Trevor Turnbull (http://sportfanconnect.com) had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike Petrie (Calgary Stampeders – Director of Community and Media Relations) to talk about the Stampeders social media strategy.
They chatted about why the Stampeders got involved in social media, the StampsConnect social media aggregated website, concerns they had when first starting, how they manage all of their online assets, contests and promotions they have ran to encourage participation and provide value for sponsors and future plans for their social media efforts.
In June 2009, the Stampeders launched a website called StampsConnect (http://stampsconnect.com) that pulls in content from popular social websites including YouTube, Twitter, Flickr based on “keywords” “tags” and “hashtags”. The website also incorporates Facebook Connect to allow fans to comment on and share their favorite videos and photos with their Facebook friends.
Mike explained that they pursued development of the StampsConnect website to enhance the fan experience and to provide a platform which fans could contribute to its success. At first, there were concerns that the website might not be received well, but Mike explained that the site has been a tremendous success and will continue to be a big part of their marketing efforts in years to come.
Social Media Strategy (Management)
Mike also shared some insight on how they manage their main website (http://stampeders.com), the StampsConnect website and all of their social accounts. Again, I have to commend Mike for his foresight in crafting a “Social Media Flowchart” (see below) to assist his staff in understanding how all of their marketing efforts tie together. Of course, every team, league or organization would require their own unique “Social Media Strategy”, but the diagram attached below gives you a visual representation of how the Calgary Stampeders currently manage their online assets.
Mike (and one other person) currently oversee the management of all of their social media accounts. However, there is a team of people that are responsible for the collection, editing and distribution of content including videos, photos and blog articles. Even though the premise of the site is to leverage user (fan) generated content, the Stampeders have made a point to upload current, behind the scenes content so that there is always new, engaging content on the site to keep people coming back and to encourage participation.
So, to summarize how this chart works, the Calgary Stampeders main website (http://stampeders.com) is (and always will be) the main source of detailed information for Stampeders fans. StampsConnect, is focused on providing everything else a fan would want from their team including behind the scenes videos, photos and tweets. And, of course, since StampsConnect pulls properly tagged content from YouTube, Flickr and Twitter, it is also a great source of information from the “Fans” perspective.
As Mike mentions in the video, the StampsConnect website has not caused a whole lot more work with regards to time commitment for him and his staff. The reason for this is that many of the features listed on this flowchart have been automated. For example, when they update their News & Blogs section on Stampeders.com, it automatically updates on StampsConnect. And, when they upload a new video to YouTube, the video is also posted to their Facebook Fan Page and tweeted out from their official “CalStampeders” Twitter account.
I believe many teams are unaware that this type of automation can be setup and, of course, there are new FREE tools being developed every day to make social media account management easier and more effective.
Online Contests & Sponsorship
The last thing Mike discussed in the video is the way they have incorporated contests and sponsorship activation through StampsConnect and their social accounts. In particular, the Stampeders have ran weekly contests this season encouraging fans to submit their content to be entered to win a Sirius Radio.
During home games, they have asked fans to email their photos to a unique email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) that is setup to automatically send the photos to their Flickr account. This Flickr account, has been setup to automatically pull into StampsConnect, so, it is an easy way for everyone to participate in the contest (after all……just about every cellphone out there has the ability to take photos and send email).
During away games, the Stampeders have asked fans to follow and participate in their Twitter conversation on StampsConnect. In this case, fans are asked to retweet any of their many exclusive live game updates (from their live play by play tweets from @calstampeders) as well as posting their own unique tweets. This contest encourages fans to engage in the conversation about the Stampeders on Twitter and in turn, drives traffic to StampsConnect.
Both are great examples of ways teams can tie in their social media efforts to their live game day promotions. And, because they are engaging fans and asking them to participate, they are providing much more value to their sponsor (Sirius Radio) than they could through a static advertisement in their game program or on a sideline sign.
In summary, the Calgary Stampeders are continuing to lead the way when it comes to experimenting with social media. Mike and his team are continuously coming up with new creative ways to engage their fans and provide value for their sponsors. There are a number of great ideas planned for the offseason and next years football season involving more “real time” content delivered thru StampsConnect, Stampeders.com and their social accounts.
The biggest thing that other teams and leagues can learn from the Stampeders is that participation in social media does not have to come at a huge expense, but properly crafting a “Social Media Strategy” will provide much more value to everyone involved. As Kathleen Hessert (President – Sports Media Challenge) says “Experience does not equate to Expertise”. So, by first becoming educated on the benefits of social media, then participating in the conversations online, teams will be in a position to take advantage of the value social media can provided. Engaging fans and leveraging the fact that key influencers online can help build their brand, teams can see the real “ROI” that they are after including more tickets being sold, more merchandise being bought and new sources of revenue generated.