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How the AFL lost 500,000 fans in Melbourne

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In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 9th September 2014

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TDF cyclists faced with a new danger – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

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Tour De France cyclists faced with a new danger: selfies

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The L.A. Kings shift business strategy from ticket sales to fan engagement – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

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SeanBday

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SGP 046: A-League Finals with Brian Gibson & Peter Robert Casey tracking your fan story

Brian Gibson runs Social Media for A-Leagues discusses #ALeagueFinalsJust before taking off on European Sports Geek Trip I was lucky enough to host a small sports business networking event thanks to Robert Squillacioti from FFA as Melbourne Victory faced Sydney FC in an elimination final at Etihad Stadium.  A great night was had by all in attendance and I caught up with Brian Gibson who drives social media for the FFA about their plans for #ALeagueFinals.  I also catch up with good friend & sports Twitter trailblazer Peter Robert Casey about his new projects to log your fan stadium journey.

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On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • What the A-League is doing with Instagram to develop the fan story
  • How much A-League fans love inforgraphics
  • Why this year every Australian will know what is happening inside Socceroos camp and in Brazil
  • How Peter Robert Casey broke the mould in sports journalism using Twitter
  • How you can keep track of every NBA or MLB game you’ve attended
  • How MLB fans differ from NBA fans

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See you at Digital Sport London

Thanks to Dan McLaren from UK Sports Network (and guest on ep #38) for inviting me to #DSLondon on April 22, looking forward to meeting some #sportsbiz people on my trip.  Grab a ticket and I’ll see you there.

See you at Digital Sport London on April 22

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 46 of the Sports Geek Podcast.

On this week’s podcast I catch up with Brian Gibson from the A-League on the eve of the A-League finals. And I have a chat with Peter Robert Casey about his journey to every stadium in the NBA.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host who is looking forward to the Euro Sports Geek trip, Sean.

Sean: Thanks DJ Joel. I am looking forward to it, so much so I’m actually on it already. I recorded a few of these interviews before I left but in the rush to get everything done I didn’t get to put this together so here I am, I’m in London at the moment. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek and you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast either on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud. So yes, I’m in London this week looking forward to catching up with a few teams. It’s been a bank holiday here today so a little bit tired from walking around, doing all the touristy type of stuff in London.

Last week though, I did catch up with Brian Gibson from the A-League and from the FFA and (Rob Squillacioti) from the FFA was very kind to host us at Etihad Stadium for the first match of the A-League finals and probably would’ve been following along with the #ALeagueFinal.

So I had a bit of a chat with Brian before that night kicks off and again thanks to (Rob) for hosting us for a little bit of a (SB Night Meetup) with a few of the crew from the AFL cricket and a few other sports coming along, it was a good night out at Etihad Stadium.

So this week I’ll have a chat with Brian and then I’ll also catch up with a mate of mine who I met on the very first Sports Geek trip in New York, Peter Robert Casey, a bit of a trailblazer in the Twitter space as a sports journalist. We talked about his story and then we also talked about his new project with Hardball Passport and BB Passport, enables you to keep track of every single game that you’ve been to in the NBA and the MLB so it’s really a good catch up with him.

And if you are in London, if you’re listening to this and you are in London, looking forward to catching you all at Digital Sport London tomorrow. Simply go to SportsGeekHQ.com/DSLondon to grab a ticket. Looking for to catching up with Darrin Mclaren from the U.K. Sports Network and a few of those in the sports marketing industry in the U.K.

But first here’s my chat with Brian Gibson from the A-League.

Sean: All right. I’m very happy to welcome a good friend of mine and we’re here at Etihad Stadium for the A-League finals. He runs all the social accounts and drives all the social activity for the FFA, that’s the Football Federation Australia.

Brian, welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast.

Brian: Thanks Sean. Good to have you here at the A-League finals.

Sean: #ALeagueFinals.

Brian: #ALeagueFinals.

Sean: So this is the first game of the A-League finals with the Victory and Sydney FC. What I want to do is just — while we’re here to watch the game and very happy to have a few people, a little — meeting sports (biz) night here at Etihad Stadium. I guess yeah, I want to talk to you about a few initiatives that we’ve been working on for A-League finals, do you want to kick us off with some of the things you’re trying to do?

