Last week I had the opportunity to tune in on a Marcos Castro hangout with Luca Massaro, Managing Director of We Play, digital and social media agency for sports. Luca started his social media career in entertainment business, and a few years passed before his transition to sports industry.
He is a former Digital Product Manager and Analyst at Chelsea FC. He was also a Head of Social Media at Target Media where he worked with brands such as Samsung, Adobe, IBM, Konami and Universal Pictures. He went back an forth between sports and entertainment industry before founding We Play in June 2012. Since then, he and his team have worked with MoneyGram (PSG, Schalke 04), UEFA, Sportlobster, Fox Sports, Heineken, 888sport, INPLAY and others.
It was a pleasure to listen to a discussion about digital sports between him and Marcos.
Here are the major takeaways from this hangout:
1. Sporting event is a great way for any brand to activate their digital presence
When brands are looking at where to spend their money and to reach certain target audiences, they usually look at entertainment industry (music, film…). Due to the fact that very large audiences worldwide follow sports, it automatically gives these brands a way to reach a large number of people. And since most brands are fairly dull and boring, sports industry is a great channel for them to become more exciting.
2. Social media is about pull
Luca said that “for as long as advertising market exists, brands have focused on push” (any advertising, banners , pay per click…). They focused all their attention on ‘buy from us’. Social media is about pull. You need to pull your audience in and give them value, so they will buy from you further down the road.
It is important to think about ratio when making content. If you have 10 pieces of content, 8 have to be value driven, and 2 conversion driven. You cannot spam your audience with conversion driven content when they are not looking for that, it will drive them away. Keep your audience interested with content.
3. You have to tell a story and create emotion
Businesses are generally boring and their marketers tend to ruin everything. Businesses are looking at new technology to tell stories and try to make themselves more exciting. They spend money on big data and predictive analytics, but esentially you need to be able to make something go viral. You have to be able to connect with your audience by telling a story and creating emotions.
Stories make boring businesses exciting. In order to tell a story, you need to know the motivations and behaviors of your audience, what will stop them from playing Xbox and keep them engaged on your Facebook or website. You have to create content that excites them and give them value. A lot of businesses don’t understand this, and you need to educate them on how to communicate with what is their today’s and tomorrow’s audience.
4. Businesses need to invest in ‘new’ social platforms
All social platforms monetize through advertising. Since Twitter introduced paid ads, it has become a lot harder to engage with customers/audience on their platform. Facebook has become a fully paid platform, and Twitter is probably the next fully paid platform. This is why brands and businesses need to invest in other platforms, such as Snapchat or Instagram. These platforms haven’t taken away the organic reach. This way brands will reach less audience, but at least their reach will be organic.
5. Periscope and Meerkat are evolution of live stream
Live stream has been a while for some time, so the introduction of these apps is nothing revolutionary. What causes problems for some rights holders and brands is the duration of live stream – it’s no-limit! We already had similar questions raised when Vine users streamed live video from Premier League matches, but Premier League decided not to act on this issue probably due to the fact that Vine can record up to 6 seconds of footage. New apps, such as Meerkat and Periscope, are able to live stream whole games.
We have an interesting situation in the USA, where NHL has banned the use of these apps during games, and MLB has allowed it. Since rights holders have the right to decide if they will allow piracy of their footage, in the end it will come down to how much money are they losing because of these apps.
6. Everything is REAL-TIME now
Real-time marketing is about two things: timing & relevancy and resources. Many companies want to do real-time marketing, but can’t because their senior management doesn’t want to invest in real-time marketing or they don’t have the team that can create enough content. These things are considered resources, and lack of them can stop brands from doing real-time marketing. Timing and relevency are easy to deal with, but without the resources, it is not going to happen.
Everything is real-time now. And if you are a brand involved in sports, either as a sponsor or just want to ambush your audience, and you are not doing some form of real-time marketing, you should stop sponsoring that sport.
7. Reach – Engage – Convert
As Luca said, “our business is turning communities into customers”. There are no strict rules on how to accomplish this, but there are three important parts of the process that will help you on the way: reach, engage and convert. Reach are the impressions, or the number of people that see your content. Next step is engagement – getting people you reached engaged in your product, whether it is liking your Facebook, going to iTunes store or a playing a game. And the final step is the conversion – what can you do with the data that you have to make those people buy your product.
Luca explained this with an example. If you reach 10M people, you want to engage 1% with your content, which is 100K, and 1% of that is 1000 customers that you would want to buy your product. Looks simple, but it takes a lot of hard work.
8. Ideas are nothing, you need to execute
If you want to start a new business, you need to have passion about what you are doing. That stands for any business you want to start, and it is the same in digital. Beside that, you need to be willing to put in the hard work. Luca hit the spot with a simple sentence: “Ideas are rubbish, you need to execute”. And this is a perfect time because we live in an investor-rich world. Investors want to believe in people coming up with inovative ideas. You don’t have to come up with an award winning idea, investors are looking for something new to disrupt the market.
Luca wrapped up the Hangout by saying “We Play is a service based business, but we will be looking to develop more product and build value in the coming years”. Good luck to Luca and We Play team, and thank you Marcos for another great hangout.
PHOTO: YouTube Screenshot