Good to catch up with Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics one of the first guys I followed and connected with when I started Sports Geek. Pete and I discuss how the digital landscape has changed and his foray into the world of podcasting. On ABC Grandstand we discuss security issues around the celebrity iCloud hacking scandal.
On this podcast you’ll learn about:
- What Peter’s role looked like in 2005
- Why getting data our of Facebook was important
- How mobile is becoming the primary platform for sports fans
- How pre game became a driver for Celtics mobile app
- What Peter has learned as a podcaster
- What athletes need to do to secure their phones
- Why teams are using video on Facebook
Resources from the episode
- Connect with Peter Stringer on Twitter (@PeterStringer) and on Linkedin and on PeterStringer.com
- Listen and subscribe to Media Masters Podcast (@MediaMastersPod) at MediaMastersPodcast.com
- Listen to Caity Kauffman on Media Masters discuss Facebook Advertising
- Like Celtics on Facebook, follow @Celtics on Twitter and @Celtics on Instagram
- Check out the NASCAR Sprint Cup video on Facebook
- Please log your the Football games you’ve attended with Football Passport, as discussed with Peter Robert Casey on episode #46
- Latest from Facebook Newsroom including an article we discussed on the podcast
- Download Cyber Dust at CyberDust.com add seancallanan
- Please cast your vote for Richard Clarke’s SXSW submission on Arsenal’s FA Cup win
- Thanks to AIHL Commissioner Robert Bannerman (@RABannerman) for inviting me to #AIHLFinals for the Sounds of the Game clip.
- Connect with all guests of the podcast and check out the podcast archive
- Thanks for iTunes reviews in Australian iTunes and USA iTunes.
- Have you signed up for weekly Sports Geek News?
Join the conversation, send us a tweet
Are you following @Celtics on Twitter?
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 8, 2014
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 21, 2014
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 12, 2014
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 16, 2014
Are you on Cyber Dust? Add me
Listening via iTunes?
Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your network. Thanks in advance.Leave an iTunes review
Listen or download episode here
Follow Sports Geek on Soundcloud, all episodes available.
Have you got the sports digital case study eBook yet?
If you are on the Sports Geek News email list then you’ll have a copy of my presentation and supporting eBook with case studies from around the world including NBA, Arsenal, Portland Trailblazers, Melbourne Storm, Socceroos, Detroit Red Wings and a few more that I couldn’t include on the day. If not sign up below, confirm and we’ll email it to you.
Sean: Welcome to Episode 59 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s episode, I catch up with Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics to talk all things Celtics digital and about his foray into podcasting. On an ABC grandstand, we talk about the celeb hacking scandal and how it affects athletes.
D.J. Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host, who watched his first NFL games, sitting behind Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Sean Callanan.
Sean: Thanks, D.J. Joel, my name is Sean Callanan and you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. And yes, my first NFL game was sitting behind Ralph Wilson. At the time, I did not know that. I think it was around 1999, maybe 2000. I was in Seattle catching a game at the old Kingdome. And lucky enough to secure us some tickets through Gary Wright who was at the Seahawks.
And we actually were sitting in the media area. And for those of you who are in the business and know about sitting in the media area, you can’t be sitting there chugging beers, and screaming out and yelling, and enjoying the game as a normal fan. You have to sit there because there are people doing work.
But me and my mate Mark Seymour, “The Professor,” as he’s known on Twitter, we were watching the game and we could not figure out for the life of us why the man in front of us was cursing the Bills quarterback Doug Flutie. For those of you who have been following the NFL for a while would remember Doug Flutie.
Did not like the way Doug was performing in that day. The Seahawks won the match but he was cursing every single time Doug Flutie made a mistake. And it wasn’t until after the event that we figured out that it was Bills owner Ralph Wilson. He preferred to sit in the media area when he was visiting stadium. So that’s the story of my first NFL game.
And I’ll have to go to Peter Robert Casey’s newly launched site, Football Passport. We spoke to him earlier about Hardball Passport; he’s now launched Football Passport. You can go to fbpassport.com and you can log every single NFL or college football game that you have been to. As I said, when we had him on, a really good way for you to document your fan experience.
On this week’s podcast, I have Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics. I met Pete back in 2011 when he was out here for a conference and also caught up with him again when seat was in Boston. We’ve been going back and forwards trying to get a time to have this interview now that Pete has joined the land of the podcasters as well. We’ll chat about that and what he’s up to at the Celtics on this interview so I hope you enjoy it.
I’m very happy to welcome one of the leaders, a guy I’ve been following for a long time. I am lucky enough to meet him a couple of years back when he was in Sydney. Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics, welcome to the podcast.
Peter Stringer: Thanks for having me, Sean.
Sean: So Pete, you are the senior director of digital media at the Boston Celtics. You’ve been there since 2005. The landscapes definitely changed since that time. Do you want to take us back to those early days and what it was like getting started?
Peter Stringer: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, talk about a complete difference in not only the job, but just in terms of the responsibilities and the platforms that existed. When I first got here and I came into the job in 2005, it was really just celtics.com. We had our e-mail channel and that was a big way in which we sell tickets. And frankly, today, that’s still a big channel for us on e-mail. But at that time, nobody was using Facebook for public properties like a sports team like the Celtics and Twitter didn’t exist. No Instagram or Pinterest or any of these other platforms that are out there and video was a much different world. You really couldn’t distribute video in the way you can do it now in terms of high definition and it wasn’t something that teams were producing on their own. But in that time, our business has changed drastically and I’ve been fortunate enough to kind of have that opportunity in front of me. And so, as I’ve gone along, when I came in the door, it was, “Hey, here’s celtics.com. Keep this up to date.”
I really took us down this path of developing content and so, that kind of was a natural fit for all of these different social media channels that came up over the years and now here we are in 2014 and heading into 2015. That’s really what my group is responsible for. I’ve got five people that are all cranking away on regular content throughout not only the season but through the off seasons as well. My pieces of business has changed and increased drastically since I got here.
Sean: Did you ever have, like Jeremy, Pete. Did you ever have the title Webmaster?
I know enough to be dangerous now but so many things have changed especially with responsive design and things of that nature and trying to develop your sites for mobile apps and all the different aspects of mobile that exist now. I’m not sure I’m really qualified to do that job anymore. It’s changed drastically again since I first came in, I was writing code in 2005.
Sean: One of the big case studies that you guys had was the three-point play on Facebook early on. That experience of then, it’s still something that people are still trying to figure out. How do we get the data out of Facebook? How do we drive them into our database, into our CRM? Start the e-mail conversation. As you said earlier, it’s still a messy way for you guys to sell tickets. Do you wanna take us through on the genesis of that idea and how it worked? And how that has evolved over time?
Peter Stringer: Sure. I think Facebook is obviously one of those things that I think when it first came out; nobody quite knew what to do with it. But it was pretty clear to me early on that regardless of the size of the audience we may have there, we didn’t really own those people. And I’d argue to this day, you don’t really own your Facebook audience. You’re just really helping Facebook collect data on them. And so now, it’s a matter of, how do we get those people off of Facebook and into our database, and get them to buy tickets and turn them into customers. That aspect of it hasn’t changed.
And so, yeah, three-point play back in 2009 was pretty new at the time from a sports marketing standpoint. And it was basically just taking what we already knew is that we need fans to be in our database and trying to come up with a way to leverage which was Facebook apps were still pretty new at that point. And companies were trying to figure out how to leverage them to get fans engaged but they weren’t necessarily thinking about building customer bases with them. And to me, if you work in sports marketing, your number one job is to get people in the building. And so, I was always thinking about it in terms of how are we going to get people to become customers of the Celtics.
Fast-forward to 2014 and how we’re looking at Facebook, it’s a much different landscape. Really, for us, we have that large audience. Obviously, it’s well-documented that you don’t reach anywhere near the audience you used to. Where it used to be a post would hit 20%, 30%, 40% of our audience. Now, we hit 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%. But what we have seen a lot of growth with recently in the last month or so has been organic video on Facebook. And so, actually uploading video directly to their platform versus trying to send people back to celtics.com to watch it. And we’re seeing some pretty big numbers in terms of. . .for a couple of different reasons. But we’re seeing large numbers in terms of the amount of views we’re seeing on videos that we would never get on our own website. Just because we don’t have the type of traffic that would be able to support that. But with Facebook’s recent change with their auto starting videos for people now and they’re incenting you to put that content into the stream, we’re really seeing a lot of consumption on those videos now.
And so, now we have kind of a choice to make. Does it matter to us where people view our videos, right? So for me, I don’t really care where you view them, as long as you view them. And if one of our corporate partners is paying us to have some branded content that reaches our audience so we can reach a much larger audience on Facebook than we can on our website. Because we don’t have to wait for them to come to us, we just go to them. That’s something we’re looking at and we’re spending a lot more time thinking about how that works. Right now, our move has been, “All right, let’s upload this video natively to Facebook and taking advantage of the fact that they’re creating an audience force that we never had before.”
Like anything else, your strategy has to evolve and change. And as you see the platform making major shifts, you have to be willing to make those shifts as well and be nimble in terms of having strategy and adapting it to what’s actually happening in the real world. I forgot what the stat was today. I think it was something along the fact that they’re serving a billion videos a month or something like that on Facebook. So really, you have to keep dialed into this stuff and be ready. Obviously, if you’re Facebook, you have to expect that the next move is going to be auto-playing video ads. I think that’s pretty clear, that’s what they’re trying to prime the pump for. But again, when you look at these things and you see these kinds of sea changes, you have to be ready to change your strategy and that’s what we’ve done.
Sean: Yeah. Completely agree on the video. They’re definitely diving in and they’re almost getting a free pass on the interlink for anything video. If you scroll down your feed at the bottom, it’s all video and sports are just all over it. They’re ideal for it. You don’t really even need the auto-play. You want to play it.
So it’s a really good way from a sports point of view. I say there’s a massive opportunity to reengage your audience and say, “Maybe you haven’t watched a Celtics video in a couple of years, but here are some of the things that we’re doing.” And you can do those teaser type of things to send people back to your website or to say, “Don’t forget, you can get it in the mobile app and consume all our videos.” So it’s a really good way to reengage your audience to show the stuff you’ve tried doing on the video platforms. Because so many people in your position and sometimes, when you get to the scale, it’s not a big deal but you’ve still got these K.P.I.s. And there will be people higher up saying, “What are our video views? How are our page views? What visitors are we getting?”
And so, it goes against the grain to say, “We’re going to go put it on Facebook.” Because, yeah. It’s not your backyard. It’s not your land, that you’re doing it on Facebook’s land. But sometimes, you’ve got to use that to say, “Hey, don’t forget, we have got this killer content. We haven’t been showing it to you on this platform because they haven’t provided a really good video player. But now we can.” And it will just engage them to watch more and will start driving people back to your site.
Peter Stringer: No question. And just looking at our metrics for the month of August alone, we’re pretty dramatic in terms of the amount of reach we were getting on videos compared to regular posts. For our articles, we were doing about 3%, 4% reach. Our videos in August did almost 10% reach which is a huge difference when you’re talking about an audience of eight and a half million.
