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

Recording: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

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 035: @Storm get a new look & how to break into sports business

New Melbourne @Storm Auckland 9s jersey with new Twitter handle on the frontDespite some technical problems, on this Sports Geek Podcast we chat with Dan Pinne from the Storm about their shiny new Twitter handle which will be front and centre on their Auckland 9s jersey.  We look back at #SBNight to answer the question how to break into the sports business.


Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • Why the Melbourne Storm changed handle to @Storm
  • Importance of teams to promote all channels as not everyone is on Twitter
  • How I started Sports Geek with a trip to LA, Dallas & New York
  • What platforms I used to connect with Mark Cuban and ended up in Mavs locker room

Resources from the episode

Peter Daicos

We helped Peter Daicos get started on Twitter back in 2009.

But watch these highlights

From Sports Geek Trip in 2010 at Dallas Mavericks game

From the game discussed in the podcast from the suite.

Social Media Post of the Week

Poor tweet from Melbourne Heart CEO Scott Munn.

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

Sports Geek Closing 2 cents - Always Backup

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 35 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we check with Dan Pinne from the Melbourne Storm about the Melbourne Storm’s recent Twitter handle change, and look back at the SB night. And why the hell is this podcast so late?

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

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. You can send me a tweet on either of those handles, @SeanCallanan or @SportsGeek. Thank you for doing so. I really appreciate the feedback that we’re getting, both on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, even, and also Facebook,

On this episode, we have a chat to Dan Pinne from the Melbourne Storm on Harf Time, and also I’m going to have a look back at very successful SB night at Honey Bar, and go through some of the questions that I was asked throughout the night and answer them here. I’m going to have a bit of a Q&A section.

I’ll keep this episode short and sweet, because it is late. Apologies for that. I am aiming to get the Sports Geek Podcast out every Friday, Australian time, and unfortunately this week has been a technological nightmare, with our website getting hacked that I had to fix, and then on top of that, I decided to spill water on my MacBook Air, which is now relatively useless. So I’m now currently working on a completely new MacBook with a completely new Garage Band. So apologies for when it’s like this, and I hope I can get all the sound and levels right using the newfangled Garage Band 10.

So first of all, here is my segment on Harf Time with Daniel Hartford, and special guest from the Melbourne Storm, Dan Pinne.


DJ Joel: Sean Callanan, our sports digital media guru for

Daniel: He’s with us again. Had a big night last night. SB night. #BigNight last night, success for sure?

Sean: Yeah. The sports business night went quite well. Had a good representation of the sports biz community in Melbourne down at the Honey Bar in South Melbourne. So look forward to having another one later in the year.

Daniel: Did you have the Melbourne Storm there, because they’ve gone to world first category.

Sean: They have. When we’re talking about sport, and legends in sport, when you’re a one name, when you’re a one-namer, you know you’re up there. You know, Lebron, Tiger, you know, Buddy. When you’re a one-namer…

Daniel: Yes.

Sean: …you know, everyone knows you by the one name.

Daniel: Sure.

Sean: Exactly. Exactly. And it’s the same way from a Twitter point of view. And last night, the Storm swapped over their handle. They have been known as @MelbourneStorm.

Daniel: Yeah.

Sean: Haven’t done anything reckless. Haven’t changed to a love symbol like Prince or anything. They’ve just gone down to just Storm.

Daniel: @Storm.

Sean: So they’re now @Storm. So they join the leagues of Lakers, Celtics, Red Sox, Warriors, all these teams that just have their moniker as their Twitter handle. And we’ve got Dan Pinne, the Digital Media Manager from the Storm on the line from down at AAMI Park.

Daniel: Dan, good afternoon.

Dan: G’day, guys. Thanks for having me.

Daniel: A pleasure. Thanks for being on the show. Why did you do this, Dan?

Dan: Oh, I just wanted to give people an extra nine characters to tweet us stuff. There could be anything they could fit in there.

Daniel: It’s not as silly as it sounds, you know.

Sean: And to allay… you get another night… and to allay any fears, because there was a bit of Twitter chatter. There was a bit of conspiracy theorists. You know, late at night, tinfoil hat type of stuff. It was, “Oh my God, the Storm are leaving Melbourne.”

Daniel: Oh, of course.

Sean: Because we’ve dropped the “Melbourne” from the name. It’s like, no, we can allay those fears right now. The Storm are staying in Melbourne. And so much so. The other thing that they’ve done, which is the world first: their name is not one thing. The new jersey they’re going to have for the Auckland Nines, they’re going to have the Twitter, their Twitter name, Twitter handle, @Storm, on the front of the jersey.

Dan: Yes. Yeah. It’s great, actually. It’s one of the first in the world, that we can put it on that really big prominent property on the front of the jersey.

Sean: Have you seen Twitter being a really good way for the Melbourne Storm brand to expand and get a lot more intimate with the followers?

Dan: Oh, yeah. It’s massive for us, and it’s great for our brand in Melbourne, as well, and to push the Storm brand. That’s why we went down to the Storm moniker. But it’s such an intimate platform, and you can really directly communicate with each other one-on-one via Twitter. So, yeah, it’s really great for us.

Sean: Is it a chance… with the Auckland Nines being a new concept in Rugby League, to try a few things and see what sort of response you get?

Dan: Yeah, it is, yeah. And that’s why we’ve put, you know, @Storm on the front of the jersey. It’s social benefit of a focus for us during the pre-season and during the trials. And we’ll have a major sponsor on there for the home and away season.

Sean: Yeah.

Dan: But that’s sort of our focus during the season and leading up to the season. You know, to get that brand out there, and get the season underway, and start selling some tickets for the home and away season, of course.

Sean: And the important thing is, just from a… you know, like you and I are both on Twitter, and so is Dan, @DanPinne. Give him a follow, everybody. Is that Twitter is still, you know, still… not I’d call it minor leagues, but still smaller than, you know, if you’re looking at Facebook. So there are 12 million people on Facebook, and there’s over 250,000 people who like the Storm. But they’re at 45,000, or round about that, from a Twitter follower point of view. So there is still a stack of people that still haven’t jumped on board with Twitter.

So, you know, so what this does is it help amplify to everyone that, one, the Storm are very serious about Twitter, and it provides that insider access. But what we want is we want more people on it, because the more people are on it, the better the conversation.

Daniel: Yeah.

Sean: You know, if you’ve been watching the tennis and those kind of things, the #Stanimal was trending last night at the end of the five setter. And so I think, you know, getting the Twitter advertised, or the handles on the jerseys and on the field, and those kind of things, helps convert people to say, “Oh, I’m going to sign up, and so I will follow my footy team and develop a bit of a connection with Storm.”

Daniel: Yeah.

Sean: And so that’s what it offers for you, doesn’t it, Dan?

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. It’s… it’s great. Like you said, it’s a really intimate sort of platform, and we love the fans on there, and they love us. We’ve got our certain little voice on there, and I guess the way that we communicate with fans, with different teams, with different personalities in pop culture, it’s a really good fun channel, actually. But yeah, it really suits us and the marketing stuff that we’re trying to do in Melbourne.

Daniel: Well, it’s a great initiative, Dan. Hope it goes really well in the Auckland Nines, and the Storm fans and the supporters that don’t follow you on Twitter get around you. @Storm. Well done to you. Sean, well done to you.

Dan: Thanks, guys.

Sean: Thanks, Harf.

Daniel: World’s first. Exclusive here at Harf Time. We can’t get enough of that. Check out for a whole lot more.


DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek News at

Sean: So what do you think? Is it worthwhile changing the Twitter handle to the one-name handle? For mine, I think it’s a good move. It’s great when you can, in a tweet, just mention your team. So I think there’ll be a lot more mentions of the Storm. I don’t think it’ll be that much difference, in the sense that they were Melbourne Storm. Previously they were @MelbStormARC. So again, it’s been a transition for the Storm, and a few teams have done that. Sort of trimmed down their Twitter handle to be closer aligned to their brand, and closer aligned to the trademarks that they have. If you can have that handle, I suggest you do so. You know, simply contact Twitter and say you want the handle.

I think the other thing is just the fact that, you know, Twitter still needs more followers. You know, just on the numbers, both in Australia and around the world. Just that they’re still trailing Facebook for numbers. So there’s always opportunities to tell Facebook fans specifically why they should be on Twitter. And it is a different platform.

It’s a conversational platform. It does take a little bit of learning. And I think Twitter have improved in their first user experience. I think they focused a little too much on celebrities and celebrity news for mine. But if… you know, as a sports team, you want to train your fans to be following your handle. And I’m sure, you know, more Storm fans will sign up and follow @Storm as a result.

So the SB night was very successful. We had about 60 people at the Honey Bar last Tuesday, and from a wide range of sports, and from a wide range of… I guess disciplines. There were some marketing people, that kind of thing. I did have a second interview planned for this podcast, and as I said, it hasn’t been the best week, and it got canceled on Thursday. So I’m going to fill a little bit of that time–not too long–with a bit of a Q&A section, and just answer some of the questions that were asked during SB night, and also the ones that were asked of me of people from the night.

So one of them was from a few of the younger attendees coming from recent graduates, or trying to break into the sports business industry. And it is a question I get a lot of, you know, “How do I break into the sports business?” And for mine, it is a very hard business to break into. You know, I was able to… I was able to do it, and I can sort of share a little bit of a story of how I was able to do it with Sports Geek. It was a bit of right timing and right skill set at the time.

For people who don’t know, if you haven’t heard the Sports Geek origin story, it’s not available on Netflix yet. For 15 years, I was a geek. I was an IT developer. I worked on web systems, desktop systems, multiple industries. Retail, big business, utilities. And I finished up doing it working with startup as my last job.

But at the same time, I was always dabbling in the world of sport. So I did some TV work with the Western Bulldogs way back in 1998. I’ll even share a link to the YouTube clip in the show notes. I did a basketball show for the NBL around that time as well, and also did some data analysis with the Mountain West, who we spoke to Dan Butterly on the podcast previously. If you want to, I’ll leave a link to that show, and when Dan talks about how the Mountain West Conference got started.

But to sort of take it back four or five years ago now, 2010. I pretty much started by using all the platforms. And initially when I started Sports Geek, I thought I was going to be an IT web developer, consultant, and, I guess, guide to the sports market through what I saw was a real treacherous path of IT and web development.

As someone who worked in IT for a long time, I knew there were a lot of cowboys in the industry. And by that, I’m not offending anyone in the south of the States, or in Texas, and those kind of things. But when I talk about cowboys in the IT industry… shonkey operators is probably another way of putting it. People that would build a website for a sports team, but they really didn’t have the background of knowing what sports teams, how they operate, and then also not knowing… not having a good understanding of the sports fan.

So you would get a retail developer building something for a sports team, handing it over, it all looks nice. But then, once it’s handed over, the sports team did not have the skills to, one, keep the CMS updated, or anything along those lines.

So I thought I would be in that space. Sort of be an IT contractor, consultant. But getting started, I pretty much started by blogging, and kind of getting at my opinion via, at the time. And pretty much just giving my opinion on fan engagement, digital activations, how teams could use social media, those kind of things.

And I did my first Sports Geek trip in January 2010. So, yeah, over four years ago now. And so that trip entailed going to Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York. And it was part secret shopper, part investigation, part networking. I wanted to see what stadiums were doing. You can only assess so much from a digital point of view via your computer. You’ve got to get out there and meet people. So I think that was really important. The connecting with people. But also using all the platforms.

And I guess my best story from a using all the platforms point of view sort of comes about… one of the goals of that trip was to try to meet Mark Cuban. And I’m still hoping now to meet him, or at least have him as a guest on the podcast. It’s one of my new goals, to have Mark Cuban as a guest on the podcast this year.

