This week on Sports Geek Podcast we head out to see the new digs for Essendon Football Club in the AFL now named True Value Solar Centre. I chat with Justin Rodski & Marc Bertieri about the tough year the Bombers had with the ASADA investigation dominating their season and how they plan to bounce back in 2014. On ABC Grandstand with Francis Leach we look at two sides of social media with the #SFBatKid and Sydney FC dealing with trolls. We take a look at new platforms available that teens are migrating to.
On this podcast you’ll find out about:
- How Essendon plan to use True Value Solar Centre to better deliver content to fans
- Why Essendon started #EFCListens in response to ASADA investigation
- How Essendon comms team handled supplements investigation using social media
- Bombers Birthday app built on Facebook to give Bomber fans personalised birthday messages
- How social media helped the world rally around SF Bat Kid
- Why Sydney FC’s Frank Farina spoke out against social media trolls
- How athletes like Socceroos can leverage social media to build their personal fan base
- Find Justin Rodski (General Manager, Communications & Digital Media) from Essendon FC via Twitter(@justinrodski) and Linkedin
- Find Marc Bertieri (Digital Marketing Manager) from Essendon FC via Twitter(@marcbertieri) and Linkedin
- Check out Essendon Football Club and on Facebook and @EssendonFC
- Responding to fans with #EFCListens initiative
- AFL.com.au reports on Essendon FC Supplement scandal
- Essendon FC page on ASADA investigation
- True Value Solar Centre opening
- Essendon FC Birthday app on Facebook – 4000 sign ups so far
- Check out Essendon’s TV Show – The Hangar
- Check out #WarriorsLive Google Hangout
- Previous episodes with West Coast Eagles and Collingwood FC.
- Thank to @Matty_Stevens for the questions on personal branding and breaking into sports digital.
- Sydney FC’s Frank Farina calls out trolls on social media
- Teens are on the move away from Facebook
- Sounds of the game thanks to Brian Gibson from Socceroos via this Instagram video.
- Ep #26 dedicated to former Bombers captain Mark “Bomber” Thompson, although Wade Boggs gets a mention for appearance on The Simpsons
- Like Francis Leach on Facebook and follow @SaintFrankly on Twitter
- Thanks for iTunes reviews in Australian iTunes and USA iTunes.
- Check out BeersBlokesBusiness.com and on iTunes
- Have you signed up for weekly Sports Geek News?
Social Media Post of the Week
Richard spoke about Arsenal Twitter Takeovers last week’s episode, here they recap #AskArsene with a video post on Facebook. Please tweet in your nominations for social media post of the week to @SportsGeek or @seancallanan.
Honorable mention to Dallas Mavericks for parody of Volvo Van Damme ad with owner Mark Cuban.
Well done to FFA’s Brian Gibson on sharing the Socceroos Team sheet with Player Twitter handles.
— The Socceroos (@Socceroos) November 19, 2013
But Shane Harmon’s Westpac Stadium takes out the Social Media Post of the week by trolling Mexico with this tweet, getting press around the world.
— Westpac Stadium (@WestpacStadium) November 13, 2013
Closing 2 Cents
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Sean: Welcome to episode 26 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On today’s episode, we talk crisis management and fan engagement with the Esesndon Footy Club out of their new facilities. We also look at where are teams moving online.
DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host who wrote the intros while flying across country, Sean Callanan.
Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. That’s right, my name is Sean Callanan and thank you very much for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. This is episode 26. You can find all the show notes at sportsgeekhq.com/26. Really looking forward to this show; had a good chat with the guys at Essendon, Justin Rodski and Marc Bertieri. We had a video chat about what happened over the last 12 months.
Just to give my international listeners a bit of background before this interview, the Essendon football club went through effectively what was called a supplement scandal where the AFL investigated them and there were a lot of legal proceedings and very much a cloud hanging over this season. The findings came in and they were eventually suspended from participating in the finals or the playoffs and their coach has been suspended for 12 months.
So it was a really big news story and one that did take a lot of crisis management, so we talk about that with Justin and Marc. And then a little later on, I chat to Francis about dealing with trolls and some recent development with the guys at Sydney FC and how they handled it, and also where the team’s moving online. Are they moving away from Facebook, and what can sports do about that? But first, here’s my chat with Justin Rodski and Marc Bertieri from the Essendon Football Club.
