Sep 29

The London Marathon

You know, some things seem like a good idea at the time. Way back in April, before I’d ever run my first race, the ballot for the 2014 London Marathon opened and the proceeded to close pretty quickly. 125,000 people signed up for the possibility of 25,000 places in the London Marathon. I was one of those who signed up, more as a speculation than a certainty. I had no idea if I could run a 10k race, never mind over 4 times that distance. There was also no chance I’d get in, the web is full of mentions of people who did not at their 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc attempt. It’s not a straightforward 1 in 5 chance, they apply some assessment as well, so most chances are low. The ballot is one of 4 ways to get into the race. You need to be invited/be elite – that means they could be paying you for the entry, as these runners attract the media. You can be good for your age, getting a qualifying time at another marathon. Or you can go for a charity place, committing to raise at least £1800 (that seems to be the going rate) for the charity of choice.

You’re guessing the punchline already. I got in. With all the odds stacked against me, I got in. Which was a shock, to be sure. My sister, whom I entered as well, did not get in and she’s not sure whether to be upset or happy she didn’t – fitting in the training will be a problem. I’m the same. Happy and astounded one minute that I’m going to be running in one of the biggest events of the year; terrified and wondering what I have let myself in for.

However, I’ve paid my money, I’ve committed to setting off for the 26.2 miles on April 13th next year. I’ve committed to 6 months training to up my distance from a half to a full marathon through the cold winter and dark nights. The fitness journey continues.

Meanwhile, one consideration I need to make is if I’m going to raise money for a charity or not. So far, that’s not been done. I decided I needed to focus on running rather than money raising for the races I’ve done so far. But for the London Marathon, I’m considering my options – it is the biggest fund raising event in the world apparently. As you look through the websites of the charities, you see that there is a huge competition for fund raisers, with different packages on offer by the big charities. These usually consist of training support, a vest for the run, a pre-race pasta party of some kind and a post race feed and massage. this is why I assume that as well as committing to raising money, charity places often have to pay an admin fee to cover these extras. So do I raise money? And who do I choose? Questions to ponder.

Sep 25

SMW13: Social, Sport and ROI

Hosted by:Richard Ayres, CEO Seven League @7League @richardayers
Panel: Xavier Bidault, NBA @NBAUK; Abigail Sawyer, The Jockey Club @TheJockeyCLub @ajesawyer ; Richard Clarke Arsenal @Arsenal @MrRichardClarke

The premise of the panel
Is the ability to influence your sporting community and the wider media landscape through social media is a blessing or a curse?
Is there risk for of raising your head above the parapet? Do the haters make it hateful or exciting?
What do sports and their participants want out of social media? Reach? Retention? Revenue?
And what about all the participation in sport that goes on every day but isn’t professional – is there more return to be had on the social media investment of all those runners, cyclists, swimmers, golfers… ?
And how on earth do you measure engagement anyway, when all the platforms’ analytics are black boxes.

Some opening examples.

  • Chicago Fire Soccer Club – team getting some stick. They posted a 1500 word rant about it on their website. Went national
  • You get ManCity putting hashtags onto kit and pitches
  • ECB did #rise tag during the ashes. They made it ubiquitous. In the background and in the media content
  • MLS brings data, fan social and pictures, commercials and corprorate messages all together. The have sponsors involved, giveaways etc
  • Mass participation sports, accelerating usage, eg Limelight sports. it connects chip to social tweets, puts tweets from your network onto screens as you go through checkpoints
  • Then you have the power of the celebrity, athletes etc. eg StewartCink 1.13m followers, good at it, good at adding corporate messages in it