But I tweeted Mark Cuban. I connected with people around the Mavericks organization. And I also connected with Brad Main, who was the CEO of the American Airlines Center at the time. So I was trying to set up that meeting.

Eventually, Mark Cuban did email me back and say, “Sorry, I don’t meet with people during the season.” So I said, “That’s fine. I’ll still go along.”

So I was at Dodger Stadium getting a tour of the facilities, and meeting some of the people at the Dodgers, when I got a tweet from Jill Dotts. And Jill tweeted me, after I was tweeting about Dodger Stadium, she said, “You’ll have to come back to a game when there’s baseball on.” I said, “I’d love to. Looking forward to going to a game at Dodger Stadium.” And so we were tweeting backwards and forwards after this random connection via Twitter.

And after doing that, we figured out that I was going to be in Dallas at the same time that Jill was going to be in Dallas, and we were both going to be at the Mavericks/Lakers came, where I’d hope to meet Mark Cuban and catch up with Brad. So I went to the game, I tweeted Mark Cuban just in case he changed his mind. I also tweeted Brad, because we hadn’t… although we’d bounced emails backwards and forwards, we hadn’t set up a time to meet up. So I pretty much just said, “Hey, Brad. I’ll be at your facility. Looking forward to it.”

And so part of that, you know, I’m sitting there at the game, watching the Lakers with Kobe Bryant. And Phil Jackson was still coaching at that stage. And halfway through the second quarter, I hear my name. Now, I’m traveling alone. I hear, “Sean.” And I turn around, and there’s Brad Main standing there and saying, “Hey, come up to the suite.”

And so it was really surprising. I wasn’t expecting it. Now, I was meant to meet up with Jill at halftime, but with I had suite tickets in my hand, I thought I would blame bad Wi-Fi and I would go up to the suite.

So I went up to the suite, and Brad was very kind. They said they’ve got some Fosters on ice, and I was very polite and said, “Thank you, Brad. I will drink them all, to be polite. But Australians don’t drink Fosters.” And then he introduced me to all the people in the suite. And as he was doing it, he goes, “Oh, and this is Jill.” So Jill Dotts, who was tweeting with me only two days earlier, was in the suite with Brad, and was able to provide the final push to get me up to the suite.

So just sort of shows you… and I guess the hustle that is needed to get into the sports industry. A little bit of luck, a little bit of right timing. But you’ve really got to use all the networks that you can. And so in that instance, and with that story, I used Twitter, LinkedIn, I had already connected with Brad. Facebook, email. I’d used all the platforms that I could to get me to that position, to allow that to happen. And I really think it’s important, if you are looking to get into the industry, and especially if you’re looking to get into the digital marketing and the digital content business, and work on those digital teams in sports, is you’ve got to use all those platforms.

So I think one advantage any newcomer… and, you know, I’m talking to graduates here, but any newcomer to the sports is can you bring something that the team doesn’t have? And so there’s still up and coming platforms and tools that are nice that… that young people… and I hate saying “young people,” because it makes me sound older. That young people are using. So we’re talking things like Snapchat, and Tumblr, and those kind of tools. They’re using those tools natively and all the time.

So if you can understand how to use them effectively, it might be worthwhile. A team using those kind of tools via their interns or their young employees. Because they’ve still got to have someone run them, and it is a big commitment to take on another platform. But if you can come to them and say, “Yes, I’ve used Pinterest a lot. I understand the ins and outs of it. I understand how to post, when to post, how to tag it.” They might be more willing to give you a go, and also hand you the keys to run that as a project, to show that it can work.

So that’s a long way and a long anecdote to answer the question of how to break into the sports business. It’s how I did it. But for me, the main takeaway is to use all the platforms. Especially use all the platforms that you are going to use when you’re getting into a job. You can’t come and say, “I want to work in digital, but I hate Facebook and I don’t like using it.” It’s part of… it’s going to be part of your daily grind. You have to use it, you have to know it. It’s much better to understand it on your time and on your personal platforms than make that mistake on a brand account.

Okay. I’m going to keep this episode a little short. We’ll have a quick break, and we’ll come back to wrap things up.


DJ Joel: Need help with your content? Book in for a content brainstorming session with Sports Geek now. Go to

Sean: Okay. That brings us to another end to another Sports Geek Podcast. Again, apologies for this one being a little bit late. Even Sports Geek can have technical difficulties. But hopefully this will record and I’ll be able to export it out of Garage Band okay, and it will be up and working.

One other note. If you haven’t given Beers, Blokes, and Business podcast a listen, I would suggest you do. I’m learning a lot from the blokes in doing the podcast, and getting some really great feedback. But for those who work in digital, the episode this week, episode 25–you can go to–is on content marketing, and the ability for businesses now to tell their story, and no more so than the sports business.

You are all in the content marketing game. Yes, you are producing content in net reports. But in the end, it is all part of content marketing. And I did like Steve Sammartino’s final takeaway from it, that the marketing side doesn’t matter. It is about the content. So producing great content is marketing in itself.

So, okay. That noise tells me to dedicate this show and get out. Do the social media post of the week. So this is episode 35. You can get the show notes at A few available. One is Kevin Durant, who is absolutely going bonkers in the NBA recently. Another one from the NBA from the 90s, Reggie Lewis, taken away from the NBA scene far too soon.

But for my being a Collingwood supporter, and I know that’ll get some people to tune out and turn off this podcast immediately, I’ll have to give it to the Macedonian Marvel, Peter Daicos, and one of the first clients of Sports Geek. Peter Daicos. I’ll leave a clip of Daicos’s highlights in a YouTube clip in the show notes. Check them out. If you don’t know what Australian Football is, Daicos was one of the best at kicking that strangely shaped oval ball.

This week’s sound of the game and this week’s social media post of the week are intrinsically linked. I’m very lucky to have former guest on the show, Shane Harmon, CEO of Westpac Stadium over in Wellington. He sent me in some audio, and that’s what you’re hearing underneath me right now, from the Westpac Stadium from the Wellington/Phoenix 5-0 victory over the Melbourne victory in the A league.

So how have I linked the sounds of the game to the social media post of the week? Now, normally the social media post of the week, I try to focus on terrific implementation, smart, savvy tweets or posts by teams. But… and I try to steer clear of the silly mistakes. But this one related to this game for mine just took… was pretty much as wrong as you can get from a social media post from a sports executive.

Scott Munn is the CEO of the Melbourne Heart. And after his crosstown rivals, the Victory, lost to the Wellington Phoenix 5-0, he decided to send a tweet to celebrity chef and well-known Victory fan George Calombaris, pretty much just saying… just rubbing the result in his face. “I thought you would like this.” Sending him a screenshot of the game.

Now, yes, that could have been playful banter. But really, knowing George, and I’m sure Scott may have known what type of response he would get, George came back hard. And it’s effectively the same as a sports team owner having a go at Gordon Ramsay, and you would expect… you would understand what you would expect to be getting back from him.

And then he wasn’t… it wasn’t so much the first one. You could have written off the first one as lighthearted banter. But to come back and say, “In some cultures, five is a lucky number.” Yeah, I just thought it was a misjudged tweet by Scott there, really. If, from my advice, if you’re looking for your executives to be on Twitter, or if you’re tweeting as a representative of the team, you’ve really got to stick a hard and fast line of sticking to the team line and not bringing your team into disrepute or any damage. And if you look down the Twitter trail there, a lot of fans had their say of displeasure at what Scott was tweeting.

So, as I said, I don’t normally focus on the negative side of Twitter, but that one was a talking point at SB night, so I just thought I could not leave it there.

That signal is the closing two cents. I’m going to use my experience from this week. If you’re out there in the field, trying to cover your sport or do a job, always have a backup plan. Have a secondary device. Have second access to Internet. Here I am, producing this podcast on three computers. Always have a backup plan, and always backup.


DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to

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Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast.

SGP 022: Collingwood TV to The Club with Jonathon Bernard on developing your video audience

Sports Geek Podcast featuring interviews with sports marketing and technology professionalsCollingwood Digital Media manager Jonathon Bernard discusses the importance of story telling for Collingwood TV and The Club on this week’s Sports Geek Podcast.  On Harf Time we look at what the NBL needs to do to reconnect with a lost generation of fans.


On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • Why The Club format changed from season 1 to season 2
  • How Collingwood developed a point of difference against traditional media rivals
  • Why breaking the news isn’t that important as delivering the story behind it
  • What exciting project Collingwood has planned for 2014
  • How the Perth Wildcats reconnected with fans before move into new (bigger) venue
  • Why preaching to the converted is a flawed strategy for growth
  • Importance of developing your fans as your brand ambassadors

Collingwood FC Magpie Army Digital NumbersResources from the episode

Watch The Club on YouTube

First episode of The Club

2 seasons later

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Podcast transcription

DJ Joel: Welcome to episode 22 of the Sports Geek podcast. On today’s episode, we will chat with Jonathon Bernard from the Collingwood Football Club on the development of Collingwood TV to The Club and the importance of storytelling. And what does the NBL need to do right now?

Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast. The podcast built for sports digital and sports business professionals. And now, here’s your host known for the Callanan Shimmy, go on, YouTube it. Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek and welcome to another episode of Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode I go into Collingwood this week at Westpac Centre and have a chat with Jonathon Bernard from the Collingwood Football Club and talk to him about the development of their video product. It was Collingwood TV and now it’s The Club, a fully-fledged half-hour episode on Fox Footy every week, and just on some of the learnings they’ve had over the first two seasons of that. We also discuss a project they are looking to launch next year in the history of the Collingwood Football Club.

And then later on I talk a little bit about the NBL. The National Basketball League here in Australia that just started up its season moving into summer and some of the things they can do to reconnect with what I would call the “Lost Generation of Fans”. But that’s later on. First is my chat with Jonathon Bernard form the Collingwood Football Club.

Sean: So I’m here at the Westpac Centre, home of Collingwood Football Club in the AFL and I’m joined by Jonathon Bernard. Welcome Jonathan.

Jonathon: Sean, thanks for having me here. Do you want me to maybe redo your American Intro for the Sports Geek podcast? Is that why I’m here?

Sean: No, No. I’ll get that from DJ Joel who does the job there. He does a fine job at that. So, first of all, tell us a little bit about what your role is at Collingwood, and how long you’ve been at the club?

Jonathon: Sure. Well I started at the Club in 2008. It was actually two weeks before the Heath Shaw/Alan Didak incident involving their behavior in the car and led to season-long suspensions. So it was a pretty interesting moment to be at the club and kind of see particularly from the media point of view how the Club reacts to something like that.

And I started in what I guess you would call the Traditional Media Department. Mainly focused on servicing media requests and really being that go-to point from players to the general media. And basically I would say maybe 12 months later that the need, and particularly the importance of, more so social media at the time, and then extending it to the website in different offerings was evident. And the CEO made a decision to create a Digital Media Department, which I now manage.

At the present moment we have myself, two full-timers here at the club, and then we have six part-timers. And we are just in the process of production for Collingwood TV next year. So, I’ve been at the club for over five years now, and growing up as a Collingwood supporter, so you’ve got the passion there and you tick that box and the interest in Digital Media exists now, so it’s a really good combination.

Sean: So it’s a pretty familiar path and a lot of people who are listening to this Sports Geek Podcast, especially in sports, would have followed that same path in the small digital department and then into the content game, which you are a very much part of now, which you are producing content. You are competing against the NFL. You are competing against NewsCorp and Foxtel and ESPN, and all those kinds [of networks] in producing your own content.

You did touch on Collingwood TV that you are one of the few AFL clubs that have their own TV show, this yourselves. And then have The Club TV show Foxtel, and West Coast Eagles have their Eagle’s Vision on Channel 7. What were some of the decisions around expanding your offerings outside digital and start “The Club,” which is TV show?

