesting also that people maybe think about changing their passwords really?

Sean: It does make good sense, because you never know what app you might connect with that might compromise your account. Definitely have a nice long, strong password, usually you’ll be fine. Just be very weary of clicking on suspicious links that might get access to your account. What also might be the case from a footballer’s point of view, is simple things like having a lock on your phone. This could have all just started by one of their mates going “Oh this is funny, I’ve got his phone. Let’s see what we can do.” For all the technical hacking there might be, it might be just someone fortuitously getting your phone and sending out a tweet. You can secure it as much as you can. You’ve just got to make sure that-, you know, it’s going to affect your brand as a footballer. These days the “my account got hacked’ is the “the dog ate my homework.”

Francis: It’s the new “I’ve been quoted out of context,” isn’t it?

Sean: Yeah.

Francis: Good on you, Sean. Good to talk to you, and thanks for the heads up on that. I’ll be spending all afternoon changing my passwords.

Sean: Cheers mate.

DJ Joel: Go to for more sports digital marketing resources.

Sean: So just following up on how to best secure your social profiles. As I said on the spot with ABC Grandstand, the two-factor authentication works quite well with Twitter. On Facebook it doesn’t have two-factor; it actually calls it login approvals. So the same process is that you can put in your mobile number and it will send you a code to verify that you’re actually logging in. As I said, it makes complete sense. Another thing that didn’t get to and has happened before, is when you are looking to potentially move someone on or someone is leaving your organization.

As far as changing your passwords, that doesn’t actually doesn’t kick someone off if they’re already logged in with the Twitter app on IOS. What you actually have to do is obliterate all devices that are connected to your Twitter account, if you really want to make sure that no one still has access to it. So it’s a bit of a loophole, you might go and change your passwords, but former employees or staff members you might have given access to it at a certain point in time will continue to have access to it, even if you do change the passwords. There will be links in the show notes at So that was the ABC Grandstand I did just coming back from Kansas City.

So I’ve got one more up my sleeve, and it is pretty much looking back on what SEAT was and also discussing it with some of the teams around the focus of what they are doing now. It was a quick chat with Francis of the changing nature of digital teams in sports.

Francis: Time to catch up with our digital sports guru from Sports Geek HQ, Sean Callanan. He’s returned from the big digital sport conference SEAT, and is slowly recovering from the Achilles injury. He’s probably going to kick me out of the finals campaign. Good day Sean, how are you going?

Sean: I’m good thanks, Francis.

Francis: How was it this time? How many years has this SEAT digital sports conference been running?

Sean: It’s been going for seven years, and I first went in 2011. In the last three years it’s changed from its root origins of sports tech CEO, CTO space to adding two [strings] for the sports CRM sort of things.

Francis: Which is the customer relations management.

Sean: Understanding your fan, and the 360 view of your fan. Also the digital guys, and engagement, and campaigns, and things like that. It sort of gave me a bit of time to pause and sort of reflect from a digital point of view how the teams have changed. Right there at the time of SEAT, just over the time of Sports Geek. When I started Sports Geek, I was banging the digital drum of telling people they needed a Sports Geek and why they needed to build these digital teams to engage the fan.

Now you can sort of see that those teams have grown and built up their skills in delivering content first from a point of view of social and web writing content. There’s been a big growth in videos, there’s been a lot of upscaling and increasing their resources in video, because that’s what the fans are wanting. Always that’s been tried to integrated with sponsors and things like that. Now both the sponsors and the teams are realizing “well, digital is a really big part of it.”

From a sports sponsorship point of view, you’ve got that brand recognition. You want association with the brand with its jersey sponsorship, sponsorship, signage at the game. That’s great, the signage at the game engages the fans that are at the game. You do game activations, which the teams in the states do really, really well.

Francis: What sort of ones have you seen here that really have impact? I know the Oakland A’s have done some good ones in the past. They’re sort of past masters at, because it’s so many features. You might have 80 home games a year, so you’ve got to find a different angle. You can’t do it every game, but a different theme or different take on things to make it a special event. A standalone event among 80 other games that are going to be played.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. Like when we had Travis LaDolce from the A’s and he was talking about a category A and a category B giveaway with bobble heads and the garden gnomes that they did. One, just to draw more fans in and give them another incentive, but also doing things with your sponsors at the game. The thing is you can only engage, those are great because you’re getting that one-on-one real life connection with fans, but you’re only connecting with the fans at the stadium.

So what digital offers, is it allows you to connect with the people outside the stadium, which is a larger audience. Now what we’re seeing is that the team’s focus is sort of moving from “I want to engage our fans,” and “I want our fans to consume,” and “I want to build up a digital property that’s worth visiting” to “how can we position our content and build content that is monetizable, and make money from.”

Francis: Which is a difficult transition because fans come to it in an act of trust because they believe what’s being written is there for them and to facilitate their love of the club. If they feel like they’re being impinged upon to further cough up cash, that changes that relationship fundamentally.

Sean: Yeah, you can’t be always hitting up your fans for money, so that’s where sponsors play in the world of sport. How can the content that is produced by sports teams be in line with other commercial content. I was watching Media Watch via replay. Paul Berry did a whole thing on content marketing and branded content. How sponsors are being integrated into content in the newspapers, in news, on the commercial networks.

Francis: So the line between editorial and advertising is constantly shifting and blurred.

Sean: Yeah it is being blurred. So I’m not talking about we’re going to start seeing rugby teams talking about process going down in supermarkets. I don’t think we’re going to go down that pat that much, but how can sports teams integrate sponsors in their content without it being clunky and not as cohesive as they’d like. The thing is, they have got premium content that fans do like. They are going to watch the video that announces the team. They are going to watch the video that gives the ins and outs of how someone’s knee is coming along.

So they are going to watch that, so how can they better integrate the sponsor and let the sponsor get some of that referred love of the team in the same way. That’s why they’re on the jersey, so there’s a bit of a brand awareness play. Then there’s also that CRM side of “I’m a sponsor and I want to target a certain style of fan to buy a car, or to build a new house, or their looking to renovate.” How can we look at our data and present that offer back to the fan and make sure we’re providing value back to the fan.

That’s what the sports team needs to do, they need to provide value back to the fan so they have a feeling that they’re giving the fan some value and rewarding them for being part of their community, part of their tribe. That’s where we’re seeing that the sports teams are moving from just pure content engagement guys to having a bit more of a commercial head on and saying “well, if we’re going to build a video series, if we’re going to build a podcast, are we going to build an article series, we’re going to get into feature writer.”

It might be as simple as slapping a sponsor and saying “this is brought to you by,” that kind of a thing. How can we get more innovative, how can we work with sponsors that are really active in the social space? We’re active in the social space, or how can we work with their campaigns and be aligned with what their goals are from a brand point of view, and see if they can align with what our sponsors are doing.

Francis: Who’s doing it here the best, you think in Australia?

Sean: I think it’s a bit hit or miss. A lot of it comes down, and this is where the digital teams are changing, sponsorship will happen. The naming rights, the sponsorship guys did a great job to land this sponsor and at the moment, and this is the same frustration that the guys in the states are having, that “then can we do some digital with these guys?” It’s sort of going, “Oh, we’ll do it because they’re our sponsor.” Whereas what we’re seeing now, and this is the discussion the guys in the states are having, are saying “well when the sponsorship guys are getting into the discussion of how are we going to activate, they bring the digital guys in a little bit earlier and have them talk to the right people.” So you can have it fully integrated across, so it’s tough. Sometimes the sponsor marries up really well with the team and it can really work our well, but it’s more of luck at the minute than planning, to a certain degree.

Francis: Everyone’s just trying to keep pace with all the changes. Where can people find you in the digital space?

Sean: or Sean Callanan on Sports Geek.

Francis: Good on you, Sean, thanks for coming in. Sean Callanan our sports digital guru here on Grandstand Breakfast each Saturday. Catch him again next week.

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

Sean: What do you think about the changes in sports teams? Have you seen the change from developing content, engaging fans, now moving more into that commercialization model? Obviously, we’ve all been doing the commercialization for the last couple of years, but I definitely see one, the digital, coming really in focus on the commercialization and getting to the point of that branded content. Integrated campaigns to make sure the sponsors are happy. We can’t do those stand-alones sponsor activations that don’t connect back to both the fans, but also your content, because that is what is being consumed. So, definitely a shift, especially around the fact that the digital guys are starting to work more closely with the sponsorship guys, and bringing in earlier in the process around developing campaigns around what the sponsor wants, but also what you can deliver.

One last interview for this episode, we spoke to BJ and Collin last week from Team Blackshirts. So one more interview with another one of the fine members of Team Blackshirts, Kylie Caflisch.

Sean: Okay, here I am at SEAT conference, just checking the levels. I’m here with Kylie Caflisch. How are you doing, Kylie?

Kylie: I’m good, how are you?

Sean: I’m good. You’ve been interning here at SEAT conference, how have you found it?

Kylie: I love it, absolutely love it.

Sean: As an intern, and looking for your way to get into the sports business market. Have you done a bit networking and met some really great people?

Kylie: I’ve met a vast amount of people, and it’s amazing what great connections you can really meet here. It’s not just one person; it’s a variety of people.

Sean: Tell us what you’ve been doing, where have you been going to college?

Kylie: I’m from Louisiana, I go to Southeastern. I’m graduating actually in December in Sports Management.

Sean: Well, congratulations on graduating. I know I was talking to you earlier about the exciting placement where you’re heading off soon.

Kylie: Yes, I just got an internship, actually with the New Orleans Saints. I’m actually the first from my school to get an internship with the NFL.

Sean: Oh, terrific. Do you know what that role will be?

Kylie: I’ll be working a lot with the players. I’m the youth coordinator. I’ll be doing the whole play 360, trying to influence kids with fitness, and also working with the players to do that.

Sean: Terrific, I’m sure you’ll be tweeting your story as you develop…

Kylie: Oh, definitely.

Sean: …in the sports business. I’m sure as you’ve already done with me, you’ll be connecting with everyone here on LinkedIn.

Kylie: I’m hoping, yes, sir.

Sean: Your Twitter handle is, for everyone listening?

Kylie: It’s just @KylieCaflisch.

DJ Joel: You’re listening to Sports Geek podcast. Send us a tweet to @sportsgeek.

Sean: That’s it for another Sports Geek podcast. Thanks again for joining me. My name is Sean Callanan. You can find me @seancallanan. You can get the show notes for this podcast, and get the Twitter IDs and the LinkedIn pages for the people who were on the show. Thank you to Tinus and Kylie for being on the show. You can get the show notes at You can find all the Sports Geek podcasts, now 15 episodes. It’s a stack of content, really appreciate the people who are sharing it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you could leave a review on iTunes, that would really help. I’ll leave the links in the show notes to the US, UK, and Australian iTunes stores. All the writings do separate, so it’s really important that you can leave a review on wherever you are.

I’ll leave you with some noise from the MCG, The Sands, the game from the MCG. I’m luckily no longer using crutches. I’ve still got the Moon Boot, but I’m able to walk to the MCG, luckily I live that close. So this was just really music to my ears, this is just the sound of the crowd cheering off the teams at halftime, and then appropriately booing the umpires. Until next week, my name’s Sean Callanan. Don’t be shy, send me a tweet. Cheers.

[Game sounds]

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Jeremy Lin Fan Appreciation Week Review

What has Social Media provided for athletes? For some it has assisted with their career and for others it’s had a detrimental effect. The positives and negatives all relate and impact on the athlete’s ‘Personal Branding’. The growth of social media has changed the way professional athletes develop their personal brand. This aspect of their career is exceptionally important as it affects their marketability, popularity and sponsorship/endorsement opportunities.

Catalyst Public Relations published a study which found that sports fans are 55% more likely to purchase a particular brand that their favourite athlete, whom they are following mentions it on Facebook or Twitter

Jeremy Lin, NBA point guard of the Houston Rockets is a prime example of an athlete who has effectively managed his brand since he shot to stardom after an impressive run of performances for the New York Knicks. In the mecca of basketball, New York City, Lin’s sudden rise won him thousands and thousands of fans worldwide and the ‘LINSANITY’ craze caught on.

During the NBA playoffs Jeremy Lin hosted ‘Fan Appreciation Week’ using different social media platforms, giving him the opportunity to give back to his fans that have supported him throughout his career. A simple gesture which goes a long way in maintaining and building his popularity.

Jeremy Lin - Fan Appreciation Week

Facebook Q&A

Monday started with the Facebook Q&A, which featured 18,424 Likes, 124 Shares and 5605 Comments. As Jeremy Lin is of Taiwanese descent he has a large following of fans around Asia. To capitalise on this he has an English and Chinese Facebook page which reaches both fan bases. Unfortunately Lin wasn’t able to respond to all comments, but seemed to answer as many as he could during the time.