Richard Clarke, Arsenal

  • Managing editor for Arsenal football club. manages the strategy, head of content etc. set the editorial tone across website, tv, print, social media, apps, etc. anything digital or physical that communicates. Strategy is Reach, engage and monetise. Job for Clarke is the first 2. Wants to create arsenal fans around the world. Is a large arsenal fan, from age of 5. from age of 10, wrote reports. For last 12 yrs have written Arsenal reports
  • Reach: site 6m, facebook 18.5m, google 1.4m, newsltter, .5m, twitter 2.8m, TV 100m
  • The TV content goes onto website later. TV show every match weekend, around the world (not UK). Online video only to digital members.
  • Have multiplatform approach. Pushing hard on mobile – have responsive design introduced this year. Also on instagram, YT, soundcloud and pinterest,
  • Instagram has .25m followers. all taken from RC mobile phone. don’t use professional shots, does gritty personality shotss. Added captions and narrative around them. 1-2 pictures per day
  • YT: had channel on tour. got a lot of engagement. up for 3wks when touring far east. footage on that was viewed extensively – 20yrs worth if viewing in 3 weeks.Just developing soundcloud. Pinterest are there, looking to be more active
  • Twitter takeovers, they have a player take over and answer lots of questions via the official channels. they have 2 people doing them, writing the replies, curating the responses. Will do vine video that is tweeted, intro. They are rapid turnaround., Don’t give much notice, don’t tell fans until just before. Video put up rapidly. Response has been phenomenal, use specific hashtag for each payer #askxxxxx They changed it from #twittertakeover to the personalised one and it changed the takeup completely. They often trend globally duing the period of time – they keep the time short and that drives to trending.
  • Looking at the tour videos, they often got players to voice the videos, to connect player and fan.
  • Video do not get a lot of engagement, compared to Instagram, a good picture is better engagement. easier to do images.

The Jockey Club and Abigail Sawyer

  • Group digital manager of the Jockey Club, exists under royal charter. all money goes back into the sport. Do lots of things, have 15 racecourses, aintree, epsom, cheltenham, etc.
  • Vision: underpins what they do on social media. They play a role to make British racing the best it can be for the next 50 years and belond. Stopped being regulator about 8 years ago, focus on making the best of the assets. So not often know who they are, or want to complain to them etc. They are at the beginning of a brand journey to be more consumer facing and social is key. want people to say they have gone racing with the Jockey Club (rather than at a course)
  • Look at Frankel. He is a hero to a lot of fans. he transcended the sport in the way he was dominant. Frankel would put about 20% on a gate if racing. Unlikely to seethe likes of Frankel again
  • The digital vision, it is about helping people understand the sport. about 6m people go racing across British courses, 1.8m with JC courses. only 20% are committed race goes. by getting them to understand the sport, you can move the casual to committed
  • Platforms. Focus on Faceobok and Twitter, then use Soundcloud, YouYube and Flickr to enrich the content. There are 2 distinct audiences, the industry and fans. Racing took social to their hearts early, with trainers and jockets being on there first, then the journalists, then the punters, then the rest of the fans.
  • Facebook – the Frankel factor. They use history, heritage and heroes on their Facebook pages. A picture of Gingert McCain/Amberley House to help promote Crabbes Ginger sponsorship. The community love to appreciate their heroes. so they used ginger/Amberleigh house who they knew would be popular to help this sponsorship. They want to get people behind the scenes. Eg Frankel at stud. About 20k fans.
  • Twitter is the industry platform. but there are so many industry people on Twitter that is hard to get cutthrough. So they use their access to do this.
  • Moving forward…They have lots of rich content, but people have jobs to do and can’t necessarily have time to grow.. They have launched the going, multimedia, multiauthor blog, the idea is to bring to life the stories around the industry, shedding light into the areas. So interviews and pictures and stories around the people who work in it.
  • At the moment, they have soft metrics. Social Media from the racecourses, it is selling tickets packages etc, at the top level it is about selling the bigger story. That may change. They are looking at improving sites, making it easier. they are the soft sell into the hard sell.