Jonathon: Well, Collingwood TV is not new. I guess the platform that we’re on now is new. It’s been around long before me, I think 2004. I was doing a historical video on CTV to see how far we’ve come and in 2004 was the first footage and [logo] that I could find and I guess since then that the quality of content and style of content has changed with that online offering. And what used to be I think a couple of first pieces was Neil Balme talking about the latest lost. And it was a 45 minute, most depressing show you’ve ever seen on a Monday morning. And that’s kind of where it started and obviously, since then we’ve tailored it to where we know and how content works online.

And then the decision was made in 2011 that we should look at potentially going on a television format. We had sort of interest from Channel 7, from Fox Footy and particularly Fox Footy, they had just relaunched their channel and were desperate for insider content. And I guess what we had been able to show in the lead up to that decision was that we could create our own–well, I don’t want to call it exclusive, content, that is Collingwood produced and probably has a little bit of a different flavor from what’s covered out there in the general media.

So again the decision came from Gary Pert that he wanted The Club to be in this space, and I think not only as an extra touch point for our members and supporters, but I think there is an element of credibility which existed with that decision, and gave to Collingwood TV. So really the decision was made because we wanted to have the ability to tell, probably, longer stories, and stories that were not as topical as your milestone moments or your injured players. We’ll still tell those, but also have the ability to spend 10 minutes talking about key club stalwart who has been here for years and is as passionate as the President, and still have that compelling point of view as well.

So we partnered with Fox Footy and that first year we certainly learned a lot. So we just wrapped up our second season. And I think now we’ve done 55 episodes across 2 years.

Sean: I think a key point of that is, that I think is in a lot of sports understand it, but it’s really around the resourcing, is that the storytelling capacity that the teams have. And I think you do have that insider content. And I think that is what the fans crave. And to be able to tell that longer form, I think that the case of Collingwood TV migrating to The Club, was the case of continually building that web content and doing those webisodes, whether it like [My] TV with the players interviewing each other in the smaller club spots pretty much proved the point to Gary Pert that the fans love it. We are producing it for the fans, we’ve providing that point of view, and the editorial from inside the club that other athletes can’t provide. And we know our fans love it.

And for those of us who don’t know, Collingwood does sell a lot of newspapers in Melbourne. And it is a very cluttered market in Melbourne with so many football teams and I’d like to call the sporting capital of the world for people listening in. And so from the first season of Collingwood TV to the second season of Collingwood TV, what were some of the learnings? Like first season was very studio-based and it was used a lot around breaking your news. Blogging about it and the signing was deliberately held back and you used that as a platform for “You’ve got to tune in.” What did you learn from it, and how did you also go about coordinating those efforts for those [big-type events].

Jonathon: I think what we learned is that the studio component of the show was a great experience because from a production point of view, it doesn’t take a heck of a lot of effort to put together 7 to 10 minutes of studio production. What we found our main success with was the opening 10 minutes of the show, which we really tried to have that kind of reality fly-on-the-wall-feel. I don’t want to compare it to the ESPN 30 for 30-style shows.

Sean: With the hard-knock style.

Jonathon: With the hard-knock style. And I think that is kind of the real show that we were trying to create. And the other element about the show that is so interesting is that it is probably one of the only shows–not only in that format–but is a weekly show, and the pressure to create weekly content that are really determined about the last seven days of events and turn it around for television is really unique.

I remember halfway through the first season, I was pounding my head against the wall saying I’d love to have four months of content and be able to post-produce that into a couple of tight shows. So there is a lot of pressure and demand to get over 7 days of a 22-minute show.

So what we have learned from our members and supporters from the feedback at the end of the year that we received is that they loved that opening 10 minutes which gave basically the live updated account of what has been going on at the club through the eyes of a player, or supporter, or a staff member. And then, the studio time, well, I love that because it was an easy piece to produce.

And they sort of turned off, and I think they turned off because it really was a piece that you could be watching on 360 which was just before “The Club” show, and there was real no point of difference. We would have a player talking to a host and in six minutes there is only just so much you can talk about the upcoming game, and I think we quickly realized that we didn’t want just to be another footy show. We wanted to have that Collingwood-unique storytelling angle to it.

And one of the main decisions that we came to at the end of first season was to drop that studio component and to try to continue that opening 10 minutes of that reality-feel throughout the remainder of the show, which proved to be a struggle. But what we’re also able to do was factor in our sponsors as well and a little bit of a less obvious of a manner than we did in our first season.

So if you watch the second of the show, you see a lot more, for example Holden Brandy [SP] when we were on the road with the players and the coach. And you know, we can get away with maybe spending 10 seconds of that opening show, featuring that Holden Logo, and the Holden car, whereas previously we might have looked to knock up 30 seconds of Holden commercial, which we still did to some degree on the second season, but not as much. So I guess we kind of learned more of what the supporter wanted and also how to get a bit of a return on investment that we have made on this show.

Sean: Yeah, I mean, I think that commercialization aspect is vital, and you can’t go do these things, and you got to have that ROI, you have to have how are we getting returns, and integrating those sponsors into those stories is far easier than saying, “Oh we’ve got a 30-second spot right here, you can buy that spot.” And I think sponsors are looking for that tighter association with the brand. And if you are filming a player driving the car, and arriving the sponsor or doing a clinic, or showing that side of community side of what Collingwood does, it is very important.

So one of the things with Foxtel and Fox Footy, when you are a subscriber it’s great, you see it all. But only 25% of Australians have cable television and have access to Foxtel. And so how did your department look to take content marketing? I remember that someone described it at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego earlier this year, content marketing is a lot like Thanksgiving, where you produce basic content and that’s the turkey, but there is always leftovers, and it’s about how you slice and dice those leftovers to reuse on different platforms. So how did you take, you know you got 22 minutes of premium content that ran live on a Wednesday night, and fans that could watch it, loved it. But what did you do to make sure that fans that couldn’t get it got access to it and effectively stretch that content out a little bit?

Jonathon: Well initially we uploaded the episode in full and that was basically a single–so 22 minutes chunk of video in that first season. And we quickly saw, particularly from the YouTube analytic, that the viewers have dropped off dramatically as soon as that first story had finished, supporters knocked off. So we made the decision to allocate a little bit of resource that night of the show premiering, so it’s a Wednesday at 8:30. To ensure that if the 22 minutes comprised of 6 separate segments, that those 6 separate segments would be uploaded independently, and then we had the ability to market those to our supporters in a different manner.

So on the website you might have your episode landing page with the six segments, but then we might look to, if we had a really sexy segment on a club event where we had girlfriends and partners, we might use that on Facebook because we know that might attract the eye a little bit more. And on Twitter we might look to promote the key topical event from that show, whether it was a rookie signing, or an injury update. So, we wanted to make sure that while Fox Footy was a great platform for those who had it that we didn’t want to neglect the rest of the army with the platform. So we just wanted it out there I guess.

Sean: And was that bite-sized content well-received? And something that fans can, you know, whether they’re on the train, and it’s a two to three minute piece, if they can do that, either through the app, and those type of things? Was it easier to consume?

Jonathan: I think so. I think we still found a bit of a struggle with supporters going through each segment. I think they would in turn look for the one or two that would only interest them and watch that, and the rest of the show they wouldn’t watch. What we’ve also found though, and probably this week perfect example, is we were then able to lean on these segments and use them later down the track.

So for example, we’re currently in the midst of trade week and Derek Hine, our national recruiting manager, is appearing to do a magnificent job on all fronts is getting the accolades from “the army” online. So what we’re doing is we’re re-hashing the piece that we did Derek Hine earlier this year, when he was talking about the recruits he was looking at, and a bit of his life story, and we’re re-hashing that online this week. Because the supporters are interested in Derek Hine, who is this mastermind, the architect, and we’ve actually got this episode titled “The Architect.” And there’s seven minutes of Derek Hine.

And it’s great to be able to lean on these segments that we’ve spent time, effort, and resources in creating. And whether it’s for repurposing of content online, or strengthening our relationship with supporters and sponsors, in particular. We’ve found this to be worthwhile. And really this year, we’re in a position where if Collingwood had a sponsorship event on or if we wanted to get a little bit of media attention to. If for whatever reason, we didn’t think the media would show up, or there wouldn’t be much attention, we could rely on the “The Club,” the television show to help use that as a bit of its own media platform to guarantee that there would be some coverage.

Sean: And you do see that in the last couple of years that you are reporting on, what is happening at the club. So it is effectively being quoted on the next day, or it is a trigger for a story. So that you can use that as a piece to say to the traditional media say, “Here is a story that we would like told, and we’re going to break it here.” And start that news article, or start that debate, and so to get you that platform

Jonathon: It does, and I think that we probably fell into that trap of the first year was that if we did have a player resign, we did really look to hold it off–to answer your question earlier–to hold it off, because the show is taped and we’d sneak the player in studio. There’s 10 or 11 people that are working on production for Fox Footy, so we have to trust them not to leak it out. And eventually it would get out, whether it was the player manager, to hold until 8:30 that night is largely impossible. So our mentality changed from not necessarily breaking the resigning, but you will hear from the player here first, which took a lot of pressure off and made a lot more sense.

Sean: I mean, I guess the model for that, for the breaking news is one that, from the President, Eddie McGuire, used to be host of the Footy Show and used to always break at 9:30 on a Thursday because Ed did such a good job of holding it. So the model was there, but I think I remember during the Pendlebury resigning, the members were always first. So the members got an email that says, ‘Scott Pendlebury re-signs, tune into The Club.’ So automatically, you are alerting all the fans. They are starting to push it out from a social point of view, and the traditional news outlets are picking it up. But they know to get the first point of contact, and if you want to hear him speak, he’s going to be on the show. So, it sort of generates traffic back to there and to your site, and that sort of traffic so it is important to keep your members in the loop, and have vital email still is to contact your fans. But it’s sort of how you can manipulate the media in a certain way.

Jonathon: Well I think another great example is this year we saw Dane Swan was enlisted by the Footy Show to go on and kind of do this in-depth revealing interview. And at the time there were rumors swirling about him and the Footy Show had this interview which they secured and really–I think they did the interview on a Tuesday, I don’t recall–and they used small little grabs on Tuesday, Wednesday, into the Thursday night show and I think the interview–I can’t remember–went for 5 or 10 minutes with Damian Barrett [SP]. And sort of at the end of it, you watch this interview and what do you really get from Dane Swan, who is having another breakout season, who is a quality player?

And I felt like the supporters didn’t get a lot from that. And we actually received a fair bit of feedback the next day from members querying the fact that “Why was a footy show harping on this sensationalized interview when in actual fact there wasn’t much to the interview itself and the content. So what we did was–a few weeks later–we dedicated 22 minutes to Dane Swan and we had the Dane Swan episode, and we saw him get a tattoo, we saw him redevelop his house, we drove with him to a game, and we spoke to his parents. The insight that we were able to showcase in 22 minutes, and really tell the Dane Swan story, gave supporters a little bit more fulfillment, and they felt like they had that stronger relationship with that player post-that show. And it was something that we were able to–not necessarily–control, but provide and have that relationship with the player that we were able to maximize the time spent with him and the story we could tell.

Sean: I mean, I think the main thing from a club point of view is that you have a different motive for what the story is. So when Damian Barrett is interviewing Dane Swan on the Footy Show, he obviously wants to be sensationalist and, not that that is his main reason, but he wants ratings and people and outside supporters, to comment on Dane Swan and talking about it. And he is forcing them to tune in.

