Digital is the face paint of a sports fan generation

My presentation at SEAT in Miami was supposed to be a showcase of sports digital case studies around the world as I meet with, work with and talk to sports business executives through my consulting work and podcast interviews.  As I pulled together the campaigns it become obvious that the sports fan is changing and digital is the driver.

Fans no longer need to paint their faces to show their support for their sports team.

Digital allows them to support them on whatever platform and manner that suits them all from the comfort of their home, mobile or for some at your stadium.

Each fan uses digital to fit their personality and how they use each platform.

Digital is the face paint of a sports fan generation

Here is my presentation from SEAT

This presentation was given at SEAT Conference in Miami on July 22nd.

Full eBook available to SEAT 2014 (#SEAT2014) attendees and subscribers to @SportsGeek News for a limited time.

Presentation given by Sean Callanan, eBook includes stats and quotes from campaigns explained in this presentation.

Teams include Tampa Bay Lightning, Portland Trail Blazers, AFL, UEFA, Adelaide Crows, NASCAR, Arsenal, Melbourne Storm, Golden State Warriors, NBA, St Louis Rams, Football Federation Australia, US Soccer, Detroit Red Wings, University of Miami, Mountain West, LA Kings, Houston Rockets, Hawthorn Hawks and Super Awesome Micro Project.

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Over 70 pages of case studies and examples for your next digital campaign.

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SEAT2014 Thanks to these people who helped with case studies and quotes for eBook

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SCG goes big on fan engagement – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 29th April 2014

Sean Arsenal
What @SportsGeek reads 

SCG signs $10M deal for app to win fans

Jamaica soccer team’s World Cup dreams needs huge crowdfunding save

Two NFL teams post their 2014 schedules on Snapchat

The rise of Smart TV, brings new innovations for MLB fans

Did ESPN suspend Darren Rovell from using Twitter?

Nielsen Twitter TV ratings coming to Australia

Buffalo Bill’s will pay up to $3M to settle text messaging law suit

Q1 Referral Traffic: Facebook’s referral traffic grew over 37%

Top 10 Animal encounters in the PGA

SGN Guest Editor…. 
Dan Pinne is the Digital Media Manager at Melbourne Storm (@storm) and has a strong passion for digital initiatives in the sporting industry. He’s always on the lookout for the next digital initiative in sport and business.   Listen to Dan on Sports Geek Podcast here
You can connect with Dan on twitter (@danpinne) or LinkedIn. He also has a passion for conservation for Orangutans in Borneo and will travel there in September to raise funds for WWF Australia. He is hosting an event this Thursday 1 May at Honey BarMore info and tickets here.

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SGP 041: Michael Briggs on Wallabies social media and digital initiatives

Michael Briggs Wallabies Online & Social Media ManagerOn this week’s podcast I chat with Michael Briggs from the Australian Rugby Union about how they engage Wallabies fans using social and digital.  On ABC Grandstand I chat with Francis Leach about current stadium fan engagement debate between Vivek Renadive and Mark Cuban.


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 ARU engaged fans using Rugby Rewards
  • The ARU partnership with Accenture delivered stats infographics in game to fans
  • Why it was important for Wallabies to engage casual fans
  • What effect 35,000 travelling British & Irish Lions fans have on social chatter
  • What off season content strategy the ARU will employ in 2014
  • Should fans use smartphones in stadiums?
  • Which NRL team hit 200K Facebook fans this week

Episode 41 dedicated to Dirk NowitskiResources from the episode

Social Media Post of the Week

Congrats to our client South Sydney Rabbitohs becoming the 4th NRL team to break through the 200,000 Facebook Like milestone, we remember when they were just 25,000 a few years ago.

Rabbitohs 20000 Facebook Likes

Closing 2 Cents

Wallablies Accenture Infographic - Closing 2 Cents

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 41 of the Sports Geek podcast. This week I catch up with Michael Briggs from the ARU to discuss all things Wallabies digital and talk about the British and Irish Lions tour. We’re also looking in and checking on the stadium fan engagement debate stirred up again by the Mav’s Mark Cuban.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast. The podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host on the podcast that he doesn’t drink while recording, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. Yes, sometimes it does take me a few takes to get going. Maybe I should have a beer to get things started like I do on Beers, Blokes, and Business podcast. But this is the Sports Geek podcast, so I try to stay sober. On this week’s episode, I had a chat to Michael Briggs from the Australian Rugby Union. I discuss things social and digital and how they engaged fans on the British and Irish Lions tour. Later on, I have a chat with Francis Leach on the current debate that’s been stirred up again. Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Renadive and Mark Cuban providing alternate and opposing views around engaging stadium fans and how much the smartphone should be involved. Also, later on, I answer some listener questions about how we put together Sports Geek news. And introduce a very special sounds of the game from the Melbourne Storm. Don’t forget, later in the show, I’ll have another one-day educational promo code. That’s going to be on March 31st. If you’re in Melbourne, I’d love to have you come along. But if you do know someone who needs a little bit of help understanding the social media space and how they could use it for their business, please send them along to, for that one-day educational. Let’s get cracking and into the discussion with Michael Briggs from the Australian Rugby Union. A very happy to welcome this guest on the podcast. He is the manager of online and social media at the Australian Rugby Union. Michael Briggs, welcome to the Sports Geek podcast.

Michael: Thanks very much Sean. Good to be here.

Sean: No worries. I wanted to try to touch base with you; I think it was late last year, after a really successful British and Irish Lions tour. And it was very tough to get ahold of you, because it was a very busy time and a very successful time for the ARU. First of all, do you want to take us through what your role encompasses, what you oversee, and what properties you’re overlooking?
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. My title is Manager of Online Social Media Marketing here at the ARU. First and foremost, the ARU being the governing body of the code here in Australia, and having several different off spins in the sense of, super rugby, grass roots rugby. All the competitions that fall from indigenous rugby perspective, right through to women’s rugby and sevens and so forth. My role is purely, from a top line perspective, devise a social strategy across each of those lines of business. And obviously, work with the various stakeholders, both internally as well as externally, at each of the state based unions, to help develop activations leveraging social to engage fans and provide attendance. Increasingly from a social perspective, looking to leverage the technologies we’re looking to implement to help profile these people and help build the game here in Australia.

Sean: How many are in your team in driving that digital content out of ARU?

Michael: It’s just the two of us at the moment. Myself and my colleague Matt Lewis. Outside of that, we’ve started, towards the end of last year, to develop a really rigorous instruction plan as to how we work with each of the state unions. Whilst internally here there’s only a team of two, I’m very comfortable in the knowledge across each of the state unions, there’s a growing emphasis in social. There’s certainly a growing team, when you look at it on a national basis. A lot of work to do, no doubt. I guess we’ve made a concerted effort to focus on some of the key things and some of the key areas that we feel drives positive conversation around the game at certain key periods. We’ve got quite a strict approach as to how we approach social and how we approach content marketing, depending on what year we fall in.

Sean: Yup. Obviously, your primary or your main property and the property that most people know you for would be the Wallabies. As I was saying before, the British and Irish Lions tour last year, what were some of the key successes and lessons you had out of the real big focus of most of Australia following that series last year?

Michael: It was an exciting period. Certainly since I’ve been here at the ARU since early 2012, the Lions has been one of those things on everyone’s lips. Hopefully it wasn’t too far after me starting that plans really started to come to fruition. Despite it being a year and a half away at that stage. It was certain something we were prepared with, I suppose, when you look at it on a domestic cover basis. We had 12 years to prepare for it. In hindsight, we made sure that the tactics we’re activating, not necessarily just from a social perspective, but from an in game and match day perspective, were really exciting. We not only involved our fan base, but made sure we were able to tap in to the huge amount of traveling supporters from the UK. I think there were upwards of 30,000 or 35,000 that travelled for the tour and made their way to most if not all of the tour and test matches. A hugely exciting period for us. Some of the lessons that we learned throughout that period have really shaped our thinking for 2014. Certainly, in terms of attendance being such a highly sought after. Attendance and retail wasn’t necessarily a primary focus for us. We knew that each of the games would be in high demand no matter if they were in Newcastle, Perth, Sydney, and no matter what team they played. People just really wanted to see the Lions in the flesh. That was really good for us. I think knowing that and having comfort in that, the attention then switched from us to how can we leverage the profile of this tour? How can we leverage the excitement that was growing? Certainly, at least a year out. To start to build some anticipation around it. I think one of the key learnings from us and one of the things I personally was really impressed with was how we were able to integrate a lot of the social content within multiple different platforms. Obviously, we had support in stadium during match day. We had the ability to feed a lot of that into Rugby HQ on Fox Sports.

Sean: When you say you’re feeding it into stadium, what specific examples of content were you pushing to that traditional media and in stadium to tell people about the social component you were trying to do?

Michael: With the size of the team that we do have, and the need for us to continually be constructing content to filter through the content hungry audience. We developed a program off the back of our social loyalty program, Rugby Rewards, which was called a social map. Essentially what that was, was a listening service and a data visualization map. We were able to cross examine and monitor some of the conversation that’s happening around the country. Both from the traveling contingent Lions supporters and the domestic Wallabies fan base. We were able to not only locate and isolate where it was happening, but able to help distinguish the sentiment within each of those conversations, and be able to cross reference that against a metric we developed which helped determine what we would determine as the most vocal fan or the most vocal city, the most vocal state. Beneath that, looking at what that was saying and what they were talking about. Being able to categorize and rank some of the conversation that was happening around what was most topical. Who is the player on everyone’s lips? Specifically, what are they talking about? Some of the trending themes that people were discussing. And what we did quickly. Right from the word go, in early May last year when we launched the program, we had a huge amount of conversation being automatically fed in. We were able to cut up each of those social stories and then filter that through to the relevant areas. For instance, match day. For the test in Sydney, we were able to cut up stories that were relevant to Sydney supporters. So, what people in Sydney were talking about. How Sydney fans ranked, in terms of their level of conversation comparative to other states and cities around the country. And drive that in game experience by acknowledging them and the impact they have. But also on the back of that rating audience around the platform itself and urging conversation and registration. That concept is cutting up social stories, distributing it to the relevant platforms, was something that was really surprising for us. We found we did the same thing for Rugby HQ on Fox. There were certain stories that were relevant to either that program or the ability for us to highlight and isolate conversation around the Lions tour, specific to that program. And vice versa, across all of our social channels, in each of the state unions as well. Obviously, having tour games against the Waratahs, Force, and vice versa. We were able to cut up specific social stories that were relevant to those communities and pass that on to help spread the word.

Sean: So it really was just a bit of listening to help frame the content you were going to push back to the fans, based on what they were already discussing. And serving them more of what they wanted.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. That was always the objective for us. That was always something we wanted to do. But, the trick was, the size of the team that we had. The scale and the magnitude of the tour itself, and obviously the ability for us to deal with all different stakeholders internally, including partners as well as all the other state unions. How to do that effectively. How to do that easily and simply. Ultimately, how to automate that to cut out some of the manual labor. We’re able to do that effectively. We’ve got some extremely good results.

Sean: You were talking about your Rugby Rewards, which is your social loyalty program. Did that help frame the conversation and drive those super avid fans to be pushing the message, to be more engaged, to be more behind the Wallabies, to beat Torelli. The Lions were a brute force, both on the field and online. For people who aren’t in Australia and are overseas, and don’t quite understand the Lions concept, you said before, it’s once every 12 years. The British Lions is like a super team. It’s 12 years since they were last in Australia. Is that right?

Michael: Yes.

Sean: So it’s every six years, the battle happens either home or away. It’s sort of Olympic like, in that it’s not something that’s happening every second or third year. It’s something that you do after playing for every six years. Rugby fans, both in British and Ireland and in Australia, wait for it. They’re just ready to go. Did that help train those fans to say, these Lions fans are loud. They’re vocal. They’re online. They’re tweeting. They’re breaking in our backyard. Did that help you rally the Wallaby fan base?

Michael: Absolutely. I think the Lions having four nations effectively, and four nations worth of fan, grouping together to support one team. Obviously we knew that challenge that was ahead of us. 12 years ago when they were last here in Sydney, I think arguably we didn’t understand the scale of that tour at the time. A lot of the imagery and content that we’ve captured from that past tour helped frame and helped group and rally some of those fans quite easily. A lot of the imagery, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, is very one sided. Looking out at a packed Allianz stadium and seeing 90% of the crowd dressed in red. It was quite an emotive and impactful image. It really was some of the sentiment from the previous tour that helped drive our strategy for last year. Even from a Rugby Rewards perspective, I think focusing on what we called the support of battle between the two nations, was the perfect vehicle in which to do that. We knew the Lions fans, being as vocal as they are, and being in such a huge number. As we mentioned before, 30,000 or 35,000 touring Australia at the time. We knew they’d be talking at scale. We knew that, essentially, there was an element of risk for us. The Wallabies fans, whilst vocal and passionate, it’s hard to compete with four nations who are all wearing red and talking quite emotionally about their team. There was an element of risk in that for us. A lot of the communication we developed early on, and when we scoped out the project in 2013, was focused around how can we build and recognize some of that support of battle, as it occurred 12 years ago. How can we leverage that, to make sure that when we flip the switch for Rugby Rewards and flip the switch for the social map, that people are going to recognize that, take up the challenge, and support the Wallabies. Essentially, Rugby Rewards as a concept is built on recognizing and acknowledging that fan support, and really allowing the fans themselves to spread that story and spread that message. Last year was absolutely no different. If anything, the message was a lot clearer for them last year and a lot of the Lions. So absolutely. I think they were able to acknowledge that take it on the chin and right from the word go, they did us proud.

Sean: One of the things I wanted to ask you about. I recently did a Google Hangout for the Hash Tag Sports Conference. One of the topics there was sports data and the growth of stats and the geekiness of stats. You did some stuff with your partner Accenture, delivering real-time info graphics around the Wallabies games. In trying to find a new way to visualize stats and give it in a consumable form. How did that go and how is that received from a fan point of view? We’re seeing a lot of teams these days trying to figure out a way to best represent that sports data to the fan.

Michael: Yeah. It certainly wasn’t a small project. I think we probably kicked off discussions around that in January and February of last year. It was really a five to six month process leading up to the Lions, to activate that initiative and to do it properly. Certainly, a huge amount of testing. Driven by Accenture and ourselves, it was something that we obviously knew there would be a huge amount of interest in the tour. Certainly from both a media perspective and a consumer or fan perspective, we knew that there was a lot of passionate fans out there that liked to read between the lines. They like to immerse themselves in numbers. I guess when you’re talking about what is ultimately, admittedly quite a technical game in parts, the issue for us and the challenge for us is how do we distill that information in a meaningful way. How do we replicate that and visualize that in a way that not only a hardcore rugby passionate can understand, but the sport enthusiast. Your A league fan, your AFL fan, your soccer fan might be able to understand as well. We worked with Accenture and their design team and their stats team to develop templates for what we determined are some of the critical pieces of information. These range from kick accuracy right through to things like a substitution analysis. Obviously, standard stats such as possession, the amount of kicks, penalties, all that sort of stuff. And the impact that they have. Replicating that in a way that made sense to people, so they could quickly look at it and understand. I think for us, the tactic was really split up into two core strains, one of which was real-time. So being able to update those templates and populate those templates in a way that we could distribute them in a matter of seconds or minutes after a key event had happened. From a media perspective, being able to provide something of value to some of our key print partners, so that they could integrate that within their post match summaries the following day. For us and me personally, the real-time information was where my focus was at. What it did, was it added a huge amount of weight to our live Twitter commentary. We had quite a set process in place as to how we covered these games, both from a domestic perspective and internationally during the TRC as well as spring tour. We’ve got quite a set in post process as to how we conduct live Twitter commentary and how we leverage some of the other platforms to assist in updating people on key stats and information. But what this did, was it really added weight and some relevance and some context to some of our live tweets. What we did, we looked at this and we were able to embed that and integrate that within our existing plans, which were to focus on some of the play by play statistics and commentary, ball by ball commentary. Some of the entertaining content and image based and video based content we would be distributing. This just added a third way which was around real-time statistical information that assisted people in understanding the game better. What we found was, looking at the existing amount of conversations and mentions around the Wallabies, based on the previous year, it was a 30% to 35% increase in what we saw in the amount of mentions we would typically get on game day.

Sean: Yeah. You were talking before about the different types of supporters, whether they be super passionate rugby knowledgeable fans. Because the Wallabies are a national team, in big events that are coming up, you are going to get the casual or bandwagon fan. You need to produce that content that they can understand and they can engage with, without saying I’m a rugby aficionado, or denying their love for the other code. You want to give them permission to say, I’m supporting the Wallabies because I’m an Australian and they’re our national team. That kind of content makes it easy for them to consume and easy for them to understand, to say okay, I’ve got something to talk to my mate at the pub with. That’s a kind of content that helps reach that kind of thing.

Michael: Absolutely. I think in those what we call high profile rugby years, those years where there is a key event in our calendar, be it a Lions tour or Rugby World Cup, a Rugby Sevens World Cup, and soon to be Olympics. These are all years that we need to make sure that we’re broadening that conversation, making rugby as accessible as possible. We’re leveraging some of that increasing chatter around the game to drive a broader audience to our channels. So this is one of a few tactics, rugby rewards being the other, that really sought to do that in a fun, engaging, and simple way, that had real-time relevance. And something that, as you say, they could latch onto and help them pass it on to their own social networks as a means of displaying their own patriotism.

Sean: The next questions is, what are the plans for 2014? How do you help keep those fans on the escalator that we see from a fan point of view? How do you keep progressing those fans to be deeper engagement with Australian rugby and the Wallabies, and with super rugby? One of the challenges when you’re looking after a national team that has its peaks and troughs. We’re active. We’re in camp. We’re playing games. We’re on TV. We’re in everyone’s psyche too. Now, it’s six months off, we’re not going to see the Wallabies for a while. What’s it like from your point of view, to keep that conversation going or keep that interest going, in that offseason period? When all the players go back to their clubs and things like that. How do you keep the interest in the national team? You don’t want to fall into the trap of, I’m just putting out content to keep my social graph up and going. And knowing these fans that are just new to go, I don’t want to be involved with that all the time. I’m quite happy with Netspace. What’s your take on that conundrum, when you are running a national team type account?

Michael: Yeah, it’s a unique challenge, isn’t it? We are quite distinct from some of the other codes here in Australia, in the sense that, typically in a calendar year, we would only get access to the Wallabies for what would be three or four months a year. The rest of the time, there are other super rugby teams, and have an offseason. The way that we’ve approached 2014 is vastly different to how we’ve approached previous years, in a sense that, what we’re taking is a one rugby approach. Our primary goal is to reengage our passionate fan base with the game. This isn’t just at a Wallaby level. It’s focused at grass roots, looking at the opportunities that present themselves within women’s rugby, and obviously our national sevens team. Our sevens team, mens and women’s now, being centralized out of Narrabri, which is quite an innovative approach. Effectively, we get access to those guys 11 months a year. There’s plenty of other opportunities and plenty of other topical and interesting conversation points and opportunities that we have to drive rugby and the interest in rugby outside the Wallabies. Obviously, recognizing that the Wallabies is our hero brand, to an extent. It’s what the bulk of rugby fans in Australia have a distinct knowledge of and interest in. From a Wallaby perspective, our goal here is, what can we do to help reshape some of the thinking around the Wallabies? Linking back to our objective of reengaging these passionates, who to a certain extent, experience these highs and lows with us, for the last two or three years or more. We want to make sure that we’re building story as early as possible in the years we can, to help link back to that objective of reengaging those people and reinstilling and reinforcing some of the pride and passion and heritage in the jersey. For us, it’s based around how we develop a content plan. This content plan can sit across video content, across imagery, across audio. How we leverage partners and some of the opportunities they have to activate these and tap into perspective. All of these here. How do we work with them, work with the team management internally, and work with the state unions to develop a plan that helps address our core offering this year. From a video perspective, largely, this is arguably one of the more important things we’re looking to activate this year. It’s to have a steady stream of video content that helps tell a variety of different stories. One of the things that is of real importance to us is how we profile some of the players within our squad. How we profile the Beau Ryan’s of our code, of which certainly there’s been some coverage of Nick Cummings from the Western Force. That’s just one example of some of the personalities and opportunities we have within that squad, of which there is growing and increasing appeal. From our perspective, when we look at video content, largely our plan falls in a few different buckets. One of which would be how we leverage some of the really rich archival content that we have on tap. This obviously is spanning back to the ’60s and ’70s. Some of the heyday of nonprofessional and professional rugby. How can we utilize some of that content? Some of the classic Wallabies that we have direct access to internally, to help tell the story of the Wallabies of yesteryear. Some of the pride and passion that they feel. Some of the interesting stories. And ultimately, some of the optimism they have for the future. We saw towards the end of last year, obviously with the spring tour performance, there was a shift in mindset. There was a shift in culture within the team. That’s one thing that we’re really trying to leverage and emphasize this year. 2014 is a new year. We’ve seen some positive performance toward the end of last year. What we want to do is reemphasize the fact that 2014 will be vastly different in how the players approach the game. Obviously, vastly different approaches to how we market them. The historical rivalry content, that’s an area we want to focus on and emphasize. We’ve got a whole range of different ideas that we’ve taken to team management in order to get their feedback on that. Outside of that, there’s an element of us entertaining fans for entertainment’s sake. I think making sure we’ve got an interesting and consistent and frequent artillery of content to distribute to them. It gets them engaged. It gets them interested. It gets people talking. It ultimately shows a different side to rugby. Our vision, especially with the social team and some of the content initiatives that we drive from Rugby Rewards through to real-time statistical analysis, through to video content. Even something as simple as Twitter amplify. All of these are tactics that are focused around bringing people closer to the game. Be it a cliché or not. But bringing people closer to the game. Making sure that we’re emphasizing there’s a real need for us to be innovative. There’s a real need for us to be open with our fans. There’s a real need for us to acknowledge what they’re saying. Ultimately, we want to communicate to them what we’re hearing from them. Some of the learnings that we’re leveraging. All of these are things that we’re using to help shape our approach for 2014, from the video content we create, through Rugby Rewards and our loyalty program, through super rugby and Twitter amplify. And making highlights content more accessible. In a nutshell, that’s our approach for 2014. The way that’ll be done will be vastly different, depending on what channel we use. Our core action now, our market and communication this year is focused around posing the question back to fans. In a sense, we have a direct line to our players. We know there’s obviously a huge amount of passion and pride they feel. I think in terms of our fan base, as we’ve said, they’ve experienced some of the highs and lows. I think for 2014, it’s based around how we can pose the question back to our fans. We’ve got quite a lengthy rugby calendar this year. Something that we’ve seen. Certain elements have been proven towards the end of 2013. We’re in for the long haul, and posing the question back to them. A lot of what we’re doing is focused around this tagline of, wherein are you? That are you component, is what will be retrofitted and reflected back to fans across a range of different tactics we launch in different ways.

Sean: So this year you’ve got a test series against France. You’ve got the Rugby Championship with some tests against New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa. Then you’ve got the Bledisloe Cup, obviously in August, being your key event around the Wallabies. I just want to finish up the interview. A lot of the things and questions I get when talking with teams and people running their digital teams and social, is what metrics should I be following? What are my key indicators that what I’m doing is working? Do you want to give some insight? You’ve got these matches coming up against France. Obviously, the Bledisloe Cup, All Blacks is always a high focus point. What are some of the metrics? You said video is going to be a big thing for this year. There’s a stack of teams that are diving into video and making sure it’s available for the mobile and they keep seeing the more video they produce for their fans, the more video they want. What are some of the key metrics for you in 2014 that you’re going to be keeping an eye on and trying to track and hit marks on?

Michael: That’s a good question. I think it’s one of those things that, no matter what digital executive you talk to, they’ve all got a different perspective. I think for us, based around our objectives, we tend to alternate, as I alluded to before, a range of different objectives, depending on what year we find ourselves in. This year, for instance, what we call our standard or typical rugby year. The emphasis in these years is very much how we can look to reengage fans. How we can look to develop content and tactics that get them talking. How we distribute that content to the right places at the right time.

Sean: So with that kind of stuff, if it is engagement, are we talking raw form of comments on Facebook posts and mentions? The usage of hash tags from a Twitter point of view? Or photos shared in Instagram? From a pure execution point of view, are those the kind of numbers that you’re keeping an eye on to say, we’re not in game mode. The Wallabies aren’t in camp. What’s our engagement on Facebook look like. Are we still getting chatter happening on Instagram. Is it that kind of stuff that, from a lower level point of view, when you’re talking to both your team and from an execution point of view. Are they the numbers that you’re diving at to say, way to go guys, we got a thousand photos on Instagram this month? Is that the kind of thing that you’re looking at when you’re talking about those kind of numbers?

Michael: Absolutely. Depending on what channel you find yourselves in, they all measure engagement in different ways. But absolutely, engagement on Facebook, views on Youtube, mentions across Twitter. More broadly, the vine of mentions as reflected throughout our radiant six social listening campaigns. These are all things we’re keeping constant tabs on. As you say, we’re outside of the Wallabies season at the moment. I think what we can do is base this on where we were last year, or potentially last year is not an accurate gage, the year before. Where we were last year, this exact point in time. How can we develop tactics that we’re seeing considerable growth in, based on a similar period in the past? And beyond that, how we can accurately as possible measure sentiment on top of that. Not only are we getting more people talking, but they’re talking more positively around the game. They’re talking more positively around certain individuals, aspects, and announcements that we’re making. There’s been a lot of important announcements we’ve made so far this year. The announcement of the NRC competition, for instance. That is an example. We’ve got strict processes of how to monitor and measure those announcements, and how to get a sense of what the fans are saying. Therefore, what the approach is from there on in. Both from a general consumer fan engagement perspective, the engagement metrics for this year are our primary focus. Beyond that, around announcements, that’s a separate killer fish. But how we’re monitoring clearly what people are saying and how we’re feeding that back internally into our business process and media approach.

Sean: It is a matter of almost a campaign approach in the different types of modes of the season you’re in. Whether you’re in this offseason mode or as you’re leading up to the France test or some of the tests around August and the Bledisloe Cup. It’s important also, I think, not just to look at that macro level, like how’s the whole season gone. But to also look at how did those info graphics go. If you’re not looking at that micro, that campaign and content piece thing, you’re not really understanding why that piece of content worked. You’re always at this 15,000 feet view of the world. You’re not seeing what happens. It is a mix of those two strategies, to figure out what is working.

Michael: You’re right. An overlaying some of that micro data, if you like, combining that with the aura around a particular period of the year, be it the Lions tour. There’s nothing to say, if we rolled out real-time info graphics this year, that they would work as well as they did last year. It might just potentially be where we were last year, the amount of appeal that particular tour had, that might have been successful. Going through a process where we’re tapping into fans and making sure some of the things that we’re planning, we’re not just basing it on past successes and rolling them out again. That we’re building it and making sure that it taps into a need that is relevant to the context we’re in this year and where the teams and our fans our at in that overall fan journey.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for coming on the podcast. I’ll link in the show notes some of the stuff that we discussed with some of the info graphics and some links to Rugby Rewards and some of the stuff you did in the Lions tour, as well as links to all the different properties that you’re in control of. So everyone can know, tell everyone what your Twitter hand is, so everyone can send you a tweet and tell you that they’ve been listening.

Michael: Perfect.

Sean: Your Twitter handle is?

Michael: Mick_83.

Sean: Mick_83. Again, that’ll be in the show notes and also a link to Michael in LinkedIn if you want to connect with him. Thanks very much for coming on the podcast. Next time I’m in Sydney, we’ll have to catch up for beer.

Michael: Thank you very much.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Michael Briggs from the Australian Rugby Union for joining me and talking about what the Wallabies do. I’m really interested to hear from the listeners, especially the ones that are running teams from that off-season question. Especially the national team. We are always working with teams like the Socceroos, who are similar to the Wallabies in that they have those peaks and troughs in engaging fans. What do you do in the offseason? How do you engage your fans when there isn’t content from the court or the field? What are some of the tactics you do in the offseason? I’d love to hear that. Just a quick question from a listener, Baz. I don’t know exactly how to say your name Baz, but you know who you are. They sent me a message, asking me how we put together the Sports Geek news. You can sign up for Sports Geek news, as that ad said previously, that promo. Just simply go to There’s no real big trick or tool used there Baz. We curate the list pretty much off my feed and off the social accounts for Sports Geek. So any article I read, I will push out via my Twitter account @SeanCallanan or the Sports Geek one, as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and the like. Meg puts together the newsletter, pretty much based on your clicks. If an article gets a lot of clicks and retweets and engagement, we know that’s an article that you as subscribers to the newsletter will want to hear. It is pretty much crowd sourced. It is by your clicks. If you do miss an article that I may tweet or put up on LinkedIn, more often than not you will find that article in the weekly Sports Geek news. Or if you don’t want to get it straight away in your inbox, or in the in case you missed it. Look on the website. Look at the in case you missed it, to see some of the articles that are in that post. It’s still hand built. We use some metrics to find out exactly which articles are popular. We put it into an iTunes template and it gets delivered to your inbox. Thanks Baz for that question. This week on Grandstand, one of the articles that actually was one of the top ones in a recent Sports Geek news was, Mark Cuban’s response on stadium marketing engaging fans inside the stadium. It was an update on a blog post he did around 2010. He probably did another one in 2011. He pretty much came back and reinforced his views that he doesn’t want fans using their smartphones. So here’s the discussion I had with Francis on ABC Grandstand.

Francis: Sean Callanan, digital sports guru, is with us. To tweet or not to tweet at the game. To take your phone or to leave it at home. An interesting debate going on at the moment, particularly in American sport, around the role of digital media in the in game experience. Morning Sean.

Sean: Good morning Frank. How are you doing?

Francis: I’ll be much better when I can actually hear you. How are you going now?

Sean: I’m still here. Yeah.

Francis: You’re there. Fascinating debate going on between some heavy hitters in American sport about the role of social media in the in game experience.

Sean: It’s been a long held debate. We’ve discussed the trials and tribulations of a sports fan not being able to connect and not being able to tweet or send out a post or text their mates while they’re at a game. It’s a worldwide problem they’re trying to solve. You get 30,000 or 40,000 people in one place, it does put strain on mobile networks. Recently, the NBA all-star game, they normally have some technology meetings when the all-star game happens. It happened in New Orleans recently. One of the new Sacramento Kings owners, Vivek Renadive, comes from a technology background, and has really pushed all his chips in. He’s said we want to be tech savvy, Sports Geek like is how I would call it, team in the NBA. We really want to give fans that connected experience. He’s saying the NBA and the Kings overall, need to lift their game to offer that connected fan every opportunity that they want. Some of the arguments and debate over the last couple of years has been, and we see it here in Australia, it’s better to watch the game in the comfort of my home with my high definition TV. With my second and third screens if I want. I can pull up stats and highlights and recaps and everything like that.

Francis: It’s a really attractive proposition. We’re talking more about this today on Grandstand breakfast with the NRL. They’ve had their best offseason ever. Their television ratings have been through the roof. But people are staying away from the games. Only 28,000 on Thursday and only 18,000 last night for the Broncos and the Bulldogs. Maybe people are making a choice of, I’d rather be at home with my iPad or phone tweeting about the game, talking to my mates, watching it in high def.

Sean: I think the NRL, it’s a historical problem more than a technology problem. The fans have been trained to watch it at home and have live coverage. They have live coverage sooner and quicker than the AFL. It’s not so much a tech issue, it’s just they’ve been trained to watch the game and not, you’ve got to be there. I really enjoyed Richard Hines piece on the telly saying, you can’t complain about the NRL if you’re not turning up. You’ve got to appeal to those fans that want the comfort. The other side of the debate, it’s been long standing on that side of the debate. When Vivek put out those points, a lot of the articles used Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavs. If you’re listening to Grandstand today via streaming device, you’ve got Mark Cuban to thank. He started internet radio effectively, by streaming it in his garage. And sold it to Yahoo. He did it at the top of the dot com boom, so now he owns the Mavericks. He understands the space and understands the tech. You would think he would be definitely in the, I want to be connected. I want every fan to be connected. But he’s really in the, I want every fan to be completely immersed in the fan experience.

Francis: He writes this article, which I’ve read, about going to a college basketball game. As the man that created the online experience in streaming, he doesn’t want his phone there. He just enjoys an old fashioned pep rally type basketball experience.

Sean: Yeah. If you’ve ever been to NCAA games, they’re all like that. I’ve been to NCAA basketball games, which Mark Cuban attended. It is 48 minutes, whatever the length of the period is, of just pure excitement. Fans jumping up and down.

Francis: It’s very ritualized, isn’t it?

Sean: Yeah. It is the youthful enthusiasm of college students. His point was, none of them were pulling out their phones. They were fully engaged with the game for the whole game. He’s trying to recreate that experience, because he wants people to walk away with the experience saying, I had a terrific time at the Mavs game. I think this is where the debate sort of becomes the digital religion wars, in effect. People are so adamant of, I’m on this side or I’m on this side. When really, as a strategy guy for a team, you’ve got to look at the different types of fans. For instance, I agree with a lot of what Mark Cuban is saying, because that’s the type of fan I am.

Francis: So even though you’re the Sports Geek, you won’t pull your phone out during a Collingwood game and start tweeting away. You wait until afterwards.

