All posts by Daniel McLaren

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at the UK Sports Network (UKSN). Dan also works as a Social Media Marketing Consultant with the likes of the Rugby Players Association, Yonex and Storystream. A lover of all sports and a player of a few. Follow me at @danielmclaren for insights into social media, football and many other random things.
Wearables

How will wearable technology impact social marketing for sports brands?

Saf Hossain is a Social Media Manager at We Play. We Play is a London-based sports social media agency helping brands commercialise their relationship with fans.

In an announcement that surprised very few people last week, Cupertino’s finest revealed the first ever Apple Watch. Many commentators are predicting that, like mp3 players, smartphones and tablets, Apple’s arrival into the smartwatch market provides wearable technology with mainstream appeal and long-term staying power.

Of course, wearable tech does not stop at watches, with Google Glass arguably generating the most excitement among consumers thus far. We have already seen isolated examples of the technology used in American Football (as shown above) – and some of the major social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are now introducing functionality for their apps to wearable devices. However, the wearable industry is still in its infancy and it hasn’t been until now that applications for wearable devices will become a mainstream product for developers.

Now, the wearables industry enters a gold rush for a standout social app for these new devices – because current platforms are too content-rich to shrink and display on a tiny watch screen. The new gadgets will have to operate on their own merit, without the need for a smartphone app, to really flourish.

This means reducing messaging to the bare bones – prioritising the quality of communication over richness and detail. Even a 140-character Tweet would be too lengthy as a piece of content on a smartwach, and would a Facebook post hold the user’s attention when glancing through Google Glass?

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Where will wearables position in the social media marketing mix? As the success of Vine and Snapchat have proven, social media users (particularly in the younger demographic) are hugely receptive to short, snackable content. This translates to engagement as well: users already engage in the way that’s quickest (applause) over ways that are more demanding for time (conversation and amplification). While user experience across products ranging from Apple Watch to Android Wear to Google Glass will likely vary a considerable amount, creating a language of engagement that plays to wearable strengths – gestures, body movements and voice control – is how the next big social platform will distinguish itself.

So where do sports brands come into play? First of all, wearables present a clean slate for marketers to push content. Consumers have become so accustomed to notifications popping up on a smartphone that many disregard those messages until a later time. If a smartwatch were to vibrate, being physically connected to the user means the natural reaction is to check the screen.

Because wearables will undergo several phases of adoption before it’s safe to assume that almost everyone has one, the cogent tactic for marketers would be to first use the devices to get personal. For example, Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear – even screenless trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone Up – track the user’s physical activity. Sportswear brands will mine this valuable CRM data, and offer the consumer information on the latest products, relevant to their activity.

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If wearable technology is really here to stay and not simply a passing fad, at some point in the future we could be attending a sporting event where the majority of spectators have one. You’ll be sat there during a lull in play, and a message from an event sponsor flashes up on your smartwatch saying something like:

“Check out our amazing offer. Come to this part of the stadium. Give the attendant a high-five to collect a discount.”

Conclusion? Though smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of everyday life to most of us, they have also made communication more elaborate, more screen-centric and ultimately more homogenous. Wearables, within the evolving universe of connected products, dubbed the ‘Internet of Things’, present an opportunity to scale back complex communication to a simpler and (arguably) less intrusive experience. In turn, the new challenge for marketers will become a defining paradigm for brands and fans to connect.

header image source: http://qoosha.com/is-wearable-tech-the-next-big-thing/ 

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#DSLondon: Talking Real-Time Video, Vine and Mobile on Wed 24th Sept

This time next week we’ll be back up and running with Digital Sport London after the summer break. Last time out we were chatting with Wimbledon’s Alexandra Willis and the Football League’s Russell Scott.

Next up we’ll be hearing from the guys at Grabyo, the UK’s leading real-time social video company who have been working with Wimbledon, ITV Football (on the World Cup) and Sky Sports amongst others.

James Heneghan will be letting us know “how real-time video enables real social TV for broadcasters and rights holders”. It promises to be a really interesting first session of the evening.

In the second part we’ll be hosting a panel session that includes Synergy Sponsorship’s Head of Digital, Josh Robinson, and the CEO of Law In Sport, Sean Cottrell. In this we’ll be looking back into some of James’ presentation as well as delve into the murky waters of  broadcasting rights and social media.

Back on 15th August the Premier League warned fans about posting video’s of goals on social networks. This has been totally ignored by fans and even newspapers have been using Vine’s and GIFs to show the top goals of the week. So far the Premier League has done nothing about these breaches. So where does that leave rights holders and broadcasters?

We’ll also be answering questions from the audience and covering other topics that touch on mobile, sponsorship and probably other random areas of digital sport.

On another note, the bar we are running the event at, Rileys Sports Bar in Haymarket has gone into administration. This won’t affect our event as it stands, if anything changes we’ll notify all attendees immediately.

Tickets can be purchased at https://digitalsportlondon11.eventbrite.co.uk

or directly through the ticket form below:

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The Sports Technology Awards – Celebrating the Sector’s Cutting Edge

Even the most casual of sports fan cannot fail to have noticed the increasing influence technology has on sport and for people at the sharp end of the industry, this influence is even more significant.

The coaches, referees, broadcasters and athletes who are immersed daily in sport, prosper hugely from technology’s offerings and so it’s only right that the people behind the innovations are justly recognized.

In a year that has seen a World Cup, an Olympics, a Commonwealth Games and a Ryder Cup as well as the launch of new initiatives such as Formula E, there have been some stand-out uses of technology. The introduction of goal line technology at the World Cup finals caused headlines before the tournament, whilst vanishing foam captured audiences’ attention during the contest.

Socchi’s LightRail Zippers attracted positive comment whilst the speed skater skins delivered some great results despite drawing tough criticism. When the Ryder Cup starts in a fortnight, spectators will receive a RFID (radio frequency identification) wristband, giving them a shortcut to social media and sponsors as well as a myriad of activities around the course.

When the Sports Technology Awards launched in October 2013, it was with the aim of celebrating a flourishing sub-sector of the sports industry; the organizers expected the first year to be relatively small, largely domestic within the UK and that the winners would be from ‘the usual suspects’ of leading brands – how wrong they were on all fronts.

Last April over 400 senior managers from 15 different countries and 130 brands, governing bodies sat down for the inaugural awards in Central London. Whilst the major brands of the industry were well represented and picked up their fair share of silverware, one of the truly exciting aspects of the day was how many shortlisted and winning companies were virtual unknowns. Small yet burgeoning businesses were taking on industry giants and devising technology that will undoubtedly play a key part in sport in the very near future.

Now returning with the 2015 event the awards, a British creation, are the only initiative worldwide dedicated to championing and celebrating innovative and inspiring advances in sports technology. The sector is vast and the awards reflect this, with categories spanning training and playing equipment, software, apps, apparel, broadcasting and nutrition as well as team and performance management.

The awards deliver tangible benefits for the winners as John Wilson, Marketing Director at Wattbike which won Best Training Technology at the 2014 awards, explains,

‘Winning the award gave us a huge boost knowing we have global recognition for creating something unique and special. It has strengthened our brand by giving us highly-valued, independent credibility and has provided a platform to create new sales opportunities, including accelerated acceptance within Olympic and professional sports globally.’

Judging this year are Olympic athletes, international referees and officials, coaches and clinicians as well as specialists from technology, business and national governing bodies. Joining this year’s line up are football legend, David Dein, world champion swimmer, Karen Pickering and international referee, Howard Webb.

The ceremony will be held in central London on 27th March 2015. Those interested in entering should visit www.sportstechnologyawards.com, email Victoria Hughes at victoria@ensltd.com or call 020 7118 1288.

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Celebrity Social – How Can Brands Leverage a Celebrity’s Social Media Following?

Guest post: Richard Williams is a digital strategist at digital web agency, Rawnet. Rawnet are also a supporter of the Digital Sport London event series.

Earlier this week, I found myself sitting on the toilet (Yes! – I have gone there in the opening sentence), eagerly opening new browsers on my phone, searching for the pair of trainers I had just seen on a football player’s Instagram page. You see, I’m a toilet browser. And like 75% of the male population, whether they admit it or not, I bring my iPhone to the toilet with me to pass the time.

Luckily for you, my toilet habits have nothing to do with this blog.

Impulse Influence

Whilst searching for the trainers I had just seen, it struck me that I didn’t actually like them at all. In a moment of pure madness, I had managed to get sucked into the ever increasing sports star influence trap. I love all sport, but in particular, I am a total Football fan. I live and breath it. Give me the choice and I would be a footballer over any other profession on the planet. Couple this with the realisation that I am a child at heart and it’s a very dangerous position to be in when the England Captain shows me his latest gold-plated, white and black studded trainers.

I instantly buy into his choice of footwear and ultimately begin my quest to emulate him. I then calm down and realise that walking into the Rawnet office wearing them would form the beginnings of a lifetime of office banter. Instead, I declined to purchase.

Lack of Athlete Endorsement

Poor taste aside, many of the material purchases or style choices I have made over the last 20 years have been heavily influenced by different sports stars, and in particular, the main man – David Beckham. It’s very easy to isolate Mr Beckham when analysing the link between brands and consumers. He’s the people’s choice, and has been for over 15 years. However, I question whether brands have taken note of this and progressed things any further.

Looking at the stats, nearly £33 billion is spent Worldwide each year on sports endorsement, yet only a staggering 3% of this is actually dedicated to athlete endorsement. For years, the brands have favoured teams, leagues and associations, with the view that these institutions will give them direct access to the mass TV and fan markets.

For the likes of Coca Cola and Hyundai, this serves a very strong purpose and raises brand awareness. But are they missing a trick along with the smaller brands who cannot afford mainstream pricing? With the mass growth of social media and the ability to connect with sports stars 24/7, we have already seen the steady rise of individual player power and influence. No longer does a brand need to enter lengthy negotiations and multi-million pound agreements when they can use individual players to directly influence fans. Like me, these fans hang on every single word that is broadcast by sports stars through their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts.

What’s more, the ability to niche down and create targeted marketing campaigns becomes a complete reality. If you take football players as an example, we know the demographic of their followers will mirror the area, or country, with which they play. It’s safe to say that Wayne Rooney has a strong following in the Manchester area rather than in Bournemouth. We also know that he will have a strong favour of male fans over female – and no, I’m not referring to his looks! This ultimately allows brands to deliver targeted campaigns to the people who really matter to them. With the wealth of analytics tools and the emergence of web services such as Klout, there is no reason why a brand cannot analyse the sports market, review engagement levels/demographics/followers and choose an individual sports person who can deliver their branded message to a targeted, engaged fanbase.

Digital Soapbox

World famous ex-basketball star Shaquille O’Neal has carved out one of the most enviable and lucrative social brands on the planet. Having recently opened his home to 30 of the top brand executives in the United States, including Ralph Lauren and Toys R Us, he allowed them to approach him with targeted campaigns and endorsements. As a result of that meeting, Shaq agreed a deal with Nabisco to promote Oreos by sending out a personalised tweet:

I’m going to see how many Oreos I can eat in 15 seconds

The result? 10 percent of the 4 million followers clicking through to the Oreo website. Success all round.

Direct activation through sports stars allows a brand to capitalise on the now. Taking the recent Commonwealth Games into account, the ability to capitalise on a lesser known athlete at the moment they win gold could arguably yield more impressive results than Mr Rooney would while he suns himself in Dubai. It removes the risk of agreeing a long-term sponsorship with a player in the hope that they hit a ‘hot streak’ and prove a marketing ROI, only to break a leg and play Playstation for months on end. It effectively turns the tables, and returns the control to brands.

Why is this beneficial to brands?

  • They can cut through the noise and engage their target market.
  • It’s more cost effective.
  • It allows for instant activation and engagement.
  • Campaign success can be measured and used as a blueprint moving forward

Out with the Old

It’s clear to say that the influence of sports stars is only rising, and I don’t believe that we need to just focus on the likes of Rooney and Beckham. Social media is now providing lesser known stars with the platform to engage and ultimately create a tangible and marketable brand for themselves.

I predict that we are in the beginning stages of a sports marketing revolution. I believe brands will wisen up to the fact that they do not need to create and invest in traditional marketing campaigns when they can simply activate relevant personalities with huge influence over their fans.

Whether you are a local retailer wishing to tap into the popularity of your local team’s rugby captain or a ‘Blue Chip Company’ utilising the likes of David Beckham, there is now a clear and measurable route to market using digital channels. Those who wish to stay ahead of the curve will prosper, while Head & Shoulders will continue to push out cheesy adverts with Joe Hart!

 

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#CoolJob: Digital Content Producer – UFC

Digital Content Producer – UFC 

Digital media agency Seven League are looking for an enthusiastic, hard-working and intelligent person to join them as a Digital Content Producer on an initial 3-month fixed-term contract. The successful candidate will work solely on one of Seven League’s key clients at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) EMEA office in London.

The successful candidate for this position will have a broad range of skills and will be looking for a varied and challenging entry-level production role, proving themselves with their proactivity and supporting senior members of the Seven League team. This individual will be a motivated self-starter with a high work-rate and the ability to perform well under pressure. The role also requires flexible working, with many events taking place during the evening and at weekends, also possibly beyond the UK.

Responsibilities

Responsibilities may include learning and being directed in:

  • Delivering unique and engaging digital content on a number of channels
  • Writing editorial features for websites and marketing materials
  • Social media management
  • Content planning and evaluation
  • Conducting, filming and editing interviews
  • Managing a number of bespoke content management systems
  • Administrative, organisational and general tasks as required

Qualifications and Skills

Essential

  • A minimum of 1 years’ experience in digital content production
  • Educated to BA degree level in journalism or similar
  • An interest in sport and a clear passion for and knowledge of mixed martial arts
  • In-depth knowledge of social media platforms
  • Demonstrable knowledge of PowerPoint and confident presentation skills
  • A solid understanding of Google Analytics, Facebook Insights social media monitoring tools
  • Excellent writing skills and good editorial judgement
  • Significant experience of content creation on a variety of digital platforms
  • The ability to edit audio/visual content with a quick turnaround
  • Basic Photoshop skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • An interest in all forms of media, with strong knowledge of social media

Desirable

  • Experience working in sport and on live sporting events
  • Design or technical skills useful
  • An interest in photography

Personal

  • An enthusiastic and outgoing personality
  • Hard-working, flexible, adaptable with a passion for live sport
  • Demonstrable ability to learn new skills
  • Active online and across a variety of social media platforms
  • Love of innovation and technology
  • The ability to perform incredibly well under pressure
  • Excellent organisational skills with the ability to prioritise, manage and meet deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, with the ability to deal effectively with people at all levels
  • Strong initiative with a ‘can do’ attitude and willingness to be flexible in approach to achieve desired outcomes
  • Willingness to work shifts, weekends and be prepared to travel

How to apply

Interested? Your CV and cover letter should be sent to jobs [@] sevenleague.co.uk no later than Friday 3rd October 2014.

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Wimbledon generated 3.5m short clip video views across Facebook and Twitter

The AELTC has announced that they shared more than 300 short clips across Facebook and Twitter during the tournament, generating over 3.5m clip plays using Grabyo’s video platform.

Facebook saw the largest number of Wimbledon clip plays with over 1.5m views (42.9%), while 1.4m (40.6%) were on Twitter and nearly 600k (16.4%) were viewed within the Wimbledon.com based video gallery powered by Grabyo.

The most viewed clip of the tournament, which featured Nick Kyrgios hitting a ‘tweener’ winner during his match against Rafa Nadal, generated over 447k clip views alone. The clip spread virally across social media with an organic reach of 3.73m on Facebook as well as 27,924 likes, comments or shares.

On Twitter it enjoyed more than 960k impressions and 26,924 engagements – boosted by second-wave coverage of the relevant tweet by popular online sports destinations such as Sports Illustrated and ATP World Tour,. The match also generated an impressive 660,250 tweets peaking at 11,393 tweets per minute.

The moment Novak Djokovic celebrated winning the tournament by eating grass on Centre Court also generated very significant engagement with almost 300k clip views, organic reach of 6.4m fans and 32,734 likes, comments or shares on Facebook. It also clocked up 190k impressions and 7,308 engagements on Twitter.

Despite Grabyo’s real-time video offering being a mobile-first format, two-thirds (2.35m) of Wimbledon’s social clip views were across the desktop versus one third (1.2m) across mobile devices – possibly due to the fact that the majority of play takes place during office hours in Europe and much of North America. iPhone was the dominant mobile device (as is common with mobile video consumption patterns) with 688,496 of views versus 482,304 on Android.

A number of other clips also attracted substantial audiences including:

  • WATCH: Worrying signs for Serena Williams during her doubles warm-up with sister Venus. #Wimbledon (414,837 views)
  • WATCH: A game of double faults from Serena as she & sister Venus retire from their doubles match. #Wimbledon (333,712 views)
  • WATCH: Djokovic is reunited with wall of champions & is congratulated by the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (175,635 views)

Alexandra Willis, Content and Communications Manager at the AELTC:

“We were very pleased with the outcome of this initiative, which proved the value of being able to produce content quickly in response to real-time events. The clips drove an impressive level of organic social media engagement and buzz, while also encouraging Wimbledon fans to tune-in, and also providing us with content for the rest of our digital channels. There is clearly enormous potential to take this type of content further in partnership with our broadcast partners but we were delighted with the results in our first year of working with Grabyo.”

Gareth Capon, CEO at Grabyo:

“Wimbledon was undoubtedly our most successful project to date and served to illustrate the potential of this social video format. The significant level of engagement on both Facebook and Twitter demonstrates the opportunity for rights holders across the social space and supports our view that they need to take a cross-platform approach to real-time video distribution. There is much to play for in this market and both Facebook and Twitter are making clear progress in providing a video ecosystem that delivers value for premium content owners.”

You can hear from from the guys at Grabyo at the September ‘Digital Sport London’ event on Wednesday 24th from 6pm. Tickets are available for £10 (plus booking fee) from https://digitalsportlondon11.eventbrite.co.uk