Brought to you by us here at Digital Sport and the amazing team at 2Pears we have a brand new event running this Wednesday 25th March. Sports TechPitch 4.5, is a platform created specifically for sports-tech startups from all across Europe to showcase their business proposition to a relevant wider audience, including VCs, sport industry professionals and experts, journalists, as well as other aspiring and successful sport and tech entrepreneurs.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 now moves towards the knock-out stages, and the magnificent cricket on the pitch during the Pool stages has been matched with remarkable levels of interest in the tournament across all online channels from right around the world.
Following recent articles, including by yours truly, about the Ryder Cup not allowed ticket holders to upload images or video to social media during the tournament, the Ryder Cup team have come out with an announcement to clear things up.
Social media interaction, photography and the sharing of content are all going to be encouraged at The 2014 Ryder Cup, according to the organisers. Though not everywhere on the course.
Ryder Cup Europe has moved to reassure spectators that they will be allowed to take photos and video on their mobile phones during the event, and will be encouraged to share their experiences on social networks.
A range of initiatives are already in place for visitors to engage with when they arrive at the event. This includes the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which will allow spectators to take part in fun activities around the course and share their experiences instantly on social media using a special wristband.
Ryder Cup Europe has also been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.
But organisers have rules in place for spectators on the course at Gleneagles in order to avoid disrupting players and the experience of other spectators. This is where it will still be hard for officials to police…
The use of cameras (and phones?) will be prohibited at each hole during play in order to avoid disrupting players and to enable a clear line of sight for all spectators, many of whom will be standing or sitting around the course rather than in a raised position in a grandstand.
Edward Kitson, Match Director of The 2014 Ryder Cup, said:
“We want people to share their stories online and feel part of The Ryder Cup. We have put in place a range of fantastic activities in the tented village and around the course that use technology to improve the visitor experience, and these are integrated with social networks. Selfies are positively encouraged and I expect to see plenty of them during the event.
“However, I’m sure everyone will understand that we have to draw a line in the interests of fair play and respect for the players and fellow spectators. Therefore no photography or video will be allowed during play at any hole. This is something we fully expect everyone to support given that The Ryder Cup is won and lost on very fine margins: we want to give the teams every chance of a level playing field and ensure everyone can see the action.”
Hopefully it will go smoothly but I imagine stopped people taking pictures of the final moments of the tournament will be exceptionally tough. It’s understandable that people trying to get a shot of their favourite player can be enormously off putting to said player, indeed there have been arguments between players and photographers/spectators about this for many years. It’s not just come about through the widespread use of social media.
Hopefully everything will go smoothly on the day, and fingers crossed for another victory for Europe!
Last year a project called Digital Stadium was being tested in a collaboration between the University of Sussex, Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Corridor Design which looked at how modern smartphone apps can be used to build new ways of communicating within stadiums.
Currently the ideal of making stadiums ‘fully connected’ comes at a huge expense. Only the likes of Manchester City, Celtic, Rangers, Liverpool (in one stand) and other teams in the US and Europe have invested in such projects which can cost £1m+. With many stadiums starting the creak with age its not something as easy as many might think to set up.
It’s now less than a week until the 2014 World Cup starts in Brazil, as long as the stadiums are ready of course. The excitement you can feel has been building with the pre-WC friendly matches well underway and Panini stickers being swapped at a furious rate.
Last week I took a look at what a few of the brands had been doing in the build up to the world’s second biggest tournament (only the Olympics outdoes it in terms of audience). So this time I’m going to look at what FIFA itself has been doing when it comes to digital.
The primary destinations for fans will be FIFA.com, m.fifa.com (the newly revamped app which has encountered some issues), Facebook and Twitter. No big surprises with the social channels chosen, so no place for the likes of Google+, YouTube or WhatsApp at the moment – concentrating on doing a few well is always better than doing too much just for the sake of it.
The video content is being housed on FIFA.com as they look to keep their quality content on an area they have most control and also links to their sponsors and other digital platforms. This is also true with the Live Blog from Brazil, with a key element being the embedding of tweets and Facebook posts from fans, stakeholders, media and key influencers. Live blogging is something we’ve seen grow massively with the European Tour, Man City, Premier League and many others taking advantage of it.