Sean Stringer: Exactly, exactly. And I think if I’m not mistaken, there was an article recently just by the Facebook newsroom talking about the latest on video and pretty much saying, like you just said, a billion. But also, the effect the auto-play is having on the video views and what people are doing. I guess a tip for everybody is, have the settings it’s not auto-playing on your data because it would be a few that would shock Telco bills when they check their data plans. If everyone is now pushing out videos, you’ve got to make sure it’s only auto-playing on WiFi. Otherwise, you’ll just completely cream your data pack on your mobile.
Peter Stringer: Right. To that end, we’re going to keep looking at that because who knows? They may change their minds in a month and say, “You know what? People are really complaining about their data plans. “And so, it may be that they change their attitude on the auto-play and things different, and so we’ll go in a different direction if that’s what the strategy calls for.
Sean: You told me before about being responsive and the mobile nature of the fan now, that the fact that a lot of your content will be getting consumed on mobile. A lot of the content that people are seeing on Facebook is from a mobile point of view. You’ve developed the Celtics app. I remember talking to you in Boston when I was there for seat, “Hey, you were putting that together.” And that was back in 2012. And it was a bit of a, “Why are we building an app? We’re doing an app because everyone else is doing an app.” Not quite sure what it was going to become. And from that experience, you’ve sort of started getting to that. . .talked a little bit about Home Court Advantage and what that offers and why it drives people back to the app each week.
Peter Stringer: Yeah. So Home Court Advantage is a program we launched in conjunction with American Express last year. It’s a live-streaming pregame mobile show half an hour long. And it has a couple different functions. One, I think we came into last year kind of knowing that we had a team with a roster in shift, in transition, obviously. We had a few of our big stars move on to other teams. And so, one of the things we were looking to do is we needed to come up with a way to build interest in our team. And just let people know ,”Hey, we’re playing tonight. “And I think that was a big motivating factor for us, so driving changing awareness.
And so, the mobile app is ideal for that, for a couple of different reasons. One, certainly fans have that thing in their hands from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. And I always say people have an intimate relationship with their phone because they take it everywhere. They go everywhere with it. It’s always on their purse and they don’t let it out of their sight. And so, it’s a great way for us to reach fans and remind them, whether it’s with a push notification and say, “Hey, we’re playing tonight. Here’s a live pregame show from the TD Garden. So you can catch up, listen to Coach Stevens pre-game presser, all those types of things. It’s a really great way for us to reach our highest value fans who are really engaged and make sure that they stay with us and they’re dialed in throughout the season.
I think the other big thing is obviously more and more of our continent being consumed on the mobile device. Like you said, our websites’ evolved and switched over to responsive design to accommodate for that. And I think teams across the league are seeing it. It’s anywhere from 40% to 60% of their website traffic now is starting to become on the mobile device. Not to mention just your app itself and the amount of traction we were getting on the app.
And so, increasingly the sports fans and Celtics fans, we’re having those conversations. They’re viewing content on that device. And so, whereas a couple of years ago, it wasn’t as clear as to why we needed to have an app. I think now, it’s a very clear way for us to reach our fan in a place where there are spending a ton of time.
And I think that’s the thing. Whether it’s Facebook or the mobile app, you’ve got to reach fans where they’re spending time. And for us, Facebook is a big place where they’re spending time, Twitter is a big place, Instagram and on the mobile app as well.
Sean: And the thing with the mobile app, that there was a great picture tweeted by Banksy or at least I think it’s Banksy’s account. The mobile phone it effectively had roots coming out of it and pretty much integrating into our hands, which is exactly that relationship you were just discussing. It’s always within reach. It’s always within a meter of your person.
So it’s just that relation that’s getting tighter. And the fact that what I liked about Home Ground Advantage is it gives a reason for the fans to check back in into the app and that’s one of the big concerns. When you’re building an app for a sports team is why are they going to go to our app? There are so many options both from a league level, from a media partner, whether it is Fox or ESPN, to consume everything around the barrier or any particular sport. The team, specifically, has to provide something in their app to get them in. And it’s either that check-in style appointment viewing type of thing with the pregame show you’ve got with Home Ground Advantage. Or it’s that utility type of thing which we’ve seen with some of the venues where the app changes when you’re entering the venue and it becomes the utility day to watch replays in the stadium or find out where the closest concession or the shortest line, that kind of thing. It’s something you’ve really got to make sure that your app has that function for your fans to open it up and come back all the time.
Peter Stringer: Yeah, no question. I think for us, the arena integration is a piece that we’re looking at a little closer now. We don’t own and operate the TD Garden where we play. We’re tenants there and so we don’t have complete control over the infrastructure in that building. But certainly, when you talk about iBeacon, for instance, I can imagine in the not-too-distant future where if you’re riding up the escalator to your seats upstairs, we may hit you on the iBeacon and send an alert to your app and tell you, “Hey, there’s seats available downstairs for a premium.” and offer fans the opportunity to upgrade their seats for a few dollars more. Sitting upstairs, you want to spend a little bit more, come downstairs and have a better seat, have a better experience. Those types of things that we can accomplish by understanding, “All right, we know this telephone is going up to the balcony because of the Beacon technology. Let’s see how we can bring them downstairs and make that offer.”