Sean: So here I am at the new facility for the Essendon Football Club with a couple of savvy digital guys, Justin and Marc. So first of all, can I get you guys to introduce yourselves and tell us what you do at the Essendon Football Club? So first, Justin.
Justin: Yeah, I’m Justin Rodski. I’m the general manager of communications and digital media at the club.
Marc: I’m Marc Bertieri. I’m the digital marketing manager, so I play a role in social media, the endgame presentation, also the onsite advertising management. We do a mobile app and a bit of email communication as well.
Sean: So I guess the first thing is this new facility. You’ve only just moved in. Justin, do you want to tell us about the plans the Bombers have had, and obviously there’s still construction going happening here.
Justin: There is, there is.
Sean: You can hear the banging in the back of the move out here, the move from the traditional home at Windy Hill and to the new facility.
Justin: Absolutely. It was a massive move, you know, nearly 90 years at Windy Hill. A lot of tradition and heritage there, and a lot of connections with the local community. It very much started as a pipe dream to come out here about three years ago. Unfortunately, Windy Hill with the footprint size just couldn’t cope with the demands of what the football club needed.
Out here, we’re on about three times the footprint size of Windy Hill: 100,000 square meters, largest flexible indoor training space in Australian sport. It’s got our own pool, rehab facilities, hot and cold baths, there’s a basketball court, a massive gym, two ovals – one the size of the MCG, one the size of Etihad. There’s a one kilometer running track around the precinct here, huge admin facilities, community space.
You’re sitting in the board room here, which is a lot bigger than what we had at Windy Hill. In terms of a multigenerational outcome for the Essendon football club, the performance here has been absolutely fantastic – 26 million dollars’ worth, this is what you get and it’s something that the club desperately needed. We’d fallen behind the rest of the competition and in this day and age, new facilities aren’t going to win you a [promanship], but having the facilities and the resources to attract the best people to the club – not just the best players, but the best people to work here both in administration and football is critical – and that’s why we made the move.
It’s been really exciting. In all of the staff and the football department and the players that are starting to filter back now, there’s a renewed energy, and obviously off the back of everything that happened this year, the timing of this just couldn’t have been better. So as I said, we’re really excited to be here, and there’s really a great sense of energy and excitement about the future.
Sean: Yeah and Marc, you were telling me, you took me through a bit of a tour before about the admin stuff and the marketing stuff and the football department and the players are in a far closer proximity than they were at Windy Hill. Has that made your job a little easier from a digital point of view?
Marc: Yeah, I mean, it’s really easy to access here. You have the coaches and the players downstairs, and just the flow of the building is just fantastic for that. It’s just a lot easier touch points as far as having administration. We used to have administration on a different floor. With everyone in one place, you know, in one office, it’s been fantastic for that, and it just makes it easier for everybody all around and, as Justin said, it’s extremely exciting.
Sean: So Justin, you did touch on just before about the year that you guys have had. It’s been highly publicized, the supplement scandal and the investigation and all the media hype around it. I was also watching it from your point of view and sort of seeing the kind of managing that comes. You know, how hard was it embracing your fans and taking them through that journey and also having that, I’ve said before I think I said it on Harf, digital media and half lawyer. Does that work well together? What’s it like trying to manage that crisis?
Justin: Extremely difficult. There’s no doubt that from the very start, we’ve been on our back foot. Often, in any crisis situation, rule 101 is to know the facts, and unfortunately from day one, we didn’t know the facts. We were continually learning new information every day and every week as the public was. There was an enormous amount of speculation, rumor and innuendo through the media.
Thankfully, and it’s something that’s been overwhelming in terms of response, our fans have been incredible. We decided from the very start that we would be as open and transparent with them as we could through all our channels; understanding that the most direct way was through social media. We made a point to try and communicate with them as often as we could.
At times, there was information that was too sensitive and we couldn’t, but ultimately the challenge of the whole communication piece around what took place was extremely difficult. There was an extraordinary set of circumstances unprecedented in Australian sport. So we just did the best we could to inform them with the information we had along the way. I don’t know if you want to add to that.
Sean: Yeah, I mean, Marc, I mean, I work with a lot of guys like yourself and whether it’s going through a losing streak and you’re, you know, you get to read, fortunately and unfortunately in some cases, everything gets taken. How did you step back and not take everything so personally? I know I’ve had a few digital guys who, going through a bad losing streak, they start feeling defensive and want to defend the club or defend the player. It must have been very tough for you because you were reading, and you were right on the front line of everything.