The big new activation for FIFA is ‘Global Stadium’, a concept we covered here only a few days ago when it was launched. Their aim is to unite fans from around the world and capture the excitement and spirit of the World Cup. Fans can #JoinIn and are able to;
- Follow the match through the Live Blog and stats
- See social posts from players, coaches and celebrities and interact with their own friend’s posts
- Discuss the game as it happens with a worldwide audience
- Get involved in a variety of exclusive activities such as winning the actual kick-off ball from that game and voting for their Man of the Match
On Facebook and Twitter they have stated that their core content aims fall under 5 sub-headings; Football, Fans, Facilitation, Fun and FIFA. In simple terms, covering everything on the pitch; engaging fans in fun, interactive contests and asking them to share THEIR content; showcasing some of FIFA’s core programmes and initiatives; and facilitating the journey of fans and media, by providing regular, up-to-date, relevant information.
FIFA’s first Facebook page was launched in June 2013 to coincide with the FIFA Confederations Cup. Twelve pages are now live, with the FIFA World Cup page now having over 19 million fans worldwide. The content is image driven. Photos, videos, trivia questions, exclusive interviews, fan promotions in the FIFA online store, news on the launch of ticket sales phases, and the promotion of fun fan games, such as
the Online Panini album aim to provide a variety of content.
FIFA’s extensive archive also enables us to take a look back at the stars of the past. Working together with FIFA’s Partners, they are also able to tell the story of unique opportunities provided at every FIFA competition, for example, through the FIFA Youth Programme, for children to get a birds-eye view, by being a player escort or being part of the ball crew.
In April 2014, eight out of the ten fastest-growing sports pages on Facebook belonged to FIFA, and at the beginning of May 2014, FIFA merged its two World Cup Facebook pages – one historic; one focused on Brazil 2014, to create one central World Cup hub.
FIFA’s presence on Twitter went live in mid-2010. There are accounts for FIFA (@fifacom) and @FIFAWorldCup in six languages, for the FIFA President and the FIFA Secretary General, as well as accounts for the FIFA Media Department (@FIFAMedia) and women’s football (@FIFAWWC).
The platform provides a personal and direct communication channel with fans, media, stakeholders and key influencers. Hashtags are used for FIFA’s tournaments to create discussion topics, regular interactive daily polls/Q&As are posted
to ask fans for their views on the ‘key topics of the day’ and wherever possible, breaking news is posted to ensure FIFA’s authentic message is relayed in real-time.
Overall, there are more than seven million followers across FIFA’s accounts. The platform was used for the official man of the match vote during FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and will once again be utilised for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, in an innovative activation together with Anheuser-Busch & Twitter. Fans will also be able to cast their Man of the Match vote on Twitter, across FIFA’s six @fifacom and six
@fifaworldcup language accounts, while votes will also be counted from FIFA.com too.
FIFA Digital will be using the following hashtags in six languages: #WorldCup, #Joinin, #GlobalStadium while each match will have its own hashtag too.
In order to measure effectiveness and better tailor content to our fans, FIFA utilises a variety of reporting/monitoring tools for real-time analytics. We will also be working together with social media platforms to provide key data, both as part of our daily content, but also to Media through the daily news briefings at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. FIFA Digital will also produce a series of Infographics at key stages of the competition, to provide key digital highlights.
By Hash Piperdy. In 32 months as a rugby writer on social media, Hash Piperdy has seen several changes in the way sports and social media collide. He is moving on to join a football organisation in mid-May. You can follow his thoughts at @codenamehash orhttp://passinterference.
One of the most difficult and common things to manage on social media is almost constant abuse. Defeats breed negativity, attracting comments from trolls and fans alike. In a heated situation, you might feel that you can’t write anything without being assaulted by a selection of memes, snarky comments and abuse – want some extra stress? Try and hold a Q&A with one of the players.
And that abuse is from fans, what if other professional outfits join in?
Part of social media 101 is to establish a unique tone of voice, one that is recognisable and cuts through all the other sides that exist in your league, your city, your sport. The LA Kings are one such side that has gone, to paraphrase a wrestling term, full heel.
Talking to other teams, responding back to other fans in a way that is more than “thanks for your tweet” and knifing through a ridiculously crowded sports marketplace and acting as the witty, all-seeing eye sitting next to you in the stands is a fantastic concept, but only a few teams have managed to do this successfully. In a city with (deep breath) the Lakers, Clippers, Galaxy, Angels, Ducks, Dodgers, Trojans and Chivas, ask yourself whether the same style of social would work if they were a bigger team in the same market.
However, going full heel has consequences. Beyond setting yourself and your team up for a fall, you’re going to attract unwanted attention with fans of other sides branding you classless at best and at worst, something unmentionable – even if your reactive posts are accidental.