Sean: As Mark said, I’ll turn up. I’ll check in. I will take my photo beforehand. I have my digital ritual. But when I’m watching the game, I’m watching the game. I’m invested in that game. That’s where Mark falls. But the thing is, there are different segments of the customer market now, or the sports fan market, that do want to engage with that. It’s not just giving your phone to your son or daughter to distract them while you’re watching the footy or the sport at hand. Some fans, that’s how they communicate. They might be having their banter back and forth with someone. That’s what they do every single day.

Francis: And there are different sports that’ll lend themselves to that opportunity. Say, for instance, test cricket, which we love. And baseball will be the same, because of the gaps that give you an opportunity to be involved that way. The other aspect to it too, is there is a very particular self interest in sports organizations having you do that. Because you provide data to them that they can then, as they would like to use the phrase which I don’t think is a word in the English dictionary yet but it might be soon, monetize. So they know what you’re interested in. They know who your favorite player is. They know how often you come. This is the thing that Renadive talks about. He wants to know, do you buy Coke or do you buy Pepsi at the stand? Do you like popcorn? Do you like hotdogs? We want to know your profile, so we can pitch directly to you.

Sean: That’s the thing. The savvier the stadium, from a digital point of view, the better those offers can be. They can pop up and say, Francis, would you like to order that Pepsi and hotdog in your seat? If you just clicked a button, you can. That’s the opportunity. The other part of it is, the more capacity the stadium has and the more encouragement the fans do, as they’re sending out information and showing how great the experience is, they’re doing it in a live manner. They’ve become an advertising arm for the team. We’ve seen that in things like the SEG and the pink test. Because the fans had the capacity to get on, they were all sending out photos of the Victoria’s test and the Australian cricket team and saying how great it was to be at the game. That’s part of the problem with the NRL. To get people there, we need the fans there to say, it’s a really great experience. It’s a different experience to the home experience. It is a mix. But you definitely have to cater for these digital natives that are always connected, and want this extra experience. When the tarmac comes, they want to watch that replay of that Blake Griffin dunk or Boogie Cousins, if he’s at the Kings, you go, I want to see that play. Then I want to be able to send that out to my friends and say, I saw it live. Here it is. You won’t believe how it was live.

DJ Joel: Learn from Sports Geek at our Sports Geek ODE one-day educational. Go to

Sean: So, where do you sit on that, as I said, religious digital debate? Are you in the Vivek Renadive or the Mark Cuban camp? Or are you like me, and understand there are different segments of fans and you have to cater for them all. How often do you use your mobile phone or your smartphone when you’re at a game? Again, I’d love to hear your feedback. Either hit me up @SeanCallanan or @SportsGeek, and join in that debate. I want to quickly wrap up this episode. We’re hitting the 50 minute mark. If you’re running while you’re doing this, congratulations. I’m not quite yet up to running 50 minutes consecutive, with my achilles rehab, but I am getting there. As I said earlier, I’m hoping to play pickup in Miami in July for SEEK. BJ, I’m ready to take you on one on one hopefully. This week’s Sounds Of The Game. It’s going to be a shout out to another podcast. It’s good to see the Melbourne Storm launching their own podcast this year. Former guest Dan Pinne is hosting. The Storm are now doing a podcast. You can go to, to find it on iTunes. I’m going to use them for Sounds Of The Game where they interview Cameron Smith.

Dan: Last one. TV show you can’t live without? Go on. Admit it.

Cameron: Do I have to say this? I’ll put it this way. It’s not on any more. But I couldn’t go without watching . . .

Sean: No spoilers here on the Sports Geek podcast. You’ll have to tune in to the Melbourne Stormcast. Available now on iTunes. To listen to that chat with Australian skipper, Storm skipper, and Queensland skipper, he’s an inner religion, Cam Smith. You can follow him on Twitter @camsmith9. I would not have admitted that was my favorite show Cam. You’re a braver man than I. But tune into the podcast. Well done to Dan and Jono for kicking that off. For social media post of the week, it’s going to be another client shout out. Congratulations to the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Not only did they win the opening match of the NRL season, defending Premiers, the Sydney Roosters, on Thursday night in the NRL season opener. They also crashed through the 200,000 Facebook fan barrier in the meantime, which takes them to the fourth team in the NRL to reach that milestone. Congratulations to the guys, the Rabbitohs. I know they’ve worked very hard to get to that milestone. So congratulations to guys like Jess and Chris, who’s now in the role there at the Rabbitohs. That clock ticking tells me it’s time to wrap up this episode, get out, and let you get back to your business. This is episode 41. Since we had a discussion about Mark Cuban and I have shared my story about Dirk Nowitzki previously on the podcast, I was lucky enough to see Dirk score his 20,000th NBA point. I’m going to dedicate this episode, episode 41, to the one and only Dirk Diggler, Dirk Nowitzki. You can get the show notes at That’s it for this week’s episode. Don’t forget the Sports Geek one-day educational coming up in Melbourne. It’s for a wider audience than just sport. If you’re in sport, you’re more than welcome to come along. It will take you through all the things we teach all of our sports teams, but with a bit of a wider scope from a brand perspective. If you have someone who is running a business, running marketing for different types of businesses, and wants to understand how to use social media, obviously we’ll be covering the big three: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We’ll be looking into things like Facebook ads, content strategy, running competitions, pulling it all together. On top of that, I’ve got a couple good mates of mine, Steve Sammartino and Josh Rowe, who are from the Biggest Blokes in Business podcast. Really savvy digital guys, coming in to also share some of their insights as well. You can go to As it was for last week, this week’s primary code is Dirk. That will get you $50 off. More than happy for you to share that with your friends. Anybody in Melbourne that you think might want to go, please send them that link. Send them a tweet. Let them know who I am. I’m more than happy to answer any questions before then. Right. Closing two cents. I’m going to go back to our discussion that we had with Michael. Especially around this fan data and info graphics. Fans want stats, so work out creative ways to deliver them via your content platforms.

DJ Joel: I love what you’ve done with name, by the way. The one day educational. Monday the 31st, March 2014. is the place to go to find out a whole lot more about it. Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Listen to Beers, Blokes, and Business at Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

30 deleted sports tweets & farewell David Stern – ICYMI

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 29th January 2014

What @SportsGeek reads…

New Melbourne @Storm Auckland 9s jersey with new Twitter handle on the frontWhy sports is the ultimate winning play for engagementDavid Stern, a real league leader – great read on the commissioner who ends his 30 year run with the NBA this monthThink before you tweet: 30 deleted sports tweets you were never supposed to see

Great article on “Content that drives engagement”

Super Bowl survey: Almost 60 percent of viewers intend to use smartphone or tablet during the game

Content Marketing: Tell your story

Social Media Matters: Here’s a goal: Be more like Sporting KC

Do you have a “Woe is me” sales staff? – every team that has a losing record that is trying to sell tickets should read this

Facebook News Feed FYI: What happens when you see more updates from friends

Federer & Nadal – in fits of laughter on this commercial shoot

How iBeacons could change the world forever

10 Creative rituals you should steal

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

Listening via iTunes?

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

On SoundCloud?

Follow Sports Geek on Soundcloud, all episodes available.

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 013: Digital Case Studies explained from #SEAT2013

Sports Geek Podcast Presented by SEAT ConferenceBack from SEAT Conference in Kansas City, what a great conference.  This special Sports Geek Podcast episode is a full audio replay of my #SEAT2013 presentation with Philippe Dore from NASCAR.  You can follow along via on Slideshare below or download from Slideshare.

More SEAT related podcasts coming up soon, so stay tuned.


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

  • What makes up the digital campaign trifecta
  • Why you’ll want to visit Western Australia for next holiday
  • How Nike activated Kobe Bryant using Twitter BEFORE he joined Twitter
  • How Australian Open & Wimbledon developed infotainment for digital fans
  • How you can activate a stadium even when it is EMPTY
  • How NBA & NFL teams activate off-season events like Draft night

Follow the slides as you listen…

Sean Callanan and Philippe Dore present digital case studies at #SEAT2013Resources from the episode

Videos from presentation

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

Download Episode

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 13 of the Sports Geek podcast, presented by SEAT Conference. Today’s episode is a special replay of my presentation, “Digital Case Studies Explained,” from SEAT 2013 with Philippe Dore from NASCAR.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast. The podcast built for sports digital and sports digital professionals. Your host, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, and thank you for the prompts on Twitter and LinkedIn asking where the next Sports Geek episode is. Traveling on crutches and trying to record a podcast is pretty much tough work. That’s why there has been a little break.

If you’ve been following tweets, I was in Kansas City for SEAT 2013. This episode of the Sports Geek podcast is actually a recording of the presentation that I did with Philippe Dore, who’s the Senior Director of Digital Services at NASCAR.

We walked through a bunch of case studies around the world in this presentation. There’s a few spots in there where we show some video clips as well as the slides from the presentation. They’ll all be accessible from the show notes. If you go to, you’ll be able to download them.

As far as all content from SEAT, I’ve got a couple of other podcasts. I did a bunch of interviews with some of my mates at SEAT. There’ll be Episode 14 and 15, will be very SEAT-heavy with some interviews with guys from the NBA, MLB, NFL, and of course Christine Stoffel, who put the conference on and did a remarkable job with over 450 people in Kansas City.

It was great to see the CRM and the digital tracks growing from what was a small base last year in Boston. I expect all of you listening to the podcast to be at SEAT 2014 in New York.

For now, we’re still looking at SEAT 2013. Here is my presentation, “Digital Case Studies Explained,” with Philippe Dore from NASCAR. Enjoy.

Sean: We’ll get started. Thanks a lot for coming along. My name is Sean Callanan, and I’ll be presenting Philippe here. We’ll be going through some digital campaigns. I’ll let you get things started.

Philippe: Absolutely. This is looking forward to Sean presenting, because usually he’s the moderator and talking all the time. We pulled some good case studies here; hopefully you’ll find them interesting.

Let’s jump right in. We discuss what makes a digital campaign successful. We call it a trifecta here.

Sean: Yeah, so the first thing was around content. We’re all in the content business. We’re fighting against Fox, ESPN, Sporting News, all these other places. My campaign should be around our content and pushing it out. We’ll be focusing on campaigns that profile content.

The next one we’re looking at is engagement. Everything we’re doing in social is about engagement, engaging the fans and deepening the ties with the fans. A lot of the campaigns, again, that we’ve got through the deck are on engagement.

Then we’ve got one more component, which is for our friends in the other track, which is data. If we’re going to have a campaign, having some component that, gets some email, geo-location data as I was just talking about before with mobile.

If you can hit the trifecta and hit those three boxes, you’re doing well. But you don’t have to with every single campaign. We’ll just go through a couple campaigns and show that they’ve got different focus and what they were trying to do. How they did it, how they went, and for some of them, what we might do differently.

Philippe: The first one, Sean, is West Coast . . . your part of the world, in Australia.

Sean: Yeah, West Coast Eagles are an Australian Rules football team. Just to give you a background of what they’re like, they’ve got a full stadium; they’ve got a waiting list. The fan base is getting older, but they’ve got these waiting lists. They want to keep engaging.

Usually they would do a season membership renewal, sort of TBC, at the start of the season. Since they didn’t need to sell the tickets this last year, they just went with a real brand campaign and just wanted to build excitement around the brand.

They did that around a video campaign. This is one of the videos.

Recording: [music 05:14 to 05:38]. Coming down to the beach helps me to relax. Memories of how close we were last season keeps the fire burning inside.

I know we’re close to something special.

Childhood heroes made me believe anything is possible. There’s an excitement within the group for the season ahead. It’s not hard to find inspiration around here.

Sean: Those videos were four weeks out from the season, when the fans were just craving access to the players and starting to build up the season. Mark LeCras was the guy running the pass. The next video was a backstory to him.

They ran the video campaign, they pushed that to YouTube, they promoted it both on YouTube and Facebook. Really, the fans just rallied around it. It was really good to run that high end content. I’m sure you all now want to have a holiday in Western Australia. They could probably do that as a tourism ad. That’s the West Coast one.

This one is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Again, a content play around the NBA draft. The NBA draft gets stacks of coverage on ESPN, but once your peak happens, they start to focus on every other team.

What the Timberwolves have done in the draft the last three years—they’re hoping to not do this eventually and make the playoffs—but what they have done is been doing a large, streaming show from their venue and have a big fan event. They have talking heads talking about the draft, interviews with fans.

Over the last few years there’s been increasing sponsorship and activations around it. Again, really profiling their talent as far as their digital team. Their fans really rally around that site for that night.

This is a close one to my heart, because this is my scar brother, Kobe Bryant. I don’t know if you saw this campaign. This was a campaign from I think it was 2011 that Nike ran. We’ve got a video that pretty much explains how it ran.

Recording: Kobe Bryant transformed without warning into an unstoppable force.

Interviewer: “Black Mamba,” what is “Black Mamba” all about?

Kobe: That’s my alter ego. When you step on the basketball court, you’ve got to get into another frame of mind.

Recording: “Black Mamba,” an alter ego beloved by fans and feared by the competition. We set out to mimic Kobe’s physical transformation into Black Mamba on, so when Kobe transforms, the site transforms with him.

Since fans routinely call out the Black Mamba on social networks, a custom made Twitter algorithm was programmed to generate and monitor real-time, global social chatter to transform the site using Kobe-related tweets as a trigger.

Every time the Mamba struck, fans’ social chatter would cause the automated site to change from normal Kobe state to the Black Mamba state, once 1,750 tweets per hour were surpassed. During each of these Mamba moments, the site will offer exclusive access to content for the next six hours, like Kobe video images, personalized wallpapers, and transfer fans to an exclusive Nike ID zoomed Kobe.

As Mamba moments grew closer, the traffic on exploded as social chatter spread across the web. Our real-time Twitter tracker shows fans exactly how many Kobe-related tweets were being posted at that moment, how many were needed to transform the site and unlock the Mamba content.

Fans around the world were watching, working collectively to try to push the needle over the edge. Every time a Mamba moment happened, Nike Basketball spread the word with posts on social networks across the globe.

As a special surprise for fans, a short film directed by Robert Rodriguez, starring Kanye and the Black Mamba himself a couple days before All-Star Weekend, driving even more traffic to the site.

Then at the All-Star game on February 20th, Kobe Bryant scored a game high of 37 points, on route to winning his fourth career all-star MVP award. Global Black Mamba social chatter lit up the boards. The site transformed from Kobe to Black Mamba in the first quarter.

Notifications went out across Facebook, Twitter and We Boo. Over two million fans visited to watch Kobe transform into the Black Mamba. Night in and night out, the site continues to reflect Kobe’s transformation on the court. The Black Mamba may strike without warning, but not without reward for fans across the world.

Sean: Yeah, so that one, just an example where it’s hit the market on all counts. Producing the killer content, that you can only get the content if you get the engagement, getting the fans riled up on Twitter. This was all done before Kobe was even on Twitter. Without even having him being the one that drives it.

Phenomenal campaign, and I hope he makes a comeback from his Achilles, because it’ll give me hope.

Philippe: Again, this is a great execution. We’re finding a theme here, and you’ll see that the best executions are during live events. It’s nice to see that as he’s playing, again. A lot of the other case studies here that we have are very, very focused on live, engaging content.

This is another one from the tennis world. I’ve been partnering with IBM for years because they’ve got pretty cool slam trackers, reliable results. They kicked it up a notch this year and added a social component.

You can actually measure tweets, the trending module, and also what I like with this one is that they also added sentiment. Negative, positive. It gives it a little kick to more than having to show just who’s trending and who’s got the most tweets or something like that. Pretty cool execution here from IBM and the U.S. Open.

Sean: Again, it reinforces, if you go to the next part, it shows the tweets coming in for Andy Murray. We all know that Twitter especially works well in live sport, and to a certain degree, sport has made Twitter. Because that’s when it comes to life.

We will then pretty much follow it up with something similar, and so we’ve got that info-tainment sort of space. Taking all those stats and repurposing it.

You can take this engagement piece and make it part of your content strategy. If your graphic’s a really hot part of content marketing, you can show the buzz. It’s a good way of expressing to the fans that they’re part of a bigger collective. It gives them a bit of a push and shows the buzz around the world and in the media that Wimbledon have provided throughout the tournament.

Philippe: Yes, and the geo-mapping, we’ve got several other examples here. Thinks like, here’s a good example here. Why don’t you talk to us about this one?

Sean: This is one that we did three weeks ago. We were planning to do it, and then we were lucky enough that Manchester United decided to join Twitter.

You might have seen before. It has local versions and global versions. It shows trends from Twitter on a map, which is why the name Trends Map.

What we’ve done, because the guys who built it are actually based out of Melbourne, we made a product out of it and allowed them to build a product that can be pivoted around sport. In this case we tracked a game they hashtagged “#ManUnited” and “#TheALeague.” The A League is the Australian MLS.

