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In the span of a few years, Bleacher Report has grown into one of the world’s most prominent sports media brands with a social media following of tens of millions. Bryan Graham, the brand’s director of social content strategy, has been at the forefront of much of that growth throughout the last four years.
In a special episode of Social on the Sidelines, Shahbaz Khan chats with Graham about the brand’s rise to social media prominence, his own professional journey, and the strategy involved in building the extensive team the Bleacher Report now has. This episode was filmed at the 2019 Front Office Sports Digital Media Huddle in New York City.
Edited highlights appear below:
On hiring creative talent to work on B/R’s social team (09:14)
Graham: “Every new person I’m bringing onto the team adds something to the room. I get passed a lot of resumes, a lot of LinkedIn’s, a lot of folks that are great… they’re really dope people. But my question I’m asking is ‘ if I put them in a brainstorm, are they adding a new perspective?’. Is there a new voice, or a new POV, a new set of life experiences that this person is coming with and adding to the Gumbo that we have in our brainstorms. That’s my POV on things. You have to be very, very discerning. Cause that means that you have to say no to some people that you really like and think are dope, but you gotta be honest with yourself.”
On expanding onto other platforms and adding more verticals (14:10)
Graham: “So the bigger that the B/R national account gets the more our POV and the type of content we do is going to have to spread in terms of different topics that we’re going to cover. But I don’t think we’re always going to be able to go as deep on those topics as niche fans of amateur hoops or niche fans of sneakers or fashion would like us to on our national account. That’s what those sub brands are for. The sub brands are for someone who is addicted to looking at pictures of Karl-Anthony Towns walking into the arena and what kind of sneakers he has or whatever. That’s what the Kicks page is for. Our amateur hoops or B/R Hoops account, that’s all centered around the stars of tomorrow who maybe you don’t have an NBA Jersey of this player today, but you will in about 18 months.”
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On Bleacher Report’s brand voice (16:10)
Graham: “First I would say with certain topics, we’re going to go newsy because of the tone or the tenor around that particular topic. We’re not a political brand. But when certain athletes say certain things, you probably will notice our caption is pretty straight forward and we’re not really leaning one direction or another. With fun and celebratory stuff, we will speak, like we would speak in a group chat. The need for formality on social is kind of unnecessary in those moments…This is probably something that we kicked around years ago when we were like first building the team, but now it’s well established.”
On working with freelance content creators (33:43)
Graham: “I think this sounds pretty simple, but it’s difficult in practice. [Look for] someone who is creating something that you don’t currently make and have some imagination. Open up your imagination or your creative capacity to start to incorporate some things that they do into your creative portfolio and your content buckets. I think that with a lot of the people that we find…we’re finding people about to do something unique and that do something special. So it’s just being open to receive what this new artist does.”
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