Brian: Yes, so we’re running an Instagram promotion where you know, fans can use #ALeagueFinals, use the support hash-tag for the club and we’ll pick winners, we’ll run a Facebook vote, pick the winners and…

Sean: … so with Instagram.

Brian: I mean and I’ve already entered, probably counting on, I’m probably not eligible to win since I happen to put the promotion together but you’ve got the A-League Trophy out there and also the Asian Cup trophies out there for people take photos of and you’re pretty much just trying to get more people, use some hashtags, show them the game both whether they are around the game or at the game I guess is the main thing.

Sean: And you’ve seen, like you’ve been watching it this week and keeping an eye on Instagram and like me you’re seeing a bit of an uptick in fans getting excited for the A-League finals.

Brian: Yeah, mainly more so in the last couple of days.

Sean: Yes.

Brian: You know that’s pretty much the only hashtag we are using, so people are starting to use that as the hashtag you know, for the game.

Sean: Yes and so the other stuff that you’re doing also is sort of playing off the teams, going backwards and forwards, sort of like having that social playoff. What are the components you do with that?

Brian: So we’re basically looking at the Facebook followers, so increasing the game across the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, looking at the most popular Facebook (process), see which team can get the most likes in a single post.

Sean: Yes, so you’re sort of rallying, getting that interest to the fans out there and just sort of saying, getting get behind your club so it’s a night, you know we’ve got two pretty big teams from a following point of view, Sydney FC and Victory. Have you had a look at the numbers yet or is it too early to tell?

Brian: It’s a little bit too early to tell. It’s been pretty busy so I’ll probably start looking at the numbers, so tonight, see how they’re going and…

Sean: And if you’re seeing a little bit of the fans rally behind the clubs, the fact that you’ve given them, the specific reason to go, “You have to like this post this week,” or “You have to use the hashtag more,” just amps up what we — you know, it’s a final so it’s normally going to be big but get those you know, super fans amped up a little more?

Brian: Yeah, definitely and the posts that the clubs have been doing to promote this, they’ve been getting a lot more shares than the normal post so it’s working straight away.

Sean: And you know delving a little bit with — in the infographic space. I saw there you put the match up, shown us this one sort of just analyzing all of the stats and that’s something you’re going to do throughout the finals?

Brian: Yeah, so far. We’ve basically got a, match stats, like team versus team stats on the field and then we’ve got a team versus team stats in social media and we’ve thrown those up and the fans love them. They’re just there — they’re just infographics, a lot more of them.

Sean: Yes, exactly. It’s just so bite-size, it’s easy to consume and also easy to go, “Yes. I like it,” or, “Yes. I can share it,” so. And I guess in the other part of your job and a big part of your job coming up is you know, the Socceroos in the World Cup, how are the plans and everything going for all that?

Brian: They’re coming along quite well, everything that we really want to do so it’s all in the pipeline. Now it’s just a matter of you know, executing over on the ground to there and back here so it’s going to be you know, a team of five or six people across social, so some in Brazil, some back here, just taking fans — they can’t get there but we’ll take them on that journey.

Sean: Yeah and the idea is that yeah, and we’ve worked on it before and we’ve had (Rob) on the podcast previously talking about how the Socceroos just unite all Australia and everyone gets behind them and that means you’re going to have that wide, I guess breadth of fan, you’ll have the — the fans have loved their football and know everything backwards and then they’ll be the, “I’m an Australian so I’m following the Socceroos” and you know, when they go out and play, you know we’re not — everyone’s going to be behind them and you just going to have to be inundated you know, the timeline is going to be phenomenal.

Brian: Yeah and it’s going to be 24/7 coverage from a social media point of view so it’s going to be pretty intense.

Sean: Well Brian, good luck for the A-League finals and looking forward to a big World Cup but I’m sure we’ll probably — we will probably catch up with you before the World Cup.

Brian: Sounds good. Thanks for having me, Sean.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at SportsGeekHQ.com/SignUpNow.

Sean: Thanks again to Brian Gibson there. @GibboFootball on Twitter, if you’re not following Brian. He — as I said there in the interview, he is looking after all things social at the FFA which includes the A-League, the Socceroos and the FFA and he’s really doing a great job and he’s got a big year ahead of him with the World Cup as we said and I’ll be catching up with Brian before the Socceroos head over for the World Cup because we’ve got some really good plans for the Socceroos.

My next guest I won’t give much introduction to because we do talk about it in the interview but you can follow him on Twitter, @Peter_R_Casey, an absolute trailblazer in the space of sports journalism and specifically around Twitter and we’ll talk about that as I met Peter back in 2010 on one of my first Sports Geek trips. And it’s really what these trips are about, meeting and connecting with people, finding out what they’re doing and then staying in touch and finding out what they’re doing from the initial beginnings that Sports Geek was. Both Peter and I have gone on a journey over the last four years so here is my chat with Peter Robert Casey from the websites Hardball Passport and BB Passport.

Sean: Very happy to welcome a longtime friend of mine, all the way from New York City, Peter Robert Casey.

Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast Pete?

Peter: Sean, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Sean: Well what I wanted to get you on, like we have known each other for a fair while now but I wanted to talk to you about your new site that you’ve just launch. You’ve just done a second sport, first sport was Basketball and the second sport now is Baseball with BBPassport.com and HardballPassport.com.

Do you want to tell us a little bit about what they are and what they are — what you’re trying to do with those sites?

Peter: Sure. So much like it sounds like a passport does is, for fans it allows you to track your entire game-going journey over time, where you’ve been, where you’re at and where you’re going.

And what that means is we all tend to keep our ticket stubs after we go to a match or a game and those ticket stubs generally serve as a reminder of those games and all the memories that surround those games, so you go to a basketball game, NBA game with your father, with your son or with even your girlfriend or wife and that ticket stub is kind of that tangible evidence that I was there.

So Basketball Passport and Hardball Passport basically allow you to digitize those so you can track over time where you’ve been, the number of matches you’ve seen, the best performances that you’ve witnessed, the number of unique venues that you may have seen in your history and it’s a way to track that over time.

Sean: I mean that’s the — I mean when you first sent it to me and said, “Check it out.” I said, “I’ve been doing it manually anyway.” Like I’m keeping track of how many major league baseball ballparks I’ve been to and you know, NBA arenas I’ve been to and you can check it out at SeanCallanan.com/Goals. I’m up to 12 MLB parks now because I was able to tick the SCG, you know the Sydney Cricket Ground but I think that one’s going to be a tough one for you to mark off because they are not going to come back for another four years but it’s a — but it’s — like I was able to tick that off with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks coming to town.

So how is it like — and it’s really cool because again to give a bit of back history of how I know you, when I did my first Sports Geek trip, that’s exactly what I did. I went to couple of games in LA, couple of games in Dallas and then I finished up the trip in New York. And we actually met and was, actually as a byproduct of using the basketball one, the BB Passport.

I went in and I went — venue and I went Madison Square Garden, I went previous year, you know and I knew the times that I was there, on January 23, 2010 Villanova played St. John’s, unfortunately your St. John’s did not get up. It was a 10-point loss, 71 to 81. Like, so that kind of thing you know, and I have got all those ticket stubs on a board in my office.

Do you want to give I guess people a little bit of back story from yourself being you know, you were one of the first guys that really took to Twitter in the sports journalism space with your work at St. John’s?

Peter: Yes, so back in 2009 which seems so long ago in the Twitter’s-sphere, I received the press credential to cover the St. John’s men’s basketball team exclusively on my Twitter accounts. And if you recall at that time, it was still challenging for bloggers to get press (real) access so the story itself of getting there, a credential to do so on Twitter and you know, if you’re a Beat Writer, once the buzzer sounds at the end of the basketball game, you’re generally filing your story at that time and my job kind of ended at that point.

I was just tweeting about live updates during the game and the whole idea was to capture the things that the camera wasn’t capturing. And so the people who were at home watching the St. John’s game on television, giving them the sights, the sounds, the smells, the real-time nature of quotes, things that I was hearing and seeing.

And there was a unique way to cover basketball back in 2009 and the Beat Writers and that time weren’t even on Twitter so, we’ve long way. Obviously, now it’s just natural and a normal part of how reporters cover basketball and any sport for that matter.

So that was unique in 2009, it got a lot of press coverage nationally, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and it really opened doors for my career.

The New York Knicks then hired me right after that to be their first social media specialist and editor-in-chief of KnicksNow.com, so it was a great opportunity, something that we take for granted now but back then it was kind of a new story.

Sean: Yeah, I mean the fact that yeah, I think it was you know, credentialed microblogger because I didn’t even know you know, what a social media guy was or someone that was a professional Tweeter like it was — that — all the terms are still getting created, so you know, and it’s — that’s the good thing about things like social media. It allows guys like you and I to connect from other sides of the country.

And you know, I remember you know back in January 2010, we were tweeting each other backwards and forwards to find out where we were going to meet after the game.

So you launched the basketball one first and to launch it, you went on a ridiculous — you know, I like to pride myself on my Sports Geek trips but you completely outdid what I do with — you went to 30 NBA stadiums in 30 days. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?

Peter: Sure, so we wanted to launch Basketball Passport properly and do so in a way that was authentic to the site which is breaking through the television and getting out to games.

And one of the features — it’s a fun feature on both Basketball Passport and Hardball passport our “Arena Challenges” or “Stadium Challenges” for baseball and you earn stamps, it’s a passport so you earn stamps when you complete a challenge and as the Founder and Ambassador for Basketball Passport I wanted to do the most aggressive challenge which is the “All NBA Arena Challenge.”

And I thought it would be a fun way to do some storytelling around passport by getting out there, getting the product in the hands and you know, getting people to log in and talk about it so, I took a month off from work at the time. And this started November 7th, in Miami and I literally went through all 29 arenas.

As you know, the Lakers and the Clippers share the Staples Center, so I got to see both of those games separately in December and then I ended my journey on the 6th, in Boston, front row, the Vice President of the Celtics put my wife and I literally feet on the floor so, amazing trip and we got so much more publicity than I could have ever anticipated, so it was a great way to build awareness for (the site).

Sean: Well I’m only still like, I’ve logged some of my games that I’ve been to but I’ve got to actually go through my ticket stubs over the first couple of games that I have been to, to see if I can get there. That “All NBA Arena Challenge” is something that I will accept that challenge but it might take me a few more years. I don’t think I’m crazy enough to do it in one month.

How have you — I mean I’d be interested to know, how have you found the baseball because the baseball fans you know, are almost obsessive about their stats and the history and tracking everything. Have you found a difference between basketball fans and baseball fans on use of the site and how many fans want to get on?

Peter: That’s a great point Sean. You’re right, so the reason why I wanted to do the trip for basketball was kind of a learning curve, these behaviors warrant you know, normal behaviors of keeping track of every game I’ve been to in a spreadsheet or as you know, when you go to a baseball game, people literally keep score on a scorecard and those behaviors were there.

So we started with basketball because that’s my background, that’s what I know, that’s where my relationships reside but the concept of passport and chronicling your personal journey as a fan was already there for baseball so we did notice a significant spike.

Even during beta testing for example, I kind of just teased it out (and read it) — in a (sub read it) for a baseball and it went haywire. I literally had to shut down, you know I had controlled beta-testing but just already in the first two weeks we’ve already had 50,000 logged games on Hardball Passport, so people are going way back to 1975 where our database starts for major-league games and all the way back to 2002 for minor-league games, so it really took off.

And we kind of predicted that, you know not to that extreme but we knew it was going to be more popular than basketball just because like you said, they are — fans are obsessive, they keep spreadsheets, they keep text files, they hang on to those ticket stubs like you know, they are near and dear to them.

Sean: Yeah, I’m just looking here, yeah, you’ve had 52,000 total check-ins.

I guess one question (I indeed) have and I’ve always — as I was trying to do a bit of, you know go back to mine when I was going back to when I went to Fenway in 2012 and then last year I was able to go to (Kauffman) and I get to see the Royals and I didn’t have the stubs or I’ve lost the stubs but what I was able to do, was to go to my Foursquare and say, “When was I at the baseball?”

Have you thought about bringing in those kind of social networks to say, integrate Foursquare with your log in and will automatically you know, keep your check-ins as you’re going along?

Peter: Yes, so we do want to leverage the existing on all the momentum that they already have versus trying to compete with them because you know, you can’t do that.

But one of the areas that we thought would be really crucial is using Instagram’s API, specifically because every photo there is geotagged with the time stamp on it and it would be much easier to you know — that’s where people are placing their photos now is in Instagram so fans, as soon as they get to their seat or sometimes even outside the arena, they take that photo there you know, prove that there, kind of show off, “Hey, I’m at the game, you’re not,” you know, natural behavior for fans.