Whereas your main purpose is to talk to the Collingwood fan, build that connection with the Collingwood fan, make the member feel like they are more a member. So that when the renewal process happens, like it is right now, they just tick the box and say “Yes, I’m in because I feel closer connection to Collingwood.” So from a sports team point of view, when you are framing their content, you have a certain audience in mind. And it’s just your fans. You don’t worry about what other fans are going to comment on, to a certain degree. You embrace as Collingwood being the club, you embrace what other fans not liking what you are doing, because you are really trying to push your message of side-by-side and bringing the fans as close to the players as you can.

So you are always going to have that ability to tell that story strictly to the fans and what they want. The fact that you have channels from a social point of view–you know previously, you wouldn’t have gotten that feedback–and say “Oh we can like that.” The fact that they are complaining to you that another operator is doing something poorly and you can take that and go “well we better do that better in this episode, because that’s what the fans want.”

Jonathon: I also think that the supporters are getting–I don’t know if it’s a little more savvy–but I think they are expecting more from content they are consuming now. I think with the relationship they have now with–whether it’s clubs, or players, or sort of the host of that content. I think that because we are getting such direct, immediate, raw access, that by the time it reaches that media outlet, and by the time that media outlet adds its own spin to it, I don’t think that the supporters are looking to access that first through that platform. They probably got the majority of the story somewhere else–they are looking to gain insight, and I think where really only the insight that they can get at this point, in this day in age is analysis. But stories and content, I think the expectation of a supporter has grown dramatically since the implementation of social.

Sean: I think also that the clubs have moved away from–and you’ve said it yourself during that first season of The Club–“Oh we must break it first.” And social is about, very much provides that “Oh we’ve got to do it first, we’ve got to be the first to do it.” Whether it be a news outlet, or a club, or maybe even a fan. “Oh I’ve heard this, I’m going to be the first to say it, so now I’ll be trending,” and all that kind of stuff.

And I think clubs are now mindful of first getting you something, it does get you a first early [page views] or something. But you are really looking at–better metrics are–“well how can I extend the time outside, how can I get the fans to read more content.” So that’s where it really does become insider analysis, or talking to a Derek Hine about [trade period], because he’s not talking to the media. And that’s what the fans want. They want more breadth of their content, rather than “Aw, we found out they signed.” That’s being rumored and trade period is a good example of how hamstrung clubs are because you can’t talk about something ’til it goes, you know becomes official. And by the time it does become official, it is old news.

So you’ve got to provide a spin to it and say “you know everything about this guy because it’s been something that’s been talked about forever, and we’re going provide you with something different that all the other major outlets aren’t doing.” Not so much worry about the breaking, but his first words of joining the club, or here’s a bit more insight into the story you aren’t going to get anywhere else.

Jonathon: And I think on that trade front too, our strategy with covering the rumors and stories is we obviously want to be a key player in this period, because it’s so popular for us online, and this is our most popular time outside the draft. And the mentality and strategy we took with that is we said, “Well, we can’t’ obviously cover the rumors, but we can cover what the papers are saying about the rumors.”
So every morning we have on our website, basically just a short, sharp breakdown of who’s saying what about what in relation to Collingwood.” So while we’re publishing that, we’re sort of washing our hands of it as well because we’re attributing it to where it’s coming from. So we still can be a player in that and then as you’ve seen, we signed Jesse White yesterday, and we can get Jesse White and put him in the jumper and getting him to speak on Collingwood TV first, yesterday. Then we get that great content, but at least in this strategy of covering what’s being said about The Club, we’re not losing out on speculation and what we would love to do, but we can’t.

Sean: Yeah. And that’s where Clubs can be in that curation mode and be like “Here’s all things you may have missed.” And still come to you as a source. Looking forward to next year, you flicked me an email yesterday around an issue you’re going to do for the history of Collingwood. Would you mind giving us an idea of what that’s going to be?

Jonathon: Sure, it’s probably one of the most exciting projects our club is looking at in my time here. I think that the club has got such a proud and strong history and it’s something that we’ve done really well to honor. And at those moments that require it, whether it’s 20 years since the 1990 flag, or whatever the case may be, a passing of a player. We do a great job of honoring that.

But where we probably haven’t spent a lot of time on is, not necessarily honoring it, but I guess creating the content around it and then housing it somewhere. Not necessarily because it’s been 20 years since 1990, but it could be the 21st year and some supporter wants to explore 1990. And we have that and we have the ability to do that.

So what we are launching is, I guess under the banner of, “Forever Collingwood.” And there’s a couple of things that go into that, namely one is, Jamie Cooper, who is a world-renowned artist and has painted the 1990 mural for us and that 2010 “Grand Final Replay” painting. That he’s going to paint a mural which encapsulates the history of Collingwood which comprises of moments, places, things that really scream Collingwood.

So whether it’s the simple art form of a magpie, or it’s Mick McGuane’s seven bounces against Carlton. What we’re doing is, to get these moments, they could be 50 moments in this painting; it could be 100. Well, we’re going out to the Magpie army and we’re saying “well what moments do you want?” And we’re just about to launch “” And on that website it will basically give you 100 moments to select from and you can like them if you want them. And if there is a moment you don’t see, and you want a moment to be included, or factored in, you can use the submission form there.

And what we will do towards the end of next year is–Jamie’s in an early stage, he doesn’t have these moments yet–we’ll finalize these moments of the next four or five weeks once we get supporter feedback, and that’s going to go straight to Eddie and Gary Pert. And once those moments are finalized, we’ll give them to Jamie and Jamie will paint this mural of the great Collingwood moments that we’ll launch towards the end of next year.
And in combination with that, every player that has put on the black and white stripes will have their name printed on a Guernsey. This has happened a couple of times across few clubs now. And this will tie in well with the launching of the mural, to honor every player that’s played for Collingwood, and the players will wear that out during the game and those jumpers will be auctioned off with most of the proceeds heading towards the Collingwood Past Players Foundation.

And then we’ll look to develop further. We’ll look to create a really strong historical website that this club needs and deserves. I’ve spent a heck of a lot of time looking at what’s already out there across the sporting landscape across the world, and I am still yet to be blown away by a website which tells the history of sporting club, and that’s the goal of this. We want to get to the microlevel and we really want that stats element there, that player profile element there. And we want the stories to be there as well.

So it’s kind of a big project that so many different departments around the club are involved in and while there’s no significant 2014, well it is not a significant year. Well the significance is the history of this club and it’s something that’s been long overdue.

Sean: All very good. I look forward to seeing David O’Donohue who played in 1910, he’s my great grandfather. He played for the ‘Pies I think 53 games in the back pocket. So that’s why I’m a Collingwood man, my great grandfather played for Collingwood over 100 years ago.

So, from a content point of view that obviously is going to give you so much content to integrate into things like The Club and to tell those stories. Is it how you are going to balance the digitally savvy fans versus the history? Because a lot of the people, the digital natives, will be voting for 1990 and 2010, and the McGuane bounce and that sort of thing. Whereas my dad who’s got great-grandpa’s playing certificate in his shed, and he’s out there, and spends a lot of time out there. He’s not on Facebook and he’s not tweeting. And he consumes some stuff, but he would have a stronger memory of the 50s and 60s and 70’s. And how are you going to get that balance of–there’s a lot of history pre-1970, in that kind of website?

Jonathon: Firstly, is it worth alerting listeners to the fact that you are wearing a Collingwood jumper?

Sean: It’s the theatre of podcast. Yes, of course I’m wearing a full Collingwood kit today.

Jonathon: No, I think that is a good point. I don’t think we want to miss the input of those supporters that aren’t on the online space, but I guess what we’re factoring in is how we will communicate this opportunity with the masses. Obviously we’ve got our EDN database which ticks most of those boxes. And also in the way our members are signing up, those members that aren’t signing up online, the numbers are decreasing and decreasing dramatically.

And we are now actually housing a call service center here. And we’ve had that within the club for the last 12 months, and we’ve actually got 7 full-time people that are communicating to our members on the phone every day. And it’s not just up to selling membership, but it’s alerting them to opportunities that are happening at the club. So that’s you know, we’ll take that into account, and also you know between the present and the few historians we’ve got in the club too. We’ve got a core group of historians that wouldn’t know what Facebook does or how it exists, but they can certainly help pick up those moments as well. So we’re pretty confident that we’ll have a great collection that comprises of those moments that people are looking for.

Sean: We’ve had a pretty good chat. I guess one last thing I wanted to ask you is what is the key metrics/drivers for you running the Collingwood Media Department, the digital side of things. What are the key things that you are looking at to build?”

Jonathon: Well, first and foremost, the metrics are extremely important and they’re certainly attached to our performance and it’s something that those above me, who I report to our keenly intent on. I guess I want to say, we pride ourselves now so much on the content and the relationship that we’ve created. That’s first and foremost.

And I think probably when we first started out, we were so obsessed with the number. And even when you come into the Westpac Centre today, you see on the dashboard out there that showcases how many Facebook fans we have, and Twitter fans, and how we rank. And we’ve always been obsessed at Collingwood with ranking number one.

And particularly in those early stages of digital media, that was a clear objective. Since then, I think we’ve realized that, yes, number one has to occur, but it has to occur in a way where we aren’t butchering it, and we’re not butchering the communication. So that’s first and foremost.

In terms of metrics and what we look to really achieve, I think with the success we’ve received with the mobile app in the last 12 months. We’ve had 85,000 downloads of this mobile app and we’ve seen the views change towards mobile. What we’re looking at doing is now is how does this content work on mobile, is it optimized? Now we create everything for the handset and actually the website is now second. And that’s probably the mentality and those metrics surrounding the video views through mobile, page views, time on site. Those type of things are our focus.

Sean: Yeah. I think it is a maturity of the market itself, and the sports market. At first everyone was looking at how many likes we’ve got, and how many follows we’ve got. And it’s an initial thing you want to build, but then once you get past those numbers and it’s something that takes a while to explain to CEOs and that kind of thing–again, not digital natives to really realize that it’s actually how much traffic are we driving from Facebook, how much traffic are we driving from Twitter. How engaged are they, not only with the content overall, but these key pieces.

So if you are doing a piece on the Collingwood Forever stuff how many people are commenting on that or engaging in that? That’s what you want to track the success of each particular piece. Because not every particular piece of content is going to hit the masses, not everyone’s going to love it. And if you put out the highlights after a win, and yes you are going to get a big spike, and all the fans are going to love it. But then you are going to do a profile piece on a player doing something for the community, and you know it’s not going to get those same numbers, but you have to benchmark that particular content against its own theme. So you are not going to compare everything against everything. There are certain pieces of content that are going to go ballistic, and winning does help and all those kind of things. But you have got to have the consistency of when we put out this content it’s going to hit the mark. And you have those metrics of video views and definitely mobile is getting greater and greater all the time.

So thank you very much for coming onto the podcast, and I look forward to footy starting up again in 2014. Hopefully I’ll catch more games next year, without the [moon boot] on.

Jonathon: Sean, it’s been a pleasure

Sean: Thanks, mate.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek News at

Sean: Thanks to Jonathon Bernard there from the Collingwood Football Club. Hope you enjoyed that. It was a different style of interview, I was hoping to go there in person and also have a bit of a longer interview than the spots that I do on ABC grandstand and halftime. Please let me know if this is the kind of interview that you would like. Something of a little bit longer form that allows us to dive deeper into some of the topics.

Some key takeaways from that discussion with Jonathon was the storytelling element that Collingwood is pretty much using their video strategy for is to tell those longer form stories that traditional media aren’t telling. And also the feedback and the listening that they’re doing on with the fans both what they’re saying verbally on social media and things like that, but also looking at the stats. The fact that the fans were diving in and consuming the longer interest pieces, the story, the stories being told behind the scenes with players, more so than the cliché grabs and press conferences, so a few takeaways there. I put some links in the show notes on some of the things that Jon touched on. Again, love your feedback. Hit me up with an email at

And, next, here’s my chat with Harf on the NBL. And it was actually a couple of days after talking to Jon.

DJ Joel: Sean Callanan, our sports digital media guru, for

Harf: [Taking me through half time] Sean, good day.

Sean: Good day, Harf, how are you?

Harf: Going very well, thank you. Now I know you’re going to say the NBL very shortly, but just going over the news again for Footy fans that Heath Shaw, the deal has been done with GWS. We believe it’s just a straight swap for Tyler Adams, so Shaw to the Giants, Adams to the ‘Pies. And that’s just the way it is.

Sean: It’s been reported as a win-win?

Harf: Everyone has a win-win here. There’s no losers in any of these trades.

Sean: Exactly.

Harf: Everyone’s winning, except for the NBL. Although, in the last 48 hours, I said this on Twitter today, in the Basketball Hall of Fame for talking about the elephant in the Australian sport room that is the NBL. And all of a sudden, particularly from our angle over here at SEN and the Melbourne Sporting it’s getting some feeling involved in it, and emotion is everything in sport.

Sean: Emotion, and there is a bit of talk back and a bit of passion, that’s good.

Harf: Emotion is everything–what are you going to do to save it.

Sean: KB has done of good job of sort of stirring up a bit of passion and firing up the basketball community. I think they made some valid points and I think the main issue for the NBL is that they lost a generation of fans. They lost a generation of fans when they went to Foxtel and effectively for 10 years, there was a large majority of the market that didn’t get to see them. And in that time, we did see franchises fall over and move to smaller venues and those kind of things.

But there are success stores in the NBL. The Breakers are one in New Zealand, but that’s a whole country supporting a team, but another one is the Perth Wildcats.

Harf: They are going gangbusters over there.

Sean: They are going gangbusters, but to give you a little bit of a history lesson before they moved to Perth Arena, they were playing in a similar scenario as the Melbourne Tigers. They were playing in a small venue out of town, doing well, filling it up, 2,000 or 3,000 people were attending the games and loving it. But they were out there for so long, and again, it wasn’t getting reach from the TV that, again, they lost a generation. So they had fans who remembered the old days . . .

Harf: Ricky Grace, what a player.

Sean: In the same way that Melbourne fans can rattle of Gaze, Copeland, Bradtke you know, D-Mac.

So they can rattle off all those names and so what we did with the Wildcats, we had to, one, reengage those past fans, so all the time when we’re looking at it from a digital point of view–it’s not just digital. But when you’re communicating on whatever channel, whether it’s TV, radio, or digital media and social, you’re looking at three kinds of fans. You’re looking at fans from the past, and the NBL has a stack of those fans, and you need to identify which ones do we want back. Do we want the ones back that used to go, paid. We don’t want the ones that just turned up for a free ticket. You want the right ones.

You’ve got your current fans. They’re the ones that are filling up the SMS now and saying the NBL is a great product. They’re your current fans. You want to always be continuing to talk to them. And then you want to target your future fans, the ones that are going to come ongoing.

At the moment, I think the NBL is talking a lot to their current fans. And their current fans is a small fan base. Like they are talking to the converted a little bit, and they have to lower their eyes or widen their vision from a court vision point of view and look at how can we reengage that audience that remembers the old NBL.

The big thing is they have to get that lost generation. So that lost generation is between 15 and 25, 28 who haven’t’ seen the NBL in 10 years. They don’t know the players. They don’t know the teams. They don’t know where they’re playing. But the advantage is they are digitally savvy. They are using mobile phones. They are all over Facebook and they are all over Twitter.

So you’ve got to reengage your current fan base, so if you’ve got 3,000 people at The Cage; there are 3,000 people that can advertise to their friends about the awesome experience that it is. I went to The Cage on Sunday. It was a great game. The atmosphere was there. The quality of the guys on court; there’s no question about guys like James Ennis, Goulding, Mac Worthington, those guys there. But we need to get those 3,000 fans to tell the story, and we need to get the players to help tell that story. The social allows that.

And that’s what we do with the Wildcats. We started to reengage with that past fan base that used to go into the city into the games and grew their social numbers to prove that hey, now we’re back in a newer venue. That’s sort of what the Tigers are going to do, and that’s what the NBL needs to do. They need to make sure they are communicating with those other fans. Not just communicating with the basketball faithful.

Harf: With the converted, you’ve got to reach out. As Jack says ‘I want to make some logic and sense over the NBL issues. I’m going to get you in touch with the Melbourne Tigers because you’ve got a handle on what’s going on here. And that would certainly, not only them, but the game going forward, I reckon. All right, Sean. Great to see you, pal.

Sean: Cheers, Harf.

Harf: for more details and all that sort of stuff.

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

Sean: Well, that was just my quick take on what the NBL can do. That’s the National Basketball League here in Australia. I think the main takeaway is it’s pretty much coming from my own Sports Geek strategy of past, current, and future. And anytime I’m doing any content whether it be this podcast, tweet, or going on radio and doing traditional media, I always view it as I’m talking to my past, current, and future clients. And I think that’s what basketball needs to do. At the moment, they’re really just talking to their current fans.

So what you really need to do is anytime you’re framing any piece of content, you need to think about who is this content for, who am I trying to target, and have a real purpose behind. Because if you get stuck in just talking to your current fans, which is very easy to do; they’re the ones that are the most vocal, it can be a little bit difficult. You’re not really widening I guess that vision of what you can do with your fans.

So the sounds of the game this week, you can hear it underneath my voice is actually from the Melbourne Tigers game on Sunday. I look forward to seeing how the NBL develops. That wraps up for another episode of Sports Geek podcast. This is episode 22.

As with all show notes, just whack the number at the end of to get the show notes and all the links from this episode. I’m also starting to put the podcasts up on Sound Cloud. Go to and give us a follow. Please let me know if you are using Sound Cloud. It seems to be a growing platform for sports with sports radio stations and some teams putting up clips and quotes from press conferences and the like, as well as a few major podcasts in the space using it as a platform as well. So I’m going to give it a go and see how it is and effectively just spread the Sports Geek word on that platform as well.

As always, I’m on iTunes. If you’ve subscribed, thank you very much. If you’ve left a review, again, thank you very much. You can go to to leave a review. It would be very much appreciated. Or you can just look up Sports Geek podcast in iTunes.

That’s it for me for episode 22. This episode as I nearly forget to dedicate this episode. Because it’s been a Collingwood-based I’m going to dedicate–I nearly wanted to award this episode to Clyde Drexler of the Portland Trailblazers, but since I had Jono Bernard, I’m going to dedicate this episode to Collingwood Premiership Captain, Tony Shaw, who also wore 22 with distinction.

That’s it for me. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, and you’ve been listening to the Sports Geek podcast. Thank you very much.

DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Find all Sports Geek podcasts at Did you know Sports Geek podcast has listeners in over 35 countries? Thank you for sharing. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Social Media Infographic: Richmond vs. Collingwood

One of the games of the round, Richmond versus Collingwood this week will not only be a tremendous contest on-field, it will also see a battle of the fans on the social space.

The following infographic takes at look at social media numbers between clubs, players and fans when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube:


The battle for bragging rights is also waging in the Sports Geek office. Sean and I took to Twitter to fire off a few mischievous tweets during the lead up to the Round Four clash, putting our bodies (literally) on the line:

While Collingwood are leading when it comes to social media numbers, I’ll back my boys to keep their unbeaten streak going this week.

Go Tiges!

#review @BarassiShow – The Stage Show

Friday night I was very excited to be joining together two of my great passions sport and the arts in going along to Barassi!

I must confess I’m not a huge footy head, and didn’t know a lot about the legend that is Ron Barassi before going along. But I definitely learnt a few things.

Both myself and the person I went along with are both a bit artsy at times and were amused by the eclectic mix of people in attendance… but that’s by the by – what did we think.

Jane Clifton as the narrator Collingwood supporting narrator was excellent delivering a great performance as did Chris Asimos as the young Barassi and Matt Parkinson as Norm Smith – I must confess I’m a bit of a long term fan of Matt.

There were some great funny moments with Russell Robertson doing ‘I’m an individual’ reminding me of that crazy song by Jacko and a quick cameo as  Warwick Capper and reminders of why we love football.

The choreography for the players playing football was great but after a while you wanted it to speed up a bit or be a bit shorter.

Overall I did enjoy the show and learnt a fair bit about Barassi but it was a pretty long play the performance coming in at just over two hours…. there wasn’t anything I thought that needed cutting as such but like the great recent bestsellers such as the last couple of Harry Potters and 50 Shades – it was in need of each scene having a bit of an edit. I also wanted to have a bit more understanding as to why he was successful in coaching Sydney after the disaster at Melbourne – beyond my own theory that favourite sons of clubs make generally make terrible coaches of that club. More of this and some insight into how he reconciled keeping footballers in check but not his own family – what I took from the play – I have no idea myself.

If you’re into your footy and interested in the life of a living legend in Barassi and keen to go down footy memory lane then it’s a great night out for you.

Barassi runs from Sept 21 – Oct 7 and tickets can be purchased via Ticketek you can follow @BarassiShow on Twitter


Sports Geek would like to thank the promoters of Barassi – The Stage Show for tickets to the show.

Social September – Who wins @AFL Vs @NRL? Where does your team stand?


We first look at the battle for social media fans back in March 2011 when the AFL reached the magical 1M milestone on Facebook with the NRL in close pursuit we looked at the social media fan numbers again in September 2011. Both Leagues have smashed through the 1M barrier are are in a race to reach 2M Facebook fans across the league.

The AFL & it’s clubs have maintained a strong following on Twitter with a far more Twitter followers than in the NRL shown by the stark gap in the club averages 19,398 compared to the NRL 13,012. However on Facebook the NRL holds a lead in the club averages lead by Broncos with a whopping 260K Facebook fans with Collingwood & Essendon both joining the 200K club recently & the top 10 split evenly but the AFL teams are getting slightly more engagement via Facebook’s “Talking About This” metric. AFL does have 2 more teams with Gold Coast & GWS Giants joining the AFL in the past 2 seasons.

Given 5.8M people on on Facebook in Australia, it will be interesting to see what numbers both leagues can grow to. Thanks to SportsFanGraph for helping us compile these numbers, you can check our live rankings for NRL & AFL and other sports.

We discussed the Social September with Francis on ABC Grandstand on Saturday as well as the “Talking About This” number and the mysterious Facebook Edgerank.

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Where does your team sit on the Footy social media ladder?

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Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Want to get these clips in podcast form? Subscribe here or Add to iTunes.

Twitter Hashtags – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


The focus on this week’s ABC Grandstand segment focuses on twitter hashtags, what they mean, and the importance of getting them right.

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With the NBA Playoffs and the AFL season  in full swing as we head toward June, social media is there in full force, and the masses are focusing heavily on their #hashtagging. With much of the sporting world’s attention fixed firmly on the race to the championship, hashtagging has become ever more prevalent as a way for fans to participate by tweeting about the action using a  particular #hashtag most relevant to the team. But it’s the “right” hashtag that happens to be the dilemma at the forefront of the debate: do hashtags do more harm than good? Fortunately, for sport that is not so much the case but there are other incidents where a hashtag has caused headaches for a brand. Here, we are going to take a look at sport’s teams and other brands that are using hashtags to garner positive, and sometimes negative, fan participation throughout the Twitter-sphere.

What is a Hashtag?

  Hashtags on Twitter are used by tweeps to:

- Identify a team’s fan base, such hashtags that team’s fans can use are #gopies, #goeagles and #ridemcowboys
– Hashtags can be used to drive promotions or competitions
– They can also drive the conversation amongst casual fans with hashtags like, #thevoiceau, #auspol, #masterchef and #afldogscats
– Funny meme – #replacemovie

The examples above are good examples of how hashtags can help a company’s social media campaign work. But, we have seen some fails in regards to hashtags, such as with #QantasLuxury that backfired immensely on Qantas Airways.

Recently, State of Origin also had it’s troubles with no directive from the NRL for fans to use a specific hashtag so many ended up being used, diluting the effectiveness of having a well-prepared hashtag for engagement with fans.

To learn more about hashtags and how they work in relation to sports, check out Episode Two of the #YouTube140 project, which focuses on hashtags.


Sports Geek Medals – The Hashtag edition

What hashtags do we like for the medals, honourable mention to #superawesomemicroproject.

Bronze – West Coast Eagles – #3flagsfull

The #3flagsfull hashtag is the one West Coast use when playing the Dockers, just to remind them of the premiership tally.

Silver – Geelong Cats – #catseatbirds

The #catseatbirds was what Geelong used in the 2011 finals when up against Hawks, Eagles & Magpies.

Gold – #goldswagger

Used effectively by the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Playoffs until they bowed out against the Miami Heat.

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio. Follow @saintfrankly Follow @abcgrandstand

Podcast transcription

STEVE: Have you ever wondered when people talk about hashtags and hash this and hash that when we are in this Twitter-sphere world that we’re in at the moment, exactly what people are talking about? I can hold my hand up and say I have wondered. Clearly it’s some sort of thread thing, but I don’t know if I can ever quite explain it to you, but luckily I know a man who can and he’s sitting right opposite me. Morning Sean.

SEAN: Good day Steve.

STEVE: Sean Callanan who comes in every week usually talking to Francis, but you got me today, but irrespective of that what’re we talking with hashtags? How does this all work because it’s become such a phenomenon in the Twitter world, which everyone, well a lot of people, are using these days, aren’t they?

SEAN: So, yes, in the Twitter-sphere, I think you got it right. I’m a fan of saying “tweeting” rather than “twittering.”

STEVE: I knew you were going to say that.

SEAN: But either or, but I’m old school, as much as you can be old school for a four-year-old technology.

STEVE: Is it four years now?

SEAN: It’s about four years, yeah…

STEVE: Is it really?

SEAN: So hashtags are a way for you to group the conversation and get that conversation around a particular topic, so we see it a lot in sport. One of the biggest hashtags that has been in Twitter is the Super Bowl, so as people are watching the Super Bowl they’ll put the hashtag, and so when we’re talking the people are looking at their keyboards saying ‘Where’s the hashtag symbol.’ It’s the, oh how do I explain it, the two lines, vertical two lines, horizontal hash mark and then you put the word, and so when you’re watching the Super Bowl it would’ve been #superbowl. One of the ones that brought me to the topic was during the week State of Origin was in town.

STEVE: Yeah…

SEAN: And what we saw, I was looking at my Twitter stream, and I saw the following hashtags, I saw #origin, #origin1, #stateoforigin, #SOO, #SOO1, and so everyone was sort of going, there was a real call of ‘What is the hashtag? How can we, you know, what is the official one we’re meant to use?’ So it’s a bit of the NRL dropped the ball a little bit on that one not telling the fans, ‘Hey guys tag you’re tweets ‘this.”

STEVE: Really, so is that what organisations should be doing?

SEAN: Yes, they should be doing, especially around specific events, so like the NBA currently going through the playoffs, if you go there is actually a button on the that says “tweet NBA playoffs.” You hit that button and you can start writing your tweet with the hashtag already embedded, so automatically if you’re just watching the TV whether you’re in Melbourne or Sydney watching the game or in Miami or in New York or in Los Angeles, you can be following a whole stream of conversation via the hashtag, and so that way you can then follow other friends or follow other tweeps on Twitter. You can pretty much put TW in front of any word on Twitter and get away with it. That’s pretty much the rule.

STEVE: Yeah, I was forgetting the rule.

SEAN: So you’ll be able to find new people that follow the interest you might have.

STEVE: I’m a little bit of an amateur with this, and I’m hoping a few other people will be as well. So at the moment I would say follow, I don’t know how many it is, a couple hundred people, whatever, you can also follow conversation streams through hashtags…

SEAN: Well you can just use Twitter’s search facility and say, ‘I want to follow that particular hashtag.’ So who do you follow in the AFL?

STEVE: Uh, I don’t know, Tom Harley, for example.

SEAN: So Tom Harley is a person so you can follow him but what team do you follow?

STEVE: Oh, I see, ***laughter***

SEAN: Yeah, sorry, your team.

STEVE: I was trying to get into the following in Twittie…

SEAN: Exactly, yes…

STEVE: Let’s say Hawthorn.

SEAN: So you’re a Hawthorn man, so at the moment I think from a membership point of view I think their using the hashtag, #alwayshawthorn, so you can be following that to see other fans, but you also might be seeing the more shortened down version of #gohawks.

STEVE: Ahhhhh…

SEAN: So on a game day if you went and tuned in to #gohawks you would find a whole bunch of other Hawthorn fans and you might want to say, ‘Oh, I want to follow them,’ because during the week they might have some good inside info on the Hawthorn game plan or who’s in and who’s out, and it sort of helps you find more people to follow. So we have seen hashtags and sports, I think, uses them really well in corralling the teams and corralling all the fans and giving them something to rally around, whether it be #gopies, #goeagles, #purplepride, #gomanly. Like they’re not super clever, they’re just, you know, what we tell the teams is ‘If you haven’t got a hashtag, what’s the guy in the stands yelling out the most,’ right?

STEVE: **laughing*** yeah.

SEAN: So as a Collingwood fan, you like “Go Pies,” so it makes sense that to be the hashtag. If you try to be a little bit too clever, some teams, both here and abroad, sometimes try to be too clever and try to use the marketing message that they’ve got for the year, and it really is great for a flier and great for a promotion, but it doesn’t really, you’re not going to yell out what that is whatever the promotion might be. So it’s much better to get to the raw emotion and tap into it that way.

STEVE: But, I mean, that’s the official hash-tagging, but there is plenty of unofficial words we see around them, and I could’ve easily put out something on Wednesday night and just called it hashtag, the try that wasn’t, something like that…

SEAN: Well, exactly and that’s the other thing that sometimes, and I’ve been known to do that, as well, is effectively….

STEVE: Controversial that’s surely, Sean.

SEAN: No, no, you can actually use the hashtag as a bit of sarcasm…

STEVE: Yeah, yeah…

SEAN: You know, or a just a bit of a juxtaposition of what you’re tweet is. You know you say, ‘Aw, that was an awesome call by the ref, hashtag, #notreally.

STEVE: **laughing***

SEAN: You know, put a bit of that sarcasm into it, so there is a bit of that. I’ve been known to do exceptionally long hashtags to make people pay attention to actually read what would be normally a sentence, but I just put it in a hashtag. So, yeah, it has been that. There has been other, you know, memes that sort of jump up. Francis is a big one for using hashtags for memes and, you know, hashtag #grandstandbreakfast.

STEVE: Yeah.

SEAN: Sorry, hashtag #grandstand to send in your tweets. Or, you know, he wants song titles for a particular team or that kind of thing, he’ll put it out on hashtag and people will send them in via hashtags, so you can do it, you know, you can pump them up at any point. And then you can do it around particular events whether it be TV events, game events, those kind of things. So plenty of hashtags, so that’s what it is and then it’s a matter if you see someone hashtagging and what’re they talking about it’s best to click on the hashtag and then you’ll see all the other tweets of all the other people doing it, so if you’re not quite….

STEVE: Aw, right, so you can click on #gopies and it’ll just bring up everyone’s #gopies tweets.

SEAN: Exactly and there will be all those Collingwood supporters there and you’ll quickly run away and go back to a safe place. **laughter**

STEVE: So, anyway, Twitter is four-years-old and obviously this has developed over the time. I mean is this an ever changing technology even within Twitter. I mean what we’re talking about now, was everyone doing this four years ago?

SEAN: Yes and no. It’s a development through the Internet and more people are knowing about it but it hasn’t got any harder or smarter or there hasn’t been new checks put to it. It’s just that more people are understanding…hang on we’re rolling out a new TV show, we need to tell all our fans to use this and probably the best example on TV at the moment is The Voice. They’re getting everyone to use that particular hashtag (#thevoice). That hashtag will be trending in the world that night because all the people are sending in their tweets, and so that’s what was happening with Origin. People were all tweeting #origin. I think it’s #stateoforigin where it ended up, then #origin again, both of them ended up trending, but if they had amalgamated them both they would’ve had a bit of a wider effect.

STEVE: And when you say trending you mean?

SEAN: If you look on Twitter it’ll say this is the stuff that’s really hot at the moment, so the AFL Grand Final pushed out the hashtag #aflgf, and so everyone in Australia who was watching the Grand Final was tweeting about the game put #aflgf, and even in America and the UK on Twitter it says the #aflgf is trending, so, you know, it sort of gives national or international attention to whatever your cause is. So that’s the power, I guess, of Twitter hashtags.

STEVE: I mean is it sport that uses it best? Or are there other examples where it’s taken hold? SEAN: Obviously, one of the most popular hashtags last year was the hashtag #tigerblood, and that was from Charlie Sheen’s rants on Twitter…

STEVE: Ohhhh, right…

SEAN: And so then everyone started using #tigerblood as a rude of a way of saying how awesome they were. So it has taken hold and we have seen hashtags go bad. So #QantasLuxury was a hashtag that Qantas decided to run a little simple competition “Tell us what your Luxury experience is and you can win” I think it was a toiletry bag, and everyone decided, ‘No, we’re going to give you a completely different answer to what the hashtag #QantasLuxury is, and it went viral and you know the Ozzy sense of humor took hold of it and it was a PR disaster for Qantas, so there is, you know, McDonald’s have had the same thing. They said, ‘Share your McDonald’s MD stories.’

STEVE: Oh, really, that’s…you see that jumps out at me as standing on the freeway.

SEAN: Exactly and people just go this is awesome we can really flip this on the brand, so it’s very, brands have to be very careful because people who don’t like them or want to have a potshot they can have a go at them. So whereas teams, you know, obviously you’ve got your rallying support, your digital cheer squad out there that are going to support you. You’re always going to get pretty good support from your fans, so that’s the main thing where sports has the advantage of having some really good fan base behind them. One of the ones that I always do are my medals at the end of the week. One of the ones I like is #3flagsfull. That’s what the West Coast Eagles will be using today because they’re playing the Dockers and they just want to remind them how many flags they have. ***Steve laughing*** so that’s a good one just to rub it into the fans.

STEVE: That’s good. I like it.

SEAN: One that I really like and it’s unfortunate as a Pie supporter but I think Geelong did well last year in the Grand Finals with #catseatbirds when they were coming up against the Hawks, the Eagles & the Magpies in the finals. And another one from the NBA where the Indiana Pacers had everyone wearing gold t-shirts in the NBA playoffs so that went the hashtag #goldswagger. So everyone was tweeting it.

STEVE: Yeah, I like it.

SEAN: And last one for one to keep an eye on from a hashtag and a long hashtag at that is the hashtag #superawesomemicroproject, which is a project that’s being developed on Twitter and will continue to grow, and I can’t tell anything more than that, but if you follow the hashtag you’ll keep an eye on it and see it develop.

STEVE: I’ll simply have to say the hashtag #superawesomemarvelouswork, love your work. That’s fantastic, Sean, thank you. Things are much, much clearer now.

Three Cs to focus on as a #digisport professional


On Saturday’s ABC Grandstand at 7:40 after a short discussion of the Pies win & the Twitter t-shirt (right) we looked at what #digisport professionals need to do to deliver for fans (and their boss).

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What are the Three Cs?

What does it take to work in #digisport & talk to thousands (or millions) of fans at once, we are looking for ability in 3 specific areas.


Content is KING in digital & it is vital to keep feeding the digital beast.  It includes some of the following:

  • Producing “standard” web content – web articles, video interviews & podcasts
  • Having a eye for content that fans would like – behind the scenes shots or insider access
  • Being creative in developing new content ideas for the fans (that they can deliver on)


Curation is critical for sports, in most case there is TOO MUCH CONTENT to push it on your social networks.

  • What content fits on what platforms?
  • How much is too much? Listen to the podcast to hear Sean use the movie Hangover for Facebook frequency.
  • How can you spin any news back to your team or brand?


Lastly social media is about being social & therefore developing your fan base to borrow a sports cliche “one post at a time”

  • Live & embrace the wins when the fans are at their most excitable
  • Be ready to feel the frustration of fans when your team suffers a bad loss, you need a thick skin but remember it’s not directed at you.
  • Always be helping the fan to move along the fan journey towards reaching your team’s goals.

Feedback from Twitter

We asked Twitter for what they look for in #digisport staff and got some great tweets.





Sports Geek Medals – Social Media Executioner edition

We qualified this category with people we have worked with at Sports Geek as there is more to the role than just sending out a tweet & posting to Facebook.  Apologies to those who missed out, I wanted to award more but Francis is tough on just three on the podium.

Bronze – Jessica Ivers – Canterbury Bulldogs

Jess did a great job driving the #gomanly hashtag all the way to the premiership last year for Manly Sea Eagles, now doing a stellar job with the Canterbury Bulldogs running a #digibattle with the Storm.

Silver – Daniel Pinne – Melbourne Storm

Dan started before the NRL Finals last year & is doing a great job behind the scenes at the Storm, check out the BattleCam scheduled for Friday night against the Broncos.

Gold – Matthew Gepp – West Coast Eagles

Matt is the man behind the powerhouse in the West working the fans into a frenzy with The Swoop & wearing multiple hats tweeting for the Eagles & the mascot Rick the Rock.

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast over the Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Get the Sports Geek podcasts

Want to get these clips in podcast form? Subscribe here or Add to iTunes

Podcast transcription

FRANCIS: Francis Leach here on this Saturday morning. Sean Callanan is our digital sports guru, always talking about sport in the digital world each Saturday, and he’s with us again in his very specially designed Collingwood Twitter t-shirt. It’s a ripper Sean. I know that you’ve gone above and beyond to put all the Twitter handles and favorite Magpies on a t-shirt, sort of like John, George, Ringo Starr. How are you?

SEAN: I’m good thanks, Frank, and it’s always good coming in after a win on a Friday night.

FRANCIS: That’s hilarious that shirt. What do we got? We’ve got an @sp_10, Scott Pendlebury; @dt_13, Dale Thomas; @dids_04, Alan Didak, that’s one team. It goes on and on and on. Nice work.

SEAN: I’ll take a pic and twit after the show.

FRANCIS: What we’re talking about it’s interesting today because sports clubs are, some are and some aren’t, I guess, getting a handle, no pun intended, on using digital space to maximize the expanding experience and also I guess to promote their football clubs and sport organizations.

SEAN: Yeah, so, we started Sports Geek to pretty much promote that clubs needed a sports geek or someone to manage their sports side but also understand the tick and manage the community, and so more and more clubs are getting people into those roles, so to manage all the social platforms, help produce content for the website, produce video, liaise with the fans, all that kind of stuff.

FRANCIS: Who were the pacers? Who were the trendsetters that got there first, who got it early?

SEAN: There was a couple in the States who jumped on different platforms early, like we’ve talked about before. The NBA, jumped on board with Facebook, Twitter. They just got 5 million followers on their Twitter account, but it is a developing space, and I suppose when you’re looking for someone to be in that role there are sort of three things that we look at. They’re three Cs, and so the first thing we’ve got to produce is Content because all the social media platforms require content all the time.

FRANCIS: It’s a beast. It just needs to be fed.

SEAN: It does need to be fed, and the thing is with footy clubs and with football media there is so much content available, so it is a matter of, one, producing the content, but it’s also about finding the content out of nothing, so it might be as simple as ‘the boys are getting on the bus.’ That’s something that the fans never see. They never get that insider feel. Pull your phone out, take that shot, and you send it out via Instagram, as we’ve talked about or send it out to Facebook so the fans get that insider access.

FRANCIS: That seems innocuous enough, but what’s the value edge for the club? What’s the value for the fan in that experience? You work in this area. What’re you finding; what’re they telling you?

SEAN: Well from the fans point of view and the way that we sort of pitch it, we call them “social media executioners,” because it sounds cooler on your business card, is that you’re trying to have all your content to have a goal, and for most teams your goal is to get that fan from sitting on the couch in their pajamas watching the TV to coming to a game to becoming a member to being there rain, hail or shine to handing over your Visa card and your automatically renewing each year.
So from a social and digital point of view, you’re trying to fast track them on their journey, and the thing is that’s what social allows you to do because you get to talk to the fan every single day.

FRANCIS: Does it feel like, I know, you and I both use this space a lot and do their people feel like it’s an authentic experience?

SEAN: Yes, yeah, I mean, they do. There are some that sort of see that the people are doing what they have to do as far as putting up posts and that kind of thing. But the idea is the fans, to coin a phrase, they do like the content they’re getting, and that’s the thing. You can track what you are putting out from a “likes” point of view, from traffic driving back to the website point of view, so the other part of their job is to be able to manage those stats and present case studies back to the business, to their sponsors, to the club to say, this is why we’re doing it, and this is why it’s a success.

FRANCIS: How far is it to curate the content well? You’re just not throwing stuff at the wall in the hope that it will appeal to somebody, but you’ve got some sort of plan or some sort of idea what works.

SEAN: Yes, so that’s the second “C,” Curation. It is, you’ve got all this content and you’ve got to figure out which content is going to fit for what platform, and at the right time, so you know something that will work, if it is just a slice of life shot that gets taken, that probably fits better for that Instagram crowd that is a visual medium crowd, who will go to Twitter because Twitter fans like to see pictures as much as to consume the article. So that fits for that crowd, whereas Facebook, our thing is you’re from a brand perspective and from a team perspective, you’re joining a personal platform. So most people in our experience are joining Facebook to connect with their family and friends and to stalk the people they went to high school with, right? And so as a brand or a team you’re encroaching in on that space, so you’ve got to be respectful of that, so the other thing from a Curation and how much do you post point of view, we use the movie the Hangover as an example: You wake up the next morning and you just don’t know what happened. And what do most people do, they’ll go and find out where they lost Mecca and where they checked in on Facebook and they want to check their feed, ah that’s right, we ended up there. And there’s that picture that we took at that bar, and that’s where they ended up, so they can go back to their feed and see that. Now they don’t want to go back in a half hungover state and see 27 updates from their team with a blow by blow description because it’s ruining their experience on Facebook because they can’t find out what their high school buddy is doing that they’re just stalking because there’re all these team announcements in there. So that’s where the Curation comes in because the fan might not “unlike” the team because they just can’t do it in their heart. They’re still a supporter, but what’s worse than that is if they hide your feed. They’ll never see your post ever again, so all the effort that you’re doing to engender more passion for the team, you’ve automatically lost them.

FRANCIS: Which clubs and sporting organizations do you think have established the best sense of community through their efforts in their space? I think there’s a lot of team’s doing it at varying levels.

SEAN: I think Twitter is a really great one from a community point of view because you can have that conversation. You can reply to fans. You can retweet their passion and their developments, so that’s where that Community comes in, which is the third “C” and getting that backwards and forwards going, so guys like West Coast they’re doing a lot of, you know, that random axe of the swoop. So we we’re talking gamification last week, they’ve got that gamification platform where they reward the fans from what they’re doing and they’re always saying, ‘Great work. Keep it up,’ and the fans just take that as encouragement, as a pat on the back.
So there’re a lot of teams that say ‘tell us what they highlights are.’ Collingwood last night was asking everyone what the highlights were and everyone was pumped up for a big win. You really want to maximize those opportunities because everyone’s up and about and everyone’s positive, conversely.

FRANCIS: The good stuff.

SEAN: The bad stuff if you go through a 100 point loss or you haven’t had a win and you’re going to have that digital virtually going ‘sack the coach’ or ‘I’m angry.’ Sometimes you’ve just got to let that stuff breathe, and as long as it doesn’t go overboard as we saw a couple of weeks ago in the __ an incident and then we saw when the LA Lakers player missed a crucial shot and he was getting twitter death threats to him and his wife. As long as it doesn’t go over that boundary line, the fans are going to vent, and the way I sort of experienced it is if the media manager walked around the ground at the end of the game you’ve lost and writes down everything the fans were yelling out, it would be pretty bloody depressing, so one of the things that as a guy working or girl in that instance working in digital sports you’ve got to have a pretty tough skin. Because if someone slams the team and says, ‘Oh, you’re terrible,’ they’re not talking to you, they’re not talking to the person, they’re just having a go at your team. And everyone’s allowed to do that, that’s what sports about.

FRANCIS: In the world of #digisport, we’ve got a minute to go. You got a plan to finish for three people who are doing great work in this space here in Australia?

SEAN: Yes, so Jess Ivers who was formerly with Manly Sea Eagles and took them to the grand final from a digital perspective, now at Canterbury, does a great job with the Twitter banter backwards and forwards. Daniel Pinne, we talked about previously, at the Melbourne Storm, doing a great job reaching the Melbourne sports team and encouraging people to follow NRL. And as we spoke about before, Matt Gepp at West Coast Eagles doing a great job in interacting with the fans with the swoop and having the backwards and forwards with them, even tweets is the mascot, as well, so he has to have that multiple persona of beating out a tweet for different voices, so he does a really good job with that.

FRANCIS: Go on, Sean, Sports Geek.
SEAN: @Sportsgeekhq on Twitter, @SeanCallanan on Twitter. Thanks so very much. Didn’t get to the tweets for replying to what the qualities needed as well, so thanks a lot.

#morecronk & @SP_10 signs – how sports teams are handling big news in social


In today’s ABC Grandstand sports digital segment we looked at the how two of Melbourne’s biggest teams handled two big signings this week.

Download mp3

How Sports News Breaks in Digital age

Wednesday afternoon the news of Melbourne Storm’s Cooper Cronk calling a press conference started the planning for the Storm’s version of “The Decision”  we discussed all possible scenarios & how fans might react.

Luckily for Storm fans Cooper Cronk decided to stay with Cooper Cronk & #morecronk both trending across Australia on Thursday.

Great work from Daniel Pinne (AKA @DanPinne)behind the scenes, you might know him from his guest post on Facebook grouping posts (which still apply & worth the read).

See how it played out on social platforms via the Storify compilation built by Daniel.

Only 24 hours before #morecronk down the road Collingwood tried a different approach using their new TV show  “The Club” to have the first interview with Scott Pendlebury after he signed a 4-year deal with the Pies.

Sports Geek Medals – ad:tech Melbourne edition

One note, late entry to AFL Coaches on Twitter @SandoAFC Brenton Sanderson has joined Twitter one week too late.


Bronze – Anthony Harrison – Cricket Victoria

Anthony talked about building a brand from scratch & how effective Instagram was in connecting with fans at the Big Bash.

Silver – Jonathon Simpson – AFL

His social media policy was well received & makes complete sense more people should follow it.

Gold – Kim Trengove – Tennis Australia

Great presentation on all the digital work they did at Aussie Open – Mobile, Video, Social. Hitting aces all over the digital court.

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast over the Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Get the Sports Geek podcasts

Subscribe to  or Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes.

Podcast transcription

FRANK: Every time Sean Callanan comes to Breakfast Grandstand as the Sports Guru, something happens…

SEAN: I’ve seen cricket today. It must not like me.