The Q&A was a simple and effective way for Lin to reach and engage with his fans while giving his followers the opportunity to ask any question, within reason and be answered. Questions ranged from obscure ones like “Chuck Norris VS Liam Neeson in a fight ….. Who wins?” to “Funniest guy in the Rockets?

Jeremy Lin - Fan Appreciation Week - Day 1 Facebook Q&A

Rockets Artwork Contest

This was the first contest of the ‘Appreciation Week’, which involved Twitter. Followers were required to send in any Rockets artwork they had created with five followers chosen to win a signed ‘Linsanity Movie Poster’.

This contest also had a dual purpose. Not only did it promote fans to interact with Lin, it also created an avenue to promote the upcoming ‘Linsanity Movie’. We have also seen this occur in posts from Teams such as the Golden State Warriors, where they promoted sponsors while engaging and interacting with their fans, providing the ever present dual purpose of social media. As we can see from the graph below the @JLin7 handle was mentioned 941 times during the day two contest.

Jeremy Lin - Fan Appreciation Week - @JLin7 mentions

Instagram Impersonation Contest

Fan Appreciation Week Day 3: Rockets Impersonation Contest! Post (and tag @jlin7) a picture on instagram of you impersonating a Rockets player(s). Heres my sample of @jharden13 on the left and @chandler_parsons on the right. Be creative and winners announced tonight!

Let the impersonations begin! Day 3 featured a Rockets impersonation contest via Instagram.

SINA Weibo Q&A

Lin hosted another Q&A, this time on the Chinese micro blogging site SINA Weibo. It was evident that Lin made a major effort to maintain his global appeal especially in Asia. In 2012 Lin returned to Taiwan to participate and instruct a local youth basketball camp with the assistance of NBA player David Lee – making good on a promise he made earlier in the year.

Multiple Choice Quiz via Facebook

We are back on Facebook for the final day of ‘Appreciation Week’ and the fans have to answer a Multiple Choice Quiz and the first person to answer them all right wins a signed pair of shoes.

Jeremy Lin - Fan Appreciation Week - Day 5 - Facebook Quiz

While this post received 7518 Likes, 137 Shares and 629 Comments, it didn’t experience the same success as the Day 1 Q&A. Besides the dilemma of going through the comments to find the winners of the competition (Lin mentioned he got a headache looking through the submissions), the quiz format would only reach those who waited for the post, thus limiting it’s reach. When social media competitions prompt followers to be the first to answer or post you are neglecting your casual followers who aren’t constantly connected. Having a competition which allows followers to post a simple entry such as the Twitter art work and Instagram impersonation you are now allowing the majority of your followers to participate.

Looking over the events of ‘Appreciation Week’, Lin has proved how simple it is using social media to interact with his fans and in the process thank them for their support. The ‘LINSANITY’ craze may have been lighting in a bottle with Lin’s move to Houston but through the use of simple and effective competitions and the continual interaction on a regular basis, Lin has be able maintained his popularity globally. The great use of social media combined with regular visits and accommodating his Asian fan base has in turn increased his marketability and improved his chances of garnering endorsements.

Lin’s Volvo Commercial

Lin heads out for some ‘street-ball’ with David Lee

Athletes in many sports worldwide have a short career span. What social media has provided is another avenue off the field or court to develop an athlete’s brand. It has also allowed middle tier players in many leagues to increase their popularity with their personality and social media savvy competitions to increase their name recognition to heights only reserved for the superstars.

Have a read of the ‘Social Media Guidelines’ post, which outlines what athletes need to consider when posting to maintain a positive image.

What other athletes do you feel have done a great job in maintaining their personal brand through Social Media? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Lin takes part in #HerosHangout on Google+

Lin also recently took part in a Google Hangout as a part of the Veteran’s United channel, where he discussed life as an NBA player and conversed with military heroes from across the US.

Social Media Guidelines simplified

On the 7th of June a tweet went out from @soldierUK providing servicemen and women a simple guide to follow regarding online behaviour. There are three categories which the guide followed; Green, Amber and Red. The guide is specifically related to military content and reducing the risk of sensitive service information being published online.

Let’s have a look at how the ‘unofficial’ online guide for the military can be adapted to a sporting organisation and its players and athletes.

GREEN: Be aware of what content you post!

Social Media Green Guide

Category ‘green’, is all about being aware of how your information/ posted content shared on social media affects the organisation, yourself, family and friends. This has been an issue for many athletes not thinking about ‘who can see their account’ and not protecting their own privacy. Earlier in the year we saw Josh Dugan stood down by the Canberra Raiders for posting a photo on Instagram of himself and Blake Ferguson drinking, the final straw for the club. This was followed weeks later by an abusive comment directed at a fan which resulted in the Brisbane Broncos pulling contract negotiations with Dugan. Would a similar summary such as the Green category be mandatory in all athletes’ houses?


It’s important for athletes in particular to be aware of who can see their social media account. If an athlete’s settings are on private they to, still need to be sure that content posted is appropriate. For those who are public, due diligence needs to be taken prior to posting. Athletes need to be constantly aware of how others may view their posted content and interpret it in a positive or negative way; if they think it could go either way don’t post it.

Be Polite

Posts and content will reflect your personality, your likes and dislikes, and followers will be able to see this. That’s what has lead to the rapid growth in social media, is that sense of voyeurism which attracts use as humans to these different digital platforms. Portraying yourself as ‘Polite, Constructive and Honest’ is essential as followers will be given a glimpse into your world and in turn the organisation / team you represent.

Fact vs Opinion

Athletes and sports organisations need to be aware of the difference, as it can lead to misrepresented news and information. Twitter for example we see staff of organisations often explicitly display that their tweets are their own not that of the organisation they represent, but is that enough. If both parties do their research prior to posting content this would solve the problem. Social media is about the conversations you have with your followers and supporters and if the information is fiction or false it could potentially have a negative influence on followers as they may feel that this “official” post isn’t genuine.

Keep it official

This is a GREAT point which needs to be followed up with an effective process in place for athletes representing an organisation which have an established avenue, which IS NOT online, to ask questions about ‘official’ and private matters.

Protect privacy of family

Not only do posts affect the individual posting them but also their family and friends. Within social media athletes aren’t just representing themselves, the sporting team but also their family and friends whom which they engage with online. Being aware of when it its appropriate and necessary to mention them in a post is extremely important and the inclusion of ‘being as carefully as your own’ summaries that perfectly.

Quality Vs Quantity

Providing information through social media which reflects your likes and personality is a great way for athletes to connect with followers. Being aware of the necessary steps in portraying a positive brand goes along way for athletes through content posted.

Follow club rules

The final point would be included in a Teams social media guidelines as there would be a governing body which would have their own guidelines which players still need to follow and abide by.

AMBER: When in Doubt . . . . . ASK

The Amber category looks at when it is necessary to ask or seek permission prior to posting online. This is extremely important for an organisation such as the military which handles highly sensitive information, but can these guidelines be adapted to a sporting organisation?

Social Media Amber Guide

Game Plans

Athletes and organisational staff need to be aware when posting content relating to procedures and processes, if it’s appropriate to post. An example would be if an athlete were to post information regarding plays or adjustments made before their game or competition. This information would be regarded as giving the team or opponent a competitive advantage and we all know how important that is (Bill Belichick 2007 ‘Spy-Gate’).

Keep company line

Opinions regarding the organisation from an athlete or staff member whether or not positive or negative should be kept to themselves. Posting comments online is not the avenue or platform to vent and we have seen many athletes do this. An Ohio State quarter back decided to tweet about how he came to college to play football and shouldn’t be attending classes, this resulted in him receiving a one game suspension.

Be very clear

This is point refers to posting content and explicitly making it known to followers that the information is either your own opinion or sourced from someone else which credit needs to be given. This is important for sporting organisations who report on numerous new sources for information and post the content online. For example quotes from player interviews need to accurate and not misconstrued.

Be politically correct and don’t offend

This point speaks for its self and I believe it is a must for all social media guidelines. One case which comes to mind was during the London Olympics in which a Greek athlete posted a tweet which was seen as tasteless and racist. Greece’s Olympic Committee then saw it fit to expel the athlete from the games, making her the first due to social media use.

RED: Do not, Do not, Do not!

Category RED focuses on what definitely should not be posted at any time. A guide which explicitly outlines what shouldn’t be posted will greatly assist all parties (athletes and staff) of an organisation as there are now no grey areas where they can potentially go wrong with content posted online. This also holds them accountable to their actions as what is expected of them is clearly stated.


Social Media Red Guide

You could follow a tried and true rule Sean uses in athlete training, below:

Don't be a dickhead! (if you are social media isn't for you)

Closing Thoughts:

Social media provides athletes and sporting organisations an opportunity to connect with followers and supports on a consistent on ‘real-time’ basis. As a result it is paramount that there are a set guidelines to follow which outline what is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to posting content online. What we have seen from @soldierUK is a simple summary of those expectations broken into three colour coded categories as an easy to read guide. As we have shown these points aren’t just exclusively for the military and can be applied to a sports setting. From this we can see that no matter what the area of profession it is important that the brand image of an organisation is upheld by all employees, volunteers, contractors, athletes and everyone involved. Maybe a simple summary such as these colour-coded points maybe a solution to solve athletes posting inappropriate content online.

For more on Social Media Guidelines checkout the previously posted Do’s and Don’ts , with some great tips from players on their own social media guidelines they have given themselves.

Let us know what you think could potentially safeguard an organisation and its athletes.

SGP 004: Athletes on social with George Rose and selling tickets with Charlotte Bobcats

Sports Geek Podcast available on iTunes and StitcherIn episode 4 of the Sports Geek Podcast I catch up with Manly Sea Eagles and NRL player George Rose to get an athlete point of view on social media and his take on the current social media discussion on racism.  We also go back in the ABC Grandstand archives as Francis Leach and I chat to Chris Zeppenfeld from the Charlotte Bobcats about CRM and ticket sales.


Thanks again for the feedback, tag your tweets #SGP I’ve included some of your feedback on the Sports Geek Podcast page.

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

  • What rules George applies to his social media to stay out of trouble
  • How Ricky Gervias handles trolls and if that works for athletes
  • How social media is playing a significant role in the racism debate in Australia
  • How social media can help develop an athlete’s sponsorship profile
  • Why CRM is so important for selling tickets in NBA
  • How the Charlotte Bobcats use the 360 degree view of fans for ticket sales

Very pleased to see it profiled in New & Noteworthy in iTunes and we’ve passed the 500 downloads mark with new listeners each week.

Download the episode here

George Rose pleasing his sponsors Budgie Smugglers via InstagramResources from the episode

Podcast gets Made for TV treatment

This podcast was picked up by ABC 24 to profile George Rose and athletes using social media.

Subscribe Sports Geek Podcast

On iTunes? Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave comment or rating.

Don’t use iTunes? Subscribe using this feed, we are also available on Stitcher and Pocket Casts

Thanks for tuning in, I’d love your feedback in the comments or send me a tweet @seancallanan

Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 4 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we’ll chat with George Rose from the Manly Sea Eagles about athletes and social media, and Chris Zeppenfeld from the Charlotte Bobcats about sports CRM.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for sports digital and sports business professionals. And now, here’s your host, known for using more hashtags than Kobe Bryant, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. You can find me on Twitter, @seancallanan, and @sportsgeek on Twitter. And yes, I do on occasion use too many hashtags or excessively long hashtags. Thanks again for all the feedback, and if you’re listening for the very first time to the Sports Geek Podcast, welcome and thank you for listening. If you want to look back at previous episodes, you can find them all at

Let’s get into today’s show. My first guest is from the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL is prop George Rose, or gorgeousgrose on Twitter. What we talked about is an athlete’s point of view of how he uses social media and how it can deepen the connection with fans, and how he converses with fans on social media. So here it is. George Rose from the Manly Sea Eagles.

Sean: First of all, welcome to George Rose, or as everyone would know him on Twitter, gorgeousgrose. How you doing, George?

George: I’m good, I’m good. It’s one of my first ever Skype interviews, so I’m liking this. It’s pretty cool.

Sean: Yeah, so this will be, you’re talking to people through their iPods right now, so we’re messing with technology. First of all, for people who don’t know, we’ve got some listeners over in the States, and the U.K., and around Australia, George plays for the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL and was, for mine, one of the first athletes that I started working with at Sports Geek when we were doing some work with the Manly Sea Eagles. So George, first of all tell us where you are on all these platforms. You’re on Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram.