So why not, yeah, being able to look at when a fan is within 0.1 mile of an arena on a game night, you can say, “Hey, do you want to add these to your passport?”

That would make the most sense and to go a step further, the biggest priority in 2015 since we live in a mobile-first society is to have that mobile native app so that when you’re there you can immediately add it to your passport because you don’t want to have any friction with the experience.

You want people to be able to do this stuff naturally. You know, not many people are interested in going way back scanning and old photo and tying it to a game so you have to do it when they are there.

So yes, using what’s already out there, whether it’s a Foursquare Checkin API or Instagram photos. And the next big thing is Facebook login and Twitter login, so that again you don’t have to create a profile, it’s already done for you.

Sean: Yep. I mean that’s great. I mean, I completely agree. I mean, I’m still a Foursquare fan but you know, from a Geo — if you’re looking at Geo Apps, you know Instagram is so far ahead in front these days in ballparks and stadiums, I (work with) Instagram.

Peter: That’s right.

Sean: … you know, Fenway and AT&T Park, I think AT&T Park is one of the most Instagram venues on the earth and — but partly to it’s a combination of picturesque scene, terrific Wi-Fi, the fact that people can get coverage and yeah that bragging right. You know, you want to tell people you’re at the baseball or you want to tell people you’re at the football, so I guess that leads you to — so this is also in the plans is to bring in NFL stadiums and then also NHL?

Peter: Exactly. So Football Passport, the goal is to launch that an August 28th and it’s going to include all your NFL games and then even your college football games that you’ve been to in college, you know, just because — actually college may even be bigger than NFL because of the (travelling) culture and the rabid you know, fandom that exist around college football, this is from the alumni base so…

Sean: Oh yeah.

Peter: … it’s really a key that we do that, College and Pro.

Sean: Well, because the thing is with college, you would have people that have said, “Uh, this is my thousandth game of Michigan and I have watched every game, the last,” you know, “27 years” because…

Peter: Right.

Sean: … in that same super fandom. I guess you know, as I’m about to head off to my Europe trip, is there any plans in the agenda to tap into the large world, that is a world of football and look at the world game, soccer?

And I’ve been guessing you’ve got you know, you’ve got a system in place now or it’s just a matter of getting the database of the games and the venues and once the structure is there, you can build that site?

Peter: That’s exactly it and that’s going to be the sixth sport and probably the most important sport just because of the global nature of that game and I mean, it’s the world’s largest sport.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the challenge for us is that the language differences around the globe so — but the opportunity to tackle football you know, from a global nature is a massive one and we have to do it but we want to go into that just because we know that’s the biggest. That’s the big (beast).

We want to going to that with a lot of momentum, with the infrastructure that you mention, have the interface built we know how to you know, interact with the database on the backend.

And the beauty of it is if you create an account on Basketball Passport, it works for Hardball and it will work for any future sport as well, so all your games are in one place so that when the mobile app comes out, you know, you’re not going to have five different apps. It’s one app and it’s a singular sports passport app.

So yes, Football will be the sixth sport and definitely looking forward to that challenge.

Sean: Well thank you very much for joining me on the podcast.

So they can find the websites at BBPassport.com and HardballPassport.com. I’ll have the links and the links to both of those sites in the show notes. And they can find you — you’re still tweeting away at Peter_R_Casey, if got that correct?

Peter: Absolutely.

Sean: Thank you very much for joining me on the podcast and next time I’m back in New York City we’ll have to catch up for a beer.

Peter: Absolutely and have a safe trip and I hope you get to many games while you’re in Europe.

Sean: No worries mate.

DJ Joel. Do you, Tumble? Go to Tumblr.SportsGeekHQ.com.
Send in your sounds of the game. Email Sean at SportsGeekHQ.com.
Sean: Thanks again to Peter Robert Casey for joining me on the podcast.

And yeah, I look forward to actually going through my ticket stubs and definitely putting all the games I have been on the Sports Geek trips. As I said in my chat, I previously have kept track of all the MLB games and NBA stadiums that I’ve been to, I just haven’t been recording the games and those kinds of things so if you go to SeanCallanan.com/Goals, that’s where I’m actually keeping a list of how many games or how many venues have been to but now I’ll do it via Hardball and Basketball Passport.

So really looking forward to see how it evolves Pete and yeah what it can be done with. You know, the fact that fans do love checking in, it’s one of the most obvious things that fans want to do.