FRANK: Sorry, that just happened right when you arrived.

SEAN: That’s all right, Francis. That’s all right. I’m good thanks. Even though the Pies (Magpies) lost last night I’m still happy that the season’s started. It’s good to have footy back.

FRANK: Nice win. For the Magpies, they’ll be fine.

SEAN: Oh, definitely, definitely…

FRANK: They’re going to be right there when it matters. This week’s been interesting in the world of digital sports, hasn’t it? Because once again it’s an example of how things have changed dramatically for clubs, fans and players when it comes to big news.

SEAN: Yeah, so, Wednesday you would’ve got that obtuse media release that Cooper Cronk has called for a press conference, and literally when I heard that, I saw a tweet, then I heard it on the radio, and then my phone rang, and it was guys at the Storm going, ‘Okay, what’re we to do?’ I went, you know, we’ve got to handle this press conference, and I said, “Okay, let’s plan for it. Just, you know, you can tell me. I won’t tweet it. I won’t tell anyone what’s happening. Is he going or staying?” Oh, ‘We don’t know as yet.’

FRANK: They really didn’t know it?

SEAN: This is a day out. This is 24 hours out. So I said, “Well, where’s the plan for scenario A and scenario B?” So the whispers were that he was going. There’s all this money awash with Gold Coast. He’s going to take the cash. It’s a go-home factor, and so how do we handle that in a social media space because you’ll get a whole bunch of angry fans. You know, they’ll be tweeting and Facebooking, ‘Why’s he leaving?’ And then you’ve got all the, I guess, the other ramifications, if you can’t, the Storm for one can’t say, ’Oh, it’s because of the salary cap,’ because then they’ll get blowed back for other issues in their history.

KELLY: Past problems, yes.

SEAN: Past problems and you know and it’s their role and big ups to Daniel Pinne who runs the digital beyond the scenes of the Storm. Our plan was if Cooper Cronk was going to go, he was going to actually reply and pat each fan on the back and soothe their pain because they have to look back and say, ‘Look at what Cooper’s done. We’ve got still six months more of him.’ We’ve got that focus to try to turn them around a little bit, so we really sort of put a crisis plan in place.

FRANK: Are you amazed Kel that they didn’t know?

KELLY: I can’t believe that.

SEAN: So this is 24 hours out .

KELLY: So Cooper called the club and said can you issue a statement saying that I’ll make my decision public tomorrow?

SEAN: Well, yes, he was still making his decision, but he said I’m going to make a decision. Let’s have the press conference, and, obviously, with this information age, you have to protect that information, so there was only a select few that did know. So the people negotiating the contract in the footy department and the commercials team, that kind of thing, but the broader team didn’t know, and they were planning for all the scenarios. And then about an hour out of the thing the wider team knew so they prepped an email to go out to the members in a simultaneous fashion when the conference started. So as soon as Cooper said, “I’m good to go,” the email went out, so all the Storm fans got it, sort of, at the same time as everyone else was. But, yeah, the digital team was like, you know, ‘Dan was told at that same time, so get ready. Don’t print the press conference,’ but as soon as Cooper says, ‘I’m staying,’ get that tweet out. I said get that tweet out, get the hashtag: more cronk. Because Cooper Cronk’s not on Twitter and it’s a great hashtag, so automatically, all the fans were tweeting #morecronk both Cooper Cronk and #morecronk were like number one and two trending on Twitter.

FRANK: Well that’s how I found out about it.

SEAN: Yeah, and so what you know, the news, which is amazing considering the AFL was launching that night.

KELLY: Was day one by ___.

SEAN: To have that much voice of, you know, from about 11:00 to 3:00 to be all about the NRL. It was a really a great job by the Storm, but, yeah, it just shows you the different scenarios, and it would’ve been a real tough gig ahead had he come in and said, ‘I’m going to Gold Coast,’ but you’ve got to manage and/or plan for those scenarios.

KELLY: I guess from a journalist’s perspective you always try to read into these things, the fact they released a statement the day before and said the announcement’s happening at the club a day before a big home game against New Castle and the fact that Cooper himself was speaking. You read into that and think well if he was leaving he’s not going to do it at the club the day before a big game because of the ramifications in those 24 hours.

SEAN: Yeah, and that’s the thing. They had a lot of chatter 24 hours out of people saying, ‘Oh,’ the initial chatter was, ‘He’s going; he’s going,’ and then the tide turned and everyone goes, ‘They had started doing the reasoning,’ but sometimes everyone over analyzes it a bit because, again, I think a lot of it was driven by Cooper. He said I want to make the announcement and the club went, “Well, yep, you’re one of the big three. If you want to announce it then you can.’ And he was like, ‘I want to send it out now,’ and they’re like ‘no, no’ let us have a press conference and…

FRANK: So it’s about making the maximum impact with the message, as well, and making sure that you’ve covered all bases, which is something that’ sport’s organizations have to do. They probably wouldn’t do as well with their Scott Pendlebury announcements.

SEAN: So Collingwood is, I guess, has gone down the path of their own club TV show, and the week before they broke the news of Sharrod Wellingham’s suspension on that show and didn’t give any warning or anything. This week with the signing of Scott Pendlebury they went down a similar path but they didn’t exclusively break it on the show, so I got an email as a Collingwood member at, I think it was 8:30, saying Pendlebury resigned, so all the members knew first and that’s a real thing for all the clubs to say, ‘Well, if you’re going to pay money and be a member we want you to know first.’ Both the NRL and AFL clubs are really mindful of their members first.

FRANK: It’s interesting that’s going on about the access to information because the AFL increasingly is trying to limit access to information. And one of example of that Sean and Kelly is access to tenures.

KELLY: Absolutely.

FRANK: And the digital media space would usually reveal the tenures first. Over the last couple of years, Twitter has been the place to go if you want to know who’s going to be in an ___.

SEAN: Well, in the last couple of years, everyone’s sort of been anointed. Patrick Keane would launch the team news on his own Twitter cap before all the clubs, in some instances. they’re like holding off, holding off, and then they’d find out that Patrick came from the AFL’s twitter. Here’s the ins and outs. So it’s a lot of clubs getting their nose out of joint for that, but, yeah, now there’s an exclusive rights with a TV partner to do it on the news, which is, you know, so 20 years ago.

KELLY: Well, it’s the media partners, isn’t it? So it’s the AFL website and Network 7, and so the embargo is until 6:00. So when you actually go out and speak to coaches, and coaches and players have been warned, there is a $10,000 fine if you leak any information, so as journalists working for another broadcaster you head out on a Thursday to interview the coaches.
Three coaches spoke on Thursday: Alastair Clarkson, Scott Watters and Nathan Buckley. They were all asked, on separate occasions, will you have a first game? Or will there be a debutante that we can talk about? And all of them said, “that information is embargoed until 6:00; therefore, we can’t say anything.’
How ridiculous when you’re inviting media out and journalists to come and get some information and speak about something, and I guess the same situation, or it was at Nathan Buckley’s, and we were out, and Trevor’s cloak was standing next to him. We wanted to ask about the contract, and the senior coach stepped in to Nathan Buckley and said, ‘No more question about the contract.’
So from a journalist’s perspective, obviously, we try and you leave a media conference where they have invited you down but you can’t get any information about the team and you can’t get any information about the contract, what’s left to ask?

FRANK: Well, Sean, you’re absolutely right. I mean it’s a sort of old world mentality, particularly in the age of digital media to try to hang onto that sort of information, particularly as digital media has now invited everybody to be part of the conversation.

SEAN: Well, that’s right. I mean and talking about the Pendlebury case, the A-mile and then both Scott tweeted and Facebook did and then the club tweeted, it actually got people to watch the TV, and I think that’s a much better strategy to say, you know, ‘Hey, guys, Scott Pendlebury is actually going to be on the show to hear him talk about it’—‘Aww, cool!’
Potentially I might not have tuned in. I’m going to tune in now. I’d as soon as use it in that fashion, but to use it in a fashion of, ‘Oh, we’re holding on to this information because this exclusive Channel 7 is going to do it on the news.’

FRANK: Well, to try to make money out of it, basically….

KELLY: Absolutely, it’s all about money, yeah.

FRANK: The information that should belong to the fans who pay their membership to whomever is playing for their team is now being held hostage for a couple of hours so that they can make money from the commercial/television partner. That stinks.

KELLY: It does. It’s disgraceful. And I wonder whether it’ll all continue because there will be a bit of an uproar at some stage because other media partners are not going to be happy with it.

FRANK: The coaches are going to end up looking like fools. They can’t answer question that they have a legitimate right to answer.

KELLY: And I think the coaches are well aware of that, and therefore they were making a stand by saying, ‘it’s embargoed; you can’t ask me. We’re making a point but we can’t tell you.’

SEAN: But it might also be kind of a little bit fiscal. If the NRL released their team list on a Tuesday and you know why—so Rugby League Week can get them into a printed version earlier in the week.

KELLY: People are talking about it already.

SEAN: And I think it was Matt McGuire from the Rabbitohs, who asked ‘Where are the team lists. You guys we just played yesterday.’ And they go, ‘Yeah, but, we’re going to have it by Tuesday. He goes, ‘Here you go have last weeks and put it up.’ So, you know, he pretty much didn’t really care what the list was, so you might just start getting the sort of just serving it for the purpose of serving it.

KELLY: One thing I noticed this week, Deledio announcing a five year contract extension, with a contract extension of five years, and Pendlebury, you’ve already mentioned, they all announced this on Twitter. If you’re the Richmond football club, what’s your biggest, most positive news story going to be for season 2012—that your best player has signed for five years. Why are they adopting to take the Twitter path as opposed to hold a media conference and get everyone there and get the coverage across everywhere? This is something that I don’t understand.

SEAN: I mean it isn’t more about getting the eyeballs, the digital eyeballs, back to the site. It’s also a bit of the players taking ownership of their persona, you know, against some would tweet it and then the next day the media were all over it. And, so again, that’s a little bit of the players putting themselves out in front of the club a little bit, but yeah, it is a tough one from a traditional media point of view. They sort of have the opinion ‘Oh, well, the traditional media will still come anyway. The TV and radio we’ll report it the next day. The digital is now and allows us to control it. Bring it in house.

FRANK: That’s the way it works in the moment now. Have you got a podium for us, 3, 2 and 1 this week?

SEAN: Yeah, well we had ad-tech this week in Melbourne so it was the Melbourne edition, and so the medals this week, we have a bronze to Anthony Harrison who talked about the Stars and how they built a brand for the new Big Bash team. Jonathan Simpson from the AFL, he talked about some of this media and some interesting social media policies, and I think it’s fit for radio but he pretty much said his social media policy is “don’t be a ___________(and you can fill in the blank there), for a social media policy it’s a really good one. But the gold medal goes to Kim Trengove who runs all the digital at the Aussie Open and they’ve just done an amazing job from a mobile perspective, engaging the fans from a social media point of view.

FRANK: They’re fun. That was fantastic.

SEAN: The iPhone app, the iPad app, all the things that, you know, the amazing part that should have been done with YouTube and things like that and the amount of viewers they’re getting through that. Both the other guys said, “I wished you’d just sit down and let Kim talk for the 40 minutes.”

She’s got so much stuff. She had videos of Roger Federer so Debby Spillane would’ve been very happy with that, so it was a really good discussion and we had a really good discussion after the panel as well, so…

FRANK: Good day, Sean. Thanks for coming in, and in that time nothing dramatic happened in the cricket.

SEAN: Well, I tweeted Brett Lee to stop doing it, so that’s cool. He’ll help me out there.

FRANK: Sean Callanan our Digital Media Guru when it comes to the world of sports.