Drive Social Shareability with Simple Call-to-Action Statements

In the sports landscape, it's important for team social media managers to consistently seek out new ways to drive engagement in their channels... In a lot of cases the most effective ideas are also the most simplistic.

Here's a quick and easy social sharing idea for teams to consider: "Like vs. Share"

A team like the Miami Heat could easily post an image featuring Dwyane Wade and LeBron James standing side by side on the basketball court on Facebook with a simple call-to-action:

"Like for Wade / Share for LeBron" ... This post could easily generate thousands of likes and shares in a matter of minutes.

Looking for some other things to compare? Here's a few ideas:

1. Home vs. Away uniforms (especially around a launch)

2. Former players / legends

3. Player matchups

4. Former coaches

5. Potential draft picks

6. Top Fans

The Lightning Launch a Seat Seeker Initiative to Reward Active Twitter Followers with Tickets

The Tampa Bay Lightning recently celebrated the start of the 2011-12 season by creating a promotional platform that rewards fans for interacting with the team on Twitter. As part of the platform, entitled the Tampa Bay Lightning Seat Seeker, fans can follow the team's official Twitter handle (@TBLightning) to receive messages when free tickets are placed at secret locations throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Once the message is posted, Lightning fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #BeTheThunder to unlock clues that zero in on the location of the tickets. Once the location is revealed, the first person who finds the tickets wins them.

The Lightning launched a landing page to host the Seat Seeker initiative, which features a camera that zooms in on the location of the tickets every time a designated amount of tweets occur. The site includes a countdown unit that shows how many total tweets have been posted (240+ to date) and how many are needed to activate the next zoom.

The lucky Lightning fan who won tickets for the team's Opening Night game found them at a McDonald's location on West Kennedy Blvd., showcasing how teams can effectively benchmark and utilize the social media promotion to drive traffic and publicity to corporate partners' retail locations. 

Check it out below - a great, engaging tactic!

A special thanks to Caryn Switaj of the Tampa Bay Lightning for her insights and contributions to this column!

Manchester United Unveils the Facebook Goal Challenge

On Sunday June 19th, Manchester United posted a unique Facebook Goal Challenge video on its Official Facebook page that attracted 27K likes and 2.7K comments within a matter of just two (2) days (however, it is important to note that ManU has 16MM registered Facebook followers).

The video featured a collection of the team's stars, including Wayne Rooney, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Edwin van der Sar, Luis Nani, and Chris Smalling, competing head-to-head in a shooting competition.

Manchester United featured a giant "Facebook Goal Challenge" banner across a regulation sized goal and tasked the players with competing in an accuracy challenge to determine an unofficial champion. There's no word on whether Facebook was actually affiliated with the promotion or if Manchester United just created the stunt while unofficially using Facebook's logo and marks.

Check out Manchester United's cool "Facebook Goal Challenge" promotion below:


Guest Editorial: How Connecting Online Can Produce Real Business Value

Jonathan Norman is a sports sponsorship strategist for GMR Marketing, a major U.S. sports and event marketing firm. Jonathan has been in sports marketing and media for more than 10 years, and has worked on several major corporate branding campaigns around sports. His expertise resides in how brands reach consumers through sponsorship and activation of sports properties. Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Norman and his official blog here.

The main ballroom at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square was filled last month with the best and the brightest from sports, as executives from the leagues, teams, networks, brands and agencies gathered for the annual Sports Business Awards. Outside the ballroom, there was a familiar scene. Colleagues and friends shared updates and insights that could lead to the next great idea in sports, and introductions were made that could lead to new partnerships that alter the sports landscape.

Networking is critical for our industry, and as many of you know, it’s expanded online significantly in the last five years. Portals such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other industry-specific social communication sites have changed the way we do business. With nearly 750 million accounts between the three major sites, the impact continues to grow.

Twitter has certainly found popularity among the sports industry in particular, as 42 percent of those surveyed in the 2010 SBJ/SBD Reader Survey are using the service, up six percentage points from the previous year. Assuming that our industry has a universe of 50,000 individuals domestically and internationally (a very round estimate), that would mean that at least 21,000 of us could be connecting on an hourly, daily or weekly basis on Twitter.

If we were to look at those Twitter users within the sports business community, we could likely classify them in three ways. I’ll call them “no-shows,” “lurkers” and “connectors.” No-shows are industry members who are not using Twitter. Lurkers are those who have a Twitter account, but use it only for keeping up with the news and conversation, rarely or never contributing. The connectors are those who are plugged in, both receiving and sharing information, all in a highly targeted way.

Each of these groups plays a role in sports business online, but all three have the opportunity to continue to build the community. For no-shows, it’s about getting onto the site, creating a handle and surveying the landscape — listening in. For lurkers, it’s about joining the conversation and interacting with the community — being engaged. If you’re a connector, you’ll want to continue to advocate for using Twitter and engage others to also connect — doing more. That’s where each of these will experience real value. If we look specifically at that value, it’s primarily fourfold. For ease, I’ll just call it the four C’s:

Connection: Twitter provides connection points with colleagues in real time, paired with the ability to network with individuals we don’t normally come across on a daily basis. There’s real value here: Tangible business relationships are formed every day through the medium.

Collaboration: Through these relationships and subsequent conversation on Twitter, we’re able to dissect important issues of the day as a group, each providing our own insights and opinions for the group to consider. While we all represent our own organizations and areas of business, we find opportunities to share valuable thoughts and ideas in an open forum.

Consideration: Through connection and collaboration, we have the opportunity to consider new ways of thinking from other areas of sport. While some may criticize Twitter as a means to erupt with short-sighted musings, it is also a way to read others’ opinions as they unfold, and possibly reconsider your own positions.