For us, it helps us move maybe unsold inventory, helps the fan get a better spot. And really, I think that’s probably the most powerful thing we can do from a revenue standpoint as a team but also just increasing the fan experience. Because at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to sit closer to the court, right? That’s ultimately what fans always want to have, is a closer view of the action. And so, if we can help facilitate that for fans who might be coming in on the first time and have the app downloaded on their phone, I think that’s a pretty powerful plan and I think most teams will be looking at that this year and the coming years as we go forward.
Sean: Yeah, I was talking to Kevin Cote at the Warriors and they actually did implement that in their stadium. That exact scenario you said at the top of the escalators on the top level, little ping on the phone that says, “Would you like to upgrade?” And it’s really important that those kind of. . .it’s not intrusive, it’s like adding value to the fan. It’s not just, “Hey, welcome.” Or it’s not just, “Buy our stuff.” or “Here’s a sponsor message.” It’s really valuable to the fan and increases that fan experience, gets them to come back to multiple games.
Pete Stringer: No question. I think when you think about how you’re going to address the fan. . .you have to respect the fact that yes, this phone is in their hand constantly. They do have an intimate relationship with it, like I said. But at the same time, you have to respect the fact that you can’t just spam them with messages and marketing and content every single time they look at their phone when they come in the building. So you want to be adding value and I think that’s really something that we think about. With regard to any content that we generate or any type of digital initiative where we’re going to take that opportunity to reach out to our fans, we want to be bringing them value every single time we do that.
Sean: Well, the other reason I want to talk you, not only in your role in the Boston Celtics, but recently, you’ve started your own podcast Media Masters. And you can find it at mediamasterspodcast.com on iTunes and SoundCloud. How have you found jumping into the world of podcasting?
Peter Stringer: It’s been an interesting ride. It’s been something for me, I always make a point of trying to keep in touch with people who are thought leaders in the business and the industry. Not just in sports, but just an industry in general. And so, much of the thrust of that has been, “Hey, this is a good excuse to get back in touch with people who I talk to here and there.” Whether I text or e-mail with them and talk about issues that are facing people in digital and media.
But also, kind of talk about their career path and kind of how they got to where they are and what are the lessons they’ve learned along the way. And what I found is that everyone’s story is different and I’m fascinated to find out, everything from talking to Bonnie Bernstein who is one of the most famous sportscasters in the country. Probably ten years ago, was at the height of her powers and now, she’s taken her career in a different direction, launching into a Digital Network Campus Insider. Having that conversation with her and talking about what she learned from her early career and how she applies that now to a completely new digital business has been fascinating.
Talking to somebody like Dan Harbison who spent nine, 10 years with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, is in the casino marketing industry at Caesars. Everything from that, from talking to a friend of mine Brad Rutter, who’s the greatest Jeopardy! Player of all time, and talking to him about winning the million dollar term at Battle of the Decades. And talking about how he approaches Jeopardy. It’s funny. When you think about. . .you have these conversations with people. It may not necessarily be a direct parallel to your own business but when you hear of their journey and kind of what their approach is and how they’ve solved problems, there’s a lot to be learned from speaking with people who are kind of leaders in their field. And so, really, that’s been the idea with the name Media Masters. The idea is that these are people who are masters of the medium that they’re in.
And I’ve had a blast just having the conversations. I don’t think it’s anything. I don’t envision myself becoming a full-time podcaster by any stretch. It’s just really more of a hobby than anything. Although, I’ve learned it’s a very time-heavy hobby in terms of the amount of time it takes to go through and edit the podcasts down and put them together and make them suitable for download. But I’m having a lot of fun with it and it’s been good. And I think for me now, it’s kind of just figuring out who to bring on the show next. I think I’ve done about 16, 17 episodes over the last four or five months, and we’ll see where it goes from here.
Sean: Yeah, exactly. I’m the same. The fact is, just talking to different people, you find out their different background. Especially in this space and again, I’ve got a daughter that’s now in college. And five years ago, a lot of the people that we’re talking to and a lot of people in the industry that might be listening, these jobs did not even exist. So it’s really, you can’t go to a college and say, “I want to be trained for this role.” because they didn’t exist. You’ve got people like you and I that come from a techie background and we were able to dive into the HTML and the coding and that kind of thing, to having guys that come from a journalistic content-type of background. You have video people coming in. And everyone is sort of evolved in the industry to find their space on what they’re doing. And that’s the thing. There are so many different roads that can lead to this area. So it does provide fascinating listening and just discussion to find out how people are going.
And also, the applicable of what is happening in other industries as well as sports. I’ve met with Dan Harbison and had him on the show as well. Everything that he learned and did at the Trail Blazers is being applied in a completely different manner. In a new industry in Vegas, in the hotel, and entertainment industry. But it’s fascinating to hear what’s working in that space. And then, how you can flip it back and use it at the Celtics or use it with your sports team.
Peter Stringer: Oh, yeah, no question. I’m thinking about some of the people I’ve had on like, Just Jolio, from Dunkin’ Donuts. And obviously doughnuts are very different than sports but there are a lot of parallels in terms of the way that they market to their fans.
I spoke with Chris Nowinski who is a former WWE wrestler, Harvard football player. And basically, he has become a one-man crusade to fight the concussion crisis in pro sports. It’s fascinating to hear him tell the story of how it went from him being a wrestler who was basically retired because of this problem to then starting up this entire foundation and seeking out experts in the field to gain as much information. It was just a fascinating story about how it was so personal for him, it’s become this entire crusade. And the amount of work he’s put into it, and he’s changing lives. It’s really fascinating to talk to people like that. And then, just random stories. Somebody like Lindsay McCormick who’s a sportscaster here and spent the year last season on the Sunday Night Football bus going all over the country living on a bus as kind of a social media correspondent for the games.