Xavier Bidault,NBA EMEA head of digital

  • Global brand. 760m fans, Games/programming in 215 countries. games.produce own tv channels. 10k hours annually of content. 16 local web sites. They need to adapt to the multiple fans, US is different to Philippines. They try and do lots of entertainment, not just the game. they run is as a sports entertainment brand.
  • Reach on social channels – 455m globally across ALL acocunts and platofrms. 191m Facebok. 14m in instagram, 117m Twitter., YT5.8m. A lot of fans are outside US. The finals had 7.8m tweets around it
  • Objectives: growth, content. engagement, partnerships. Some fans only ever have social media touchpoint, never watch games or go to official content. They produce locally relevant content, so US sees different to UK. They have good relationships with the platforms. They see social media as a servicing tools for media partners. They try and include media partners in social strategy.
  • Different content for diff platforms. Create exclusive content for YT, eg behind the scenes and focus on bloopers. On Tumblr, which is slightly older audience, then pushing the legends and the iconic shots. Pinterest, skews slightly female, and see more shopping and display of products than any other platforms. Instagram used in video and will be experimenting, eg video debates.
  • Top fan wants on FB: player stories, video top 10s, behind the scene, infrographics. Fans share photos and videos (photos more)
  • Top fan wants on Twitter: tune in reminders, best time is 2 hrs before the game (they know they get more viewers this way). Popular are real time video highlights, realtime updates, links to breaking news, Push often within 30secs. They can sponsor these videos.

Questions from the Audience

Q: What are the resources
Jockey Club: one person abby in comms. plus 1 at each course part time. Use agencies for specific campaigns
NBA: in US, in house, marketing depart. plus involve other departments. outside US, have 13 local Facebook pages. depends on market, sometime with agencies, partners etc.
Arsenal – have 30 people, 15 on editorial. 7 journs, half production. all internal. Social is mostly journalists. some consultancy from agencies.
Don’t use agencies a lot as they need real fans who know the sport on the accounts. it’s little things example from Jockey club, little things like switching images, horses race one way round a course

Q: will you start doing UK live updates (NBA)? is there an audience at that time.
A: they do it for the finals, and a few events. putting more resources in EU in general, eg the UK. you will see live stuff.

Q: is there commercial calculation around social that is value back to the partners?
A|: NBA do a lot of sponsored content. fans hate post about sponsors that has nothing to do with game or event, it needs to be great content that is sponsored. not just content around the sponsor. Most of the time it is part of bigger package, try and attribute value, but often part of bigger value.

Q: Are sponsors increasing asking for social.
A: Arsenal. yes, similar to NBA. our partners work together to come up with content that is relevant and works well with players. Some stuff has been brilliant! testament to relationships, this has mainly been around video.

Q: wifi enabled stadiums standard in US, only just in the UK. Will UK want to watch sport like this
A: Asenal – yes, it would be great. it’s hard to get signal consistently. it would open up the scope a lot more on every level, eg around monetisation. There is now the expectation of this. Sees huge opps for fan in stadium and their mates, connecting inside and outside. No stadium yet here can do that
A: host – business case if longer scale, and few sports will do that. difficult to get them to commit. It’s more than internal beleif, than anything else. They are not sure that fans will want to experience the game with it. but there is plenty of time usually to look at phones etc, even if onbly for 15mins at halftime, you could build a good case.

Q: what are your was not clear
A: Jockey – growing reach. plus indi campaigns for monetisation, eg xmas, showed a good return Reach 10. Engagement 10. Revenue 5
A: NBA: bit of everything depends on country., So UK. Reach/rentention mainly. next step is monetisation, push to official destination, to get people to watch Revenue – 4 in UK (US, more about revenue. audience already engaged, high reach. not primary focus to grow. It is about sponsors and revnue)
A: Arsenal. decent reach want more. Want to retain and engage as key one. Reach high, engage extremely high, monetisation mid level

Q: what systems are you using for tracking and monitoring? what CRM systems? How do you get data out of social
A: Arsenal – the digital had to pay previously for access to AV. it was 3.99 month, then linked to memberships scheme around ticketing scheme. Now it is free for all registered users, as from the summer. So this gets the data. Uptake has been good.