We’re able to show the trends around the world. Heat maps in both Australia and in the UK. We’re able to bubble up the popular content from an image point of view, and also the videos. Any Vines that were being shared and re-tweeted by fans, just click up and we’ll show more. They’re all able to be played in line, as well as showing what popular users . . .

And if you go down one more, it also would profile the top tweets. A couple of things that we learned, especially having a David and Goliath battle in this space with Manchester United in three weeks. Who was watching when they joined Twitter and they were adding followers by the thousands by the minute?

People were going, “oh, I’ve got more followers than Man United.” Not anymore. They’ve got so many followers, they dominated that top board. We’re going to most likely break that out to be different teams.

The other thing they also showed is the popular links that were being shared by fans. Again, another way, those links are hot, they can go back to your site. Also we profiled all the fans that were sharing illegal content. We had to put measures in to say, “we don’t want those links on this page.”

It’s a good way to get fans back to your site. Similar to the Wimbledon theme, we took content from this, back end analytics, and we repurposed it back to social, to tell the fans hey, way to go, you’re part of this.

We sent out half-time tweets telling them what the top cities were, how many tweets were coming in, what the map looked like, just to repurpose it and take it through.

This one, Philippe, you had this one.

Philippe: Yeah, this is an example from earlier this year from Underarm. Pretty good execution. It seemed like they invested quite a bit of money. They went multi-channel, made a lot of noise to it. They’re basically asking the fans or the consumer to use the hashtag “#Iwill,” offering giveaways for are they going to do something great this year.

Sean: Pretty much, yeah. They were just asking to people to write or share a photo. When I first looked at this I thought it looks great, but they didn’t really bring the social component until the last bit.

They said yeah, you can write on the wall. If you keep clicking through, and then it asks you at the end, I’ll share this. The incentive wasn’t there for it to really go far. If they had said, “oh, sign in with Facebook,” hit the button, it’s automatically going to get shared.

Try the email piece, but again, it wasn’t mandatory. I haven’t got the data as far as what they secured, but had they flipped—and the next slide, I think, shows “thank you for sharing your message. Please tweet it.”

If you move that to the front, like we were saying before with the apps, if you give people the sign-in and social connections at the front, the likelihood that they’ll share is much greater.

This one is a really unique one from Tunisia. Just watch the video and see what they did.

Sean: Yeah, so that one’s a pretty amazing case study. They didn’t have Wi-Fi problems on that day.

It just shows you, I think just how you can engage that fan at home, and thinking outside the box with some activations. Pretty phenomenal story with having to run out there without any fans at all, and being able to connect those fans in that sort of crowd source, make them feel part of it.

Philippe: Yeah, that’s the lesson. Be as creative, as crazy as you can. I think initially Sean wanted me to translate the French to English, but that subtitle appeared.

Sean: This one, I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s Mound Ball. It’s run by the guys at Major League Baseball. You’ll be able to play it tonight because there’s a Royales mound, but this is just an example of a pure engagement piece. Just having fun on the platform.

The way Mound Ball works is if the pitcher leaves the ball on the base, then they’re going to give away a prize. If he doesn’t, they’re not. They’ve got these fans now tuning in to see where the ball is going to be in between innings, and doing it via Twitter.

It’s completely stupid, but they’ve now got—I think you, Philippe—they launched it a couple weeks ago. They’re only doing a couple teams at the moment, but they’ve already got 5,000 followers.

It’s just, again, that thinking outside the box, how can we engage our fans in a weird way? We’re talking in some sessions earlier today, if you have a team that’s not winning or things aren’t going well, how can you make these silly events into some sort of activation, into some sort of engagement play with the fans?

It seems to be working pretty well for MLB. I’m going to be tweeting Mound Ball now tonight to see. I’ll be watching very closely at the end of innings to see where the ball is placed. Again, just shows you the advantages of just playing on the platform for what they are. It’s a really good spot for Twitter.

This one you brought, Philippe, from Tour de France?

Philippe: Yes, Tour de France in France, obviously. Good execution here from French TV. Basically it’s an Instagram base. At each stop, people were asked to upload their Instagram photo, and obviously with their geo-location. We created this entire record, document here that they put online here.

Sean: This one’s great because it’s crowd sourcing, it shows how colorful and awesome it is to be in the Tour de France. It’s perfect for Instagram, because you’ve got all the crazy filters. Everything, when you produce an Instagram photo, is beautiful. Or so people think.

It shows all the color. Again, because Instagram is more geo-friendly than Twitter, it’s great to be able to show all the content. For me, this one is really great because it’s profiling the fan content. We’ve done stuff with tournaments and stadiums, getting your fans to take those shots and send them in is a great way of doing it. Being able to activate a random map and show off what the fans are seeing is a really good way of doing it.

For example. This is similar to the Timberwolves stuff around the draft. This is the Falcons social hub. Again, making the draft an event and giving them a place to consume everything from a point of view of social content. So sharing both their content and some of the fans’.

It’s getting into that social curation space. Which I think is good, because you want to make sure your fans are connecting with other fans. I think, I can’t remember what session it was before, when Chris was saying how he’s got 20 or 30 of these brand champions. You need to be publicizing those brand champions in things like this so they know they’re doing the right thing.

Philippe: Again, those work well during an event. Use it for an entire season it can get old.

Sean: Yeah, so again, this is during the draft. They’re craving for information, they don’t have as much. This kind of activation works really well for that.

Philippe: These guys did as well.

Sean: I think this is with Wayne. I’m going to get a nod at the back, yeah, this is with Wayne.

Again, ask the fans questions, profile your content around the draft. Again, it just gives them that different . . . Twitter’s good to give those different visualizations. Because not everyone follows everyone that they need to do. Not everyone knows how to follow a hashtag.

Fans still need these kind of visualizations to understand why they should be on Twitter, or why they should be on Pinterest or why they should be on Tumblr. You want to be able to show those different representations of what they think might be normal, but shown in a different way to say, “oh, that’s why I want to be accessing that content.”

If you scroll down, it’s bringing all the tweets.

Philippe: I like how they added interactivity. It’s one thing to just bring in photos and call it a day, but if you take it to the next level and have people tweet or even, I would like to see maybe an input box there. Maybe you can pre-populate a hashtag.

Sean: This one is another Nike activation that they did around a women’s running race in Sydney. I’ll let the video explain it, and then I’ll talk a little bit about some of what they did with Facebook to integrate the social component.

Recording: Running community, Nike wasn’t seen as a credible choice for serious runners. In fact, most female runners wore Nike from head to ankle, but found it hard to commit to wearing Nike on their feet.

We also uncovered the truth that when women ran, they ran alone, and were left to overcome their fears and achieve their goals by themselves. To us, this seemed at odds with women’s natural inclination to discuss, share, and overcome barriers together.

In light of this, our idea was simple. As a female runner, you’re fast, stronger, and more powerful when you’re part of a group than you could ever be as an individual. There is true power in numbers.

We used this thought to ignite a community of female runners, empowering them to redefine their sport and change the way they train forever. We started our conversation with social media with a rally cry for change, stimulating chat around the barriers that women faced.

It was during this conversation that we realized we needed to tackle the biggest barrier at all, running alone at night. We began by recruiting women who already had the courage to run in the dark. We received hundreds of responses from women whose responses inspired an online short film.

Woman: The more of us that run, the brighter we can burn.

Recording: Next, we challenged our community by announced that we would hold a 13K night race The film also acted as a registration device that could be personalized to every runner and passed onto their friends, celebrating grass roots runners across gyms, online, in store, print, and outdoor.

Which in turn inspired other women to join. Every piece of communication incorporated an invitation to a women’s only event

Daniella: Hey, I’m Daniella.

Veronica: I’m Veronica. If you’re interested in night running, then come for a run with us at Pier Market.

Recording: Allowing women to not only train for the 13K run, but connect with other women along the way. Trying to unite female runners at every touch point, enabling them a way to share their stories, goals, and achievements. Race Night became a celebration. For one night, women turned the tables on the dark.

We smashed down our own barriers too, exceeding all expectations in KPIs. For us, this demonstrates the power of a culturally connected idea, one that helps a community to form, shifts perceptions, and ultimately changes how people interact with a brand.

We set out to shake up running for women, and sparked a movement that unleashed a powerful, thriving community. A community that’s still running.

Sean: That campaign was heavily integrated with Facebook. Like they said there they had a Facebook registration process, so obviously that’s terrific from a data point of view. We’re getting the data from all the registrants.

The engagement and the content side of things, again, absolutely killing it as far as the content they were producing, but then also getting their fans to produce it.

The race itself, because everyone had registered with Facebook and everyone had the Nike Plus tracking devices, as the women were coming up to the 5K mark, their Facebook avatar came up on the digital screen and said, “keep going.”

They were like oh and charging on. They really stepped up, I guess, the integration with the Facebook Connect and registration and put it through the whole race. Really powerful way of developing a community around the event.

This one you sent through, pretty recent.

Philippe: Yes, yes. I thought this was great, again, engaging the fans. PGA championship with Jack Nichols here. They’ve allowed the fans to pick the pin position.

Sean: In the end, this is just a multiple choice sweepstakes competition, but the fact that they’ve got the content pieces there, the fans can check the flyover, it’s got a bit of buzz. It’s really high value for a golf fan to be able to say they’re going to pick the pin. I’m sure there’ll be a few golfing buddies who’ve got bragging rights.

That was obviously right. It’s more unique than just saying, “tell us who’s your favorite golfer,” or “when do you play golf,” that kind of thing. I think it worked really well. It got really good press as well, because it was in that crowd sourcing space, occasionally allowing the fans to decide.

Sometimes you’ve got to be careful. Sometimes the fans don’t know what they’re doing. In this case, if they’re happy with one of the four options, it’s a good outcome.

Philippe: It’s funny, because they actually make an impact. It’s not just “what do you think,” and “oh, I would love to see this.” It’s actually things [inaudible 31:45]. We had a similar example at NASCAR, where we asked the fans to vote on the format for an all-star race. Do you want 30 laps, do you want 60 laps, we let them decide and he goes for it. Nice way for them to feel . . .

Sean: It gives them that emotional connection, because they’re feeling like a part of the decision process.

This one is one that we do with the Auckland Blues, using digital cheer squad where it was pretty much rewarding fans for what they were doing on social networks, so Facebook and Twitter. It wasn’t exactly the platform that did it, it was the way that the Blues ran it.

They really focused on servicing these fans, because they really added super-fans. Some of the stuff that generated out of it was, they found that the fans started congregating and sitting together. Now they’re going to have a specific bay so these fans can all sit together.

They started running events specifically for these super-fans, and gained really great results because these fans were trained on what they wanted to do. They would stand in front of the sponsored banner. They knew they had to Facebook it and tweet it and Instagram it.

It’s worked out really well. To the point where, we’ve got to the point where we say, “oh, don’t forget to thank the sponsor,” because they provided True Blue HQ, and they sent 194 tweets saying “thanks, guys.”

They’re Barfoot and Thompson. They’re not in the technical space. They’re a real estate agent. The social manager at Barfoot and Thompson loves it, because their feed is full of people praising how awesome they are.

I’ve actually got a meeting with them next week when I get back. I’m hoping we get the research back that says yes, we sold a house because all of the Blues fans have been tweeting about us as a real estate agent all winter.

Then from a content point of view, we’ve been doing stuff like infographics around the stats of what the fans have been doing, but then also profiling the fans with a simple “fan of the week.” Because we’ve connected all of those fans, the amount of digital back slapping that happens when you announce a fan of the week—because they all know each other, they’re all friends now.

They’ve met in real life. Which I think is having those fan events and connecting those digital fans, just locks them in. They won’t always be talking about your team, they become friends. Every time the Blues announce a fan of the week, they all get retweeted from everyone in the list. They’re all pretty pleased with themselves.

The other key component of it was putting the ladder and integrating it with the rest of the site. Again, fans were pretty happy to see their face on the regular site.

Philippe: You have the sponsors, the sponsoring product right there, right?

Sean: Yeah.

Philippe: We’re seeing a lot of that. Our partner is just asking for banner ads, things like that, they want to engage with content, and social’s a great way to do it. We’re cooking a lot of things like that at NASCAR.

Sean: This is another one that again goes back to the map theme, and there’s more around engagement and connecting your fans. I’m anxious to see, you’ve had this out for a while. It’s still live.

Effectively it allows you to tag where you are and find out where all the Manchester City fans are. It’s a terrific data play. You go to, say you want to tag yourself. Similar to the Fan Cam stuff. You’ve got to give your data to tag yourself, but they’re able to show that there’s over 24,000 fans there. Then you can find other fans.

You can go and put someone’s name in who you know is a Manchester fan, and they’ll say, “oh, he’s in London.” You can connect with your friends or tag your friends and that kind of thing. It’s about making a connection, but also showing that there’s 482 in Melbourne and there’s 1,100 in the eastern seaboard of the U.S. It just shows there’s like people around you.

Pretty much with Manchester City, they’ve extended this now and they’re building localized websites for different regions around the world, pretty much based on this data. They know they’ve got the fans there, so they can now pull off the sites.

This one was primarily a data play with the Melbourne Storm. The video there is, we ran a competition saying hey, come along the journey jersey. Come along the journey with the finals. We asked them intimate details, and we built this jersey with all the fans’ names on it.

We tell the fans it’s going to be in the locker room during the playoffs. The players will run past it, they’ll touch it. Or we’ll tell them that they’ll touch it. It was their way of being in the locker room during the playoffs.

We initially did it, then we produced a secondary one to have it out in the concourse, and fans could get their photo in front of it. In a week, I think we collected 1,500 emails of fans that wanted to be part of it. We then added a season ticket holder base to the jersey, so it had 1,500 in the end.

On top of getting all those social attractions that the fans gave it, it got in the media with the local television and the broadcasters showing off the jersey, both in the locker room and then around grand final week. All’s well that ends well win the championship last year.

Storm fans have found memories of the journey jersey, so we’re now trying to figure out how we can take it to the next level this year.

Philippe: That’s great, and again, it’s one thing to upload a photo to an Instagram sort of thing to see an execution like this. We’ve done it on some cars as well. [inaudible 38:16] has done it, Noonan’s done it. Put your photo and you get your little avatar on the car.

We’re working on another one right now for the Chase. We’ll feature a prize winner, their Twitter handle on the car. We’re working on that right now.

Sean: This is one of the last ones I want to look at. We thank you, Sir Alex. Man United said goodbye to Sir Alex Ferguson. Again, they weren’t on Twitter at this stage, but from a content and engagement and a data point of view, they actually smashed it.

They built this mini-site. They integrated with, they did some work with Twitter and pretty much pushed out the hashtag, “#ThankyouSirAlex,” which was trending worldwide.

What they did do is ask all their fans to post messages. If you’re already in the Manchester United system, you could just login and leave your message for Sir Alex. What they did is they sent it out to their 35 million Facebook fan base, a ridiculous number.

This is the picture that they put up on Facebook. “Send Sir Alex your thank you message, and we’re going to create him a book.” They could’ve just said “give us your email, please.” Because all they did was send them to a Buddy Media Facebook tab that said email, name, date of birth, and 25 words to Sir Alex.

The good thing is they didn’t just stop there. They took all that content and they created a book, leather-bound it. They did a couple of different versions. They got Sir Alex to sign it and there you go, now it’s a prize, it’s a limited edition piece.

Yeah, 161,000 people liked that post. They really capitalized on the traffic that they got for Sir Alex signing. For them they, like I said, smashed this activation out of the park. They knew they were going to get great engagement from their fans.

The unfortunate thing is four days later, because they had to replace, obviously, Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes was keyed to take over. Now he’s the new manager. Unfortunately, and we all have mistakes, they tweeted out the link to the app to say “welcome David Moyes” two days before he signed.

He was still working at Chelsea. They deleted the tweet, but you can’t delete a tweet. It’s gone. They did everything right for Sir Alex, but it was a little bit awkward for the first day or two when they were announcing David Moyes. Trying to follow the same feed.

If you look at some of the data that was coming through from a Twitter point of view, again, for a team that wasn’t on Twitter, to get some of that content was pretty phenomenal.

Just to wrap up and not go too long, because I can only stand so along in this. The main things, when you are going to go and do a campaign, you’re going to be tackling one of these three things.

You’re going to promote your content, engage your fans, and get data. I don’t think you need to do all three with every one. You will have ones that just naturally do all three, or a killer like Black Mamba or the Nike one that do all three.

Then you’ll have ones like Mound Ball that’s just pure engagement. I think it is important to know that you want to try to tackle one of those three and have a goal around that. Which leads us to our takeaways from this session, is to first of all to know your goal, to know what you’re trying to achieve out of it.

You want to know what your goal is. If your goal is engagement, cute can work, but you’ve got to make sure you push that.

This one, I call it “market your marketing.” Obviously a lot of teams put a lot of effort into building some activation, and then just push it out and think it’s going to happen.