Marc: You’re exactly right. I used to work at a digital agency previously, and some of my friends were saying when they were meeting their clients and stuff, “Imagine being the Essendon social media guy at the moment,” like that was a joke, and they were like, “We actually know that guy.”
It was extremely tough. You know, I’ve supported the club my whole life and you’ve just got to try and inform to the best that you can as far as if there’s a view out there that’s not just your standard troll out there saying whatever they say. You’ve got to try to inform and keep people educated as best you can with whatever devices you have that are available such as a website, as far as a press release or anything like that. It was extremely difficult, and I think I’m desensitized to a lot of words that come through now.
Justin: It’s critical working in a footy club or in sporting environment with fans and media that you remain objective and above all of that. It’s so easy not to, but it’s just critical and the volume of media interest and requests and I’m sure social media activity was just incredible. I remember one night, Mike [Shehan] was talking at a sports event, and apparently he said – and I think he might have been joking – but he said, “James [Heard] is going to stand down tomorrow.”
And of course, someone who was at the sportsman’s night sent out a tweet or something along those lines and before you know it, social media is abuzz with the fact that James is standing down. It started to circle into the mainstream media guys who start then to call me. This was at eleven o’clock at night. So I rang James straight away. I said, “James, what’s the deal?” And he said, “Mate, there’s no truth in it.”
So I just tweeted and then from that tweet, it was used to quiet some stories the following day. Social media went nuts retweeting it. It was just incredible. It was great to be able to have that immediate opportunity to squash a rumor like that.
Marc: I think from a news reporting and media point of view, I think social media sort of became very mainstream this year, and to a certain degree with what I had with you guys. Prior to that, traditional media wouldn’t report on things being said and rumors and that sort of thing, where they’ve sort of said, “Well, hang on. It’s getting out there anyway.” So The Herald Sun and Fox and all those guys now are starting to report that it’s fact, and it does make a job like yours 24/7 in that instance, and to a certain degree, there’s that “Got to break it, Got to be first.”
It’s very tough from a club point of view, because if there is no news, all you’re doing is saying there is no news, and again, you’re trying to be transparent and you come across as, “Oh, they’re hiding or they’re not revealing.” And it’s like, “There is no news.” How often can you defend news that’s not there?
Justin: That’s right, and if there’s an article that’s 75% accurate but 25% inaccurate, do you respond to the 25% that’s inaccurate and just not respond to the 75% that’s truthful? It became very difficult to manage what was wrong and right and, in the end, we needed to go down a path, especially early on, and the strategy was that we wouldn’t comment on anything. We thought it was going to eliminate any of that, but it left us open to a lot of speculation.
Sean: Yeah, I mean the thing is if you don’t put up a Facebook post, people are going to comment on that. If you don’t put up that tweet… So there is a bit of that batten the hatches mentality. Moving away from the media stuff, you know, the key thing for you guys is your fans. They’re kind of throwing you their support. So, what kind of initiative came out of the crisis? I talked about how you were helping your fans grieve almost, taking them through this process, letting them vent and letting them be upset, but saying you’re still part of the club. What kind of things came out of that?
Marc: Well, I think the biggest thing that we did was that we launched a campaign with the hash tag #EFCListens. That also included an e-mail address where fans could essentially contact the club through e-mail and also on Facebook and Twitter to let us know how they’re feeling, tell us they’re angry, essentially, like you said, grieve about what took place this year, missing finals, ask us any questions they had of us and that’s been a really important body of work that we’re still continuing.
We’re still listening, and soon we’ll be going back to the fans and letting them know that we’ve listened, and here’s our plan moving forward. So, I think [post-saga] and post-season, that’s been the biggest thing that we’ve done and the fans have responded really well to it. They’ve responded really well to the club in general. We had a sell out – over 1500 people. We haven’t had those numbers for ten years.
At times, it’s amazing. Fans are very loyal and passionate people, as you know, and through adversity, that’s often the time they come out and support you the most. And we’ve got a lot to thank them for, and we’ve got a lot of faith to repay them, because they certainly showed it to us this year. The club, the players, and the coaches are all extremely committed to making sure that happens.