Q: different social platfomrs. So you have a way of monitoring who is active on the pages. how many oare paying tickets etc, buying merchandise. Whichis most effective platform
A: Aresenal – there is a lot of work going on around CRM. done by commerical team. Have not seen that insight yet.
A: NBA: tonnes of data but hard to combine. how to cross reference etc. working on it
A: Racing – looking at it. new CRM tools as moving to new ticketing system but can be really dififcult to analyse, with people having user names etc

Q: how do you manage content when having bad press
A: Arsenal – difficult, but he is a fan, so gives him perspective on the values and traditions and the way the club presents itself. more difficult, importnat to keep offering a consistent product and stand for what you beleive in. they have a lot of positive stuff to beleive in
A: Racing – they own the venues, but don’t own the ‘players’. often don’t know who is there. Thye have to look at if this is a customer service issue, as venue owner. they make sure person is given attention if complain. More general negativity, they have key mesages and that they believe in but also fans as well. Elements where you want to share emotions and show that. Eg horse welfare they are well positioned, will engage constructive argument

Q: is there a robust response plan?
A: Racing…you can always have bad days. but how you deal with people is your brand. they work hard on the people and their repsonses and how to turn criticism to advocay.
A: NBA: try to have constant tone across all the accounts. thre is a lot that they can’t do (eg comment on transfers) we do same with sponsors. We get less than some, as they are the league, rather than a team. get some back comments, they try and turn them around in the same way
A: racing – one of the most powerful thing you can do on FB is show them you are human. Repsond with a name. so they know they are talking to a person and horse racing fan.

Q: on twitter account, you only follow 5 persons. why? (arsennal)
A: Arsenal – fair comment. it’s a bit of a legacy. started at the beginning and it grew and hten there was too many pople to have greater meaning. They do monitor sentiment on everything that happens, e see replies and DMs. it grew quicker than expected.
A: Racing – they follow industry people back, it’s not practical. Twitter is about listening and comms with industry,

Q: do you as a club, etc and your sponsors seek to take hold of players accounts. why or why not?
Host – it used to be covered under image rights, now standard contract does not include digital rights for a football players.
A: Arsenal – asked some of the players ot use the hashtag. They used it on the tour. Until they signed urzel, they did not have a player with more than a club., but everyone else had. they asked the players to retweet the officual channels for the tour. They took a player to film a video around London, the player started taking picture and it turned into a live twitter event
A: racing. all the jockeys are all on there, all tweeting away. There are strict integrity rules, eg not allowed phones at certain parts of racing day, It is about public data. you can go to Newmarket and watch the horses working on the gallops, so may know more about horse than jockey. They are really good for sport, they get involved, they are advocated.
A: NBA – players are powerful media entities. NBA does not control what they do and say. Top players love it, very good at it know what to post (even if using team). they have a few rules, eg not during or immediately before a game. they induct all players and this includes social media etc. A lot of players do contact them for guidance

Q: In some countries, you can’t access facebook, in other counties, there are more popular platforms.

A: NBA – work with biggest platforms in china. In russia, use biggest platform, work directly with them, workthrough partnerships get specifc sites and social media. Those are the main 2 big exceptions.
A:Arsenal – are on the chinese platforms. THey have a chinses journalist a lot of games, they do bespoke content, they do across the platforms.

Sep 11

Meeting the challenge

Way back in January, I took at look at my ambitions for 2013. One f them, in typical New Year fashion, as a physical change. I’d tried before, and failed, but hoped that by adding another dimension to my tracking would make a difference. And it absolutely did. Using the Fitbit, Myfitnesspal and a long term goal, this year has been one of physical change.

On 8th September 2013 I ran a half marathon in an official time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 18 seconds. If you have known me at any time over the last 20 years, you know that me doing that is a minor miracle! I don’t run. I have never really run and even at my fittest, when I never ran.

Ready #rttb Run to the Beat

But running is the easiest exercise to fit into the day. It’s also the easiest way to meet my step target that the Fitbit sets. So I started, In January, with a Couch to 5k programme, finding it hard to even run for a minute. If I was going to be doing this running, I set a goal, entering the Run to the Beat half marathon, that a friend from work had completed in 2012. My sister also entered – so now the challenge was on.

It’s 9 months later. I’ve tracked 3,464,503 steps on the Fitbit. I’ve tracked 419,289 calories eaten, 573,251 calories used. I’ve lost fifty pounds in weight. And I’ve ran a half-marathon in a not too bad time for my first ever race of that distance.

The targets have been met…now to keep it going! New challenges and goals to set, to keep me focused. have I mentioned I’ve entered the ballot for the London marathon?