It’s bit like the brief, “can you make me a viral video?” Which no one can ever do when you ask them that. This one is market your marketing. How are you pushing this out? Where are you advertising? Are you advertising in-stadium?

Are you augmenting it with Facebook ads or Google ads, or promoting it with Twitter? Because you can’t just expect oh, our fans will just love that and eat it up.

There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time and money and effort putting something together, and then stop putting in that effort once you’ve pushed it out. You’ve really got to still market it via all your channels.

Philippe: Remember the data from your initial slides. Make sure you get something out of it. Use connect, you can get a lot of data out of Facebook. If you’re doing a fan cam contest, you can get registering, you can get an ROI. I’ll get something out of the programs.

Sean: You’ve got to make it fun. You’ve got to think about it from a fan point of view. I know all of us will have seen ad sponsor promotions and we’ve had pushback, so the fans won’t want it.

You really need to have that fan hat on. Will they think it’s fun? Like Mark was saying, will it have the appeal for them? Their Instagram shot gets on the screen, or they might have a tour or something. It really does have to be fun and enticing to the fan.

That pretty much wraps up our showcase of different digital campaigns.

Philippe: Global showcase.

Sean: Global showcase. Glad to have the Tunisians involved. More than happy to take any questions or talk about different parts of digital campaigns.

Go to the next slide. If this is recorded properly, this will be a future Sports Geek podcast. If it didn’t record properly, Philippe and I will be doing this again and recording this for a future Sports Geek podcast. Hopefully it’s recorded, and if it’s not, then we’ll be back on Skype and recording it again.

Recording: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to Find all Sports Geek podcasts at Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

SGP 008: Twitter Ads, #Origin, YouTube and #NBADraft [Fixed Podcast Link]

Sports Geek Podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher[Apologies for reissue, accidentally linked to Ep 7 and podcatchers picked it up before we realised, thanks to InAllAirness for letting us know, if you love old school NBA give them a listen]

In this week’s Sports Geek Podcast we have a good chat with Daniel Pinne from Melbourne Storm about using Twitter Ads as part of the advertising mix, look at NRL Origin series and discuss YouTube and where it fits in sports digital landscape.  We also catch up with Ed Wyatt on ABC Grandstand to discuss the NBA Draft from a TV and digital point of view.


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

  • How Twitter Ads compare to Google and Facebook ads for Melbourne Storm
  • A look at Snappy TV used by Telstra during Origin
  • Why sponsors are best placed to ambush sports teams and events
  • How Melbourne Storm used a freakish Billy Slater video to develop awareness for membership
  • How YouTube nearly secured rights to
  • What the AFL can learn from NBA Draft
  • Why the NBA Draft is a perfect opportunity to engage fans for lottery teams

Thanks again for the feedback, very humbled to see Sports Geek Podcast listed at #3 on iTunes Management & Marketing page.

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

Melbourne Storm leading the way using Twitter AdsResources from the episode

Here is an example of a tweet using Snappy TV

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 8 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we’ll talk to Melbourne Storm’s Daniel Pinne on Twitter Ads, #Origin, the relationship between sports and YouTube, and we take a look at the NBA draft with Ed Wyatt on ABC Grandstand.

DJ: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host, who is now wearing only one custom Sports Geek Adidas, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. Yes, very happy to be wearing the one custom Sports Geek Adidas, or adidas, as we say in Australia, DJ Joel. Looking forward to getting Version 3 of the Sports Geek shoes once the moon boot comes off in six or seven weeks. But I’m happy to be more mobile, and the fact that I can get down to my local cafe for a coffee has improved my life tremendously.

In today’s show, we’ll have a chat, a good long chat, with Daniel Pinne from the Melbourne Storm. As you know from previous episodes of the podcast, we have been working with Twitter ads for ticketing, so I thought it would be good to catch up with Dan to discuss how they are going, as well as a few more topics around the NRL and Origin.

Later in the show, I catch up with Ed Wyatt from ABC Grandstand, filling in for Francis this week, to discuss the NBA draft from a TV and digital coverage point of view.

But first, here’s Daniel Pinne from the Melbourne Storm.

Sean: Thank you very much, Dan. Dan Pinne from the Melbourne Storm is joining me here on the Sports Geek podcast to discuss all things sports digital around the Storm and talk about Twitter ads. We’ve been talking about Twitter ads the last couple of weeks on the podcast, so I thought I would get Dan in to have a chat about how they’re going, and we can also touch on things Origin. Two of the Origin games are out of the way, and Dan’s been looking at it from a Storm point of view.

So, welcome Dan.

Dan: Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me.

Sean: No worries. So first of all, like the people who have been listening to the podcast about some of the stuff that we’ve been doing with Twitter ads in testing them out and seeing what they can offer from selling tickets for the Storm. In last week’s podcast, I talked about the two different types of ads that we have been running, one being the keyword base, so targeting fans who are using specific keywords, and then the other one is targeting fans who are following specific accounts.

We’ve been a little bit hamstrung because we don’t have the GA targeting in Australia as of yet, so we can only target Australia. We kind of target Melbourne, and obviously we’ve done some things that we don’t want to send a promoter tweet to people in Brisbane. They’re not going to be able to come to a Storm game.

How have you found the Twitter ad so far, and what kind of results have you seen comparing them to other ads you’ve done?

Dan: It’s definitely been a really big learning experience, Sean. It’s obviously news for a lot of different brands out there, and we’ve tried a number of different things around some games past and some games coming up, and it we spoke about the keyword targeting and the camps targeting.

I guess, like you said, one of the drawbacks is trying to find the balance of targeting people in Melbourne because we’re pushing tickets and push coming along to a game. So it’s a fine balance in asking that, but we’ve had some really good results out of it as far as the engagement.

Twitter obviously measured the cost per engagement – that’s the term they referred to – it’s comparable to our other digital advertising. We do Facebook advertising, Google remarketing and Google keyword targeting as well, and it’s definitely comparable. We’ve had a lot better results than the Facebook advertising that we have had, which has been really interesting, and it’s up there, if not a little bit better, than the Google keyword targeting that we’ve done. It’s definitely better than the Google remarketing as well. It’s been really interesting for us. It’s completely new.

But we’re trying some new things, and we’ve been really pleased with the results, definitely.

Sean: I guess, again, I spoke about it last week, one of the things we’ve been doing is doing these limited release, or limited only advertising only tweets that seem to be working quite well and allow you effectively to test different copy to find out what fans will click on.

Do you want to talk a little bit about just the strategy behind using those, and how you think they’ve gone?

Dan: We actually just tried it the other night with State of Origin 2. We ran some campaigns while the game was on, and we just used those hidden posts mainly trying to find out what people are engaged by. We tried a couple of different tweets around the game when obviously we’ve got some Storm players that were partaking in the game, so talking about their performance, and seeing the immediate impact of Twitter advertising worked really well because it’s all live and it’s all as you go.

You can actually be there in the back end of the Twitter advertising console and add a new tweet, remove another tweet, and it’s all immediate and it’s all real time. So if you see something breaking, then we’ll try that with any story that is more Melbourne based, and we can actually target those posts, and say, well, I’ll get the best thing with the keyword targeting, but people don’t know that we’re actually targeting various keywords around different stories. So it doesn’t actually show the user exactly what we’re targeting with those things, so we can really play around with it. The backend is really dynamic.

So yeah, we’ve done some good results, and that’s obviously not – the tweets we’ve put out, we try to be engaging as possible, and those hidden tweets probably aren’t as engaging.

As you’ve explained, Twitter charges you per engagement for also what’s within the tweet, so if you put a hashtag or you put a different user name, then you’ll actually pay when people click on those hashtags, or they’ll click on another user and they’ll follow them. So we came from those engagements. They’re really basic tweets just explaining, obviously, the game, and then just put a simple link there and pretty much provide it in the only option so it gets people to click on the link.

So they are exactly the same as the rest of the tweets that they’ll see from our normal account on a day-to-day basis, but because they’re so immediate, and obviously it relates to what’s happening in real time, that they’re getting some really good engagement, and we found that the other night during State of Origin.

Sean: Yeah, and I think the thing, before we move on to Origin, but the thing with the little Origin campaign that we did which was effectively one day, it does really show, one, how easy it is to burn through the cash from a Twitter budget point of view. I mean, it’s great you’re getting the people clicking through to your ticketing site and you’ve obviously got to track the actual ticketing sales on the other side of it, but it is very easy and very quick for people to be clicking on those ads and coming through.

So I don’t know if that’s related to the Storm because we haven’t got other things to compare it to, but we definitely can see that if you want to do a quick one-day campaign, it actually works a little bit better than trying to spread it over, you know, we wouldn’t even try to spread it over a week because those tweets are going to date pretty quickly.

Dan: Yeah, and with Twitter as we were setting up the pacing options we’re still testing at the moment. We’re not sure whether it might be actually affected by when you launch an actual campaign as well, so we’ve generally launched our set up campaigns towards the end of the afternoon. If we set a daily budget, Twitter actually grabs that budget and then tries to burn it up until midnight that night, so it resets at midnight every night Australian time.

As you said, that daily budget can quickly burn through that cash in the first few hours. But in saying that, it is effective for a short term campaign, such as a couple of hours around the Origin game that we ran the other night. So it worked really well.

Sean: So moving on to Origin, we had you on the podcast on halftime talking about Origin around Cam Smith’s milestone game in the Man Of Steel jersey. We’ve now had two Origin games. From a social point of view, and watching it from the Melbourne Storm account, how do you think the NRL have gone activating Origin from a social perspective?

Dan: It’s been obviously a huge improvement for the NRL, which is a credit to them. They’ve put in a lot of work to improve their digital presence, and as you would have seen from their account, they have their mission control of the last two Origin, and Origin being as big and productive as it is now, they’ve had some really good results from it. The guys up there have been doing a really good job.

So it’s been interesting from their point of view as far as what content they’re pushing out. I’m sure you can, relating back to that Twitter ad point of view, as I’m sure you’re going to talk about, the Origin hashtag, as we noticed the other night with the Twitter ads at Sportsbet, maybe we put some money behind it. So it’s interesting seeing the different brands compete during a really peak time for Twitter while Origin is on.

Sean: Well yeah, that was a bit of a concern for me. I actually thought that the NRL had promoted Origin. I thought it was a great idea. I actually did suggest to the guys at Twitter to, if they really want to solidify the Australian market, to put some Twitter dollars and some ad dollars behind some key hashtags, like #GoSocceroos when the Socceroos are playing, or the Wallabies when they’re playing, to stop the confusion and really get everyone to rally behind it. But yeah, it’s pretty obvious that sponsors are going to get on board and effectively hijack those type of hashtags.

We saw that Sportsbet guys do a really good job, and I’ll put a link in the show notes with their big ad underneath the flight path between Melbourne and Sydney with the hashtag #rootingforoz. Very much Australian humor, but they’ve got a lot of press for it and they’ve got a lot of outrage and a lot of news reports. But they went and bought the promoter train for the day, and if you clicked on the Origin, it would have sent you to Sportsbet.

It’s one of the dangers that I guess sports teams are going to have if they don’t keep control of their own hashtags and if they don’t get their sponsors onboard to promote their hashtags. It may be a case that many more sponsors will now just go and steal your hashtag effectively by using advertising, and that was a concern early on with Facebook ads where people could just say, I want to target Melbourne Storm fans or Origin fans, and I won’t bother becoming a sponsor because I can target them by Facebook ads.

So that’s a real concern. It makes the sports marketer’s job all that much harder. We had the case in Sportsbet, and in a sense, they actually did a good job in that they were at least promoting the hashtag that the league was going to do. I mean, if you’re going to do a promotion, it makes sense to be leveraging off that hash tag.

One of the ones we did see was actually with an NRL partner. It was quite strange to see, and I did send out a tweet. Telstra news, or @telstranews was the Twitter account. It was one of Telstra’s sub-Twitter accounts. It was actually promoting a Twitter battle, which again, would be great, except they were running with a different hashtag for Queenslander, and the NRL was pretty clear in sending out its, here’s the hashtags, guys. Origin is the hashtag, #uptheblues hashtag and #queenslander in its shortened form was the hashtag, and there was a little bit of Telstra news promoting the different hashtag.

Again, it just splinters the sports fans who are online and just makes more confusion around the hashtags. So I felt that was a bit of a silly move by Telstra, especially being a partner of the NRL. Now, they’re still trying to develop their fan base, because really, with a Telstra news account where you’re meant to get product updates, so it’s not really somewhere where you would expect to be getting Origin news. So it was a bit of a strange play on that sense.

You have seen potentially ambush marketing from a Twitter point of view, sometimes with the Storm. A lot of brands going and writing on your Facebook page and people jumping on tweets. How do you look at that as a guy running the digital at the Storm?

Dan: Yeah, I noticed that on Wednesday as well, the Telstra news promoted tweets. It was there, and we actually noticed it during the day when we sent out a tweet using PopTip just to see what the fans were voting on between New South Wales and Queensland, and in the PopTip options, we actually put both of the hashtags that we saw out there, the Queenslander in the short form, the QL there, and then obviously in the long form as well. The majority was the QL there, but it was interesting. The people were still using that long form hashtag, so it was just confusing a bit in the marketers’ world, which was disappointing I think from NRL’s perspective as well.

But I did keep an eye on the Telstra news account throughout the game as well…

Sean: Yeah, I don’t know if you caught that they were running with Snappy TV, which allows – I don’t know if you have seen it and you probably did catch it during the night, but they were effectively showing live clips as the digital rights holder for the NRL, and they hold the similar rights with the AFL. So it will be interesting to see if they continue that in the AFL space. But Snappy TV is something that the NBA has used with some of its partners.

It allows vision and replays quite quickly. It can be put up in a social sense. It’s using Twitter Cards, so if you click on the link form, you can see there’s the first Origin trial, that kind of thing. It makes for very compelling social content. But yeah, it was a little bit strange to see that coming off what I would see as a sub or secondary account for Telstra, when it would have been maybe better to run that kind of campaign, especially when you’ve got a social media command center, which I thought was a great set up.

I did take a few potshots on Twitter saying it was overkill, but I’m sure a lot of leagues would love to have that kind of setup around their major events and finals. But I thought it was just quite strange that that Snappy TV content wasn’t being pushed through the NRL channels. Now, it could have been branded by Telstra, and maybe it would have been good to actually put it out on the Telstra handle if you really want to showcase, you know, this is what we’re doing with the NRL.

It was a little bit off-Broadway for mine when you’re trying to do that kind of innovation, and again, they were using promoted tweets and Twitter ads to push those tweets out.

Dan: Yeah. So they’re obviously putting a bit of effort into it, Sean, using that Snappy TV and using promoted tweets. So yeah, I find it really interesting that it was coming from that Telstra news account and not from the official NRL account, which, like you said, had that mission control center and were doing a great job throughout the game as well.

Sean: But hopefully, at least, from the Australian landscape, and if you look at the States, there are many digital managers like yourself that get frustrated when there are restrictions around video. Video seems to be a very contentious point with both the TV rights holders and the video rights holders on what you can share and how much you can share, whether it be, you know, social is still the new frontier. It’s probably not in the half of the agreements that have been put together if they’re over a couple of years old. The big one in the landscape is YouTube, and that’s the one that’s constantly a battle.

I know it’s been a battle in the AFL and in the NRL of how much match footage can be put on YouTube. There are similar restrictions in the NBA, in the NFL. You’re very restricted because they’ve done that really big deal. They’ve taken the cash from Verizon, I think it is, rather than being able to free up their video.

But for mine, the more video content that you can put on a channel like YouTube, which still remains to be the number one video platform in the world, we’re not all jumping to watch 6 second videos and 15 second videos on Vine and Instagram. If you want to watch video, you’ll go to YouTube.

What’s your feeling of how you would like it if, you know, if I was your digital wish master from a video point of view, what would you like to see, you know, options for yourself with the Storm and access to online video and how your fans would like to consume it?

Dan: Oh, well, I’d love to start using Snappy TV for starters, Sean. That would be fantastic throughout the games. I thought that was really engaging. But yeah, look, it’s a huge issue for clubs at the moment and for the league as well in balancing what’s on the club website as opposed to what’s on YouTube. We are restricted across the league as far as what we put on YouTube at the moment, and it’s getting to the point now where we’ve got to stand up and really take notice of YouTube at the moment.

Until recently, the MLB have been staunch against YouTube for many years, and just recently they finally bit the bullet and started putting highlights on YouTube and really delved into it. That was really interesting from that aspect. We’ve seen some really good results from their YouTube channel.

That is hard for us on YouTube, because we can’t use match footage on YouTube at all, and we’re limited as to how much we can actually use on our own website as well. So we can only use a certain amount per video clip. But we can’t use any on YouTube, but we have seen some really good results from YouTube such as early this year, when we’re over at the World Club challenge in the UK, and Billy Slater and Cam Smith were on the sidelines just mucking around at the end of training one day and I happened to get the video camera out and Billy Slater kicked this amazing goal from the sideline, and I knew straight away it was going to be a really impressive video. People love Billy, they love to watch what he’s doing. He’s one of the most searched athletes in Australia and on Google, and also on YouTube as well.

So we took the approach, I also had to think about how we were going to push this video out to maximize its impact. And on, I think it was February 17th, we pushed it out onto our website. We were going to push it out there first and give it first rights and make sure people are coming through our website. And as predicted, it went absolutely gangbusters. I think in the first week , it had 6,080 views, I think, in that first week.

But what was really interesting, and one thing that YouTube does really well is that obviously with being Google’s partner and the virility of videos as well, and that a video can constantly – it actually extends its lifetime. So we saw that video on our website in that week go from 6,080 views to the next week actually go down to a simple 46 views in that whole week. So it was a staggering drop, and the lifetime of our videos is really short on our website.

So we gave the video on our website a good 24 to 48 hours worth of air time before we then put it onto YouTube. As predicted, again, on YouTube in the first day it posted over 2,000 views. But then what was really interesting and from then, and it’s still up there, and I just checked it before, it’s got I think just over 53,047 views since February of this year. And while there was this immediate impact at the start, it’s actually been maintained ever since then. So that video on our website, when we first uploaded it, I think it totaled just under 7,000 views in total since February, and on YouTube, it has just gone over 53,000.

So it’s an interesting case study in the comparison between putting video on YouTube and putting video on our website. We’d love to be able to put fashion footage on our website, but obviously yeah, there’s a balance there from the commercial aspect, and every digital manager not listed in the NRL but around the world has to compete with as well.

Sean: Yeah, I mean, if there’s fans listening and trying to figure out why can’t we put it up, it does come down to one of the key terms in sports is monetization as everyone tries to make money off what they’re trying to do, so it’s the ads that you can put on the videos on your club site, and the advertising obviously has around your site.

But there are other opportunities for monetization. Obviously putting club and sponsored branding inside your videos, having specific videos that are brand sponsored, you can put the top and tail and put your adverts embedded into the YouTube ads, and then the other option is obviously getting the ad revenue from the YouTube videos themselves. Depending on the deal that has been done by the leagues or the clubs, it will decide where that money goes. I think it’s the case in both Australian football codes and the AFL/NRL that that money, that monetization from the YouTube channel actually goes back to Telstra as the rights holder. They’ve paid the big bucks to get it, so they’ve got to try to recoup their costs in some way.

Just a bit of a backstory, and I know I have told you before, just a little bit of backstory on YouTube trying to get into sports, and we’re definitely seeing it more and more. But if we sort of go back to ancient history from a digital point of view, if we look at the NBA, and I got this story from some of my friends in the NBA, when the NBA was looking at its current – well, it’s not its current, it’s the deal before the last one when they first took out and they eventually ended up with TNT. But initially they did have some initial discussions with YouTube about YouTube and Google becoming partners with, with a vision that the video is the key platform. At the time, YouTube and Google weren’t ready. They just did not think that was the space they wanted to be in. They said, thanks, but no thanks. We don’t do sports. We don’t do sports websites. And in the end, the NBA did a deal with TNT and Turner, who were at that time a TV station. They weren’t primarily a sports website business, and TNT had done an absolutely amazing job of building out the NBA site, and then they’ve got some really great video options there as far as streaming and the work they’ve done with the game time app.

YouTube actually came back to the NBA, I think it was about eight months or two years later and said, yeah, we’re ready to talk, while the NBA was in the middle of a five-year deal. So it was a little bit too late, but that sort of pushed YouTube into what they did with the Twenty20, where they initially did live streaming of theTwenty20. We see they’re now really pushing hard into the sports space.

I actually had some initial discussions. We talked to YouTube to say, you know, they should be involved in discussions with the AFL and the NRL and use that as a platform to give them a platform to go back to the NBA and the NFLs of the world. They didn’t want to get involved at that level either.

But yeah, YouTube is still an amazing place to catch a video. And finding that balance both from a commercial point of view as well as delivering to the fan, because it’s pretty obvious just from those numbers, and while you were talking, I put in ‘Billy Slater Kick YouTube, and it was the third one on Google.

So it just shows you the options that you have, and then what you’ve got to be able to do is make sure you can leverage that. And you can do things like putting your own adverts that send people back to your site, whether it be a membership site or back to your website, you know, putting on annotations to videos that say, subscribe to our videos, come to our channel, check us out, or daisy chain that really popular video with another one.

We did something similar with the Perth Wildcats, who actually are allowed to put match footage on their YouTube channel because that’s their deal with the NBL, the national basketball league here in Australia. Their biggest video was when Nic Naitanui from the West Coast Seagulls was there at half time and decided to dunk over someone at the half time break, and so again, perfect video. Not often you know that a video is going to go viral, but occasionally you can pick it with a freakish goal by Billy Slater or a Nic Naitanui dunking over a water boy at a basketball game. Putting it up on YouTube and activating it as best as you can, can really make sure YouTube is a great channel.

I think it’s just a matter of time. If you look at the numbers from the ICC and the case study from YouTube, they pretty much said fans who watch – and this is one for the broadcasters as well, even the TV guys, fans who watched clips on YouTube watched more cricket overall, both the combination of YouTube and TV.

So the miss, and I completely believe that it’s a miss, of if we put our vision up on YouTube, they won’t come to our site and they won’t watch our games and they won’t buy our products, or they won’t buy our game pass because they can watch clips, I think products like NBA game pass, you know, the fact that the MLB, like you said, has loosened their rights on their video and put something on YouTube just proves that if you give fans a taste and wanting more, they’re going to want to upgrade themselves to a higher end product, and that might be a live match on your website, watching your games via mobile.

So I think gradually that’s loosening. I think the fact that you’re seeing Telstra, especially in your space with the NRL, is showing live footage in game, that would be a really interesting discussion to say, how did it go? Did people watch it? What if we gave those options to clubs, because we know we’ve got those super avid fans that will really consume that content. It might be just a matter of a Telstra pre roll or branding that tells the fans that it’s brought to you by the right partner. You might see that that wish may come true in the future.

Dan: Yeah, and we’re finding, obviously being a Melbourne club in a non-rugby league state, for us being on YouTube is as much about promoting our brand as anything else, and promoting our game, we’ve got some of the biggest superstars in the world, but unfortunately we can’t show them playing on the field. So other Melbourne people that might be on there watching NFL or another sport in there, and as [indiscernible 29:06] spoke about escalating them along that fan letter where they might just watch a clip on YouTube, but they might eventually buy a ticket or a membership down the track if they really get interested in the game.

So yeah, it’s going to be a really interesting space down the future, and see what happens with it.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for joining me today.

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

Sean: Thanks again to Dan for catching up. One thing we didn’t cover was the brand protection side of YouTube, which is another reason for sports to be, in my belief, to be uploading more content, as there’s many illegal uploads up on YouTube. Now, they do have the fingerprinting technology to help protect the rights of the rights holders, but one of the ways of doing that protection is actually making the fans go to your official channels. So it’s definitely a watchers space and still a developing market for sports digital managers as the rights and the agreements sort of catch up to one another.

The NBA draft was held this week, and one of the benefits of working from home as I recover from the Achilles surgery is having ESPN on in the background as I work away. Currently Jamie, Curtis and myself are looking at a bit of an NBA draft recap on what social media digital initiatives some of the NBA teams went with over the draft, so keep an eye out for that on

But this week I caught up with Ed Wyatt, who is filling in for Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand, to discuss the NBA draft and why it presents such a big opportunity for the NBA, but also the teams involved, and what the AFL could learn from it with its own AFL draft that it holds after each season.

Here’s Ed Wyatt on ABC Grandstand.

Ed: But now it’s time to do a little looking into the future. I use the present and also the future and talk to our old friend Sean Callanan, the Sports Geek. How are you, Sean?

Sean: I’m good. Thanks, Ed.

Ed: Other than your leg, your Achilles.

Sean: Yes, the Achilles. The Achilles is coming on well. I’m glad to be back in the studio. The crutches have served me well, so I’m a little bit more mobile. It’s starting to get back to normal.

Ed: It’s funny, if I say Sports Geek, I always have to force myself to say it because it has this kind of negative stereotype, and everything you’re doing is far from negative. It’s incredibly positive.

Sean: Well, actually, there was actually an article on the Internet where I ply my trade and someone actually compared geeks and nerds, and actually called Sports Geek an oxymoron. For a second there, I was offended. I said, what did you call me?

But, yeah, they are two diametrically opposed things, you know, the jock and the geek, but from a sports digital point of view, it’s the right fit for me and what I do, and what people are doing right now.

Ed: It’s very catchy, I must say, and I agree, there is that bit of an oxymoron thing that actually works really well.

The NBA draft was yesterday. We talked a little bit about it in here. We spoke with somebody in New Zealand about Steven Adams, the big Kiwi who was picked. From a digital standpoint, what sort of things did you see as this went on?

Sean: Yeah, well, I was watching it. Again, I think ESPN did a terrific job from a TV coverage point of view.

Ed: Yeah. They do.

Sean: And the fact that they’re starting to tell their story, they’re interviewing the players, they’ve got the prepared clips and stuff like that. From an individual team point of view, especially the lottery teams, the guys that have had a couple of months off, who have just gone through amazing playoffs, the NBA draft is a little bit strange compared to other leagues. There’s no break. There’s no, we’re craving for information. They’ve pretty much come straight off . . .

Ed: It’s a great point.

Sean: . . . a messy finals and then straight into the draft, but we’ve got all these lottery teams that have been planning activations and promotions and really building buzz around these new players coming in.

So the TV coverage provides a really good launching point where people are following along. There’s also trades, which makes the night more exciting, but they’ve got the people talking about the draft picks and that, but after your team has peaked, you’re like, I want more information, I want more information.

So it really plays into the hands of the teams that are getting those high picks. So the Cavs had the number one pick. The Suns were very active yesterday. The Portland Trail Blazers were doing stuff with their group city draft. The Timberwolves did their live stream. So most of the teams actually aren’t at the draft. They’ll have a representative that makes sure they get the player, they put a hat on him, they get some shots, they Instagram, those kinds of things.

But most of the activity is back at the team’s venue with either a fan event, so a few of the teams had fan events where they were getting season ticket holders to rally around, and obviously tying digital into that, and then the other thing is, how can we make some money?

So whether it’s – the Bobcats put a special season ticket offer straight after their number 4 pick, Cody Zeller, here’s a season ticket offer. Because again, they know that’s where the traffic goes. Once you’ve rated everything you can rate on ESPN and you find out that there’s no, in this case, Michael Jordan is not going to do a trade of some sort, and you go, well, what are they going to do? So you go to their source of information.

So the teams at different levels, the teams did different activations or set up their website in a different way. They all had some sort of draft central. You know, the Kings have it with sort of a live blog format sharing all their content. As I said, the Timberwolves had that live stream with the talking heads talking about everything happening, and they had trades going on, so if you wanted to get the Wolves’ point of view, that’s where you’d go.

Digital is almost nirvana to a certain degree for their teams because you get this immediate interaction with your fans, which you haven’t, especially ones not in the playoffs, you hadn’t had an opportunity to engage with them for a couple of months because everyone’s focus has been on the teams that are winning.

So it’s about that. It’s about building their engagement and getting them back into the season, getting season tickets, but then also explaining who these guys are.

Ed: Yeah, absolutely.

Sean: And starting that storytelling side of things. That is, to us, social. That’s what social provides really well. That’s what digital provides, and that should flow from the TV coverage.

I had some good discussions with people on Twitter yesterday comparing the NBA draft, which had three million people watch it yesterday, with the AFL draft, which is sort of like a baby giraffe over the last couple of years. It has sort of stumbled; sort of slightly walking and trying to find its way.

Ed: I’ll never forget when I first saw that. I was in disbelief. My eyes just like went, what are they doing?

Sean: Yeah. So we discussed the NFL draft, which has now become a three day event, and the first round is prime time. I think our lesson there is, yes, I understand the fact that from an AFL point of view, people don’t know the players, and they have as much exposure as the NCAA, so you don’t have that familiarity, but all the more reason to really bring in that storytelling element to say, Jeremy, Cameron, all these young kids that we’re just really finding out about, when their name is called out, you know, have some sort of package prepared that profiles them. Actually interview them. Have someone who actually knows who he is, or talk to a recruiter. That kind of thing.

So then you can walk away, because from a club point of view, at this point when you’re getting your draft pick, whether the kid is going to play or not, and a lot of those guys who were interviewed last night wearing their hats, and we did see the Wizard’s pick wearing the Google Glass.

Ed: Yeah, Oladipo.

Sean: Yes. I actually wanted to see if he was going to tap the side of these glasses as he shook hands with David Stern. I thought that would have been a top pick. I thought David Stern as well did a terrific job in his 30th draft playing the heel, pretty much, telling the crowd that boos are a form of encouragement and a sign of respect, and just giving it up.

Ed: How about the pause before he announced the number one pick? That was absolutely brilliant, because he knew that it was a surprise. It was Anthony Bennett, and no one had picked Anthony Bennett, so he did the old, with a number one pick, pause.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. He learned it best from Ryan Seacrest there, I think. You know, the American Idol is . . .

Ed: Very much so.

Sean: I thought the NBA did a really good job at the end of that first round when he did announce his last pick and they brought out Hakeem Olajuwon, which was David Stern’s first pick.

Ed: In that same suit.

Sean: And he’s wearing the same tuxedo, so I’m sure – I don’t think Charles Barkley or someone like that would be able to fit into the same suit they wore on draft night, but that was a nice touch by the NBA, and the fax that automatically went out when Adam Silver starting taking the picks, they started booing him just to continue the tradition.

Ed: Yes, it does. As far as that AFL draft, I think it’s interesting because as we see expansion, Greater Western Sydney, Gold Coast, these younger kids are more marketable than they were five years ago. They’re playing more, so you have to know who these people are.

I think five to ten years ago, I think it was more of like, you know, when there weren’t as many teams, you know, I mean, these Greater Western Sydney kids . . .

Sean: And definitely, I mean, we’re now in this fantasy football culture. It does cater for the die-hards, but then the die-hards will be going, oh, is this guy going to be worth $180 grand and a super coach, a dream team or whatever they play, and so they’re looking at that sense. But again, it’s also that club level.

Like, you know, I’m a Collingwood fan or you’re a Hawthorn fan or you’re seeing this young kid and you go, well, what’s he like? Who is going to be like? Will he play next year? You want to know that story. So the TV can tell some of that story, and they have the opportunity to do that better, but then it is the clubs that get to expand that story, whether they do it on the nod or going onwards. That’s where digital can offer it, because the general media and Grandstand will talk about five picks, the TV will talk about the top ten, and the papers will cover them all, but if you want to dig down and get that in depth, and your team is going to have six new guys, you want to see what the makeup is. That’s the opportunity that digital offers, because it’s effectively your niche. You’re catering for your fans.

So the NBA guys do it very well. We’re going to profile next week on what types of content worked well, so hand me Facebook posts to put out. That whole, did they use Instagram video? Did they use Vine video? Which one of those were they going with? Because social is great to get the buzz around, but then again, you want to drive people back to your website. You want to pull them back in to say, hey, sign up for this competition, or become a season ticket, or sign up for our interviews, that kind of thing, because then when November comes around, hopefully they start becoming a customer and not just someone who is double tapping a photo on Instagram and not attending a game.

Ed: I’m speaking with Sean Callanan with Sports Geek. We’re talking about the NBA draft, but a couple of things I noticed, how quickly highlights and things were up. As soon as the team picks somebody on Twitter, bang, there was a link from an SP nation or somewhere like that already with a YouTube highlight or something. And one thing the Blazers did when they picked CJ McCollum, and before they even had any articles about him, there were like 15 pictures of him in action. I think that was the Oregon live side, actually. It wasn’t the Blazers’ side, but it was the local newspaper, which is fantastic. I mean, in the past, you know, all right, let’s wait five minutes while we tap out a story on CJ McCollum. Bang, here’s ten photos of him playing.

Sean: And that’s the pressure of social media and breaking the news. The teams want to be in front of that as much as they can. They would have all done profiles of all the guys. They would have been given some sort of list, and we’re talking about a list of 15 guys, especially when a guy like Anthony Bennett goes one and everyone’s mock draft just go out the window, this guy is falling and guys rising up in the draft. So that’s just the way everything is now. They have to get something out.

So that’s where social does help. I click, there’s a photo, we’ve prepped it, it’s going out. Oh, stay tuned. We’re going to be up next. Then he’s going to be on the live chat or he’s going to be on a Google Hangout or whatever they were going to do to get a bit more information. But yeah, there is a lot of pressure. I know when I was hanging out with the Timberwolves guys in 2011 the pressure to get everything out and the long night that they put in, and then today it will be just as hectic because now all the draft picks actually do turn up.

Ed: Exactly. That’s the next stage.

Sean: The local press and all that kind of stuff.

Ed: Sean, we’ve got to move on. But it’s good to see you. Thanks for hobbling in.

Sean: No problems.

Ed: I really appreciate it. Sean Callanan, Sports Geek, with is here on ABC Grandstand breakfast.

DJ: Find all Sports Geek Podcasts at

Sean: That’s it for another Sports Geek podcast, Episode 8. You can catch the show notes at A big thank you for the iTunes reviews that have been coming in. Thank you Brian, Pat, Ben, Curtis, for the reviews on iTunes. You can simply go to to write a little review, give us some feedback. I know this episode has been a little bit longer, but hopefully you found the longer discussion with Dan of interest. But please let me know what kind of length and what kind of things you want on the podcast. This is built for you guys.

Also, just a reminder, if you didn’t catch Episode 4 of the podcast was actually made for TV and picked up by ABC News, so you can see it and view it with myself and George Rose on that if you go to

I’ve got some really good guests coming up. I reviewed my contacts over the last couple of weeks while I’ve been on the couch, and I’ve tagged over 60 people in the UK, US and Australia. So I’ve got plenty of people queued up to talk to in future podcasts. At the moment, still keeping it as a weekly podcast.

So finishing up, for the sounds of the game, please, if you’re at a game, please record some sound. This one I’ve dived back into the archive when I was at the Dallas Mavericks – Lakers game at the American Airlines Center on my first Sports Geek trip. I was lucky enough to be invited up to the suite by the emcee of the American Airlines Center, Brad Mayne, and I saw Dirk Nowitzki score his 20,000th NBA point, and this was the crowd’s reaction.

Until next week, my name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, and I will talk to you soon. Cheers.

DJ: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to

Go to for more sports digital marketing resources.

Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

SGP 005: Melbourne Storm’s Man of Steel and Western Bulldogs developing fans out West

Sports Geek Podcast available on iTunes and StitcherApologies if you expected a Sports Geek Podcast yesterday but unfortunately an injury caused some delays.  Find out more in the podcast, in today’s episode we catch up with Daniel Pinne from the Melbourne Storm on Harftime with Daniel Harford and Nick Truelson from the Western Bulldogs joins Francis Leach and I on ABC Grandstand.


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

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

  • How the Melbourne Storm handle the workload of club and representative football
  • The Melbourne Storm Man of Steel promotional jersey
  • How did the NRL fare in digital around game 1 of the Origin series?
  • Why the Western Bulldogs are so focussed on local initiatives for fan development
  • How the Bulldogs followed the lead of Phoenix Suns with a geomarketing campaign for fans

Very pleased to see it profiled in New & Noteworthy in iTunes and we’ve passed the 800 downloads mark with new listeners each week.

Send a tweet to Daniel and Nick to say thanks

Resources from the episode

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

Download Episode

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

Search for “Sports Geek Podcast” on other podcast apps, please let me know if you can’t find it.

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

Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 5 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we’ll talk to Daniel Pinne from the Melbourne Storm about the Man of Steel and State of Origin, and Nick Truelson from the Western Bulldogs on finding new fans using Digital Out west.

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

Sean: Thanks DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek Podcast. You can find me on twitter @Sean Callanan. First of all, an apology. This episode was meant to go up yesterday, but I do think I have a pretty good excuse. DJ Joel joked in the last episode that I use more hashtags than Kobe Bryant, that may well continue, because during the week of playing hoops, with my mates, I tore my Achilles and so yesterday I spent it in hospital getting ultrasounds, and getting all checked out, and getting my foot in plaster, and I’m not booked in for Achilles surgery early next week.

So expect a few tweets and I might even follow Kobe’s lead and share the journey of the rehab along the way. I will definitely give the disclaimer if I’m going to share any gory stitch-type photos, but keeping the feet up here at Sports Geek HQ.

First of all, my first guest is Daniel Pinne from the Melbourne Storm, one of our clients. Daniel is the digital marketing manager for the Melbourne Storm, and he’s going through a big couple of weeks at the Melbourne Storm primarily because the NRL, which is the National Rugby League is currently going through its State of Origin, which is three-game series between New South Wales and Queensland.

For my U.S. listeners and the guys in the U.K., this isn’t your average All-Star Game. This one actually matters. So the first origin was taking place last Wednesday when this interview took place with Daniel, and we also talk about a promotion that the Storm is running this current weekend. Daniel Pinne on Half Time, SEN.

Announcer: Our sports digital media guru for

Harf: Always on a Wednesday and he’s back again, Sean, good day.

Sean: Good day Harf. How you doing?

Harf: Very well. Thanks. You brought in a special guest with you today.

Sean: You know I have. It’s Origin Fever’s Heat, and we discussed Origin last year with the battle of the hashtags. It looks like we’re going to battle with one hashtag, but I’ve got Daniel Pinne in here from the Melbourne Storm.

Harf: Good day, Dan.

Dan: Hi Harf. Thanks for having me man.

Harf: Pleasure. Thank you for coming in. Now the Melbourne Storm, they’ve got a big week to because not only is it Origin Week, and I’m very excited about that. We’ll be back for Queensland anyway, because we’ve got clients there. We’ve got Cam Smith’s 250th on Sunday at AAMI Park which will be very exciting and we’ve got the superman tops what I’m very excited about. Now I didn’t know there was a new superman movie out until I saw the photo of Cam Smith wearing the top. So that’s a win for somebody.

Sean: Yeah, so that’s the whole idea to sort of launch the movie that’s coming out on the 27th I think.

Dan: The 27th of June, in theaters.

Sean: So he’s done the plug in and he’ll get the ching, ching. So yeah, just pretty, I wanted to talk to Dan about one, I guess the difficulties of promoting a team and promoting all of the things from a club point of view when you’ve got this massive event, that is Origin. And half of your players, well, not half of your players, but it has been for a while, we’ve got five players involved in Origin this year. They’re not all on Queensland. We’ve got to give a little bit of love to the Blues, who’s on the Blues, Dan?

Dan: Hoffy is representing the Blues tonight.

Sean: So we are going to give a little bit of love to the Blues, but yet they are facing an uphill battle. We did talk hashtags last year, where there was a mish mash and no one knew which hashtag looked like. We’ve settle, Origin is the hashtag people.

Dan: Oh, just Origin?

Sean: Just Origin. Just use the hashtag Origin, and you’ll be involved. If you don’t want to listen to the Origin, then don’t use that hashtag, and it should get rid of most of the traffic on Twitter. Yeah, Dan’s job this week is to be promoting Origin but then also promoting Cam Smith and the game coming up on Sunday with the Sharks. So how has that been from a balancing point of view?

Dan: It’s been a busy week from Monday from the Jersey launch, but still focusing on our players that are representing Origin tonight, so giving them some love. And should Cam Smith get through tonight’s game, and he comes back and plays on Sunday, so we’re really celebrating that big milestone.

Harf: Are you allowed to lean one way in Origin?

Dan: We try not to, especially since Coffey on the Blues here, but no, we’re very . . .

Harf: Neutral. You’re Switzerland.

Dan: Yes.

Sean: You have been asking the Melbourne Storm’s audience, I guess via Twitter, so send Melbourne Storm a tweet. Tell him you’re with the Blues with an up the Blues hashtag or Queenslander with Queenslander and let Dan, let the Storm know who you are going with. You might lean towards one way if all of the Storm fans are leaning in one direction.

But yeah, he’s going to be in Switzerland tonight and really is just going to be cheering for the Storm guys and also no injuries, because we do know that Cam Smith is Clark Kent. He will turn up on Sunday. He will bust out with the Jersey, and he will play, because it’s just a phenomenal effort to playing on Wednesday and then just back it up on a Sunday.

Harf: I would like to see a phone box actually on the field on AAMI Park on Sunday. Can you do that for me?

Dan: Absolutely, on the sideline?

Harf: Get Cam to come out of that. There you go, but the digital interaction from Melbourne Storm people, when we talk about it on the SEN, the SMS got berserk. The Purple Pride thing is going gangbusters, and I’m not sure who came up with that, but if it was you, well done, because it works. If it were you Sean, even better.

Sean: Well, I can’t take credit. It was before Dan, but we actually asked the fans. We normally what we do when we’re talking to teams is say what do people yell at in the stands. So we go at Go Pies, Go Storm, or whatever, and that just pretty much becomes their hashtag. But we didn’t go does Go Storm work, we actually asked the fans do you Go Storm, and they came back with Purple Pride. So because they own that hastag, they run with it all of the time. So Dan doesn’t do too much to tweet that Purple Pride. They’ll go and use it as they want. But I think that this week, we’re going to bench Purple Pride. What are we going to go with this week Dan?

Dan: Hashtag Cam250. If he gets up to tonight or tomorrow, once we hear the injury report, we’ll be running towards that into Sunday.

Harf: It’s amazing how Cam Smith, you get to deal with him a lot throughout the week, I would imagine. He’s either the most favorite player of the Melbourne Storm or does Billy take that mantle?

Dan: It’ll be a pretty close battle at the end. He’s definitely more popular this week, but they are both on Twitter. They both get a fair amount of love, and they are both pretty interactive on their Twitter as well, Billy is and Cam is.

Sean: I think, Cam is, every time he gets bored at Camp, they go, Okay, Cam, I’m ready for the game. Can you just retweet me? And Cam just loves to retweet everything, but it’s good, because then the fans know that he is interacting and reading what they are doing. I think they are both growing in stature in what they can do.

And that’s the thing, if the fans know if they are listening and reading their tweets, they are more likely to follow and engage . . . And one of the things that Dan has been trying to do as far as Melbourne is sports capital of the world, and that’s what I tell people when I’m traveling around, it’s so many teams, is to really to make sure that all sports fans Melbourne adopt the Melbourne Storm as their team, as their NRL team, so a lot of this stuff that we have been doing the last couple of years, has been focused on that, and so Dan can tell you about what we did from a digital point of view, sort of using digital to reach out to fans.

Dan: Yeah, we had one of our best responses this year following the Anzac Day game at the G, and we did a lot of digital advertising but interactive with the different AFL fans around Melbourne.

We obviously know that our fellows are a huge product, and we are quite happy where some of the fans are second side, and if they come along to a game or by a membership, that’s even better. So we interact with them as much as we could. The stuff on Twitter and Facebook was really great, and we got a really large walk over across the bridge from MCG. It was a great day.

Harf: And they have been great games. I’ve been to a couple of the Anzac Day games for the Storm, and they are great games against the Warriors every year, because you never know what you are going to get from the Warriors at any given time.

Sean: And it is a true Anzac Day game. It is Australia v New Zealand. So it’s really become a real marquee game for Storm and that’s what we’re trying to sort of do. So if you’ve got nothing to do on Sunday, come along to see the Sharks, and see the Man of Steel Jersey, and have fun at the game.

Harf: Is it just Cam, the Man of Steel himself wearing it, or is the whole team wearing it?

Sean: The whole team.

Harf: And you can buy those at the shop?

Dan: You can buy those online,

Harf: Oh, I’ll be checking that out online. I think they are very trendy little tops. Thank you boys for coming in. I appreciate it, you Dan particularly for coming. Good luck this week. I hope it goes well.

Dan: Thank you Harf.

Announcer: Go to for more sports digital marketing resources.

Sean: Thanks to Dan for coming in to Half Time for that one. Keep an eye on Cam250 of the weekend for Cameron Smith, the captain of Melbourne Storms 250th game, and I’ll share in the show notes the Man of Steel Jersey with the Superman S on the front of the Jersey, a nice integration there by the Melbourne Storm. They did a similar thing last year. They had a Dark Knight themed jersey. So it’s something that some of the teams do over here with a little bit of flexibility of what they can do with their jersey.

Just a little bit on the NRL coverage from Wednesday night. Obviously, it was a big game on TV, a lot of people tuning in across Australia. Channel 9 actually ran with their jumping mobile product. Did very well to get a lot of people to download that. It was offering almost near live replays of all things in the game so a try or a major score, but the main difference is that they are actually providing that replay available in slow motion and multiple angles, so it will be interesting to see how broadcasters like Channel 9 News jump in. I think it works from a sports point of view, but will there be traction for those kinds of product outside the world of sports.

From an NRL digital coverage point of view, the guys at the NRL set up a social media command center, and we are doing a lot of activity on Facebook and Twitter. For mine, definitely from a Twitter point of view, they went a little bit overboard in doing a couple of Twitter takeovers during the match, and it got just a little bit too much, because most people were concentrating on the game.

So with a lot of people just turning into Origin for the first time all year, it’s probably their first rugby game, and they might be watching. I think there was a little bit too much on Twitter definitely with Twitter takeovers and things like that, but overall, I thought the coverage was pretty good. I think they did a lot of good work sharing the scores and updates on Facebook. They definitely did have a very large contingent there, and I’ll share the picture of the social media command center in the show notes.

And so my next guess who joined us on ABC Grandstand is Nick Truelson, Chief Commercial Officer at the Western Bulldogs. He’s got a strong background in digital and fan development, and he’s doing a lot of work to develop a new fan base and attract new fans to the Western Bulldogs out in Melbourne West using community and digital initiatives. So here is our chat with Nick Truelson on ABC Grandstand with Francis Leach.

Francis: Good morning to Sean Callanan in Sports Geek HQ. How are you?

Sean: I’m good, thanks Francis.

Francis: After last week. Always talking sports in the digital space with our man Sean Callanan each week, and it an important place now for sports clubs to operate in to maintain constant communications in with their fans because that’s what fans demand now. We just used to turn up on a set and they’d watch our team, and use that as their three hours of escape, go home, read the paper occasionally during the week and turn up again the next week, not so anymore.

Sean: Well, no, not so anymore, and the thing is what we’re finding here is as all of these fans, the appetite for content is veracious, the fans just want, they’re seeing the newspapers and the media keep providing more content. We spoke about AFL media before, follow the leads of Major League baseball and the NFL. So these are very much, a content game. But it is also a means to reach new fans.

And in a growing space in the sport is fan development, because we’ve got our rusted on, here you go. Here is your son. Here’s your jumper, that’s who you go for. This is your lot in life.

Francis: Thanks, mum. Still living with that. She’s listening this morning. It’s your fault.

Sean: My great grandfather played for Collingwood, I did not have a choice. But I’m gladly accepting that responsibility as a Collingwood supporter, so there is a log of that generational sponsorship and that’s where a lot of the traditional clubs have got fan bases from that. But also fans that are new to the game trying to find out about the game, that they are to be won, and that’s part of fan development.

Francis: And one area that that’s more prevalent is in the western suburbs of Melbourne, where the western Bulldogs reside in the AFL. And there online and digital team has done a couple of things in turning their website into a gateway game itself, and the man who is in charge of digital at the western Bulldogs . Nick Truelson joins us on Grandstand Breakfast this morning. Nick, how is it going?

Nick: Very well gents. Thanks for having me on.

Francis: Good to have you on. Previously you worked at other football clubs, I think you worked at the Bombers for a long while?

Nick: Yeah, I was at the Bombers for four years before coming across two years ago to the Bulldogs.

Francis: Just give us a sense of the different demands from the different clubs because sort of the markets that they work in and I guess the expectation from fans.

Nick: Well I think it’s definitely been for a club like Essendon who have had such a long term success over a long period of time, know how to generate a huge fan base, definitely during that 60s, 70s, and 80s time where someone like us, that the Bulldogs have had that one flag back in ‘54, and having that generational gap of success, it means that we have got a small fan base to some of the bigger clubs, but it also provides us with a great opportunity as you mentioned before, we have digital content.

And the pliability in Western Melbourne is so lucky now that 200,000 people are moving into the west over the next decade, and it provides an opportunity that our clubs never had and probably AFL has had. It gives us an opportunity to use digital platforms to engage new fans in the area, and hopefully increase our fan base which will also hopefully mean more fans down the track.

Sean: So Nick, in your role as Chief Commercial Officer, it’s more than just digital, looking at everything down there as the Bulldogs. From a strategy point of view, what are you trying to do to really target that region? And we’ve discussed before how easy it is to get fans to like and follow and those kinds of things in the digital platform. What are you doing from a fan development to reach those 200,000 people that are moving to the region? It’s a really big opportunity for the Bulldogs. What are you doing from an events and community point of view and how has digital weaved into that?

Nick: Well traditionally, we’ve been strong with both, being community club with the AFL. We do a lot of work already in that area. Such a high portion of that 200,000 will be nearly arrived immigrants, so our community programs are really important. You’ve also got to understand that the way some of the area connectivity aren’t than fantastic either, so we’ve got to get that balance between the online and offline side. We do a lot of work with schools. We’ve got nearly 60 schools as part of our school program.

So, there is that offline balance but the online balance where we’re really driving a lot, and as all teams do, we have a fantastic amount of fans who really are passionate about their brands, and we’re making sure that we really do connect with them whether it’s via Twitter or Facebook, and then they can share their content when they are out and about in the west. We make sure that they do.

Francis: And just with that fan engagement, we’re one of the teams that are doing tough like the Dogs have done in recent times, particularly the last weekend, but prior to that, I think it was seven or eight so games. You had only one win in that time. How do you go about maintaining enthusiasm, particularly in a market that’s yet to be emotionally committed necessarily to the cause?

Nick: Yeah. I think as I sort of mentioned before, every team really has passionate fans. You really just got to make sure that you continue the engagement, and you sort of see the great opportunity. I’m always amazed by the content that our team, especially from a video point of view. We probably decided 18 months ago that we wanted to be seen as the most fan-centric team in the AFL, and video content which is the same with the NBA has been such a big driving force.

Our unique browser that people come to our site is definitely in the bottom quartile, but we’re probably definitely in the top eight when it comes to video content. So really driving that mantra from our good friend John of Content of Choice Platform of Choice and that’s the case what we want to make sure that we’re doing.

So a good example you just mentioned Francis, we haven’t had great amount of success in the last year, but how do you change that conversation and say if you are losing, what are some of the great things that you can look at, and kicking three goals in his third quarter and in his second game really gave us that opportunity. A small thing to show some of these video highlights, which even though we lost the game, the fans got excited about where we’re going in the future.

Francis: So you change the story, repackage it, and send it out there, and give people a different view of things.

Nick: Well, I think they are making sure that our digital team is terrific in making sure that they are a part of the conversation. So, yes, of course, the conversation might be going one way, but then if you can throw those things in, people actually start to say, well, I can actually see where the Bulldogs are going in speaking to their real focus of rebuilding and with their young team.

I think that we’re lucky that we wrote that Jackson McCray and string of his three kids who played in their first winning game last week, showing that team long after the game with them in the middle of it was one of our biggest video stories of the year so far.

Sean: Yeah, we’ve used it before. Amplify the positive deviance, and I think that is a great line when you have got those fans that aren’t going to be there through thick and thin. One of the ways I guess you sort of reached out to those fans with a Rock Your Heartland activation that you did on the site where the fans could show their pride in the Bulldogs and pin Jerseys across the map of Melbourne. How did you find that and what were the main goals of that sort of campaign? What can you tell us of how it went?

Nick: I think the good thing about that sort of campaign is that it links into our brand campaign of Our Heartland, our member slogan for the year, and the fact that Our Heartland is all about the five ancillaries of the west and how we can tell that story. Our U.S. digital company, have actually been doing this campaign with a couple of U. S. teams, including the Phoenix Suns, and it’s a great example of reinforcing that when you do see fans pin their favorite jersey; one, it’s a good marketing opportunity for us to see who are our players that they are pinning. It also gives us the opportunity to reinforce that so many of our fans do live in the western region. We want to make sure we’re engaging fans whether they live in the U. S. or in Melbourne, but we do know in the west that 45 of our top 50 memberships are from the western region, so it does reinforce that opportunity for us, and it uses a digital platform for us to show how that works.

Francis: Nick, thanks for being on. Great work and those Dog fans all over the country really appreciative of being at the club whenever they want, they’re just a click away on their pc, or their iPad, or iPod, or whatever device they’re using. Thanks for being on the show, and good luck in Darwin tonight.

Nick: Thanks for having me guys, too.

Francis: Nick Truelson, Chief Commercial Officer at the Western Bulldogs driving their digital strategy which seems to be working a treat. Sean, where can people find you in the digital sports feed?


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

Sean: Thanks again to Nick Truelson for joining us on ABC Grandstand. I really do like the strength that the Western Bulldogs have got in their programs and how they’ve now adapted their digital to really play on those strengths. 200,000 people moving into your backyard is a really big opportunity for Nick and the Bulldogs, so the things that Nick talked about will be in the show notes. If you’re looking up what he was talking about, they will be in the show notes, which will be

So it’s been a big week at Sports Geek HQ, despite the Achilles injury. Earlier in the week, we did launch with the Adelaide Crows, Crows Call, using digital cheer squad, gamifying the social activity of the Crows fans. We got a really good response from the Crows fans, similar to what we got previously with the Eagles, and Cowboys, and the Oakland Blues. So we’ll keep you up to date on how that is going.

Also, I’ll have some feedback, because we just kicked off a Twitter campaign using Twitter Ads for the Melbourne Storm, that Man of Steel game and that Cam250, so I do believe they are the first Australian sports team to experiment with Twitter ads. So it was good to have a little bit of insight into what’s available and that cost per engagement model. Early signs are that most fans are clicking on the link and we’re getting most of the engagement on the link and driving traffic.

So it will be interesting to see, and I’ll share some of those results, and if you want to have a little more info, I’m actually thinking about running a webinar to explain the different parts of Twitter advertising that are available and how the sports teams can use them.

Over the next week, I don’t know how I will be going post-surgery, but again, I’m hoping there will be another podcast out late next week if all goes well.

Again, running the similarities to Kobe Bryant, he did his Achilles and went and nailed two free throws. Well, I did my Achilles and the next morning, I turned up and did some training with Socceroos who are in Melbourne for the World Cup Qualifier, so hopefully, I’ll send a few tweets on Tuesday when I’m waiting for surgery, so follow the hashtag, Go Socceroos and see if it applies here to some of my comments and connected with the fans, but they were all pretty good guys.

It was really good to talk to a guy like Team Kyle who plays in New York in the MLS and one of the big stars on the Socceroos who really understand how important it is to number one, connect with the fans from a community point of view, but they do indeed also realize the affect that they can have by sending out a tweet before the match to say, I’m looking forward to the support, and wanted to follow up afterwards.

So that’s it from Sports Geek HQ. Next week hopefully I’ll be back on deck or at least back behind the desk to record another podcast. Again, thank you very much for the feedback I’ve got from Twitter and emails, and the like. I’ve got a few really good guests coming up over the next couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to speaking to the Oakland’s Athletics around a promotion they’re doing in the next couple of weeks as well as some other people both in the U.S. and the U.K.

You can get all of these show notes at, and thanks again for all of the people who are sharing and telling other people about the podcast. We really do appreciate it, and I look forward to next week.

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

#TwitterBrekky Wow!

First of all a big thanks to everyone who attended, participated and helped with #TwitterBrekky at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday morning.  Our goal was to connect Mike Brown (@mikeisbrown) with the Melbourne sports & digital community to offer some networking opportunities and share some knowledge on how teams and brands use Twitter.

Jenna and Lauren from Twitter join in from LA#TwitterBrekky started with Francis Leach (@SaintFrankly) opening from an old media perspective showing his passion for new media before Mike took the stage with Jenna Mannos (@jennamannos) and Lauren Fraser (@lfraser) on video link.

Mike discussed how sports fans engage with sports in real-time, with events such as Euro Cup Final, London Olympics and Super Bowl achieving record TPS (Tweets Per Second).

If you missed Melbourne, you can still make it to Sydney #TwitterBrekky on Tuesday 4th December at the SCG.

a chef and two comedians

The crowd was then treated to an All-Star panel with Masterchef Australia’s George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)and The Gruen Transfer’s Wil Anderson (@Wil_Anderson) and The Project’s Charlie Pickering (@charliepick). George explained how Twitter was great for feedback on his restaurants as he can act on it immediately to ensure he has happy customers. Wil and Charlie saw Twitter as a great way to stay connected with their fan base, simple hashtag games (#whyginahatesthesimpsons from Wil and #beatlejews from Charlie) allow them to keep fans (and themselves) entertained at any time.

Here are some of the key tweets from the 1500 across the morning at #TwitterBrekky

Francis did a great job as MC.

Great start

Wil joining the conversation like everyone else while Mike on stage.

Monetising social media is always a hit topic but building relationships is the key.

Mike on stage.

Great definition of Twitter.

All about engagement

Hashtags a big theme.

Off line is critical.

Completely agree with Mike and Darren on this one.

Hope you can make it George!

Great rule, Twitter in the end is one to one, you choose who to follow.

Great example by Charlie on handling trolls or negative feedback.

We RT, +1 and Like this comment, thanks again to Wil, Charlie and George for donating their time.

Winning over fans one tweet at a time, well done Wil.

Hits the mark for comedians, sports, musicians, brands, you name it.

Great observation from Charlie that Twitter is watching what users are doing and responding.

Great quote by Charlie fits for sports and brands.

Wish you could have made it Hughesy.

Charlie did mention how important punctuation was…

Great final advice from the day


Look at the stats

See you at Sydney #TwitterBrekky?

Do you work in sports, entertainment or digital?

We’d love you to join the conversation on Tuesday at the SCG, hear from Mike and LA Twitter team as well another All-Star Panel

For more info on the event and secure tickets here –

Getting @SportsGeek clients the Twitter tick of approval


Our motto is connecting sports, fans & sponsors using technology, we have enjoyed doing that over the past 3 years at Sports Geek.

One platform that has been critical to our success and our teams has been Twitter so we are more than happy to assist Twitter in developing Australia as a strong market for Twitter.  Sports is a perfect fit for Twitter because sports thrives on live as does Twitter.  “Twitter is where live happens” is usually thrown into most presentations and sessions we do.  The stats don’t lie 6 of the top ten events on Twitter were related to live sports events (the others were music events emphasising Twitter as the sports & entertainment platform).

One way we are helping Twitter is helping to identify & verify Australia sports Twitter accounts.

Thanks to the @Verified team  for verifying the following Sports Geek Clients.

Storm Name change

@MelbStormRLC no longer say hello to @MelbourneStorm

Adelaide Crows pick up a blue tick in AFL Trade period.

Sydney Thunder ready for Big Bash now verified.

South Sydney Rabbitohs now verified like Russell Crowe.

Cricket NSW are Verified, so are the Blues and the Breakers.

Out west the @WestCoastEagles and @PerthWildcats have secured the Verified tick (and will be adding their Twitter Header image today)


Stay tuned for further announcements of what we plan to do with Twitter.

If you want assistance for your league, team or athlete please contact us or better yet send me a tweet to @seancallanan or @SportsGeek.

Sean spoke to Harf on HarfTime on why Twitter wants to develop the Australian market & why verification is part of that strategy.

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Until Next Week

Listen to Harf Time on Wednesdays (at 2:45pm) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Daniel Harford.

Tune into Harf Time over the weekdays from 12-4pm on 1116 SEN.

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

Latest Update

Happy to get Collingwood and Scott Pendlebury verified.

Pendles might be on holidays in Bali but doesn’t mean we can’t get him verified.


Podcast transcription

Francis: Always good to catch up with our Sports Digital Media guru, Sports Geek’s Sean Callanan is on the line, right in front of me… Hello, Sean.

Sean: [Laughs] Yes, I’m on the line right in front of… Where’s this line that I’m on?

Francis: [Laughs]

Sean. I’m sitting in a chair. Someone rename these chairs? But yeah, good to be here.

Francis: That’s the line and that’s something else over, that chair. Now, what are we talking about today? I’ve seen all your clients – just when my feed’s coming through with all of your clients on Twitter – they’ve got this big blue tick, or a white tick in a blue circle. What’s going on?

Sean: So what we’ve been able to do is to get their accounts verified.

Francis: What do you mean ‘verified’?

Sean: Verified. That means Twitter have effectively said ‘Yes, they are the people who they say they are’…

Francis: Right, which is important on Twitter.

Sean: Which is important on Twitter, and a lot of people know that the West Cost Eagles are ‘WestCoastEagles’, The Melbourne Storm ‘MelbourneStorm’. And now they’ve got a new handle, they’re no longer ‘MelbStormRLC’ they’re now ‘@MelbourneStorm’, which makes a lot of sense.

Francis: Why weren’t they ‘@MelbourneStorm’ in the first place?

Sean: They didn’t have the handle. Someone went in and grabbed it.

Francis: Ahh…

Sean: And so we were able to talk to Twitter and say ‘Can we have that handle back?’ and they went ‘Yeah, no worries’. So now The Melbourne Storm is ‘@MelbourneStorm’

Francis: That’s much easier.

Sean: It’s much easier and it’s more conducive to say ‘I’m looking forward to seeing @MelbourneStorm.’ It flows a little bit better. So Twitter have contacted us about helping develop Australia as a market for Twitter. We’re mad for Twitter, we love our Tweeting, and I did say we have been using Twitter and there is a lot of activity. Australia pretty much takes over trends at about 8 O’ clock at night when all the US are asleep. So they do know that it is a good market for them and there’s a lot of people Tweeting, but they really want to take it mainstream and have more people doing it, making it a bit more commonplace. And one of the things that worked really well for them in the States, and we’ve spoken about it before, is the case study of Shaquille O’Neal. Like when Shaq went and got on Twitter and stopped… he had six or seven impersonators, he got on Twitter and said ‘It’s the real me @TheRealShaq’ and started Tweeting. Then the media started paying attention and a lot more athletes and celebrities jumped on Twitter, so it really helped their rise, we’re talking two or three years ago. They said well what if we can duplicate that in Australia, and I said well you’ve got a pretty good… All the teams are using it and doing a great job for the fan engagement and driving traffic back to the website, and then you’ve also got players that are using it quite effectively.
But there is that ‘Hang on, is that a real account or a fake account?’ So that’s where the verified tick will come in handy, people will be able to go ‘I know that account’s real because Twitter have signed it off’, they’ll still need me and the clubs and that to say ‘Yes, this is a fair dinkum account and not a fake’ but if we verify the right ones then it will be a bit easier for the people who are coming to Twitter for the first time. People like Shane Warne, he’s been verified, so being able to know that is a real account ,the person behind the account is the actual person, will help ease people going ‘I’m not sure if it’s real or not’. What Twitter want to do – or as we say in Australia, ‘Twi-tar’ when you’re talking to them you’ve got to put in the Australian accent – is give it a bit more of an Aussie feel. So if you’re new to Twitter and you sign up, rather than seeing Ellen DeGeneres or LeBron James as suggest people to follow, you’ll start getting an Australian flavour.

Francis: Sports Geek? Jas’ Richo?

Sean: Yes, Jas’ Richo and things like that and you’ll start seeing more of Australian celebrities and Australian atheletes and partners. So people get an Australian feel for their Twitter, because if you go following these American accounts, they’ll all be Tweeting when we’re asleep.

Francis: Are you telling me that Dennis Cometti – when he gets on Twitter – he’s going to have the rights to ‘@Dennis Cometti’ as opposed to the fake account that’s out there?

Sean: Potentially yeah, that’s exactly right. A lot of people will be thinking – it’s very funny and people might think that is – but as more accounts get verified people will see it’s not verified. And even if they read the bio they’ll see it’s not a real account, but a lot of people don’t. But if you start seeing the tick you go ‘That’s real’, so if we start having more accounts verified then people will be able to go ‘That’s not a real account, it’s a parody account’ and ‘that’s a real person’. Twitter for instance sent me a list of 500 VITs – Very Important Twitterers – and they did it pretty much algorithmically, so they looked at Wikipedia they looked at Twitter and they said here’s who we reckon are the Top 500 Australian accounts?

Francis: So how was yours there?

Sean: It didn’t quite scrape in…

Francis: What?

Sean: But there was a whole bunch of accounts that weren’t really Australia accounts that were fake accounts, so we’re helping them to go through and saying that if you’re going to start promoting certain accounts, we want to make sure that they’re real accounts. That they’re people that are Tweeting properly and doing a good job because they’re the ones that Twitter want to promote.

Francis: That’s good for their business too, isn’t it?

Sean: Yeah and that’s the thing, it grows. Twitter works so well with sports because sport is best live and Twitter is built for live.

Francis: There’s no better sport for Twitter than the Tour De France, sitting on the account late at night, live, it’s fantastic.

Sean: But that goes with any live sport. I heard a great phrase at the Asia Pacific World Sport Women’s Conference at the MCG in the last two days, ‘Commentweeting’. So that’s when you are commentating via Twitter on a sports event. And Bridie O’Donnell who’s a pro-cyclist I’m going to give her credit for that one, but that’s a great phrase because that’s effectively what a lot of people do and that’s what athletes can do. You can be ‘commentweeting’ while you’re watching the footy and you’ve got that footballer’s perspective.

Francis: That’s effectively what I do when I’m covering the Tour De France.

Sean: Exactly.

Francis: And I’ve got no expertise at all but yet I’m ‘commentweeting’. I like it. OK so look out for the verification tick from the Twitter account and make sure they are the legit ones and you’ll know exactly what’s coming at you from those organisations. Great to catch up, mate.

Sean: No worries mate.

Francis: Check out ‘@SportsGeek’ on all the social media platforms and you’ll find out what Sean’s doing in this world. He’s a star, he’s our man and we love him.