For professional sports teams, providing high-quality visual content in a flash is crucial for fan engagement.
While the players take the field, social media teams are behind-the-scenes combining fast FTP workflows, cutting-edge tools, and visual storytelling to share stories and captivate audiences — and often in real time.
But the game is always changing, and teams need to stay on top of new technology and trends. That’s why we asked seven top creatives and digital marketers in professional sports, many of whom use Libris to manage all their visual assets, to share their tips for keeping their team’s content strategy one step ahead of the competition.
1. Cincinnati Reds
Digital Content Coordinator
Chad Fischer, Digital Content Coordinator for the Cincinnati Reds, is always looking for new ways to engage Reds fans, whether he’s covering a live event or sharing a behind the scenes look at the team. Chad says the trick is to share professional, eye-catching photos and videos with a unique perspective.
“High quality visual storytelling gives fans that extra perspective that maybe they don’t get on a TV broadcast. Maybe it’s what they can’t see on the field, or won’t see behind the scenes at the ballpark. Also, quality is of the utmost importance. You are not doing your organization any favors by distributing blurry pictures or shaky videos. Being able to engage viewers beyond the broadcast is paramount in brand recognition and, in turn, sales.”
2. Denver Broncos
Social Media Coordinator
The Denver Broncos need no introduction in the world of social media. With over a million followers on Instagram, it’s clear they’ve mastered the art of the ‘gram. So how does this team keep their content fresh? We asked Social Media Coordinator Scott Ward who he and his team look to for inspiration.
“I like accounts that don’t take themselves too seriously and provide value to their followers’ timelines. Sometimes teams can take this approach too far — I think some teams don’t take themselves seriously or professionally enough, or hold themselves to a high enough standard — and we try to be cognizant of that, with an aim to never embarrass our owner, GM, brand or fan base.
I like the @Indians a lot because of this. They do a great job of “being a person,” while also never “stepping in it.” The @Warriors are really strong at being “the voice” of #DubNation. The @falcons have turned a corner in digital/social the past 12 months or so. There are so many accounts that are so good at this.”
3. Minnesota Twins
Brace Hemmelgarn is the official photographer for the Minnesota Twins. He is in charge of powering imagery across all of the Twins social platforms. We asked Brace which one of these platforms is his favorite for sharing the Twins’ stories.
“I may be biased, but definitely Instagram. On game days it’s all about timeliness. We strive to be up-to-the-minute with our mid-game posts. Although the audience’s Instagram feed no longer appears in chronological order, we find that our photos tend to garner more engagement immediately following a home run rather than a post following the game.”
Not only did he share tips from his own experience, he also shared the teams he likes to follow on his favorite platform.
“Within baseball, I love following the Red Sox and Rockies along with their respective team photographers Billie Weiss (@bjweiss22), Michael Ivins (@ivinsimages) (Red Sox) and Matt Dirksen (@dirksenphoto) (Rockies). Both teams produce high quality content that is aided with great photography. Where they separate themselves, to me, is their ability to showcase the athletes through intimate perspectives that give fans an inside look at the team behind the scenes. Along with game action, the ability to show the individual personalities of the team is something we strive for @Twins.”
After hearing this and taking a quick scroll through the Twins Instagram, it’s no surprise that Brace was the winner of our DMAI Photo Walk in Minneapolis. He captured our “Best Photo” award and took home the prize of a Moment mobile lens package.
4. Colorado Rockies
Assistant Director, Digital Media & Publications
The Colorado Rockies use a lightning-fast workflow to push content to their fans during games. Julian Valentin, Assistant Director of Digital Media and Publications for the team, says engaging Rockies fans in real time is not just about broadcasting, it’s also about interacting.
“One-to-one fan engagement is a pillar of our social media strategy. We “like” everything on Twitter and consistently reply to fans on all platforms. “Social listening” is big for us and we want social media to be a dialogue, not a broadcast. We have a good understanding of our fan base and tailor our messaging to how they want to receive their information.
Everybody wants their fans to engage with them, but not everyone engages back with them. For us, it’s important because the little interactions, the ones that aren’t usually publicized, oftentimes make the strongest impact. We love the fan interaction—good, bad or indifferent—and reciprocate it as much as possible.”
5. Arizona Cardinals
Gene Lower isn’t new to the social media game. He has been the official photographer for the Arizona Cardinals for 16 years and has watched the social media landscape change over time. We asked Gene to share his secrets for keeping the Cardinals up to speed. Check out how he keeps their content flowing with his real-time workflow.
“I upload all of my high resolution content to my PhotoShelter account for client access and quick download. First via an immediate first edit upload, than a full edit follow up. I also utilize Sony camera technology, built in wifi for example to share photos instantly after capturing. One quick story, example of power of this tool. On a Cardinals road trip I captured an image of a rookie with bags of chicken for Veteran players. I instantly sent to my contacts with the social media team with the Cardinals who immediately posted to their social media outlets. Besides thousands of likes, the food chain, Cane’s chicken, even liked the tweet. One step further, this separates me from my clients and gives me absolute job security. This technology also allows me to transmit photos to my clients between plays – no cardrunners or editors needed – thus I beat my competition to the editors around the world!”
Learn more about Gene’s cutting-edge workflow in our case study, Gene Lower’s Chess Match, Cardinals Photographer Talks Shooting, Tech and Tips.
6. USA Triathlon
With over 61 thousand Instagram followers, 78 thousand Twitter followers and 176 thousand Facebook likes, it’s clear that USA Triathlon has mastered the traditional social media platforms. Now, they’re innovating and testing new storytelling platforms. Content Manager Cassandra Johnson shared her thoughts on how she and her team plan to keep engagement for USA Triathlon high. Check out her tips for staying current in an ever-changing social media climate.
“We’re finding video and live content to be key to our social media strategy. We’re always experimenting with the latest trends in social to see what works best with our audience and what is manageable with a small team. We’ve had great engagement with Facebook Live and have hosted many live chats with our athletes, including the Newlywed Game, a rapid-fire challenge and exercises with the pros. We’ve added Snapchat and Instagram Stories to our live coverage plan and create Snapchat geofilters for national championship events to engage with participants and elevate the event experience.”
7. New York Jets
Senior Manager Creative Services
Going into his 7th football season with the New York Jets, Senior Manager of Creative Services Joe Rey is a seasoned veteran. He has helped drive fan engagement across all platforms. He understands the impact that high-quality photos and videos can have with both passive Twitter followers and die-hard Jets fans.
“Sports is a fundamentally visual medium. People consume sports visually from their seats, on their couches and via their mobile devices. It’s our job to grow the relationship with fans by making them feel as if they are part of the team. This is often done through live events but you can’t reach every fan that way. High quality visuals distributed through the various devices is the one way we can guarantee that we’ll hit the largest possible audience. The goal is to convert many of those passive fans into having a lifelong relationship with the team.”
Get more of Joe’s tips and insights in our video of the panel, Creativity in Real Time, with The Players’ Tribune, The Economist, and Undefined Creative.
Share your tips for sports storytelling with @getlibris on Twitter!
Cover photo by Photo by Matt Dirksen for the Colorado Rockies.