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Athlete Influencers Driving Purchase for Consumer Brands through Social Channels
For consumer brands seeking to drive purchase through social media engagement, the solution may be simple: have an athlete mention it.
According to our 2011 Catalyst Fan Engagement Study, sports fans who follow their favorite athletes on social media are 55% more likely to purchase a brand if an athlete mentions it on Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, athlete mentions of brands on social media can have an even bigger impact on young (18-34), non-white fans (75% more likely to purchase) and those with kids at home (62%). Catalyst Public Relations commissioned Vision Critical to develop its second annual Catalyst Fan Engagement Study, exploring the growing convergence of sports and social media. Conducted in May 2011, more than 2,000 fans nationwide participated in the survey, which focused on the social media attitudes and usage habits of NFL, NBA, MLB, and college football and basketball fans.
Go out and win a major golf tournament! That’s just what 22-year-old Rory McIlroy did yesterday after dominating the field at Congressional Country Club to become the second youngest player to win a major championship.
Young Rory, an active Twitter user with over 300,000 followers to his account prior to the U.S. Open, rounded up nearly 60,000 new followers on Saturday and Sunday of the tournament, an increase of nearly 19%—upon last count his account was at 409,398 followers.
Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots: Aftermath on Twitter & Facebook
A massive riot occurred in Vancouver after their 4-0 loss in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins last night. Mashable collected real-time pictures, showcasing the massive rioting that occurred in the streets.
Why the violence?
Well, first, the Bruins’ win marks the first Stanley Cup Title in 39 years. The team proudly brought home the championship win to a passionate city with incredible pride for their successful sports teams.
While the Bruins had a lot to gain, the Vancouver Canucks had a lot to lose. Coming on the heels of an incredibly strong season and a 2-0 lead into the final, they lost in game 7, and even worse - to Boston, a long-time rival, on their home turf.
As the rioting after the game intensified, so did the volume on Facebook and Twitter, most notably with the hashtag #canucksriot, which continues to trend on Twitter this morning.
On the positive side, over 11,000 people have accepted an invitation to clean up the aftermath left on the streets of Vancouver this morning, evidenced by this Facebook event which started last night, and is supported by the Vancouver police department.
Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business
By Cassie Eberle
Catalyst Public Relations
A synthetic-biologist, a brew master and a White House chef walk into a wine bar… no this isn’t the start of another Beer Summit joke – it’s the beginning of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business 2011 event and proof that, in any industry, creativity is not just an element of success, but at the root of it.
While every speaker had a uniquely inspiring story, I tried to pull out a few common threads that seemed woven into each – the Cliff Notes version, if you will, to a captivating 4 hour discussion.
Find Your Voice, But Don’t Be Confined By It
As marketers, we talk a lot about finding our “Brand voice.” For The Onion, that means always staying in the character of “REAL fake news.” For ESPN, that means never forgetting their mission as sports fans serving sports fans.
What that doesn’t mean is squashing an idea just because it doesn’t seem like an obvious fit. What makes perfect sense in hindsight might have actually started out as a risky move.
If you’re Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and you want to brew a delicious craft beer, the seemingly logical decision would have been to find a new way to mix the old favorites - water, barley and hops. What Dogfish Head did instead was go against tradition and mix in unique, local ingredients such as honey, saffron and melon to create an off-center niche of endless possibilities.
Solve a Problem, Serve a Need
Even if we’re not curing cancer, ideas should serve some sort of purpose – and no, “media coverage” is not a purpose. Reshman Shetty of Ginkgo BioWorks wanted her lab to smell less like a latrine, so she engineered a strain of E.coli that smelled minty fresh (instead of like poo). Alex Kipman of Xbox wanted to create a gaming system that removed the technology and felt more like life. Thus, Kinect was born.
People (and yes, media people too) gravitate towards and respond to products and ideas that help make life easier and more enjoyable. This is not a new concept, just one that can all too often get pushed to the side by sexier buzz words like “social media” and “gamification.”
Love Your Idea
Loving every idea that pops into your head is ridiculous, however if you don’t love the idea you decide to evolve, how do you expect anyone else to? Leila Janah was told by colleagues and potential investors alike that her idea for a non-profit social business where people in developing countries do data work for blue-chip companies would never get off the ground. But she kept pushing and made it a reality in Samasource, which is now successfully competing against major for-profit players.
Every idea, good or bad, pretty much has the same genesis story – it’s up to us to grow it in the right direction.
Catalyst Employees Volunteer at Prospect Park Field Day
Today, some of the Catalyst crew volunteered with the Prospect Park Alliance, manning a field day for summer school kids at Prospect Park, in a children’s area that consists of a Historic House, a Carousel, as well as a large open field.
The day consisted of organized outdoor games for middle-school NYC kids. We had a great time encouraging them to be physically active! Check out some pictures below.
For the next three days, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Stephen Colbert are engaged in a Beat the Streak baseball knowledge competition.
What’s at steak? If the MLB loses, they will grant Colbert full access to their Twitter account, which has over 1.2 million fans, for 24 hours.
As part of the challenge, which begins today, Colbert and MLB will each make one Beat the Streak pick per day and whoever posts the longest streak of correct picks within the three-day span will win the challenge.
ESPN 3D Marks One Year Anniversary With Plans For Continued Growth
Check out the Cynopsis Sports interview with Bryan Burns, ESPN’s VP of Strategic Business Planning and Development, about ESPN 3D and the role of sports in consumer adaption to technology and ESPN’s role in that process.
Great article in SportsBusinessDaily today about the Indians finding new ways to make fans feel special using social media at the games.
Last season, Indians created something called the “Social Media Suite,” where bloggers and Twitter-friendly fans share about messages about their ballpark experiences and connect with one another - it existed in the outfield bleachers.
Over the season, the media team realized one key issue - the sun was making it hard for fans to read their screens.
This year, they were given air conditioning, televisions, and padded seats in the third row of loges down the left field line. It’s totally free, but only open to about a dozen people.
First, full disclosure: our agency currently works with both ESPN Audio and ESPN3.com, and the VERSUS Network, an all-sports channel owned by Comcast, is a past client of Catalyst.
Back to the Olympics. Let’s put the dollars aside for just a minute; I thought that the recent departure of Dick Ebersol, a legend in the broadcast and Olympic communities, from NBC Sports was a signal that he felt the company was not as committed to securing the Olympic rights as it had been in years past. There was also the very real factor of the relationships and equity that Ebersol had built with Olympic leadership and how that would impact the International Olympic Committee’s decision.
Great article recently published in Fast Company about the NBA’s strategy to engage social media followers. This is a terrific read and a good reminder to brands as they engage consumers in this medium.
While bored traditional sports reporters wait for quotes from the megastars, the NBA’s elite social media team finds images, videos, and moments that take followers up close and behind the scenes of the Finals. We follow—literally—the social media masters during before, during, and after the action to watch how it all works. Read more at Fast Company.
That said, the last couple of weeks have been more interesting than usual for the Mets and their fans. Mets owner Fred Wilpon has been the subject of stories in the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated, where he has, among other things, criticized the performance of his team, questioned the value of high profile players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran, and talked openly about the Mets losing up to $70 million this season. Of course, this is on top of Wilpon’s association with the disgraced Bernie Madoff, which has caused him personal pain and embarrassment, financial losses, the need to sell a piece of the Mets for an infusion of cash, and a $1 billion lawsuit by Irving Picard, the trustee seeking to recover restitution for those who lost money with Madoff.Full disclosure: I am a Phillies fan, so it doesn’t bother me when the Mets are embroiled in controversy.
My first thought – not as a baseball fan, but as a PR professional – was why? Why would Wilpon even agree to participate in these stories?
Perhaps it was to try and gain sympathy as one of the people victimized by the Madoff travesty. Well, for those who lost their life savings, they probably don’t identify that closely with Wilpon, who lost millions but whose ultimate recourse may be having to sell the Mets, as opposed to the people who have had to come out of, or postpone, retirement and scramble to make a living. Furthermore, a central point of the lawsuit is that, as experienced investors, Wilpon and his partners had knowledge, or should have, of what Madoff was doing. No matter how many times Wilpon says that he was duped like everyone else, there is going to be a part of the population who won’t believe him. By continuing to talk about it, it is doubtful he will change many minds, and can only open himself up to further criticism.
Looking at it from a baseball perspective, maybe, in his critique of the team and its key players, Wilpon wanted to light a fire under the Mets and show the fans how much he cares, and that he’s not happy with the team’s record in recent years. He may have gone a little overboard with his comments of the players, but ultimately that is within his right. However, it was very much out of character for Wilpon, who has never publicly criticized players in his 30 years as owner.
It is also striking that, with several high player salaries scheduled to come off the Mets’ books after this season, there are no plans to use that money to re-invest in the team for next year. So, while you may be trying to show the fans that you get frustrated with the performance just like they do, in the same instance you don’t give them much hope that ownership will do whatever it can to improve the product on the field. Why should they stick with the team, then?
Ultimately, Wilpon hadn’t very much to gain by doing the interviews and should have been advised against it. Whatever points he may have been trying to convey – ‘I was deceived by Madoff,’ ‘I am angry about the Mets’ performance too’ – they were lost in his comments about the players, the team’s financial situation, and by the fact that it didn’t mesh with the public image that Wilpon has crafted for years. If someone in his position is going to engage the media, he should at least stay in character and not try to reinvent himself.
In Wilpon’s bid to play offense with his message, foster goodwill, and change some opinions, he struck out.
Bill Holtz is a Managing Partner at Catalyst Public Relations, a consumer firm specializing in sports, entertainment and active lifestyle. Bill has directed marketing communications programs for a number of brands, including leveraging sponsorships surrounding the Olympic Games, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, college football, tennis, and golf.
Twitter's Latest Upgrades: Follow Button, Photo and Video
Twitter recently rolled out a few new changes to its platform, incorporating a new FOLLOW button, as well as enriching photo and video services. It’s important brands pay attention to these changes, as these provide opportunities for creative campaigns.
Twitter launched a new FOLLOW button - one of the most shared stores on Mashable this week. The button functions similarly to Facebook’s LIKE button. It can be easily embedded into websites so consumers can easily follow brands without ever leaving the page. Those who are interested in adding the button to their own sites can set one up here.
Another new change to Twitter is the launch of a photo and video sharing service, where videos and photos will be directly connected to tweets. You can read the full story here.
As many know, a key differentiator for Twitter is the sense of immediacy it provides users, with access to real-time information. With this new change, consumers will not only be able to read real-time news, but also see it through photos and videos. We believe this new change provides a unique opportunity for some very creative photo and video campaigns.
See the video below for Twitter’s introduction to the new service.
Earlier this year, Purina Dog Chow dared dog owners to have their dogs try their newly reformulated dog food. In return, the brand asked consumers to dare them back.
The Band Perry, winners of the Top New Artist award from The Academy of Country Music, served as the face of the “Dare Us Back” campaign and kicked off the promotion by daring Purina Dog Chow to donate a ton of dog food to an animal shelter in their hometown of Greeneville, Tenn. The brand did them one better and donated five tons of food – 10,000 pounds – to their local animal shelter.
By the time the entry period of the promotion had concluded, thousands of creative dares had been issued. Three grand prize dares were chosen and completed, one per month, from March through May.
The first dare, submitted by Susan M. from Charlotte, N.C., involved a very meaningful donation of $25,000 to the Carolina Patriot Rovers, a non-profit organization that trains and certifies service dogs to enhance the lives of veterans and provide therapeutic canine companions to returning soldiers suffering from psychological trauma. The donation was made in honor of Susan’s son, Pfc. James Fleet McClamrock, who was killed in action serving in Iraq on September 7, 2010. Since her son’s death, the McClamrock family has found a way to honor his memory through the inspiring work done at Carolina Patriot Rovers, which names each service dog after a local fallen hero – a 15-week-old puppy, named Fleet after James’ middle name, is currently being trained to be a future soldier’s companion.
Don G., of Memphis, Ind., wanted to involve The Band Perry when he dared Purina Dog Chow to organize a charitable event where Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry would wash dirty dogs to benefit The Humane Society. A charitable dog wash ensued on April 29th at The Humane Society of Tampa Bay which attracted hundreds of country music fans hoping to meet the band before they took the stage with Tim McGraw that night.
The final dare, submitted by Lauren Doak from Houston, TX, was completed in Houston on May 14. Lauren dared Purina Dog Chow to organize a pet-friendly family fun walk to benefit The City of Houston’s Animal Shelter BARC and the local American Legion Post 560. Dog Chow accepted the dare and organized a one-mile fun walk at T.C. Jester Park, which included a variety of activities such as an appearance from 100.3 KILT, demonstrations from the Purina Incredible Dog Team and Pasadena PD K-9 unit and a dog-shaped bounce house. To top things off, Dog Chow donated $7,500 each to BARC Foundation and the American Legion.
Worth checking out - espnW is a site dedicated to a new generation of women who grew up playing as athletes. Women who value sport more deeply and passionately than ever before, adn are lifelong fans because of it.
Sports has always served as common passion point for people, one that numerous brands have tapped into and leveraged.
Jon Last recently wrote an interesting commentary on MediaPost about the live sports experience as the ultimate brand community, and the opportunity that it presents to brand marketers. Having attended many sports events, both in a professional capacity and as a “fan,” I understand the power of shared experiences that only come from “being there.” There is value for brands in activating at live events.
That said, the live event is most valuable…only if there are people at the live event. Attendance for most sports has fluctuated in recent years, given the many entertainment options and the challenging economy.
In general, these are based on Klout scores, a new standard of influence for those who are both highly followed and highly engaged online. What’s your klout score? Who would be on your list of the most influential online in sports? Click headline above to see full list.
Under Armour Engages Tom Brady Fans With Draft Chat
While coverage of the Royal Wedding ruled overseas on Friday, America’s king of football, Tom Brady, reigned supreme in the eyes of Under Armour fans who were chosen to attend an intimate Draft Chat Q&A with the legendary quarterback. NFL analyst and former four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Boomer Esiason moderated the Q&A, which covered everything from how Brady defines leadership to his rise from Draft obscurity to superstardom.
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about some new Twitter strategies on the forefront. It seems Jack Dorsey, the new CEO of Twitter who recently took over for Evan Williams, is trying to fix some problems that need attending.
Twitter, with an estimated value of $4 billion, has more than 200 million registered accounts. However, the company doesn’t say how many active users there are. In fact, what they’re seeing is a drop-off: new users don’t stick around and really use the service the way it can be used.
One should note, however, that active users on Twitter are extremely active and very influential. However, Twitter still needs to find a way to scale.
To fix the drop-off issue and try to grow, Twitter is going to start to segment their audiences by showing new users the power of the platform.
For more experienced, active users, Twitter is going to help show the most relevant tweets to the user (similar to the way Facebook shows you the most relevant updates in your news feed).
Caps Combine Social Media with Social Cause for Beard-A-Thon
As they’ve done the last several seasons, the Washington Capitals have once again launched their charitable Beard-A-Thon initiative, this year to benefit riends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena.
Washington Capitals Charities will be donating all proceeds from the 2011 Beard-A-Thon to Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Fort Dupont is the only public indoor ice arena located in Washington, D.C., and the only skating facility in the area that provides free or subsidized skating programs to children. Its Kids On Ice programs provide free figure skating, hockey and speed skating lessons to vulnerable and economically disadvantaged youth who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn these sports. Lessons learned on the ice, such as teamwork, respect, hard work and discipline, translate to lessons learned in the classroom and beyond. Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena partners with public and private schools, summer camps, churches and local community organizations to promote and deliver its programs to more than 7,000 children per year.
The program, as illustrated above, has many social components in addition to the obvious online fundraising component. In addition to the traditional elements such as Facebook integration, the charity’s site also offers a leader board for funds raised, fan voting in the form of a one-on-one “Face-Off,” and the ability for the “follicly challenged” to participate by growing a virtual beard.
Plus, it always helps that it’s fun and fan-oriented.
A significant element of successful consumer engagement involves reaching your fans in meaningful, relevant ways. One way to do this is through giving thanks and highlighting user-generated content.
The Band Perry did us this - they recently released a viral video on YouTube, in honor of their fans. The video showcases short clips of fan uploads singing one of their most popular songs. Over the music, the artists say:
If you are a social media, PR or marketing practitioner, or a brand manager on any scale, pick up a copy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank You Economy. Vaynerchuk’s follow-up to his NYT best seller, Crush It!, is a playbook for how a company could and should develop online, by focusing on the often overlooked basics.
Gary should know - he’s lived it.
I pulled out a few of my favorite key quotes from it, and provide a little of my own POV on them.
"…the recipients of that information and opinion more often care about the individual sending it to them. Middlemen, pendants and spokespersons no longer have a monopoly on the widespread distribution of a brand or a company’s message."
As much as, if not more than messaging and content, the messenger and the means of delivery matter in having a brand’s message resonate with consumers. This is not the same as an influential blogger simply posting a branded video - it’s about them contributing to the message and content and integrating their expertise while building a relationship with them for a coordinated, sustainable dialogue.
"It’s not about the number of followers you have or the number of “likes” you get, it’s the strength of your bond with your followers that indicates how much anyone cares about what you have to say. In this game, the one with the most real relationships wins."
The way I’ve built my network is based on trust, sincerity and mutual interests beyond economic. Because of that foundation, the business relationships are able to develop over time and when they do, all parties recognize and respect the other’s interest. It’s no different with brands. If a brand is always pitching and selling without first establishing a trusting online relationship, skepticism is inevitable and the relationship is a week one.
"…if you succeed with social media, it won’t be because of the platform; it will be because you acknowledge that culture and consumer expectations can change."
It’s easy to become infatuated with the newest technology, platform, app or digital community - and we should! Embrace them! But at the heart of it, an authentic understanding of the community’s interests and needs trumps everything. Don’t be a mile wide and an inch deep. Online communities will quickly see through gimmicks. Dig deeper. There is no silver bullet.
