If you've ever sat back and wondered just who was the controlling hand of your team's Twitter and Facebook feeds, wonder no more. As a Sports Geek initiative, we are starting a Social Media Manager Profile Series, where we will have a behind the scenes look at the men and women who give teams their online personality.

We kick off the series this week with Daniel Pinne (@cushion09), a former Sports Geeker who is the creative driver of the Melbourne Storm's social media presence.


After graduating from Victoria University with a degree in Sports Management, Daniel got his first real experience as an intern for the AST Dew Tour (known today as Alli Sports), where he worked for five months in an event management capacity. For Daniel, his interest in marketing and, specifically, the digital side of creating a great spectator experience, came during his time at Vic Uni, when he studied abroad at the San Jose State University. It was whilst studying in the US, the veritable home of sports and entertainment, that created the passion in Daniel to reach fans digitally and build great online relationships with team supporters.

After returning from his American odyssey, Daniel started his career in an events and membership position with Swimming Victoria. Using the experience from how business was conducted in North America, Daniel turned to digital as a focus in an attempt to take the Swimming Victoria events and programs to a new level. Unfortunately for Daniel, the traditional structures that are engrained within state organisations makes digital marketing efforts difficult. With his passion for this area growing, Daniel sought to further his career elsewhere.

With a great drive and determination to become a leader in sports digital delivery, Daniel started promoting himself to potential employers online, where, luckily, he came into contact with Sports Geek. Entering the Sports Geek Digital Intern program as a springboard, Daniel says, “I was able to secure a short term contract role with Melbourne Storm to assist in the Digital Department throughout their finals campaign as the current employee was resigning through the finals period”.

Through his hard work and dedication to maintaining the Storm’s high quality of digital engagement, Dan was rewarded handsomely with the full time role as Digital Media Manager at the end of the contract.

With his Melbourne Storm role now permanent, Dan sought to grow and strengthen the Storm's online personality, specifically his key drivers of membership sales and renewals.

“While it’s been engrained in AFL for some time now, membership is a relatively new initiative for NRL clubs”, Dan says. He also believes that, as the Storm's membership has grown to a record high of approximately 12,000, “there is a big opportunity for the club to continue to grow it’s membership base so this continues to be the message that is pushed through our digital mediums”.

An advocate of using the iPhone and Mac for all his social media work, Dan identifies Tweetbot and the new Facebook Pages app (available from the app store) as keys to successful social media management. “Tweetbot keeps me in the loop all the time”, says Dan, while acknowledging that Instagram is also a lot of fun and can be a different, left-of-centre approach to content than fans may enjoy.

It isn't all fun and games as a Social Media Manager, though. As the manager of social media, the Melbourne Storm official website, video production and digital strategy, it's a hectic gig for Daniel. On top of the vast array of digital content that must be included in the overall digital strategy of the Storm, Dan identifies the education of the football department and Storm staff as a whole as important to the strategy.

“It's a fine balance,” Dan says, in regards to seamlessly integrating digital media and creating content in line with the football department, players and the entire team of staff. “The coaching staff are comfortable with the fact that I will be around them with a camera at all times and they understand the outcomes of what I want to do”.

As well as working with the organisation as a whole and developing the social media strategy as a part of the entire organisational strategy, Dan believes that staying up to date with ebbs and flows of social media is essential to being productive and successfully producing worthwhile content.

“Mashable is a good source (for social media and sports digital news)”, Dan reflects. “I follow a lot of sports digital people on Twitter so when I scroll through my own feed I usually come across some interesting articles. A weekly catch up with Sports Geek (Sean) keeps me in the loop as well”.

In keeping up with the latest in the digital world, Dan has developed many great social media initiatives that make the Storm a great presence online. To date, Dan identifies the coverage of superstar Cooper Cronk's re-signing as one of the best digital promotions he has presided over. Using the hashtag #morecronk, Dan was able to generate large coverage and feedback from fans, which is obviously the key motivation for sports being on social media; interacting with fans and building mutually beneficial relationships.

The recent BattleCam promotion was also singled out as one that has been successful for the top-of-the-table Storm, with the implementation of the Storm's “BattleCam” FanCam being the most successful this season in terms of fan participation. When AFL teams such as the Western Bulldogs and powerhouses Collingwood and Carlton have also implemented this technology this season but trail the Storm's numbers, it's obvious it was a stroke of genius from the Storm's digital man.

Graph from Melbourne Storm showing their success from BattleCam

Even though Dan has been extremely successful for the Melbourne Storm, boosting their Facebook fan page (Melbourne Storm) to over 165,000 fans, not to mention their some 16,000 Twitter followers (@MelbStormRLC), he isn't prepared to get too far ahead of himself with the direction social media is taking.

“Who knows (where sports digital will be in five years)!  I don’t think it’s worth trying to anticipate where it will be in 5 years time as you will most likely be incorrect anyway. I’d rather focus on what’s influential now and make the most of any new platforms that come up in the immediate future”.


A big thank you to Dan for letting me profile him and being the first off the rank in this new series. Be sure to keep an eye on this space for more profiles soon. If you want to follow or chat to Dan, you can reach him on:

Be sure to check out his fantastic work with the Melbourne Storm at: