Social Networking: Sports Marketing 2.0

April 21, 2009

If you read the article below, you must check out Sports Marketing 2.0. If you are a social networker or involved with the business of sports, you much check out Sports Marketing 2.0.

Sports Marketing 2.0 is a social network dedicated to the Business of Sports. Created by Pay Coyle of the Indianapolis Colts, Sports Marketing 2.0 is comprised of franchise executives, sports marketers, college students, sponsors, and fans. The Linked In page describes Sports Marking 2.0 as a “digital think-tank for sports marketers in the Web 2.0 world.

The social networking card has been pulled time after time, day after day, second after second – I don’t expect it to stop anytime soon. The extremely high traffic seen on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In has been expressed over thoroughly over the past few months. Some of the networking sites that are slowly making names for themselves are well worth the visit – a few that I belong to:

Sports Marketing 2.0

Sprts Business Education Network

Minor League Forum

Sports Cue

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Monday Morning Blogger – Brendan Wilhide of ‘Sports in 140’

April 14, 2009

Welcome to the first edition of MMB (I know, a few hours late). Every Monday, we will visit some of the most facinating bloggers out there.  Today, we take a timeout with Brendan Wilhide of ‘Sports in 140.

Brendan Wilhide is the creator and founder of the SportsList. Who is on this list? How about Shaq, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, CC Sabathia, and Kerry Rhodes to name a few. Twitter has exploded over the last few months. You can credit this Twitter craze to the many athletes that have hopped on the bandwagon. Brendan has organized a list of these athletes, personalietes, and franchises over his SportsList…

Josh Feinberg: For those not familiar with Sports in 140, where did that title come from?

Brendan Wilhide: “Sports in 140” is the easiest way of explaining the purpose of the Sports on Twitter list: it’s all about sports on Twitter. Every tweet on Twitter must be 140 characters of less so I find that the name is the easiest way of explaining the concept all in one phrase.

Josh Feinberg: Tell us a bit about your Sports List on Twitter?

Brendan Wilhide: I created the Sports on Twitter list as a resource for fellow fans. I initially started the list because I was tired of trying to track down athlete Twitter accounts. I’m a big baseball fan and initially maintained a small, private list that I could share with friends.

One night I went looking for some sort of list of official list of athlete Twitter accounts and was frustrated when I couldn’t find one. I made my list public and the Sports on Twitter list has grown steadily from there.

A lot of people ask me how I go about validating and verifying accounts. I validate all athlete accounts by doing one of a few things:

1) I contact the team or organization and verify that the athlete is indeed using Twitter
2) I contact the athlete personally and ask if they can provide photographic proof that the account is real
3) I check to see if an already validated account has validated the account in question (typically teammates interacting with each other)
4) I check for mentions of the athlete’s account in the media

I’ve been able to validate a lot of accounts—and invalidate plenty of others—using this methodology.

I’ve also been fortunate that my contacts have been very helpful in adding to the list. I find that Twitter users will tweet or email several new additions to the list a couple of times each week. The list would never have grown so quickly were it not for people’s interest in contributing to the list.

Josh Feinberg: How many athletes and teams are on the list?

Brendan Wilhide: I don’t have an exact count so I just say “over 200” athlete and team accounts.

Josh Feinberg: Where did your passion come from to work with Twitter and the Athletes on Twitter?

Brendan Wilhide: As I said I’ve always been a very passionate sports fan. I spent four years working in professional sports and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I’ve always been interested in technology.

I’ve found that maintaining the Sports on Twitter list allows me continue my passion for sports and my interest in technology in my spare time. I continue working on the list every day because I know people are using the list and I want it to be as up-to-date as possible.

Josh Feinberg: What does the future of Twitter look like for athletes, personalities, and celebrities?

Brendan Wilhide: I think we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the way athletes, teams and celebrities market themselves to their fans. Twitter offers anyone an opportunity to follow their favorite star and, in a sense, get to know them. There’s something to be said for the feeling fans get when they learn that their favorite star likes the same TV show or enjoys the same restaurants. I think these little things make stars more accessible to the fans and I think the fans appreciate that new level of accessibility.

Someone asked me recently if I thought Twitter would eventually supplant more traditional PR and I said no. Athletes and teams will still need traditional PR for all the reasons they need PR now, especially in crisis situations. Traditional PR is not going away.

Josh Feinberg: You launched Sportsin140 a few weeks ago…what has been the response up to this point?

Brendan Wilhide:The response has been tremendous. I never thought the site would garner so much traffic in just a couple of weeks. I had an idea about the way I wanted to site to look and feel and I’ve been able to expand on my initial idea already because the reader response has been so great. For example, I didn’t know about the huge auto racing community on Twitter. A Twitter user contacted me and asked me why I didn’t have a larger category for auto racing. I built a large list of auto racing users on Twitter but would not have realized the need for that category if a reader hadn’t contacted me.

The biggest compliment I received about the site was when someone told me they thought the site had been up for months. “You have so much information, I thought the site had been up for months!” she said. That meant a lot to me because I spend a lot of time on the site and I want the content and look to be as professional and complete as possible.

I take pride in the site and it’s a rewarding feeling knowing that people return to the site because they enjoy reading it and look forward to the updates..

Josh Feinberg: Who is your favorite Athlete or Team to follow on Twitter?

Brendan Wilhide:While following athletes on Twitter is a lot of fun, I enjoy following teams more because teams are consistently finding new ways to promote and market themselves through Twitter.

I recently blogged about my “top 10 Minor League Baseball teams on Twitter” and I think minor league sports are an excellent example of how teams can use Twitter in their marketing efforts.

I’ve seen teams tweet about everything from promotions and the weather at the ballpark to ticket giveaways (Shaq made the Twitter specific “find me now” promotion famous) and special discounts for fans.

I think teams are realizing that Twitter is a fun, free way to stay in touch with their fanbase and I think we’ve only seen the beginning of sports teams on Twitter.

Be sure to check out Sports in 140

sports-in-1402

You can find Brendan and his Sports List on Twitter – @beingthere & @sportslist


Tweet of the Night – www.Twitter.com

April 13, 2009

Twitter Post via @RyanStephens:

“Need help wit something? Ask. It’s not an admission of weakness, but shows your determination to succeed. (via @LewisHowes)”

Check out both @RyanStephans Blog and @LewisHowes Blog


Interview with Jim DeLorenzo, Father of Twackle.com

April 13, 2009

Jim DeLorenzo is a multifaceted professional in the sports industry. An attorney by trade, Jim is currently the Vice-President of the Digital sector of Octagon. In today’s social media craze, Jim and his staff at Octagon Digital, created Twackle.com in response to the massive explosion of Twitter. Jim, the founder of Twackle.com took a few moments with us today to share his expertise and experiences within world of social media.

Jim DeLorenzo

Jim DeLorenzo

Josh Feinberg: Can you speak on your career path and experience leading to Octagon?

Jim DeLorenzo: My experience has been heavy on the digital media side and not as much on the sports side. I was pretty fortunate that I was able to eventually combine the two (digital media and sports) because I actually am a huge sports fan. My background started with law (as an attorney) almost a decade ago, representing the original Napster. From the law firm and handling those types of digital media property issues, I moved over to AOL where I was handling a lot of mobile and instant messaging transactions. I then ended up becoming head of business development and took care of the marketing issues for a start up (company) called Qloud, which was backed by Steve Case and his company Revolution. I focused primarily on online music applications that lived inside the various social networks.

We launched initially on Facebook and then quickly moved to MySpace, High Five, Friendster, and all the others. In less than a year, we ramped up about 7 millions users or so. I had a successful exit with Qloud and at the time of that exit, I was looking around and trying to decide if I was going to continue with the acquiring company or move somewhere else. At that moment, a position popped up at Octagon, which was looking for somebody to stand up their Digital Division.

So again, being a huge sports fan and obviously being involved in the digital media space, it seemed like a good opportunity to combine the two. Now at Octagon, running the Digital Division, I have two main responsibilities, one of which is to find new digital marketing channels for our athletes online. Another is to develop our own stand alone digital properties, the first of which is Twackle.com.

Josh Feinberg: Following your undergraduate work, I take it, that it was not your intention to work in the Sports Industry?

Jim DeLorenzo: I wouldn’t say I didn’t have any intention of working in sports, but it wasn’t something I was actively trying to pursue. It wasn’t as if I was pursuing internships (in the sports industry). Again, I’m a gigantic sports fan, so I always thought it would be something that would be fun but it wasn’t something I was going to actively pursue.

I went straight from undergrad to law school, then law school down to a firm here in D.C. So I was not necessarily following a career path that would typically lead you to a sports related company.

Josh Feinberg: When did you join Octagon?

Jim DeLorenzo: About a year ago.

Josh Feinberg: For those not familiar with Octagon, can you give a brief overview of the company?

Jim DeLorenzo: Octagon is a global company. Octagon Athletes and Personalities is based here in McLain, Virginia. We have about 800 athletes worldwide representing pretty much every major sport. Some of our bigger clients include Michael Phelps and Chris Paul.

Josh Feinberg: Now can you go into what you do within the Digital sector and how that is incorporated into Octagon Athletes and Personalities?

Jim DeLorenzo: Well I think what you are seeing, more and more is that people are consuming their sports content online. Every athlete, every league, and every team are looking for ways to connect with their fans online and are shifting to different online platforms. For Octagon, one of my responsibilities is to help the agents find the right opportunities for their athletes in a digital medium. An example would be, if you go to NBA.com, they have videos running of Chris Paul. They have behind the scene videos chronicling what it is like to be a young, NBA super-star. Having NBA.com as a platform, to push those videos has a lot of benefits for Chris (Paul). That is one of the things I am doing out of the digital sector.

Basically, I am trying to find digital marketing opportunities for our athletes online and helping to provide both the athletes and the agents more of a consistent digital strategy.

Josh Feinberg: Looking at the social media platforms, specifically Twitter… We have seen an explosion of athletes and personalities jumping on-board. What is your reaction to the Twitter craze?

Jim DeLorenzo: Again, that gets back to the whole concept of athletes, teams, leagues, and different brands trying to find new ways to connect with their fans online. For a long time for an athlete or a team, that meant writing a blog. To write a blog, that really does not fit into an athlete’s daily schedule because they are busy being a professional athlete, which is all-consuming. When you have somebody that is a professional blogger, they are sitting there banging out a couple posts per day on a team or player. Than you have the player who is spending the vast majority of their time focusing on being a professional athlete, which is what they should be doing. So they are always going to be at a disadvantage to the professional bloggers, in terms of the amount of content they can produce and how much time they can spend trying to make that content compelling.

Now you have Twitter come along, all of a sudden, you have a channel that athletes can use that fits into their life very easily. They can use their mobile device to send a short, 140 character messages. It doesn’t require them to sit in front of a computer. They could be on their way to practice or on their way back from a game. Or in the case of Charlie Villanueva the other night, have the ability to throw out a Twitter post in the middle of a game, during halftime. It fits to more into the athletes’ life style and the time constraints that they have, which are very demanding.

The great thing for the fan, because of the immediacy of Twitter and the fact that Shaq could write something during half-time, or even sit at a diner and say “come meet me at the diner and I’ll give you free tickets to the Suns’ game tonight”. The immediacy is something that you can’t replicate in a blog. It provides a benefit to the fan that wasn’t there before; this feeling of immediacy and intimacy with the athletes and having a real connection there. That’s one of the things that make it appealing to the fan and consumer standpoint. I think it’s (Twitter) only going to continue to grow. It really fits into the athlete’s life and the consumer loves it because they’re getting little nuggets of information faster and more on a real-time basis than they ever could otherwise.

Josh Feinberg: What exactly is Twackle?

Jim DeLorenzo: One of the problems you have with Twitter is that there are massive amounts of data and it becomes difficult for people to manage it. One of the things that we thought would be helpful is to have a sports focused front end on Twitter. What we do, we find and aggregate all the messages on Twitter related to sports and put them into Twackle.com in the appropriate area using our navigation. This allows the user to quickly find the topic they are looking for. We surface all of these messages in the form of “feeds” which allows the user to find feeds on a topic very quickly. Whether that’s the NFL, New York Giants or a particular player on the New York Giants, they can drill down and find the information they feel is compelling very easily. If they’re looking at our NY Giants feed – we are pulling that information in real time, every message seen on Twitter will feed into Twackle. There it is an aggregation and discovery tool for sports content on Twitter. Beyond that, you have the ability to have a native Twitter integration. You can log into Twackle using your Twitter ID and password. With that integration, when you post a message live on Twackle, it shows on your Twitter stream. You end up with a multi platform play as the user. If you look, there’s actually a top ‘Twacklers’ module that shows the people that have used Twackle the most over the past week. Some of those people are actually teams. For example, the Charlotte Bobcats are on there. They’ve started to use Twackle and use it as one of their platforms for distributing their Twitter messages as they live ‘tweet’ during games.

Josh Feinberg: How long since Twackle went live?

Jim DeLorenzo: We got something up there with Twackle at the beginning of this year. In its current form, we started telling people about it back in February. There was actually a Sports Business Journal article about it early in February. It really hasn’t been that long, you’re looking at 4-6 weeks since we went live. It’s pretty new and we continue to rev out new functions. We have some pretty cool things coming down the pike that I think people are going to find very interesting. It’s relatively young in the cycle right now.

Josh Feinberg: With Twackle’s initial launch, I would imagine it’s not perfect and it does not satisfy everyone out there. Can users suggest information they would like to see on Twackle?

Jim DeLorenzo: People can always send us messages; we do have the ability to send comments back. They could also send messages through the Twackle feed. We are always open to suggestions. User feedback is crucial for Twackle. We recently had the people of ‘Women Talk Sports’, which is a great blog obviously focused on Women in Sports; reach out to us telling us we need more content around Women’s Sports. They were right and we did. We’re definitely open to any suggestions on a content side…any content areas we are not currently covering – we definitely want to hear about that, along with any suggestions. It’s pretty easy for us to throw up items in regards to a specific topic, as long as there is content behind it. On the functionality side, same thing, we always like to hear from people. Any comment from our users is always helpful. It’s a huge advantage to have that connection with our users.

Josh Feinberg: Any other features the user should be aware of?

Jim DeLorenzo: One other functionality I wanted to mention was the ‘Top Links’ module. For every one of our feeds, take the NY Jets and Kerry Rhodes who is a safety on the Jets, he has his own Twitter page. We have 800 or so feeds that we continue to add everyday. For every one of those feeds, we pull out the links on an on-going rolling basis for the past 24 hours, the links that were sent the most through those feeds. If you look at the general NFL feeds, the module shows the links sent the most; either on Twackle or Twitter- and the Top Links module becomes a user generated recommendation engine.

Josh Feinberg: What is the relation with Twackle and Octagon:

Jim DeLorenzo: It’s an Octagon Digital property. The ultimate plan is to spin it out and turn Twackle into its own independent entity.

Josh Feinberg: To close, let’s relax a bit with few quick response questions:

Josh Feinberg: Favorite Athlete (all-time)?

Jim DeLorenzo: Joe Klecko

Josh Feinberg: Favorite Team to Follow?

Jim DeLorenzo: New York Jets

Josh Feinberg: Who do you have winning tourney?

Jim DeLorenzo: Being a graduate, I have to go with Duke

Check out the published interview with Jim on SportsAgentBlog.com