Well that noise you can hear is [shouts] [boos] from the Eels and Roosters at Parramatta [boo] [shout].

They’re not happy.

And thanks to Sports Geek Podcast listener (Pies Josh) for sending in the “Sounds of the Game” this week.

That’s it for this episode of the Sports Geek Podcast.

One short play if I may, really great response to the latest Beers, Blokes & Business Podcast, we were lucky to have Wil Anderson coming to Sports Geek HQ and talk about his business. Some great insights in there on content marketing, developing your fan base, some really — some great takeaways there for people in fan development.

Simply go, BeersBlokesBusiness.com/37 to grab that and you can find Beers, Blokes, Business in iTunes.

Well that’s the clock giving me the wind-up to tell me to get out of this episode.

Now this is episode 46 of the Sports Geek Podcast, so it’s getting a little bit harder to find jersey numbers and things like that, so this year I’ve gone for the year, 1946 and they’ve asked me to sneak in another player that I could have used for the number 42. And that would be Jackie Robinson who played for the Montreal Royals, a, AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and he became the first African-American to play organized baseball and obviously his key number is 42.

Thank you again for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. Thank you for the people that have left reviews on iTunes. You can leave a review by just going to SportsGeekHQ.com/iTunes. Keep following the A-League finals via Twitter and Instagram and keep an eye on what Brian is trying to do.

Closing two cents this week, is all about networking. Always be networking. It’s one of the things that I do love doing, so I hope to see anybody in London who works in digital sports at DigiSport London.

DJ Joel: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at SportsGeekHQ.com/Clients. Listen to Beers, Blokes & Business at BeersBlokesBusiness.com. Go to SportsGeekHQ.com for more digital sports marketing resources.

Sean: Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast.

Retired NBA player not broke, now worth $400M – ICYMI – @Sports Geek News

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 16th April 2014

AFL Variable Ticket Pricing ExplainedHow the Red Sox social strategy won Washington

Instead Of Going Broke Like Most Retired NBA Players, Junior Bridgeman Built A $400 Million Fast Food Empire

Stadiums race to digitize: how sports teams are scrambling to keep Milllenials coming to games

Coming to your Twitter feed: 15 new types of ads

Fan memberships growing in the United States

Facebook, if you’re serious about privacy controls, let me control them

LinkedIn introduces ‘Content Marketing Score’ to help B2Bs measure their content efforts

Twitter now lets you easily search for tweets by date range

News Feed FYI: Cleaning up news feed spam and more Facebook changes on the way

How 20 popular websites looked when they launched

Talkin’ like Talls with Dikembe Mutombo

Game of Footy Thrones - AFL footy 2014

The Psychology of Language: which words matter most when we talk

Anyone got a time machine? Great sale at Venture on footy gear!

See you in London

See you at Digital Sport London

Want to help decide where next #SportsGeekODE is?

Register your interest for next #SportsGeekODE event

LeBron James invites HS basketball player with cancer to pre-game warmups – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

Josh Tucker Dodgers Social Media Manager #ITFDB

 In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 2nd April 2014

LeBron James invites HS basketball player with cancer to pre-game warmups

Instagram announces 6x Growth since Facebook takeover

Twitter losing sight of what makes it so great - the Tweetbook?

Whatever’s best for the people, that’s what we do - good insight into Facebook news feed

AFL club bosses urge the league to review the controversial variable pricing ticket system

Facebook algorithim tweaks hurt viral sites more than any other publishers

Junk food and alcohol exposure more prevalent during sports broadcasts than advertising, study finds

A person with an hour commute has to earn 40% more to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office - The secrets of the world’s happiest cities

Want to help decide where next #SportsGeekODE is?

Register your interest for next #SportsGeekODE event

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.

Play

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

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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 sportsgeekhq.com/ode, 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 sportsgeekhq.com/signupnow.

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 sportsgeekhq.com/signupnow. 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 sportsgeekhq.com/ode.

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 melbournestorm.com.au/itunes, 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 sportsgeekhq.com/41. 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 sportsgeekhq.com/ode. 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. Sportsgeekhq.com is the place to go to find out a whole lot more about it. Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to sportsgeekhq.com/itunes. Listen to Beers, Blokes, and Business at beersblokesbusiness.com. Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.