Current events: Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to site for breaking news, whether it’s SportsBusiness Journal reporting a Pac-10 media deal or updates on the latest free agent signing. By simply following one of the many lists of sports business reporters, you can help eliminate the dreaded daily onslaught of Google Alerts.

Over the last three years, our industry has developed a subset of executives that actively participate on Twitter, primarily through the hashtag of #sportsbiz, which is a means of identifying conversations. About 800 users consistently use this identifier to stay up to date on news, share insights, connect with fellow professionals and become more engaged in our industry. This community has become one of the critical components of the ongoing education of sports business executives across the globe. The value of this group, and others built around the sports industry, is evidenced through their rapid growths.

Let it be said that the sports business forum on Twitter will never replace the value of working the ballroom and hallways at industry conferences. We need the face-to-face interactions that are the backbone of our industry. And to be fair, some of the criticisms of Twitter are rooted in the truth. While some of the early perceptions of the medium are well-founded (i.e., sharing what you had for lunch), Twitter has evolved and will continue to do so as business professionals embrace the channel. There’s little downside to joining the community.

By engaging through Twitter, we all share in the ability to be more informed and in tune with the sports business industry. It allows us to serve our clients and sponsor partners better and, in the end, further develop our own ability to collaborate and connect.

For smart sports professionals, I believe the choice is easy: We all have to develop an online networking game plan and execute it. Whether you’re a no-show, lurker or connector, commit to the plan and you’ll find rewarding interactions that have real business value.

Nike Uses a "Social" Billboard Campaign to Promote Customization in Copenhagen

Nike recently launched an innovative billboard campaign in Copenhagen, Denmark that featured a team of Nike graffiti designers customizing a Nike iD billboard in "real-time" based on Facebook community engagement.

Over a two week period, Nike graffiti artists spray painted a giant white shoe billboard to mirror the most "liked" designs in the Nike Free Run 2 iD Facebook page. On the dedicated Nike Facebook page, consumers can download a Free Run 2 iD application that allows them to customize their shoes and have the ability to purchase them directly on Fans can view a complete gallery of designs and vote on them using Facebook "like" functionality.

Check out Nike's unique social billboard campaign below:

Provide Fans with "Instant Rewards" for their Venue Check-Ins

As geolocation based services (Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places) begin to play a larger role in the sports space, sports organizations should consider ways to instantly reward fans for their actions. Fans commonly "check-in" while attending games for a number of reasons, including interaction with other fans in attendance, sharing stadium photos, tips, and insights, and browsing various "check-in" locations throughout the stadium.

But while this engagement is appealing to some, teams will likely need to begin providing fans with incentives to continue their actions, especially as geolocation based services remain in the early adoption phase. As sports organizations look to engage their corporate partners in their social media and geolocation based marketing efforts, a true opportunity exists with "instant rewards".

GranataPet Snack, a German-based pet food company, recently created an interactive billboard display that rewarded all consumers who "checked-in" on Foursquare while walking their dog in front of the area. The interactive dispenser, triggered by a sensor, engaged hundreds of consumers and created an instant case study for brands and organizations looking to reward consumers in real-time for their actions on Foursquare.

Teams can look to create a similar interactive display within the concourse (or adjacent to the ticket box office outside the stadium/arena during the off-season) that engages and rewards fans for their actions. Teams could provide a variety of low-budget items to consumers to create an element of surprise, including exclusive promotional giveaways, leftover premium items, autographed merchandise, t-shirts, mascot rewards, and products/services provided by corporate partners.

GrenataPet Snack reportedly worked with a German-based agency called Agenta to execute the campaign. We'll be on the lookout for vendors that can build and execute an interactive Foursquare-based prizing system!


Thank You! - Runner-Up, Sports Social Media Professional of 2010

In mid-December, Lewis Howes and the held a poll to gauge who was the Top Sports Social Media Professional of 2010. I was honored to be included among a number of noteworthy nominees (see below) and just wanted to say a quick thank you to all those of you who voted for me and have helped spread the word about the site.

The final results were announced late last week and CNBC's Darren Rovell was named the winner but I am honored to say that I finished as the runner-up with 370+ votes. There are so many terrific individuals doing amazing things in the sports social media/sports business space and I really do appreciate everyone's continued support for Partnership Activation. I had the honor of guest blogging for Darren Rovell on in 2008 and really consider it a privilege to be considered in the same class as him.

I wanted to send a quick note of congratulations to all of the other nominees that were considered for Top Sports Social Media Professional of 2010, including: Jim Bankoff (SB Nation), Matthew Higgins (NY Jets), Amy Martin (Digital Royalty), Darren Heitner (Sports Agent Blog/Dynasty), Russell Scibetti (The Business of Sports), Ben Sturner (Leverage Agency), Daniel McLaren (UK Sports Network), Jason Peck (, Scott Phelps (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ash Read (, Sam Taggart (Vaynermedia), and Stephanie Bagley (Vaynermedia).

... And a special thanks to Lewis Howes for putting the promotional poll together to recognize a number of individuals doing great things in the space! Check out a great interview Lewis did with Darren Rovell by clicking the image below:

2011 Sports and Social Media Predictions

Jason Peck recently teamed up with a number of sports and social media industry thought leaders to create an insightful ebook that details Sports and Social Media Predictions for 2011.

I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to read through the free piece, as I am sure you will gain some valuable nuggets of information that you can share with clients, colleagues, and friends. The 2011 Sports and Social Predictions document features opinions, thoughts, and predictions from 17 industry professionals.

Check out Jason Peck's site, Take a Peck, as well, which serves as a tremendous industry resoure for all professionals working in sports and social media. Hats off to Jason, Ash Read, and all the thought leaders who contributed to create yet another terrific industry resource!