Justin: That’s a really good point, and as far as our open training sessions as well, it was more of a process of getting our fans together so they could see the team they love so much and be close to them and meet other supporters that are maybe going through the same thing, and we really just tried to promote those as sessions, come and see the players, come and be around your fellow supporters that are going through the same thing. Toward the end of the year, I think we had an open session every single week, and the turnout was fantastic. It gave us a chance to talk face to face to our supporters as well, so those were really pivotal at the end.
Sean: And I think as we said before, the new venue does provide that change of chapter, the new leaf. What kind of fan events and ways you can activate… What does this offer you from a digital point of view? Not only the access, but also new content and the ability to produce content.
Justin: Well, the biggest thing, Sean, is at the moment it’s just a shell, but we’ve got the space to build a new virtual studio. Currently, plans are well underway to delivering that outcome to the club. We very much share a vision to have a 24-hour digital channel at the Essendon Football Club which would include live broadcasts of shows, panel shows, training sessions, field reporters around the club.
We ultimately want to take Essendon out into the world and as one of the biggest clubs in Australia, we want to have a similar output to the bigger clubs around the world, and we think a virtual studio here will certainly take us to that next level.
Video growth, as you know, is certainly increasing year after year, and I know the mobile app for us has gone through the roof, but when the NBN finally keeps rolling in – and everyone keeps talking about the NBN, NBN, but it’s true – video is growing, but not quite at the same level, compared to overseas. And we want to be prepared for when that does arrive to be able to produce content at that level and give our fans a platform choice, essentially.
So that’s one of the main things, building the studio. We’ll continue with our TV show, “The Hangar,” which will clearly be filmed on location around the club and the players and the coaches have bought into that and that’ll be on Fox Footy again next year. From the digital point of view, eventually the show would end up on our own digital channel, so there are a lot of exciting things happening around the digital space. Marc do you have anything?
Marc: Yeah, just with the more space. You know, you’ve got the indoor training hall and the ambition that was there at Windy Hill. We can bring bloggers, we can bring people from Twitter, ask them to come out to the new facility, maybe watch an open training session, give them live session reports, and really embrace them in this space, because at Windy Hill we didn’t have the technology and we didn’t have the space to operate, whereas out here we’ve got the space and we’ve got the technology. So Wi-Fi capabilities and stuff like that. It’s all very exciting and it’s a dream to get a projection screen where people can come to the club and watch the boys. It’s just the kind of club and facility building together. It’s very exciting.
Sean: Well, you’ve got the similar facility to the guys at Golden State Warriors who ran that Google hangout live from practice without interviewing the coach while the guys are doing three-man weaves up and down the courts. You know that your fans look at that and want to be part of it, want to pick which camera I’m watching at the minute, whether it’s the rehab group over in the corner or the guys doing kick to kick or that kind of thing. I guess just having the size of the venue.
The last couple of weeks ago, I was at West Coast, and the guys effectively called it a dungeon because it was the old equipment, which is what you’ve moved away from, from Windy Hill. You’ve got this space and room to grow.
One thing I wanted to talk to you about is an app you launched a couple of weeks ago on Facebook called the Bombers Birthday App. Do you want to take us through what that was and the idea behind it?
Justin: What it basically does is users on Facebook can enter their data on their birthdays, so that’s their full name, e-mail address, birthday, and also, whether they’re a member of another club. They then go into a selection panel where they can select five or six players from the team, and on their birthdays, they actually receive a notification that goes straight to their Facebook notifications. They also get an e-mail with a discount or a special offer from the Bomber Shop, and also they get birthday greeting that has the code also for the Bomber Shop whatever discount we’ve got going on at the time.
It was kind of brought about from how popular I saw that birthday cards were in the club. A lot of the complaints we received were people who were saying they didn’t receive their birthday cards and people love to interact with the players’ birthdays as well. So there was an opportunity there, I felt, for our largest online audience being Facebook, we should try to work out that user a little more.
It works just via their data, and it’s gone really well so far. We’ve had one Facebook post I believe that’s gone out as a news story and I think we’ve had uptake of about 4,000 people so far. It’s just something we see that’s going to be built out. It’s going to be bigger. It’s going to be better. We’re going to work out all the…
Sean: I guess the other good thing is it’s not a 124words or less campaign; it’s an annual thing. You sign up and you’re going to get a customized e-mail from Joe Watson saying happy birthday, so as a Bombers fan, you’re going to go, “Yeah, cool.”
The other side of it is we’re collecting the data, we’re qualifying our fans, we’re finding out who our members are. Like you said, from a promotion point of view, you pretty much say, “Yeah, here it is,” you know. Is there any plan to extend that using other kind of advertising products?
Marc: Yeah, we’re just trying to iron out all the kinks in it at the moment, just to see what the reaction is. We’ve had good feedback. We’ve had negative feedback, but the main message that we’re talking about at the moment is that it’s something that can be built up.
Ideally, I’d love to get those five or six players together in a room before the season starts and get them to go through every single name we can possibly think of under the sun and actually have a video message to send out from Joe or whoever it might be. That’s the extent I’d like to take it out to, but it’s something new as far as the pace of technology.
I haven’t really seen brands use that personal Facebook notification before, and I thought it would be a really good combination with the birthday greeting. As soon as we get those kinks ironed out, I hope it can be something that will remain in the club for the next five years or whatever so we can really build it into something special.
Sean: Well that’s the thing. Once everyone has their birthdays, you know, if you haven’t had a birthday in nine months, you have to wait until next July or whatever to get the notification. It is going to be drips and drabs as people have their birthdays and say, “Oh look, here’s my card. You better sign up.” Looking forward positively with the new facilities, what sort of plans do you have for next year with Bob Thompson at the helm and the new plans coming up? I know you just announced a new naming rights sponsor this week.
Justin: Naming rights of the new venue will be announced shortly and we have a new co-major sponsor with Fujitsu coming onboard for the next four years. It’s a very exciting time for the club. The playing group and the team is in a good place to challenge next year. They’re certainly on the cusp of a really exciting year on the field.
For us, it’s about continuing to engage with the fans and give them the best possible digital experience they can have and take them inside. It’s a little bit cliché, but it’s true. We want to take them inside the hangar, inside the locker room, give them insight into what happens on match day, and provide them with the analysis and the summary of a match by the coach straight after the match on their mobile phones. These are the sorts of things we want to continue to deliver to our fans. We have an amazing culture of digital engagement with our fans ever since Essendon got its own website. You know, with Danny Bishop and -
Sean: For those of you who don’t know, Essendon basically opted out of the AFL website deal and had their own website for 13 years, and you only just came back two years ago?
Marc: Yeah, we did a half-transition two years ago and now we’re fully reintegrated into the Telstra network. [Brad Patton], I should mention, was the original developer and Danny Bishop, they came on. That’s been a little bit of…. That’s involved some communication and education around that transition back, but our fans have always engaged with us extremely well through digital platforms and we think now we’ve really started to provide them with the sort of content that they want and with Collingwood, we dominate the digital matrix and we want to continue to do that. Most importantly, we want to continue to give them the best possible digital experience they can get.
Sean: Well, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast. Good luck for the offseason. We look forward to seeing plenty of content coming out of the hangar, or whatever the hangar may be called when you do get a naming rights sponsor. We’ll make sure we’ve got links to all things Essendon in the show notes. Thanks for joining me.
DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at sportsgeekhq.com/signupnow.
Sean: Thanks again to Justin and Marc for having me out at the newly-named True Value Solar Center. It was christened just a couple days after the interview, and also what happened a couple of days after the interview is they changed their Twitter handle. They lost the underscore. They were @Essendon_FC and now they’re just @EssendonFC. A little bit cleaner; doesn’t require a change in keyboards to get to that pesky underscore.
Which leads me into another question: Matty_Stevens follows me on Twitter, did email me, asking me a few questions around personal branding and how he could break into sports digital media. And he did ask, could he change his Twitter handle and get rid of the underscore. I don’t have any underscore. I was lucky enough to get rid of my account from the get-go. SportsGeek originally was @_SportsGeek_.
If you can get rid of it you can, but to a certain degree it doesn’t really matter in the wash-up of everything. It is a bit tough to type at times, but really the content you share and the connections you make are far more important than underscores. I can only quote Will Anderson, whose handle is @_WillAnderson, who joked that he’s going to legally change his middle name to underscore. I don’t think it matters too much, Matty.
I think what does matter is the content you share and the connections you make on Twitter and even more so on LinkedIn. Make those connections now. Connect with the people you want to work with, and then share the content that forms your opinion, what you’re reading and then share the work that other people are sharing to make those connections.
My other suggestion would be to use the tools and the platforms that you hope to be working on, so Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Really dive in deep and try to understand the inner workings of them. If you want to work in sports digital, I’m a big fan of the term, from my IT days, dog-fooding. It’s a term that’s a means of eating your own dog food, which means as a developer you have to use the applications and tools that you’re building. That way you can figure out all the thins that are wrong with them so you can fix them. I’m a big believer in that as well. If you’re going to work in the sports digital and the sports social media space, then you must be a person who uses them every single day to really understand how it can work because you really want to do the testing on your accounts and now when you get given the keys to a team or a brand account.
Okay. Now onto my discussion with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.
Francis: Live and direct from Sports Geek HQ, Sean Callanan with the world of sport in the digital realm. Hello, Sean. How you going this morning?
Sean: I’m good. Thanks, Francis. Doing well.
Francis: We’d both rather be in San Francisco right now, wouldn’t we?
Sean: Yeah, we would be. If you look on #SFBatKid, you’ll see something pretty special happening. It’s not great for radio, but I’m showing you the front page of the Gotham City Chronicle. A young boy fighting leukemia, he had a Make a Wish come out, and he said he wanted to be Bat Kid. They started to put something together and put an ad out to the public, and it’s actually happening now. He’s already stopped a bank robbery. He’s had a tour down the main street with thousands of people cheering him on and I think he’s headed out to meet up with the guys with the Giants. I think he’s saving one of the team mascots.
Francis: Have a look at the hash tag #SFBatKid and take it in, the size of the crowds involved; the costume this kid is wearing is just extraordinary. He looks like he just walked off the set of the latest Batman franchise flick. He does have a car. Yes, he does have a Bat Mobile, and this is all sort of organically taking on this massive momentum through social media.
Sean: That’s the thing. The Make a Wish Foundation said they do get wishes all the time, and this one was a little bit extreme, that he said he wanted to be Bat Kid. Nut once they started putting it out there, the whole of San Francisco got behind it and it just, the sporting and the flow of information coming out of San Francisco… Why wouldn’t you? I mean it’s this kid’s one wish and they all want to get behind it, and the fact that people are cheering from five stories down to watch this kid run down the street is really a good story.
Francis: It certainly is, and it reminds us of the positive impact social media can have because elsewhere in the world we do tend to find out the negative effects. And one of them was in the world of sports. It’s interesting, we had Frank Farina in on the program last week and he wanted to talk about this as well, and he responded last week to some nasty and toxic comments last week via Facebook towards his players and some of the people involved with Sydney FC. He wrote a blog about it and talked about the impact it had on them, and it was an interesting discussion around that. Did he fuel the fire of the trolls by doing so or did he actually raise a serious issue in relation to conduct online and personal responsibility. And I asked him about it yesterday when he joined us here on Grandstand Breakfast Radio and the reasons why he went to the lengths that he did to keep this to light
Frank: It’s the new beast in sport. It’s another thing you have to deal with as clubs, coaches, and players. Twenty years ago, it was not around so it wasn’t an issue, but sometimes there’s a schoolyard mentality where if one person says something and you’ll have a few that will jump on board, mostly anonymously. It’s a necessary evil we all have to deal with.
Francis: Frank Farina there, and you actually work very closely football club franchising and sports people who are trying to navigate their ways through this.
Sean: Yeah, it is very tough because everyone does get a voice and it is the anonymity that the internet can provide. It gives some people a puffed out chest.
Francis: It appeals to our lesser angels, let’s put it that way.
Sean: Yeah, it does. I guess one thing I do when I’m talking and working with athletes particularly because they get the brunt of this more than a club, is they have to have a pretty thick skin about it. I try to embrace the positive side of it, because there will be those fans. I like to think sports fans online are mostly, and I’ll use Seth Godin’s term, positive deviance, most of them are, “I’m a supporter and I want to show my support,” but there is that vocal minority. That’s the thing that can appear to be far bigger than it is.
I’ve done it before where I’ve spoken at an event and you see 100 tweets of, “That was great. Good work. Love that talk,” and then you have someone say, “Oh, that was hopeless.” Human tendency is to look at that kind of thing. It’s something you’ve always got to manage and remember to put in that box. If you can amplify the ones that are positive and showing that support, you can turn that around a little bit.
Francis: So you can kind of choose what to focus on.
Sean: Yeah, exactly. There’s no reason for you to be following those people, there’s no reason if you’ve had a bad game to go check social media. From a psychology point of view, you’ve got to realize. You know there’s going to be that kind of vitriol in some cases. And in some instances, you go, “I don’t need that.”
Francis: Do you advise your people not to respond to trolls in the way Frank chose to?
Sean: Primarily, because trolls really thrive on oxygen. They really do want that recognition of, “Ha! I’ve got to them”. That’s what they’re going for. But there is a certain part of it of don’t give them that air, don’t give them any oxygen and don’t acknowledge them. There is some point where, and I think this is where Frank was trying to get to, where you say it is very difficult. The people who are behind us, you support us. That’s where your community can come in and say, “Hey, that’s out of line. Pull up.” Your fans can be the ones that are effectively providing that first level of defense.
We do see that with a lot of clubs where a post goes up for a club or for a player and there will be a few, and sometimes it’ll be opposition supporters who actually are supporters of your team. They’ll just say, “Oh, there’s an easy beating.” You’ve got to, as fans of your club; you want to show a bit of spine and say, “That’s not on.”
Francis: We’ve looked at traditional forms of social media to say that now, because it hasn’t been that long in the realm that we’ve had these Facebook and Twitter, but they’re becoming, in some ways, a first generation platform, aren’t they? Younger people are moving away from them altogether, which is going to make it harder and harder for that conversation to be curated by sports organizations.
Sean: Definitely. More of the platforms that we’re seeing…and when I was doing research for this, there are articles saying teens are moving away from Facebook. That’s the reason why, because parents and grandparents are on there and it’s not cool anymore. But when I was looking at it, those articles have been written for three years in a row. It’s sort of like, “It’s September, October or November. Let’s write that article.”
There is a bit of movement of teens across to new platforms like Tumblr, where it’s a little bit darker, to a certain degree. And they can be a bit more of themselves and express themselves. And then there’s a big move to mobile apps and more of these messaging apps, like WhatsApp and SnapChat, those kinds of ones that aren’t public and aren’t open.
Francis: What’s different?
Sean: Well, SnapChat, fortunately and unfortunately, it’s sort of known for the whole sexting realm because the whole idea of SnapChat is you are friends with someone and you can send them a picture. They get to see that picture for however long you can say. So I can send you something and say you get five seconds. You’ve got to hole your thumb on the picture to see it. If you take your thumb off the picture, it goes away and it’s destroyed. It’s sort of meant to be a little message and, boom, it’s gone.
They’ve obviously had a whole lot of issues around sexting and people sending inappropriate photos with kids thinking, “Oh, cool. Because it’s going to get destroyed, I wont get done.” But people were screenshotting it or taking another camera and taking a photo of their phone. It lends itself to a whole raft of issues. Because of the non-public nature of it, the fact that it’s all completely private, does lend itself to that bullying mentality and makes it really tough as a parent, if you’re looking at teens and that kind of thing, to help police that and keep an eye on what your kids are doing.
Francis: I guess also, in the realm of what you’re talking about, the sorting context, the idea that you can have some sort of community that can self-police those sorts of behaviors gets even more difficult in an environment where there’s a proliferation of platforms and also the instantaneous nature that means it’s going to come out and get out really quickly.
Sean: That’s the danger of these platforms themselves, but the other danger from the sports point of view is that if teens and younger kids are moving away from these platforms, how are sports going to connect with them? That’s something to be seen. I don’t see the benefit of SnapChat.
They’re trying to move into telling stories and public type of thing, so a sports team could be on SnapChat and put it up and say, “You want to see a picture inside the room? It’s going to be up there for 24 hours.” And you can see it. So they’re trying to move into that space, but it’s sort of built on a private messaging system.
Again, digital natives, Athletes that are coming up the ranks that are using these products, and again, they’re probably using them with their friends, if they start letting fans leach into that group, then they’re getting into that problem territory.
Francis: You’re about to take off to Sydney to talk to the Socceroos?
Sean: Yeah. The Socceroos are in camp. So we’re going to go up and talk to them about some of the activations that we’re going to be doing, We’ve done Socceroos before and we’ll do some things on Facebook. SO really just some ideas for them as athletes to be really good digital citizens, how to engage with fans and how they can leverage what is going to be an absolutely massive opportunity at the World Cup next year.
We really want them to be primed to be able to share that inner sanctum experience. What better way than coming from the players themselves? Especially when who knows when FIFA and all them will come up with what you can and can’t do. I think the players will get a free pass on a lot of that. It’ll be really advantageous for Socceroos to be able to get their content from the players.
Francis: Sharing a once in a lifetime experience. Good on you, mate. Have a good trip and I’ll talk to you next week. Sean Callanan. We can find you on Sports Geek HQ?
Sean: Sportsgeekhq.com or on iTunes.
Francis: It’s Grandstand Breakfast.
DJ Joel Follow Sports Geek on LinkedIn: Sportsgeekhq.com/LinkedIn.
Sean: It was good to catch up with the Socceroos a couple of days before their match with Costa Rica. It’s really good when you’re trying to train athletes to give them some actual examples of what they can do. Rather than just say engaging and talking to the fans, it’s really good to show them how to do it. You’ve got to remember they’re not digital marketers, they’re not content producers, they’re athletes first and foremost. Giving them a few tools around, “This is how we’re going to do it. This is how we’re going to do a chat session. This is how we answer fans. This is how we favorite a fan’s tweet to show them you’ve seen it,” is really valuable and just gives them some simple tools for them to take away the big thing that we do with athletes is time management and understanding where to keep social media in their schedule.
Speaking of time management, that clock is reminding me that I need to wind up this show. This is episode 26, and you can get the show notes at sportsgeekhq.com/26. And whom do I dedicate this episode to? I had a few nominations come in via Twitter for Gavin Brown, Wade Boggs, and Rod Woodson. Because I talked to the guys at Essendon, I’m going to have to go with Marc “Bomber” Thompson who wore 26 with distinction for the Essendon Footy Club and is now going to coach Essendon for the next 12 months while James Heard is suspended.
This week, social media post of the week? Wow. A few big nominations this week. There are a couple honorable mentions I have to throw out first. One to Dallas Mavericks who do a great job with parody music videos. If you haven’t seen the Jean Claude Van Damme Volvo commercial yet, you’re living under a rock. But the Dallas Mavericks were very quick with their parody, which is really a key thing when you’re doing a parody is to get it out there quickly so you can sort of catch the viral juice of the original video. They did a Mark Cuban version of that video. . So they get an honorable mention.
Also, another from Brain Gibson who runs the Socceroos. We actually came up with this idea on the morning of the Socceroos match, where we put the twitter handles and Instagram handles on the official team sheet and put it on twitter and that got a little bit of press and a pretty good response from the fans on Twitter, just to see the different Twitter handles of the players.
Really, I cannot go past Shane Harmon and Westpac Stadium’s tweet where they trolled a whole country. They sent out a tweet in the lead up of the New Zealand-Mexico World Cup qualifier. It got a stack of retweets and press coverage around the world. Really good job showing that any account, even a stadium, can have a little personality and have a little bit of fun on the Twitter.
This week’s sounds of the game comes from the Socceroo’s match, this is Terrace Australis.
So well done there, Brian Gibson, for capturing that one and getting out in the crowd. Get out of the media box and get pictures and sounds from the game. Thanks to those of you who checked out my side project podcast, Beers, Blokes and Business. This week, it hit number one in the business category in Australia on iTunes. Again, if you’ve been listening or reviewed it, thank you very much. For those of you who want to listen, I suggest you listen to episode four, especially yourself, Matty. It’s an episode on career jumping. I talk about how I started Sports Geek and how I got there.
Also, episode 13 is a good one on motivating staff. Episode 10 is on building apps. If you go to beersblokesbusiness.com, you’ll find out more. You can go to beersblokesbusiness.com/iTunes to get it on iTunes. Thanks again for your support. I really do appreciate the ITunes reviews, both on this podcast and Beers, Blokes and Business. Those reviews and posting it on your own social networks, Facebook and LinkedIn, really do help spread the word and help me to get a wider audience for this podcast. You can always go to sportsgeekhq.com/sgp and share any app that you like on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Closing two cents. Since social media does allow to provide personality for your team, live it, breath it, and more importantly know it.
DJ Joel: Please leave a review on iTunes. Go to sportsgeekhq.com/iTunes. Find all Sports Geek podcasts on sportsgeekhq.com/sgp. Check out which teams work with sports geek at sportsgeekhq.com/clients. Thanks for listening to this Sports Geek podcast.