"…the drawback to resisting social media engagement is clear: the longer you wait the farther the competition can pull ahead."
Pretty self-explanatory. Too often we are reactionary to the latest trends rather than investing in building relationships and being out in-front of where consumers are congregating. We wait for someone else to take the risk, instead of being courageous and creative enough to try and succeed in new arenas. While early doesn’t equal authentic, it at least shows your willingness and appreciation for communities and the way they want to be messaged (not how and where you want to message them).
"A lot of companies resist building a Facebook wall, blogging or starting a Twitter or YouTube account because an irate customer might post negative comments. So what? Would you prefer that the customer post them somewhere else where you have absolutely no way to reply? …If you’re afraid of your customer, you might want to take a closer look at how you’re doing business."
If your product or brand is superior, you should be able to address the complaint or criticisms with factual justification. If you can’t, then the complainer is doing you a favor – he or she probably isn’t the only one with the criticism. You can acknowledge publically, express your understanding and appreciation and work to fix the problems.
"Controlling their message and their image explains why so many – too many- companies still refuse to allow their employees to publically blog or tweet about their work…there may be no better way to know for sure you’re making smart hiring decisions. Allow your employees to talk freely, let them say what they want, because then you will have a much clearer picture of who your employees are and how they feel about your company."
If you can’t trust your employees to be honest, transparent and professional enough to carry the message of your own company, how can you justify them doing so for your clients and/or your product?
"Companies that resist the Thank You Economy are going to see an exodus of talent. The people who understand where the culture is going but don’t get the support from their companies are going to find the courage to leave for new pastures."
Such is the nature of not only Gary’s “Thank You Economy,” but also the democratization allowed by the omnipresent social media-driven world we live in where the entrepreneurial sprit strives. As Gary advocates - put the best people in the best positions to succeed. Do not look at your social media manager as an add-on or something to throw at an intern. As the new economy plows forward, and people find new ways of both communicating and consuming information, these are the warriors you want on your front lines - ones that are flexible and creative enough to think, adapt, act and react in real time.
The mere size and scope of SXSW Interactive conference this year more than doubled from last year – further evidence of explosive growth in the digital landscape.
What was once a hipster gathering of tech geeks (early adopters) has now turned into a trade show, with everyone from CNN and Pepsi on-site, spending massive amounts of dollars to have the biggest presence and make the biggest impact. It’s safe to say – “online life” and “real life” have now merged.
With all the noise in the digital space, it will become even more difficult to cut through the clutter and understand macro trends and key takeaways. Here’s a little context and recap of what we need to pay attention to this year.
The Blogs With Balls network organized a digital tailgate at South By Southwest Interactive in Austin this week. A panel of digital sports influencers was in attendance, along with keynote Gary Vaynerchuk (a huge jets fan) who also stopped by to add his thoughts on sports and digital. Read a recap of the event here.
The Timex Multisport Team is the oldest and most prestigious triathlon team in the country. Catalyst was excited to join them in celebrating their 10th Anniversary at their annual training camp at the Timex Performance Center in New Jersey (training facility of the New York Giants).
Catalyst held a special discussion on social media, showing the athletes how the Timex athletes can utilize digital tools not only to promote themselves and the Timex brand, but also their sport. Check out some of their blog posts on the Team blog, and the Flickr slideshow below. Stay tuned for big things from Team Timex in 2011!
I am not a fashion blogger, do not work in the fashion industry and am not even very fashionable. So of course the Social Media Week panel I was jumping to attend was “Can the Next Rachel Zoe Be Found Online.” Apparently I’m a sucker for seeing how “the other half” lives. After Googling Rachel Zoe – she’s a fashion stylist with her own Bravo reality TV show, for anyone else who has been under a rock with me these last few years –I was ready to see the social media world through the immaculately made-up, designer-shaded eyes of a budding fashionista.
Panelists and highlights below for your reading pleasure:
* Moderator: Laura Brown, Features/Special Projects Director, Harper’s Bazaar
* Kerry Diamond, VP of Public Relations & Communications, Lancôme
* Leandra Medine, blogger, ManRepeller
* Andrew Essex, CEO, Droga5
* Kristine Welker, Chief Revenue Office, Hearst Magazines Digital Media
A livestream of the New York Social Media Week session “The Big Shift” is located here.
This afternoon, I attended the Social Media Week panel The Big Shift, held at Hearst on 57th and 8th avenues.
First, I have to say - the building. Wow. The panel was held in a conference room with an unreal view of Central Park. The only thing that might beat that view is the one from the Empire State Building, where we work. :)
Anyway, the discussion was interesting. The panel consisted of: