I did this interview in 2015 at the DMA Conference in Boston about making traditional brands stand out in a digital world, and much of what I talked about here still resonates today.
Iâ€™ll spare you a plodding introduction. Prediction lists are quick and easy. Hereâ€™s 10 of them for 2013.
Google+ Rises â€“ Google, the company that made its fortune in search, will figure out that G+ isnâ€™t a social network, itâ€™s a content directory. Google+â€™s best chance at success lies in its bread and butter â€“ SEO â€“ by giving big brands, celebrities and other entities the opportunity to dictate organic search. Look for Google to start showcasing G+ content in organic search results. Itâ€™s already starting to happen; expect more of it in 2013.
Snapchat Gets More Buzz â€“ Snapchat, a messaging service seemingly inspired by Inspector Gadget with its self-destructing (sort of, but not really) messages, photos and videos, will go mainstream. Itâ€™s just starting to pick up buzz and the teenage demographic. Parents are no longer in the dark about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but how many know that their kids are on Snapchat? After all, teenagers are always looking for loopholes, so if you tell them they canâ€™t use Instagram, theyâ€™ll just go somewhere else. For now, Snapchat seems to be that destination.
MySpace never really takes off â€“ Tom may be sitting on his $580 million while you slave away hoping for another half day off, and Justin Timberlake may have signed on to be the new face of the old social network, but so far, thereâ€™s no evidence that every day users have interest in reclaiming their old space on the new Myspace. Iâ€™m not holding my breath. Besides, I always liked Friendster better back in the day.
Facebook and Twitter continue aggressive monetization push â€“ Facebook changes the rules of engagement on a weekly basis, and theyâ€™re guaranteed to continue to seek out more revenue channels. Now a billion users strong, Facebook has gotten very aggressive about monetization, looking to charge fan pages anywhere from $2-25,000 for millions guaranteed impressions from, get this, their own audience! In December 2010, I predicted in this space that Facebook would charge brands in 2011. Looks like I was ahead of the curve at the time. But it was inevitable. As for Twitter, look for them to follow suit, and look for more tweets from people you never followed popping up in your timeline.
Social Networks Continue to Sell Your Data and Content â€“ Most of us will continue to agree to the Terms of Service without thinking. But no worries, that picture you took of your lunch isnâ€™t valuable anyway. But your data, what you like, and your user behaviors are likely all up for grabs.
Here Come the Commercials â€“ With DVRs and On Demand neutralizing commercials on television, look for advertisers to seek out targeted video ad placements on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Social Media Gurus Go Out of Business â€“ As Corporate America continues to staff up to manage social media internally, it will continue to realize that the only thing many outside social media consultants are actually selling is unquantifiable â€œengagement,â€ not to mention their own books. Those who refuse to measure ROI (with ridiculous justifications like, â€œWhatâ€™s the ROI of your mother?â€) or generate tangible results will be out of business. I think weâ€™ll see more and more of the self-promoting, self-proclaimed â€œgurusâ€ running for the comforts of a steady paycheck with a full-time job in Corporate America.
Journalism Continues to Die â€“ As the gap that separates professional journalists from citizens narrows and the race to be first with a story intensifies, youâ€™ll see more shoddy reporting from professional news outlets. This trend is well underway, but as traditional media relies more upon gathering information from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the quality of reporting will continue its steady erosion.
The Daily Deals Industry Finally Dies – Either Groupon, Living Social or both will go out of business this year. Thereâ€™s a million stories out there about Groupon â€œdealsâ€ putting restaurants out of business. It will finally come back to haunt them and the shoe will land on the other foot. Remember when they turned down a $6 billion dollar offer from Google? Who was dumber? Google for offering, or Groupon for turning it down?
1,000 More Bad Ideas Emerge â€“ Theyâ€™ll be easier to spot this year. Letâ€™s face it, for every Pinterest, thereâ€™s 40 startups out their trying to be Pinterest-meets-Tumblr-meets-Instagram. Trust me. Theyâ€™re all horrible ideas.
I check LinkedIn almost every day. Itâ€™s an incredible tool for keeping track of my professional network, and itâ€™s partly responsible for changing the way I think about my career.
Thanks to connections cultivated through LinkedIn, conference speaking opportunities, job offers and important business connections have fallen in my lap. Maintaining my LinkedIn profile and keeping tabs on my professional network has been overwhelmingly beneficial to my career over the last decade.
The flipside? Almost daily, I get a random invitation to connect from a person Iâ€™ve never met. Thereâ€™s no end to the list of people who want to break into the sports business, and every year, a new crop of graduates wake up in May and realize they donâ€™t have a job lined up yet. Misguidedly, theyâ€™re firing off LinkedIn invites to random professionals without explanation and then wondering why no oneâ€™s offered them a job.
LinkedIn has also replaced the cold call for many technology vendors, especially in the crowded and burgeoning social media space. While I sympathize with their plight to some degree, an empty LinkedIn invite isnâ€™t the way to introduce yourself.
Because I work for a professional basketball team, and spend a lot of time tweeting and speaking about social media, my name is out there, and people are interested in what I do professionally. My LinkedIn profile is the first thing that comes up when you Google â€œPeter Stringer Celtics,â€ so Iâ€™m an easy guy to track down. Amazingly, though, 95 percent of the invites I get from students, vendors and strangers are completely empty. Thereâ€™s no explanation of why they want to connect, whatâ€™s in it for me, or how they even found me.
I ignore 90 percent of them.
If youâ€™re not willing to take 60 seconds to explain who you are, or why you want to connect, why should I be willing to accept the invitation? Two minutes ago, you were a complete stranger. Now, in the parlance of LinkedIn, youâ€™re a â€œtrusted business contactâ€ because you clicked button on my profile? Thatâ€™s akin to walking up to someone at a networking event, making brief eye contact, not saying a word, handing them your business card, and expecting one in return.
With the rise of social media, personal brands and bad advice, young professionals and students have little sense of networking etiquette. They seem to think that networking means firing off as many LinkedIn requests as possible to anyone you come across, whether or not you have met them in person, or can bring anything to the table in a potential networking relationship.
Taking just two seconds to send the empty, default LinkedIn invitation won’t help your cause. It certainly won’t create a meaningful connection, either.
Iâ€™ve written about doing real-world networking before, but it bears repeating. Attend networking events for the industry in which you’re interested, and use Twitter to track industry trends and get involved in conversations with both thought leaders and entry level workers in your industry. While it may be beneficial to be LinkedIn with CMOs at some of the big brands you want to follow, youâ€™ll likely bear more fruit from developing relationships with your contemporaries across the industry. Theyâ€™re more likely to have more time for and interest in connecting with you, and youâ€™ll likely have a lot more in common.
When those in your industry are familiar with you from having conversations on Twitter, itâ€™s a heck of a lot easier to approach them at events, meet them in person for coffee, or score an informational interview. Connecting on a digital level is one thing, but until youâ€™ve made an in-person connection, your unlikely to benefit from a networking contact. After all, why should they vouch for your Twitter handle?
Do the work to make an in-person connection before expecting to connect with someone on LinkedIn.
I contributed my first guest opinion piece to the Sports Business Journal this week, explaining how the Boston Celtics are getting data and ROI out of Facebook with 3-Point Play, our basketball prediction game.
The game is in its third season on our Facebook page, and it’s been a big success since launching in October 2009, when it was the first NBA team application on the social networking platform. The game has been tweaked a bit since then, and we recently integrated 3-Point Play into our pregame show’s broadcast to help drive signups.
I’ve presented on this topic at several conferences around the country (and even Australia!) over the past year or so, but figured that the case study would be valuable for professionals around the sports industry.
You have to have a Sports Business Journal subscription to read the piece, but if you’re serious about sports marketing, you already have one, right?
Sports Business Journal: Moving beyond like: How one team monetized Facebook base
If you work in a marketing capacity for a professional sports team, you’re a target. You’re constantly bombarded by calls, emails, tweets and LinkedIn requests from complete strangers who want to sell you dime-a-dozen virtual products that won’t increase your bottom line, and are largely built on hype.
Countless companies are all selling the same vaporware solutions for problems that most teams don’t even understand, or frankly, don’t even exist. Because there’s a new headline on Mashable every day that tells us about the growing importance of social media, business development reps at vendors around the globe are relentless in their quest to reach new targets as they try to make commissions before their start-up goes belly-up.
The good news for vendors? It’s easier than ever to identify (read: stalk) brand marketing decision makers, as everyone’s got a LinkedIn profile, many of us have a Twitter account, and some even maintain a blog. (Oops!)
The bad news? We may be easier to find, but we’re harder to reach. You’re all competing with each other for our limited attention. Our phones ring constantly. And your solution is not unique. I’ve probably been approached by 10 vendors in the last month with nearly identical products. If you’re like me, you don’t answer your desk phone unless the caller ID reveals a familiar name.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not completely unsympathetic to the vendor’s plight. Being a salesman in the social media gold rush is a thankless job. Cold-calling people is no fun. Leaving voicemails is worse. But sports marketing professionals work crazy hours, even in the offseason. Our time is valuable. If we took every call and meeting, we’d never get anything done. So we have to be selective. In that spirit, here’s 10 tips for vendors attempting to pitch sports teams with their cutting-edge social media Swiss Army knives.
Do some research before you cold call. Don’t call a sports franchise with a million-plus fans on Facebook telling them that you can help them grow their social media fan base. Guess what? Big market teamsâ€“and even many small market teamsâ€“don’t need help with this. They’ve got fans all over the globe, and that fan base is already growing organically. Teams are unlikely to pay for growth when they can just watch the clock and watch their likes grow for free. You need a focused value proposition that you can succinctly articulate. Know how you differentiate yourself from the rest of the field, and prove you can generate some real world ROI, because we’ve already heard the same pitch from 20 companies just like yours.
Do some more research before you cold call. Don’t call trying to sell us a Facebook application if we’ve already got a Facebook application. Seems obvious, but it happens way too much. If you don’t have the time to check our fan and do some cursory research, why should we waste our time?
Our game schedule is available. Check it before calling. Calling at 4 pm on a game day is the easiest way to guarantee you’ll be leaving a voice mail. The front office is usually very busy on game day, and most of us are headed to the arena/stadium late in the afternoon. Every team’s game schedule is freely available on their website. Look it up. Pick an off day, or better yet, an off day when the team’s on a short road trip. Extended road trips = vacation days.
Keep voicemails and emails short and sweet. If you can’t deliver your elevator pitch over voicemail in under 45 seconds, you need a new elevator pitch. Or try another elevator. Which reminds me, one of the best voice mails ever received at Boston Celtics HQ is from a vendor who introduces himself, then pauses, sneezes loudly (!), and continues on with his pitch for about 60 seconds. We listen to the first 10 seconds of this thing on speakerphone like once a quarter, and it always delivers the unintentional comedy goods.
“Hi, Keith…this is…EH…AH…ACHOU!…this is so-and-so and I want to tell you about…”
As for email, if you send six paragraphs, there’s no chance it’s getting read. In the age of skimming, who has time? Keep it short and sweet, and send a link for more info. Use a bit.ly link to track whether we clicked through. (Um, I shouldn’t be telling you this…)
If we don’t respond after multiple attempts, don’t continue to harass us. Trust me, we got your email. And your voicemail. And your LinkedIn request. And your Twitter mention. There’s no need to forward us your second unreturned email and ask if we got it. If we’re interested, we’ll let you know. If not, you’re wasting your time.
Don’t exaggerate who’s using your product. The sports business is a small community. Most people who work at a team have worked for multiple teams, or across different leagues, and we do plenty of networking. So if you tell us you’re working with other pro teams, and we’re actually interested in your product, you can expect us to place a call to those teams to get feedback. And if by â€œworking with another teamâ€ you mean â€œgave them a presentationâ€ or â€œhad a conference call with themâ€, we’ll find out in short order.
Last year, one vendor actually showed me a product demo during a WebEx with content customized for an NHL franchise, and intimated that they’d built a solution for said team. When I followed up with the hockey team, they were shocked and told me they’d never heard of the company. Needless to say, that’s where my conversation with said vendor ended.
Go to networking events and conferences. If you really want to get in front of a sports marketing executive, go to a conference where they’re attending or speaking. You’ll probably be able to meet them in person, and if nothing else, have a beer and chat about your product. People at conferences expect to do some networking, so it’s much better environment to try to make a connection. That saidâ€¦
Manners are important. Don’t interrupt when we’re talking to someone else. I’ve had this happen multiple times after panels or presentations at conferences. I’ll be speaking directly to someone after a session, and a vendor who’s in a rush to leave the conference with my business card will interject â€“ because their time is apparently more important than that of anyone else â€“ and give me their card, expecting mine in return.
I always try my best to prevent the interruption (even if I can feel the intrusive stare from a vendor who’s looking for a chance to interrupt), but it’s an awkward situation for everyone and leaves a terrible first impression. It also usually earns your business card a trip to the circular file.
Teams spend big money on players, and small money on marketing technology. So teams aren’t going to drop $20,000 on a social media tool that they didn’t know existed yesterday. Sports teams operate with lean staffs on leaner marketing budgets. Thankfully, there are plenty of companies out there willing to work with teams for free or nearly free, because being able to put a team’s logo in your sales deck is worth far more than the $20,000 you’re trying to squeeze out of us for your â€œmust-haveâ€ social media solution.
Try to do a deal with the league. Many successful software vendors who have multiple team clients managed to convince the league office that their software is unique and valuable, and cut a deal with the league for all 30 teams to have access to their software. If your product is truly unique, and has scale, you might be better off trying to approach the league first.