George: Yeah.

Sean: Have I covered them all?

George: Well, they’re the main ones that I use at the moment. I have signed up to a few other things, but I generally use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a daily basis.

Sean: You would say you’re a veteran at that. You’ve been on it for a couple of years now and you use it on a daily basis. How do you use it? What’s your main goal when you’re getting on social? What’s your main goal of why do you tweet? Why do you Facebook?

George: Sometimes it’s just to, I guess, a little bit of shameless self-promotion, to let people know what I’m doing or if I’m doing something good or something in the media or anything like that, just to let people know what I’m doing. Also just general chitchat. I found that the more I got involved, the more I enjoyed a little bit of chitchat. I’ve met a few people on there like Manly fans, rugby league fans, and people with interesting things to say. It sort of surprised me. You sort of learn a little bit about the Manly supporters and just general supporters as well, as they get to learn about myself. I enjoy it.

Sean: I remember when we first met and we did our first sort of session on all things social, initially you were engaged with fans on Facebook but you migrated to a fan page. That was a bit of a laborious process of unfriending people you didn’t know. Which is great because now you can have that interaction without, the main issue is the security of your friends, and family, and fellow teammates.

Now you’re using the fan page, and I see you’re sharing your Instagram pics and talking to people after the game. What are the differences from you using Twitter and using Facebook? For instance, what’s a kind of different interaction you get as an athlete?

George: Well, the big move on Facebook was very handy because a lot of my personal life was mixing with my professional life so it was good to get that separated. But on Facebook I generally like to, it’s sort of more of a long-winded status, I guess, that I use on there. I’ll use that to be able to post-game, little postmortem after games, and to give everyone a chance to sort of comment on our game and how we went. Whereas Twitter I use as more as a general interaction sort of social media. I reply to a lot more people on Twitter.

I think on Facebook, since they brought the inbox on the fan pages, I’ve been involved with that too. That sort of gives a place for people to make requests to me as well. People are often looking for community visits and help with charity situations, with raffles or benefit nights and things like that. It gives people access to that, to be able to ask them questions because not everybody uses Twitter, not everybody uses Facebook. On both different things, I have different interactions. It’s good to be able to get access to so many people.

Sean: We always keep hearing in the media especially some of the bad stories of social media and athletes, athletes mucking up or making their own thing or tweeting their own thing. I’ve actually been using one of the lessons you gave me the first time we met of your rule of not tweeting after 10:00 p.m.

George: Yeah.

Sean: Which I think is a great rule. I’m assuming you’re still having that self-discipline to not do that. What other tips do you give athletes or do you give your mates to say, well, if you’re going to get on social, here are some of things that have worked for me? Is it the 10:00 p.m. rule, or is it other things that you do as well?

George: Yeah, generally, that is one of my best rules is doing that. And it is hard to do sometimes, especially when you’re not thinking straight. The more you can stop after that hour is the best. But whenever some of the boys are looking at getting on Twitter and Instagram and things like that, I just tip them off that you are going to cop a little bit of flack.

Sean: Yup.

George: It’s probably 2 out of every 100 people are going to say something negative to you, but there’s 98 people saying something positive, so the best thing you can do is just block and ignore. Because you really are, you’re going to cop it. There’s people out there that are going to say things that they’re just looking for a reaction from you. They might not mean it. They just want a reaction from you and they’re going to say it. So just ignore it, prepare yourself for the negative stuff, but embrace all of the positive stuff too, because there is a lot of really positive supporters out there and it’s great to get to hear from them. And it really does boost the ego a little bit. It keeps you motivated.

Sean: Oh, exactly. You get a little bit of a head wobble after a good game. And there’s a bit of you’re trending. You were trending worldwide when Manly won the premiership after a few incidents.

So that’s always good to say you’ve been trending worldwide. And that is great advice from a troll’s point of view. They are just doing it to get a rise out of you. I mean, there are different people that have different strategies. I don’t know if you follow Ricky Gervais. He constantly is re-tweeting, and replying, and sort of taking the mickey out of a lot of the trolls that are trying to get to him. That is a tactic you can take, but not all of us have the quick wit and the sharp tongue that Ricky Gervais has.

George: Yeah, well, I do agree. I reckon that is a good way, because I do see a few people doing it. But then I also think you’re giving them a little bit of fame by doing it.

Sean: Yup.

George: They’re getting out to Ricky’s millions of followers, whereas the people who were giving him a rap and saying the good things, they’re not getting any love, and I’d rather show love to the good guys.

Sean: Yeah. And the other thing that you do, say, if you look at Ricky Gervais’ stream is, every now and again, he has to say, please, guys, you don’t have to attack the guys that I’m having a go at. And that’s the other danger that I see for athletes. If you reply to some fan and call him a peanut, you’ve got this legion of fans that are really positive for you, but you don’t want to start inciting that crowd to attack this other person, because you don’t know if that Twitter account is a 35-year-old man that’s just got a lot of anger in him or a 15-year-old kid that’s very confused. It’s a very dangerous position for athletes to be in. If you’re going to out a hater, as we call them online, you’ve got to be very careful because you don’t know who that person is.

George: Yeah. Yeah, I agree 100 percent.

Sean: One of the big stories in Australia at the moment is this whole racism debate. Unfortunately, it’s reared its very ugly head again with the Adam Goodes incident and the unfortunate comments from Eddie McGuire again. We saw Harry O’Brien make quite a bit statement using Twitter. And, as well, Adam Goodes has been really amazing in using Twitter to get the message out.

I mean, you’re an indigenous Australian, George. What’s your take in seeing what’s happening on Twitter, because you can see so many people having their say? Do you have something to say on the whole topic and what do you see as far as your interactions with your fans?

George: Well, initially, I thought what Adam Goodes did and said was outstanding. He kept a very positive, he was happy to move on. Some of the things that he said were really inspiring, and I thought that was outstanding from him. But then to have it brought up again somewhat stupidly by Eddie McGuire is, it was a bit silly.

But, again, I think Adam Goodes handled it great, again, considering the limelight that he was facing from this stuff. And, again, you’re going to get a lot of positive and negative responses, but I thought he was great. And I also caught the Harry O response. I hadn’t followed Harry O before that, but to see him stand up and take a real stand on his thoughts and his beliefs on the subject was great.

I think it’s good that people were there publicly showing support. Hopefully, everything is sorted out from that. But, again, congratulations to Adam Goodes on how he handled it.

Sean: Yeah. And I guess that’s now the opportunity that athletes have, that you didn’t have even five years ago, is that you can have your say on a topic. And it can be as a powerful a topic as racism that can be unfiltered, that fans can directly get to. I guess that’s the power that you now have, as you athletes have influence in the media anyway, but now you’ve got this direct line that you can talk directly to your fans. That’s the opportunity that social effectively gives you.

George: Yeah, and I think it’s great. You get the words straight from the horse’s mouth and there’s no middleman in the media screwing things up.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So getting back onto topics around social and things like that, just give the listeners on the Sports Geek Podcast an idea of are there any particular apps that you use to manage everything? What type of phone do you use? What kind of apps are you using on a daily basis?

George: Okay. I’m on the iPhone 5. I use pretty much just the standard apps on there. I use the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook apps on there. But I have the Facebook Pages app as well to manage my fan page. I’ve also got a couple of other pages that I’ve got running that I just handle them all through there. I think initially, that app was just a little bit behind on everything, but I think recent updates have really brought it up to speed and it’s a lot more easy to use, because I found a lot of the time I’d have to go online, jump on the laptop and use it to be able to interact properly with people on my Facebook page. But now that that app’s been updated, I can use it for almost anything.

Sean: Cool. From your experience from, say if we look at Twitter, what athletes are you following that you sort of look up to from a sporting point of view but also how they’re using social media and you say, oh, yeah, that’s something that I should be doing or I could be doing stuff like that with my fans? Who are you following? Who are you looking up to in a social and a digital space?

George: I follow a lot of NBA and NFL players. I follow a lot of local athletes as well, Rugby League, NBL, Rugby Union, a few AFL guys. And you do pick up little things on how they communicate and things that they do. Also the type of things that they’re sharing because sometimes you’ll wonder how far you want to take it with what you share with people on Twitter. When you see other people doing it and getting a good reaction from it, you think, well, that’s okay, I’ll start doing that. Just some of the general conversations.

I’ll see Quade Cooper from the Reds. Maybe once or every few days you’ll see him interact with fans. He’ll toss out a question and then just have a good interaction with fans for maybe an hour or more, and I think that’s a really good thing. It keeps everyone positive.

And I, myself, like sometimes when you keep throwing tweets at an athlete or star and you’re not getting any responses, you sometimes grow a little tired of them. Or if you’re not interacting with people, there’s stars that I’ve followed and then unfollowed because it seemed like all they were doing with it, Twitter, was just promoting things that they had upcoming, whether it’s a musician just promoting a record coming out as opposed to actually interacting with people and just sharing a little bit about their everyday life.

I really like the people who interact. I got a bit excited that recently I had Michael Vick from the Philadelphia Eagles, he twittered me back, and that was a bit of a big moment for me in my Twitter life.

Sean: That’s a really good story because now you know the feeling that your fans feel when you respond to them.

George: Yeah.

Sean: I’ve had the same experience. I’ve had some of the guys that were running team accounts heading over to the States and have one of the U.S. teams respond, and they’re like, oh, that was really awesome. And it’s, like, well, yeah, you’ve got to realize that that’s the experience you’re giving your fans when you respond from a team account or, in your case, from your personal account. It really does show the value.

But you did touch there on promoting things and things like that. This coming from a man whose Instagram feed keeps having pictures of you in budgie smugglers. And I will post a picture of George.

How has social and your interaction, and the fact that you’re doing a good job, how has it helped you on the side of sponsorship, personal sponsorship, and people saying, hey, George, can you tweet this out? It might be small but has it helped you in that personal sponsorship area?

George: Well, it has. I guess I was more referring to people that solely used it for that.

Sean: Yeah.

George: I’m happy if they interact, plus they do a little bit of a thing. Yeah, well, the interesting thing about budgie smugglers is that I was just wearing a pair at a game and they got a bit of airtime when the shorts came down.

Sean: Yup.

George: And on the back of that, the guys from Budgie Smuggler got in contact with me and they’ve kept me in a new pair on a regular basis. So I think it’s pretty lucky in that sense to be able to do that. It gives me a chance to promote some of my sponsors, or apparel sponsors, as it may be. When I do try to do it, I try to do it in a good sort of way, not just a hey, buy this product sort of way.

Sean: Yeah.

George: I do try to mix it in there pretty well.

Sean: Yeah. Dare I say it, in a cheeky way, George.

George: Yes. Yeah.

Sean: Oh, very good. Well, we look forward to you. Your Twitter handle again is . . .

George: It’s @gorgeousgrose.

Sean: All right. Well, we’ll definitely link to that in the show notes. Thank you very much for joining us, and good luck for the rest of the season, mate.

George: Thanks a lot for my first Skype interview.

DJ Joel: You’re listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. Tag your tweets SGP.

Sean: Thanks again to George Rose for that interview and a bit of insight what it’s like on the other side of the tweets, from the point of view of an athlete using social media. And for the listeners who aren’t in Australia and haven’t heard about the Adam Goodes racism story that has pretty much dominated the headlines over here in Australia, I will put some links into the show notes.

Adam had a really strong response both via Twitter and then via his interview post the incident on Friday night. And then Harry O responded to Eddie McGuire’s gaffe, slip of the tongue, say what you will, when he made a mistake on his radio show, responding to club president via Twitter, which is a strong stance. Just, again, shows the opportunity that players and athletes have to educate, but also I’ve sort of seen some of the darker side in helping athletes, seeing some of the responses they do give via social media. So George’s response there to ignore and block is a good one, but also he has the opportunity to educate some of these fans.

So changing tack, I’ve gone into the ABC Grandstand archive because we didn’t have a Grandstand this week. I want to look back at a discussion I had with the Bobcats’ Chris Zeppenfeld. He manages the CRM and helps ticket sales at the Bobcats, and here’s our discussion with him with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Francis: Buying tickets to a big event’s not easy, and I reckon also for the increasing competition in the space for sports organizations to sell tickets is not easy either. Because you’ve got to identify your target market and you’ve got to make it attractive to them because there’s so many options now for sports fans.

Sean: Definitely. At SEAT in Boston, they added a stream for CRM. For people who don’t know CRM, it’s customer relationship management systems. And the way that sports teams over there are using them to better identify sales targets, both from a ticketing point of view for season tickets, but also from a sponsorship point of view. Some really sophisticated stuff happening there in being able to identify, look at a database, identify the fans, but then actually call them.

So there’s a real big emphasis on ticket sellers and ticket reps, and specifically sales reps. So it’s not telemarketing. It’s about building that relationship, which we’ve talked about from a social media point of view, but having that personal touch of calling you up and asking what you’re looking for, what you want in a season ticket, what are the other amenities.

Francis: It’s fascinating because while I was at home, my dad’s 70 years old today, happy birthday dad, and my brothers and sisters all got together, and we’re all footie fans, bearing for different clubs. Part of my family’s St. Kilda, part of it’s Exeter. We’re actually sitting there going, how much are you paying for your silver membership at the Exeter Football Club and what do you get for it? And how much are we paying for ours? And someone over there was an AFL member. And you think, well, maybe that’s a better option.

So there are three or four different sort of, we were literally doing, it was like a little in-house survey group. We’re thinking, oh, I’m being ripped here. So it was really interesting, the disparity there, but also the curiosity people had about what value they were getting for their spend, for their entertainment or sports experience.

Sean: Well, that’s the thing. Now that all the clubs are now looking forward to diversify their offerings, I think were the first to start offering that three-game membership. They looked at their data base, and this is what CRM is all about, they looked at their data base and they saw a need and they saw that there were fans who wanted to come to the games but couldn’t come to all the games. So they defined a package, which now we now is the three-game package, and that did help expand their membership. They’re not all full season members, but it gets them in the database, it gets them as a paying customer, and . . .

Francis: Then you can start building a relationship with them.

Sean: Start building a relationship with them. And a person who’s a three-game membership might become an eleven-gamer next year, and might become an eighteen-gamer, and those kind of things. It’s about upscaling that fan.

Francis: Who’s ahead of the curve in the States who you met there at the SEAT conference who was doing this better than others?

Sean: One of the guys that I did meet was Chris Zeppenfeld from the Charlotte Bobcats. The Charlotte Bobcats are in the NBA. They’re not doing the best on field, but from the sophistication of their sales team and using CRM, they’re doing a really great job to sell out their stadium and sell a whole bunch of tickets.

Francis: Well, he’s with us this morning here on Grandstand Breakfast here in Australia. G’day, Chris. How are you?

Chris: I’m doing well. How is everybody over there?

Francis: Not too bad. We’re a little happy now that Lleyton Hewitt’s won his match there in New York, so that’s put a smile on everyone’s faces here in Australia this morning. First thing, how hard is it, when your team’s not doing well, like the Bobcats have had maybe a tough time of it the last couple of seasons, to actually continue to get people through the gates and give them an experience they’ll actually enjoy and pay money for?

Chris: I think the biggest thing that we try to do with our fans is, kind of describe it as a little bit more than what’s going on on the court. It’s the experience of taking out your son or you daughter to a game, taking out your best business clients, or vendor, or prospects, and giving them the best experience that they can have for a night out. It’s a little bit more than just what you see on the court. I think that’s the really key thing that we try to push here, and eventually, as the team gets better, then you can start highlighting the different things that are going on on court.

Sean: Chris, we discussed yesterday the differences in the developments in the sports CRM space and how the different teams are really taking the space and treating sports as a business. Who are some of the teams that are doing a really good job in the space of sales and using sports CRM to really maximize what they can bring to the table?

Chris: I think there’s kind of two groups or teams that are doing this well. I think you’ve got one group that maybe doesn’t have to sell as many tickets, but utilizing CRM to get kind of this 360 view of a customer and maximize the potential revenue that they can get. I think teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the Boston Celtics do this very well. Those guys, I think, really have thought about not just ticket sales but looking at merchandising and online food and beverage, website traffic and those types of things.

They really understand what their customers are doing, not just when they go to the game but outside and how they interact with their product outside of the stadium. I think some of the teams that are a little bit more ticket sale-focused or would be the Philadelphia 76ers. I think did a tremendous job down there. I was really impressed with some of the stuff that they’re doing. New Orleans Hornets, and the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs. The MLSE Group does a really good job. Those are some of the pioneers in the NBA of really coming out with a CRM solution for the teams.

Francis: What about for your franchise there, Chris? What are some of the things that you’ve learnt from your fans in the last two or three years were services that they expected you to deliver to enhance their game day or their experience of the Bobcats?

Chris: I think the biggest change that we’ve had over the last three years is really understanding that, we have a sales staff of over 40 people who make a number of outbound calls per day. As you can imagine, at the Bobcats, we don’t have a ton of people just ringing in on the phones, clamoring for Bobcats tickets, probably like other teams do. So we’re very aggressive at going out to the public and having to make outbound sales.

I think the biggest thing we’ve done is really make sure that we are maximizing those rep efforts. I think in the past they might just take a list of single-game buyers and just kind of randomly distribute them out. Now it’s a far greater science to that, and CRM is a big piece of that, that kind of helps determine who’s going to get a phone call from us.

Is it because they’ve clicked on our website, or in from our lead-scoring program, do they score well? Have they done something with their email behavior? So they opened or clicked one of our emails. What did they click on their email? Those kind of things factor in as to whether or not we’re going to have one of our trained sales rep call them.

Francis: So you almost have, like, their electronic DNA to be able to track what will flip their switch in a way.

Chris: I’m sorry?

Francis: You’ve almost got an electronic DNA of the customer of the fan so you know what’s going to be the thing, the hot button to press that will get them interested.

Chris: Yeah, I think that’s always our goal as CRM managers here to kind of create this 360 view of the customer. For most of the teams that have a CRM, they have a pretty good idea of what their ticketing behavior is because a lot of us use Ticketmaster or ArtTix. That data feeds into our CRM.

And for those who maybe aren’t familiar with Ticketmaster or ArtTix, if you were to go and purchase a ticket at and you wanted to go to a game, you’d be using that Ticketmaster system. So we’re able to collect, of course, the address, the phone, and the email, and of course, what did you buy. So every team kind of has that, but now it’s a little bit more sophisticated of things such as what kind of emails do you respond to, what kind of surveys that you respond to. That information, we’re collecting it.

And that’s really what CRM brings to the table. There’s so much information that the fans are willing to give you. Who’s their favorite player, or I like to buy nachos in the second quarter, or I like to buy this jersey around Christmas. All those types of things. But it’s hard to collect that data, kind of organize it in some way, and actually assimilate something from it. That’s really where CRM really, really helps.

Sean: Yeah, we did actually talk about that with the display signage stuff, where the technology’s getting there where you walk into the stadium, and then you scan your season ticket and your favorite player might be welcoming you to the arena. That’s the kind of stuff that CRM can offer us, isn’t it?

Chris: Absolutely. You’ve got to be able to collect the data, you’ve got to be able to analyze that data, and to be able to do something from it. And I think, really, where CRM really, really helps is that collecting piece, because there’s just so much out there to collect. How do you organize this in some organized fashion that somebody else can act on?

Francis: It’s like a little piece of metal that you need to alchemize into gold. Good on you, Chris. Thanks for giving us an insight and good luck on the Bobcats season ahead, and with the National Democratic Convention that’s in your backyard over the next few days. It must be busy there.

Chris: Oh, it’s unbelievable. We’re really excited here. Thanks again for having me on.

Francis: Chris Zeppenfeld there from the Charlotte Bobcats talking about how they’re doing, how they’re based in the customer relationship management and how technology’s allowing them now to know a lot about you and know what really works for you. We’ll see that really start to become sophisticated in Australia as well.

Sean: It definitely will. We’ll start seeing more of it as teams really want to maximize the value of the fan.

Francis: It’s all about the fan. Without us, they got nothing.

Sean: Exactly. Exactly.

Francis: Good on you, Sean.

Sean: Thanks again to Chris for that interview. I look forward to catching up with Chris at SEAT 2013 in August, in Kansas City this time. Check that out. Go to to find more information about the SEAT conference.

That’s it for today’s show. Thank you very much for joining me. You’ll find the show notes at Send me a tweet if you’re listening. If you’ve got any questions from the show, love the feedback. And until next week, I hope your team wins on the weekend and is trending on the Internet.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Go to for more sports digital marketing resources. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast.

Social Media gives us a glimpse into the heart and mind of Kobe Bryant


“What’s the purpose of social media if I won’t bring it to you Real No Image” – Kobe Bryant

As the regular season of the NBA comes to an end and the excitement of playoff basketball begins, there seems to be a familiar figure missing. Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant will be watching, posting and tweeting from the sidelines while he recovers from Achilles tendon surgery.

Since the injury occurred against the Golden State Warriors, fans have been given a glimpse into the heart, mind and brand of an athlete who has over the course of his career, earned world wide status as one of the most recognised athletes in sport. Bryant has increased his online presence dramatically of late, and has proved an intriguing addition on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for Lakers and NBA fans alike.


Bryant joined Twitter on January 4th, announcing the ‘Antisocial has become Social #mambatweets.’ Yet given how forthcoming he has been via this platform, you could be forgiven for feeling confused by his ‘antisocial’ self-assessment. His tweeting habits have included words of encouragement to team mates, recognition of opponent’s performances and insight into his daily activities and rehabilitation. Bryant is honest and engaging on Twitter, and has a clear handle on hash tag use; first describing himself as a fine red aging #VINO, then incorporating #countonkobe in his tweets to illustrate, despite his setback, he was as competitive as ever:

That Facebook Post…

Following the Golden State game, but prior to receiving any MRI scans to diagnose the severity of the injury, a sleep deprived and frustrated Kobe took to Facebook at 3:30am to vent his thoughts:


This was a very emotional and raw ‘status update’, which gave fans and supporters a rare view into his thoughts at a time in which he was vulnerable and questioning the longevity of his career. Kobe’s desire to succeed and his forever present determination was also on display as he vowed to return, but not before affirming that for now he was to assume the role of the aforementioned ‘Coach Vino’.

Reading it over again, you can’t help feel the emotional outpouring in what was a genuinely heart-felt update. This is what social media platforms offer, an avenue for users to share their thoughts and feelings to their friends and followers. Sporting organisations and players are using these avenues more effectively to further develop their brand, as the many platforms allows them to have a ‘personality’ which fans, customers and clients can relate to and connect with.

Kobe on Instagram: 14 posts, 650,000+ followers & 1 person followed

Kobe’s all-star status as one of the greatest athletes on social media grew even more the following day as he started an Instagram account. His first post came as he was getting his MRI, followed by a shot of him getting ready for surgery. Kobe continued with his love of hashtags using #highasakite and #mambaout to humorously convey his pre-surgery thoughts:

MRI time!

Surgery prep time. Lookin like Mrs Doubtfire with a jerri curl cap lol Anesthesia next #highasakite #mambaout

Bryant’s personality is consistent through all his accounts. He is honest and likes to speak his mind, has fun with his hashtags and doesn’t shy away from showing his disappointment. This glimpse into the heart and mind in turn elevates Kobe Bryant as a brand.

Bryant has turned a tough time in his life into a positive and is taking us on the emotional ride with him. He has also done an incredible job in presenting himself professionally, which could not be said for other athletes (case in point, NRL Josh Dugan). As a result of opening the doors into his life, people can now relate to the Kobe brand on a personal level. They have seen the hardship and now understand what makes the superstar tick; solidifying the ideas of the #KOBESYSTEM and he will ‘Dominate Achilles’

YES! Dominate the boot. Dominate tendons. Dominate the cast. Dominate rehab. Dominate dominating demure dominants domination. Wtf u ask?!? "Your Welcome" #dominatehashtags

I’ll be following Kobe’s #mambaisms on Twitter and all his other social media activity and strongly advise you do too, as I am sure he will have a lot to tweet, post and share over the playoffs.

Breaking News: Kobe WILL NOT be tweeting during Playoff games

UPDATE: The unthinkable has happened. After receiving national attention during the ABC broadcast, Bryant announced that he wouldn’t be tweeting during games:

Upon hearing the news, the Los Angeles Times ran a poll to gauge fans’ reaction to the news. Six hours in, and it seems they want Kobe to keep live tweeting during games:

LA Times Poll

Fingers crossed he’ll still provide pre and post-game thoughts via his social media platforms; he may even decide to tweet during playoff matchups that don’t involve the Lakers, even if he still has a bit to learn when it comes to sharing images (and a sneak peek of the new Facebook timeline):

Kobe Phone screenshot of Facebook post of Tweet

But you’ve got to admire a man who has winning at the forefront of his mind and continually wants to do what’s best for his team.

Have a listen to the discussion Sean had with Harf on Harf Time about Kobe Bryant.

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