Tottenham Hotspur attracted significant attention across social media when their official Twitter account posted a (now deleted) Vine about Liverpool’s collapse against Crystal Palace. Whether it was from the wrong account or not, over 5,000 retweets meant that it was very difficult to get the toothpaste back into the tube. Spurs have since apologised and are investigating, but for many, it’s left a mark on their account, which they will have to work hard at removing over the summer.
It’s not just one dimensional abuse that can get you into trouble. I’m a massive stats fiend, and in my previous capacity as Social Media Manager for a rugby tournament, I pointed out that one side were nilled away from home against three of their rivals. My motivation for this was that it was a remarkable stat and one that would get people talking about the team, the league and what that side needed to do to break the slump. I received an email from the powers that be, via the mentioned team, instructing me to remove the tweet.
Despite fighting my corner, I was overruled. I still feel that presented in the right (i.e. not gloating) way, negative stats about one of your sides can act as a spark for conversation while boosting the integrity of the competition, as it shows that the competition isn’t afraid to highlight these things.
America seems to be a bit more open to this. Consider this tweet:
This was retweeted over 435 times, including by the @NFL themselves. The Jaguars didn’t seem to have much of an issue with this stat, or that the tweet was broadcast by the league, but they did get involved when the Denver Broncos took a shot at them ahead of their clash:
I don’t see too much of an issue with this. It’s not a team taking an unnecessary shot at another, but it’s actually quite measured from Denver. The response from the Jaguars is also quite elegant, choosing the high road. This endeared me a little to the Jags, and while they still got beaten, seeing the teams talk to each other on social media was a nice touch, especially in a league which is seen as one of the most intense in the world.
It is possible to be the bad guy on social media when representing a team, but it’s important to use it sparingly and at the right time. As with everything else, judge the room when you walk in, just remember that this room is a lot larger and reactionary than almost any other.
Matt Briggs from The Online Rule has kindly put together his takeaway thoughts from the recent (and first ever) #DSManchester event which took place last Thursday (17th) at TechHub. A further write up with the presentation slides and a Storify of the day will also be up on the site in the next couple of days…
Manchester got a dose of Digital Sport last Thursday when UK Sports Network brought the event to the North West.
The line-up was one of the strongest yet, with delegates being treated to presentations and discussions involving the likes of BBC Sport, Manchester City, Everton, deltatre, Stream UK, Leeds Rugby and Manchester Metropolitan University.
As you might imagine four hours of digisport chat with such a diverse range of speakers threw up a lot of talking points, too many to be covered in one solitary blog post. Instead I’ve pulled together five of the key takeaways from the afternoon.
1. The power of stories
Agency or in house, it didn’t matter. Every presenter and panel member at #DSManchester, regardless of their background, talked passionately about the effectiveness of one thing – stories.
The most provocative and engaging content doesn’t just fall out of the heads of marketers and make its way onto our screens, it comes from those people who have tales to tell about the things that make sports fans tick. Our job is to facilitate the telling of these “stories from the stands”.
Nothing quite highlighted how accurate this assertion was like Capsool’s CityStories project, which allows dedicated Blues from across the globe to share their experiences with the club and other supporters. The result is a highly personal and evocative history of the club written by those who have lived it. Good sport is greater than a brand.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of video
Yes, yes, you may be sick of hearing it, after all we have been reminded for years now, but video really is the king of content. As Matthew Quinn of Stream UK pointed out, pictures may paint a thousand words but according to Forrester Research one minute of video is worth 1.8 million!
That’s not all. A good video can increase the likelihood that your site will find itself on the first page of Google by 53 per cent as well as double the length of time users spend on your website. Have you got a product to sell? A video of it makes users 144 per cent more likely to add it to the cart.
It’s lucky for us that sport makes great video. How clubs go about leveraging that and distributing the content is another discussion entirely.
3. Mobile first? No, mobile equal
“Mobile first” is one of those phrases that has been drilled into the skulls of anyone involved in digital over the past twelve months. It’s no surprise. The UK mobile market worth £1.03 billion and it’s estimated that mobile use will surpass that of desktop in 2014. Does all this really mean you should neglect the big screen experience at the expense of the smaller one? Mobile experts Scott McLeod, Mike Dunphy and Russell Stopford didn’t think so.
Mobile may be gaining are larger audience share but users are gradually shifting from desktop to mobile, not migrating all at once. Don’t damage the experience of one set of users by opting for mobile first. Instead aim for mobile equal. Ensure that the content, interaction and experience remains the same regardless of where or how they are visiting your site. Make your message consistent across all platforms.
4. Know your audience
British Cycling decided to set up their Go Sky Ride community because they knew their audience wasn’t just made up of hardcore cycling buffs, but casual riders too. This basic awareness of how diverse the cycling community in Britain is has since set the tone for the governing body’s relationship management.
British Cycling understood that information gathering exercise shouldn’t just stop at understanding the obvious differences between stakeholders. Knowing who and what their audience likes has allowed them to make educated decisions about who should front the next campaign and when it should be launched. As Susan Tranter said: “getting to know your audience is not a waste of time”.
Identifying how, why and when users consume content can’t guarantee success, but it can certainly give you a fighting chance.
5. Fighting the churn
Leeds Rhinos lose the most followers on Twitter on a match day. Conversely it’s also the time of week they gain the most followers.
Why the churn? Existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter simply aren’t designed to accommodate the sheer volume of posts that a match can bring. The result is a one size fits all approach, where clubs are using networks that aren’t built for in-depth commentary out of fear that if they don’t provide that service some fans will look elsewhere. Unfortunately it’s a tactic that also brings overexposure and turns off some supporters off.
There is no hard or fast way to end the high turnover of followers, but one way to combat it is to ensure that you’re creating stellar content elsewhere. According to Phil Daly the Rhinos use social media to give fans 360 degree access to the club: “where a security guard stops you on match day, we let you in”.
Be unique. Clubs can offer a huge amount of exclusive material to supporters. Even those that may not appreciate having their feeds full of blow by blow accounts of every single match they will appreciate that behind the scenes snap of the players celebrating a famous victory.
Next week is a big week for us here at UK Sports Network. After heading up to Glasgow last month for our first ever event up there, we’re now going to be doing the same in Manchester.
“But why should I go” I hear you say. Well I believe there are 3 main reasons that you should head along, not even counting that we’re the only community that’s been set up solely for those who work within digital media for sports teams, federations, agencies and tech companies.
The line up of speakers I think is our best yet and we’re cramming a lot into half a day. Not only do we have presentations from the likes of British Cycling, Manchester Metropolitan University, deltatre, Stream UK and Capsool but also panels made up of digital people from Leeds Rugby, BBC Sport, Everton FC, Man City FC and PERFORM.
We’ll be covering topics that are both general and specific, giving a fantastic look into what is both happening with within digital sport and what we is coming around the corner soon. There are talk titles such as; “Digital in Sport: Disrupting and levelling the playing field“, “Not just racing but riding: how British Cycling is building communities of real cycling fans, and real cyclists“, “The Digital Paralympics, from London to Sochi” and “CityStories: The Social History of Manchester City Football Club“.
Reason 2 (and 2 1/2)
We like to do things a little differently here than most events organisers (who wants to do the same thing all the time eh?). So instead of booking a sports venue or hotel, we’re going to be heading to TechHub Manchester. A shared working space and community for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, something we see ourselves as being.
This type of venue provides for a more stimulating and relaxed atmosphere for the event. Being part of this vibrant community even for only half a day will hopefully help provide an environment that is both inspiring and fun to be part of.
Not only will you get all this when you come along but we’ve also been working on something to present ourselves. At the start of day I’ll be showcasing our new website, built with the great guys at Storystream who will also be in the crowd, that will eventually take over from the current UK Sports Network site. It’s not only a new site but a new name and a new brand. Exciting times!
Another big reason people head to these events is to meet and chat with other people in the industry. So if this is your aim for heading along then you can expect to find people from;
- BR101 Sports
- European Handball Federation
- Manchester Futsal Club
- Manchester United FC
- Scarlets Rugby
- Red Bull
- Sky Sports
- Prozone Sports
- Two Circles
- Intechnology Wifi
- …. and many more
So if you’re interested in heading along there is still time to pick up a ticket. Prices are £50 + booking fee for standard tickets and £25 + booking fee for students. You get yours now by heading to…
We look forward to seeing you there!
Guest Post: Charlotte Males is the Founder of Sports Intern UK. She is a firm believer that Digital and Sport have a lot to learn from each other and is excited to see where this partnership can lead. A big fan of US sport, you can contact her at @charliemales.
With a brand new Major League Baseball season underway, comes brand new digital tech for baseball fans. Although traditionally the American pastime has been left behind when it comes to digital enhancements, the 2014 season has changed all that.
Team and league officials have been working hard all pre-season to implement plans to capitalise on all the new technologies coming in this season. The new improvements are set throughout the MLB and range from improving the fan experience at the ball park to potential changing the game forever.
First up is the introduction of instant replay at the stadium. MLB is joining the like of Tennis, Cricket and Rugby by giving teams the right to challenge an umpire’s call they disagree with. Like all new has already come with teething problems. But the technology used has undeniably changed the game forever.
All 30 teams in the MLB unanimously voted for the implementation of the instant-replay system and all 30 ballparks have used standardised technology. The MLB have ensured that the same 12 camera angels will be available for the replay officials. All instant replied reviews will come from a command centre in New York, where there are 12 screens lining the back wall with live feeds from every MLB ballpark.
The most exciting addition to the 2014 Major League Baseball season is the implementation of Apple’s iBeacon technology. The iBeacon technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate with iPhones’ by expanding location services in iOS. Basically, it’s an extremely useful marketing tool that lets apps know when a fan has approached or leave the presence of an iBeacon.
The iBeacon is available on all iPhones’ with iOS 7 installed. In order to use this technology fans need to be using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark iOS app. The app already allows fans to access electronically, and with the use of iBeacon, ballpark goers will be able to receive directions to their phones about which gate to use and how to get to their seats. Although the app is available on both Android and iOS devices, only those will Apple devices will benefit from the bespoke iBeacon experience.
Through the use of iBeacon, the potential uses of the technology will be up to the MLB teams. However, one example of what fans can expect are being sent discounts on concession, sales and shopping items when you walk into the team shop.
Currently, the MLB league officials are directing clubs on where teams can implement the technology and what can and cannot be sent to fans. As for now, fans receive a welcome message when they check in (think of Foursquare), and maybe an offer to upgrade their seat or some discounts on concessions. However, there is an expectation that the MLB will let team become more creative with the technology once the iBeacon has proved useful to fans.
For the San Francisco Giants, the technology is just another way to better engage with fans. “Mobile and digital experiences are paramount to our fan experience,” according to Chief Information Officer, Bill Schlough. The Giants have long been the most technologically progressive teams in baseball and even other sports clubs.
During the early 2000s, Giant’s fans first enjoyed in-stadium mobile phone coverage. And in 2004 the MLB club became the first in professional sports history to turn its stadium into a complete WiFi hotspot. Currently, there are 1,289 WiFi antennas covering the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park with connectivity that’s good enough to stream video to thousands of fans.
When the RBS 6 Nations kicks off for the start of the 2014 Championship this weekend, they will be doing so on a brand new digital platform. The new platform, available in English, French and Italian, includes dynamic web and mobile sites, a Virtual Press Office, Digital Media Guide and Judiciary Platform. RBS6Nations.com
Digital Sports Agency Sotic worked with the Six Nations Committee and its related stakeholders to design and build an innovative digital platform using the latest technology ensuring the ultimate user experience for those following the action.
When ‘Rugby’s Greatest Championship’ kicks off, the website will follow the on-field action with live match coverage of all the games, in-game statistics, live images and commentary in close partnership with the official statistic provider, Opta. The site offers a wealth of historical statistics from the competition, as well as embedded YouTube video highlights from present and past fixtures.
Complementing the website is the mobile friendly platform accessible from any smart phone or tablet. The content during matches focuses on the live action, defaulting the fans’ view to the match centre for instant updates on all the fixtures. Last year, over 51% of all site visits came from a mobile or tablet device.
The media have their own dedicated Virtual Press Office from where they can access the new Digital Media Guide. Dynamically updated after each game, the guide displays content for journalists and broadcasters even when they are offline, unlike web pages.
“We are delighted with the new digital solution. We have an online presence that is as dynamic and expansive as the Championship itself and we hope that all fans enjoy the online experience we are delivering for them.” – Shane Whelan, Head of Digital @ Six Nations Committee
Alongside the main tournament are all the details for the Women’s Six Nations, Under-20 Six Nations, and the Under 18’s competition. Fixtures, results, squads, history and statistics are all available on the sites and within the Digital Media Guide.
The website boasts huge traffic numbers as was evident last year when the tournament was one of the world’s top ten trending sports sites during the 2013 Championship.
To catch the latest RBS 6 Nations news visit http://www.rbs6nations.com