In talking to all of these people, you hear their unique stories. It’s inspiring in one way, but also just. . .there’s a lot to be learned from people who have kind of figured out a way to emerge in their field. And a lot of unique tactics that maybe aren’t necessarily something the average person would think about. But I think if there’s any thread that kind of ties all the people I’ve brought onto the show is that they’re all kind of highly-motivated people, but they’re also, in many cases, people who have thought outside the box or saw an opportunity and jumped on it. That’s what I find inspiring and that’s what I love uncovering on those podcasts.
Sean: Your last podcast with Caity Kauffman from the Tampa Bay Lightning, I liked her discussion. And then, when you tapped in on talking about Facebook ads, she just. . .
Peter Stringer: Oh, yeah, she’s got that stuff locked down. Caity is a rising star and I’m curious to see where she’ll end up next in her career because she’s super bright. I learned a lot from just having that quick conversation about Facebook ads. Something that we the Celtics are starting to dive into. And so, that was just as much educational for me, having that conversation and then following up with her off the air and getting some more information and picking her brain. Again, the thing from our standpoint, I’ve got a lot more experience in the industry but I don’t have the specialized experience that she has in that particular field.
And so, to be able to pick her brain and learn from that and hopefully help a lot of other people listen to that podcast and learn just a touch about what that is all about and to be able to pick up some of that knowledge from her. . .that’s fantastic and it’s great for her. Again, talking about a rising star, she’ll be. . .I can’t wait to see what she ends up doing because she’s going to be somewhere, and she’s a player in the industry, for sure.
Sean: Yeah. I listened to that one. And I was loving it because I’m all in on all the analysis you can do around your Facebook insights. But then, the things that you can do with an ad to both sell tickets, promote your sponsored content. And the fact that she’s got just in her role, it’s not just the Lightning. She’s also working with the venue. She is in that spot where one week, she’s selling tickets to Rod Stewart and then the next week, she’s trying to sell people to go to the Lightning or to those kind of things. The laser focus that you can get with the Facebook ad stuff. It’s creepy, as a user but as a marketer, it’s really awesome as far as what Mr. Zuckerberg allows us to do and allows us to target. There are some really cool options in that space.
Peter Stringer: Yeah, no question. Again, the opportunities to learn from people who have similar jobs. But in her case, it’s very different, as I mentioned, with the arena. I believe they have an Arena Football team as well tied to the business. You can talk to Jeramie McPeek over at the Suns. He’s been with the Suns for 20 years and it started out working in the pro shop, him telling me that story was just hilarious to hear how he got involved with the Suns.
And there seems to be no shortage of anecdotes, or Alex Restrepo who’s over at the New Orleans Saints. And we did a whole podcast basically talking about why they use Snapchat. And I’ve got to be honest with you, I wasn’t much of a believer in Snapchat heading into it, but I had to kind of reconsider my thoughts on it after having that conversation with him. And so, again, I’ve learned something from every interview I’ve done in that space and that’s my goal is to continue to do that. And apply those techniques and tactics to what I do here at the Celtics.
Sean: So the season ahead, you’re in planning mode. There is no offseason in digital. There’s always something. . .
Peter Stringer: There really isn’t.
Sean: You’ve got to keep the interlink gods happy and keep content coming out. What are some of the plans that you can talk about for the season ahead? What are you looking to do from a Celtics digital point of view?
Peter Stringer: I think the biggest thing, again, for us, from a content generation standpoint. Like I said, I’ve got a team of five people who are all full-time, dedicated at creating content. I’m in the process of adding a few more people to my team and we’re going to continue to crank out more content than we ever have before.
I think two years ago, we did about 15 hours of video content. I believe last year, we did over 50 hours of original video content on all our digital properties and platforms. We’re going to continue to do that. So I expect to have even more content this year. And so, really, there’s no specific platform or specific social media outlet or anything that we’re really focusing on. I would say it’s going to be just more content about the team going forward than we’ve ever done before.
We want to bring Celtics fans closer to the guys who play on that team. At the end of the day, you want people to care about the people on your team and build that relationship. And so, the more we can let them inside the lives of these guy. . .who are these guys on and off the court and grow that attachment to them. I think the more they’re going to be willing to want to spend the money to come to the arena and experience the games live. So that’s a big part of it. And for my group, our function in terms of developing content around these players, whether it’s covering practice, whether it’s covering games or behind the scenes features and talking about their lifestyles and what they like, what they don’t like, all those types of things. That’s really where my group is focused on in terms of bringing Celtics fans closer to the team.
Sean: Exactly. In the end, we’re seeing a real big shift from teams being tagged as digital. But really, they’re more content and editors and seeing them as, to take your term Media Masters, but to tell the story. And that’s your job to tell the story. You’ve got a great story there with the history of the Celtics and all the championships and that kind of thing. But now, you’ve also got to tell the story of the team. Help the fans fall in love with all the players on the team. Know everyone from the star down to the 12th man. Because the fan that is all in wants those stories. I guess one thing I wanted to. . .you’re sort of pushing your chips in on video, which everyone is doing. And when you’re seeing startups like 120Sports come out and more and more people are consuming these two-minute videos, do you think there’s any stopping that or is video just going to keep going? The appetite for video is still there, it hasn’t been satisfied?
Peter Stringer: No, I think the appetite for video is not going away. At the end of the day, I think video is just such a more powerful medium than the written word can be for a number of different reasons. Obviously, the time it takes to consume it is generated less. I can watch a 30 second video in 30 seconds and learn a lot. You can tell a story there quickly that maybe you can’t do in 800 words, 1200 words or whatever it might be. There’s really no substitute for visual. And I think if you look around the popularity of social media platforms. Why is Instagram so popular? Because it’s a visual communication medium. At the end of the day especially in sports which is already highly visual, the ability to communicate in a visual manner. You’re seeing why Facebook is favoring photos and videos. Those are getting much more distribution in the EdgeRank news feed. That’s not going to stop.
And so, I think for us, that’s where we need to be in terms of telling our story visually. As you’re seeing, even new iPhones are coming out tomorrow with bigger screens. And why are they coming out with bigger screens? Because people are staring at it and they’re spending more and more time on the phone. And so, if you’re going to be looking at it, it’s got to be in a comfortable experience. So I think bigger phones are going to lead to more times spent viewing video.
Sean: And the thing is, I think hopefully, leagues get out of the way of themselves. We’ve seen recently, both at the World Cup, recently at the recent Premier League deal and things like that and even the Ryder Cup where they’ve tried to stop fans sharing clips and taking clips at games and stopping them sharing video. I think it’s something you can’t stop and leagues just need to realize that it is going to happen but it does help fans want to come back to your sites. Just because you quickly see someone who’s Vine’d a dunk on Vine or Instagrammed a video straight off their TV, it’s only going to deepen that relationship. Eventually, they’re going to come back to the properties because it’s going to be too hard to manage. And the leagues just pretty much have to throw their hands up and let it go, don’t you think?
Peter Stringer: Yeah. It’s one of those things where, obviously, from our standpoint, if people are going to watch highlights, we’d rather they watch our highlights than maybe some bootlegged highlights or something along those lines. But at the end of the day– and I can’t speak for the NBA or leagues, in general. I think that’s up to them to describe their philosophy on it. But I think you have to realize that you’re in a world now where you’ve got an HD video production studio in your hand now. And what you can accomplish in terms of capturing, it’s funny. I remember going to a U2 concert back in 2001 and taking a video camera there and they didn’t want you shooting video with your video camera. And I remember somebody from the tour coming over to me and saying, “Hey, you can’t use that video camera in here.” It’s just a little handheld palm camera and I captured some footage from the show.
Here we are in 2014 and your phone can do that. And what are they going to tell everybody, put their phones away? That they can’t shoot footage of the concert? Obviously, from a policing standpoint, it’s pretty much impossible to stop it from where it was. But the reality is, yeah, the video that you can capture, the content that you can capture with your phone is so much drastically different, even in the last three or four years now, that there’s not really anything that leagues can do about it.
It’s funny. A lot of arenas won’t let you bring in a professional lens for a camera. Ostensibly because they didn’t want you capturing photos that were high enough quality that you could resell or somehow monetize. Again, no-one is really bringing an SLR into the game as a fan, but they’re certainly bringing their cameras in and taking video and snapshots and whatnot. And some of them, obviously, the quality are not going to be great.
Again, I don’t know that you can police that really well. But at the end of the day– if fans are seeing the Celtics in their stream, whether it’s from photos that I’ve taken or our team photographer’s taken or just a fan that’s at the building– at the end of the day, I think it’s a good thing that fans are seeing our product in their timeline, in their stream. Because it’s reminding them, “Hey, that’s a Celtics game. That’s a place I want to be.” But again, policies differ from league to league and I can’t speak with much authority on that. That’s up to the leagues to speak about but I think just, in general, it’s good for fans to see our product in their timeline, in their streams on their phone, so the Celtics are on their brain.
Sean: That’s why Instagram has blown up so big, because people want to take a photo when they’re at a game. They want to brag to their friends and they can take that shot. And it’s only good for your brand because it enhances the live experience. It’s like you have to be there. You can’t take that shot from your lounge room. You can’t take that shot from a bar. If you’re at the game and you see that historic shot or the crowd going off, you want that shared. Although, I do agree with the guys at Manchester United, more on the point of rules against stupidity, where they’ve banned iPads because too many people were holding them up and recording whole games and blocking the view. They look quite silly when people holding up iPads to take shots and videos. But that was primarily because they were blocking people’s views. I think common sense will prevail in that kind of stuff because you can’t police that.
Thank you very much for coming on the podcast. People can find you. . .Where’s the best place for people to find you?
Peter Stringer: Probably on Twitter. Just @peterstringer is the easiest place. And you mentioned the Media Masters podcast on Twitter. That’s @MediaMastersPod or mediamasterspodcast.com. You can certainly find it in the iTunes store. Go ahead and subscribe. Like it, provide a review and hopefully, Sean, we’re going to have to have you on the podcast as well. You’ve got a wealth of experience in this space and I’m sure I can pick your brain on a million different things. So we’ll have to get a time for you to call me back and we’ll have you on there as well.
Sean: Definitely. Go to mediamasterspodcast.com. SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, all the good podcast outlets. And be a good podcast listener. Leave a review on iTunes, both for Pete and if you want to give one to me, that’d be great as well.
Thank you very much for coming on the podcast. And I’m more than happy to catch up another time for another chat.
Peter Stringer: All right, let’s do it. We’ll get it on the books. Thanks, Sean.
Sean: Cheers, mate.
D.J. Joel: Sign up for sports geek news at sportsgeekhq.com/signupnow.
Sean: Thanks again to Pete Stringer there from the Boston Celtics and from Media Masters Podcast. mediamasters.com is where you can find it. And as I said there, in the end of the interview, available in all good podcasting outlets. And some really good discussions with both people in the sports digital industry and also, those, I would say, adjacent to in the media space. They’re always good to listen and learn from other industries.
What are your thoughts on what we discussed there? especially on the Facebook video. We discussed some stuff around what Facebook had just released. In fact, they’ve serving up a billion videos in some of the stats that they’re released. That was only launched only a couple of hours before Pete and I had the chat.
Definitely something you want to be keeping an eye on the trends. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, I’ve been banging on a bit about it. And it’s also part of the Seat eBook where I talk about the Socceroos reaching 7.2 million people with their videos around the World Cup. I had to catch up with some of the guys at Facebook last week and pretty much confirmed everything that I’ve been seeing and saying around the video. They are making a big play into that space and really looking to take a little bit off the market share off YouTube. So as Pete said, they eventually will run ads. So while they’re making this change, make the most of it, get that engagement up and get some videos out. All the NFL teams have been doing a lot in that space as the season has kicked off. So I expect more to do that and I expect more to do it in the AFL, and NRL final season.
Especially those are the ones that we are working with. On ABC Grandstand this week, I caught up with Andrew who is filling in for Francis. And we discussed the celeb hacking scandal that sort of took over the Internet. And really looked at it from a point of view of what does it mean for athletes and sports teams as far as security?
Francis: So I talk security issues today with both Twitter and Facebook and all forms of social media. Something ,which is pertinent both to celebrities, but also to everyday Australians who are obviously using these technologies more and more. Talk to us about some of the issues that run along with that?
Sean: Yeah. I guess part of what triggered this discussion is the iCloud hack that happened with celebrities during the week where the iCloud was backed up and it was really good to see the Daily Mail clear it up for everybody. They put it in the newspaper to see the Cloud. Not an actual cloud, just to make sure for everyone. But it’s actually,what it is, what the technology is that the iPhone, when you sign up, it will automatically back up your photos and everything that you’re doing, which is great. If you’re taking photos of your baby and precious moments of your kid’s concert or you’re at the footy and you take a shot and you want it backed up, because you lose your phone, you drop it or whatever, great idea. But the thing is, if you don’t want that to happen, it’s also doing it as well. So that was one of the main issues. That all of these celebrities had iCloud turned on and it was saving all of their things that they were doing. And if they’re not doing things that they didn’t want shared, that was the issue.
Apple has come out and said iCloud wasn’t hacked, their specific accounts were hacked. I guess the lesson for anyone is don’t have really bad passwords. Normally, the first thing I do when I’m talking to anyone, whether it’s an athlete, a club, a brand is, have super-strong passwords and a super-strong password isn’t on a Post-It note next to your monitor. It doesn’t include your dog or your birthday, so there’s all those things. There are tools that can help generate those type passwords for you.
Francis: Tell us the criteria. If someone was making a password for the first time for social media, what would you recommend it?
Sean: This is not a password for social media. This is a password for your router, for your bank, anything. It should be 20 characters, impossible to read, hard to type out. You have to write it down to figure it out and type it in and it’s got to be hard. If it has any connotation of names and birthdays and dogs, that’s where pretty much, again, all reports, the hackers that went after these accounts did it by pure brute force. So they pretty much just tried everything and pretty much ran an algorithm over it to say, “We’re going to try this and this and this.” and eventually, they cracked it. Whereas if it’s 20 characters long, has uppercase, has lowercase, has symbols, not recognizable, the chances diminish quite quickly.
The other thing you can do with a lot of services is to factor authentication. So that is when you both have a password, but your phone will get a message or an SMS with a code. So the person who is logged in has your phone. Again, if they have those kind facilities on your account, then if someone is trying to hack it with brute force, you will get a notification. And that will stop it right there and then because you’re the one with your phone.
It’s always something that when I’m doing training with athletes, is I’m saying, “Well, you’ve got to secure your presence online. You’ve got to realize what you’re doing, where it ends up.” So whether it’s in something like the iCloud or whether it’s using an app that you think, “Oh, this is private. No one will see this. This is direct messages on Twitter.” or “I’m using WhatsApp and just the group, it’s just the players using it.” That might be fine and you might think it’s okay, but then I’ll ask them and I’ve done this a couple of times to groups of professional athletes. I say, “What if someone loses their phone?” forgetting all the hacking in the world. If player x leaves his phone in the cafe, he doesn’t have a lock on it, and someone can open that phone, open the app, they will see the entire conversation on the whole team. They will see all the photos shared with WhatsApp. So that’s one of the major concerns and you should see the blood rush from their face when you put that to a bunch of Australians. They’re like, “We’re okay.” and then I say, “And what if your girlfriend gets that?”
They just have that normal locker room banter and they think it’s fine. But again, or what if a journalist gets it? Automatically, they sort of see the consequences. So there’s those kind of things, securities on multiple levels. So there’s security that you can do from a password point of view. There’s understanding the services where your presence hit. And it’s not just Apple and iCloud and iPhones. Google, for instance, keeps track of everywhere you’ve been. And you can go in and say, “Hey, Google.” and you can do it personally. It keeps it all inside your own account. But anything in that mean can be hacked and found out. You can go into your Google account if you’ve got it tracking and telling you where you are. And it will actually plot where you’ve walked, driven, been everywhere like on a map. So again, that’s another issue potentially for you.
So you can close down a lot of these services to say, “Don’t track me, don’t send it to the Cloud,” all of that kind of stuff. But it’s all about finding out and using the right apps in that sense.
Francis: How do you find the right app?
Sean: So probably a good example is things like WhatsApp, It’s a messaging app that people think, “It’s cool. It’s private” and stuff like that. But WhatsApp has been bought by Facebook. And we sort of know the, I don’t want to plot them but they’re very loose with what they consider is privacy. That’s probably a good way of putting it. They change their privacy rules a lot.
But then, you’ve also got the concern of anytime you send someone something in WhatsApp, they’ve got it. So you don’t decide that, “I don’t want that out there anymore.” they’ve already got it. So if I send you a message in WhatsApp, you can save it. You can save it to your phone. You can say, “Hey, look what I got from Sean.” So that’s a concern, too. Your privacy is only as good as your friends. Or only as good as the person you’re sending it to.
So Snapchat is another one where people can send photos and they’re meant to auto-destruct, Mission Impossible style. You’re saying that this is going to destruct as soon as you move your thumb. It doesn’t. One, it ends up in the memory of the phone. It’s still on Snapchat servers. And there are apps that are called Snap Save, Snap, and people can save the Snaps. So you send a Snap and we’re seeing videos and that kind of thing from athletes get saved, sent to mates. Goes viral via e-mail and things like that and it ends up in the press.
So again, you’re in this space of you’re thinking it’s okay, you’re thinking I’m doing the right thing of sending something backwards and forwards. It might be risqué or it might be off-color or whatever. But it can be saved. And Mark Cuban, who is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a tech guy has built an app called Cyber Dust that’s trying to fix that problem. And so, what Cyber Dust is, it’s exactly the same. It’s a messaging app but it is truly super secure. So you send something. One, you can’t screen shot it or anything but then, it just disappears. So it has that security of, “I know I’m sending you something.” but as soon as you’ve read it, it’s gone. And too bad, so sad, you can’t keep it.
So I think there will be more and more, that secure messaging space where there is no digital footprint. And that’s pretty much his pitch because he was holed. . .the S.E.C. was chasing him over allegations of trading and things like that. And they were using his digital footprint of tweets and texts that he’d sent and taking them out of context and trying to build a case.
And so, that was his impetus to do it. But from an athlete point of view, if you’re just trying to text someone or have a normal conversation with someone you think is your friend or is your current partner. At some point, they might not be. And that always becomes an issue later. That I’ve sent that message or I’ve sent that photo or whatever it is. They’ve got it, they own it, when really, and it’s yours.
D.J. Joel: Want to understand Facebook advertising options? Go to sportsgeekhq.com/fbads.
Sean: Yes, love to hear from you if you’re looking to sell more tickets, more membership, more merchandise. Get your sponsor promotions out there, we’re doing a lot with our clients around Facebook advertising, helping them understand the space. Understand the costs of the space. But also, understand the opportunities, as I said with Pete.
As a marketer, it’s scary good. The laser type of focus you can do. Targeting people to visit your website, consume your content on your e-mail lists, opening your e-mails, engaging with your content. There are so many different things that you can do in quite a cost-effective way. You don’t have to spend thousands. If I can give one piece of advice, please do not use Boostpost. That is effectively just donating money to Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a waste of money. So that’s my public service announcement for this week. Don’t use Boostpost. It’s all about the power editor.
A couple of things to wrap up. On our discussion with security and understanding that as I’ve said before, secure passwords are a must. I am now on Cyber Dust, if you want to add me and send me a message, Sean Callanan. It’s exactly the same as my Twitter handle. I will be more than happy to connect and have a discussion there because you cannot take a screenshot and use it elsewhere. And that’s the idea behind it.
So I think it actually might be a platform that athletes might start using. But again, it’s not going to have that viral nature, but it might be a good way to communicate with fans. It’d be interesting to see what’s your space with the teams, jump on board. It’d be interesting to see what the Mavericks do with Cyber Dust.
This week’s social media post of the week goes to NASCAR, using Facebook video to promote their new Sprint Cup series. Here’s a snippet.
Sean: You can watch that full video on NASCAR’s Facebook page facebook.com/NASCAR. I did share it on the Sports Geek page. As I said, great way for you to reach your fans by using video and as you can see throughout your feed, plenty of teams doing it. So if you’ve got something to launch and you want to get your fans fired up, especially with an educational piece like what NASCAR are trying to do, they’re launching a completely new concept, great way of doing it with Facebook video.
Okay, that clock is telling me to wind this episode up. This is episode 59. You can find the show notes and links to things we discussed on the show like Pete Stringer’s podcast at sportsgeekhq.com/59. As well, you can find it on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. Your reviews, retweets are very much appreciated.
This week’s sound of the game comes from the Australian Ice Hockey League Grand Final. This is the final minute where the Mustangs got up, beating their crosstown rivals, the Melbourne Ice.
Sean: Thanks to Robert Bannerman, the Commissioner of the Australian Ice Hockey League for inviting me along to the grand final. A packed Medibank Icehouse saw the Mustangs win their first championship 6-1. It was a rout in the end, but fun was had by all.
That’s it from me for this week. If you haven’t got the SEAT eBook and you haven’t signed up, you can do so at sportsgeekhq.com/seatebook. If you’re on the list and you haven’t got it, please just send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, happy to pass it on.
Also another initiative, I’ve started my own Facebook page which will be very similar to my Twitter account in sharing some of the content. A bit more long form, more than 140 characters. If you feel like liking that, you can. Just simply go to facebook.com/seancallananspeaks.
Until next week, my name is Sean Callanan, from Sports Geek. Cheers.
D.J. Joel: Check out which teams work at Sports Geek at sportsgeekhq.com/clients. Find all Sports Geek podcasts and sportsgeekhq.com/sgp. Please a review on iTunes. Go to sportsgeekhq.com/itunes. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.