Yesterday UK Sports Network held an event for people who work in the sports digital environment. This was the first in their Digital Sport London series which is going to be run on a monthly basis. The event had three sections; a skype call with special guest, a presentation from Matchchat and a panel discussion with top UK sport bloggers.
I’ve compiled a round-up of each talk below:
Skype Call with Mystery Guest – Shergul Arshad (@shergul) – Head of Digital at AS Roma
Having worked for brands such as Amazon and eBay Shergul has an impressive knowledge in ecommerce, start up, social media and fashion industry topics.
As you may know there were lot of issues with AS Roma’s website and digital strategy overall. As an old AS Roma fan and person who has had a chance to meet real Roma fans first hand, I can exactly remember what the website looked like 3 years ago;
- Extremely old-looking website in team colours and only in Italian language.
- There was no option to buy tickets, except to contact someone from the management.
- No interactions – The website wasn’t used as an entertainment site plus it was in flash (!).
- I guess the “goal” of the website was to show results and that was pretty much it.
In 2011 Shergul came on board and started his Social revolution from his Boston office.
AS Roma website + Social Media
- AS Roma needed to reach a global audience, outside of the stadium.
- Having a fully running ecommerce website was one of the top objectives of Shergul’s plan.
- In 2012, the website was built and was quickly followed by launch of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube profiles.
- They recently launched on Pinterest with the aim to attract a new audience and drive ecommerce sales.
- Their iTunes profile launched last year – AS Roma team players playlists have been uploaded on to iTunes so fans can download and listen to favourite players’ songs.
- LinkedIn – primarily for their jobs however also for selling suites at the stadium.
- AS Roma was the first Italian team to create Tumblr account – primarily to reach the US market.
- USA is the strategic market for AS Roma.
- The financial impact of the new digital strategy on AS Roma’s bottom line was 7 figure growth.
- For AS Roma it is important they interact with key bloggers and it’s part of the their overall digital marketing strategy.
- There are only 12-20 high traffic blogs in Italy that are really influential in football industry.
- AS Roma have an affiliate program for football bloggers.
How can clubs monetise their presence on Social Media?
- Social Media is just another channel and therefore all channels need to work in tandem.
- Drive social into CRM to capitalise on who your fans are and offer personalisation to drive monetisation.
- Personalisation is the key – clubs need to be more personal with newsletters. They need to pay attention to where the receiver lives and what they might be interested in.
AS Roma Goals/Milestones and Upcoming initiatives
- Their revenue growth is the primary objective as well as the growth in numbers in term of followers however there is a less emphasis on short term goals.
- As AS Roma still has no ‘own place’ they areworking on building their own stadium.
- Stadium attendance is still low when compared to UK or Germany, therefore the primary focus is to help with season and match-day ticket sales.
Shergul’s Predictions for 2014
- Chat platforms and features are going to be interesting for clubs and will gain momentum.
- The CRM puzzle will become clearer for sport clubs – transforming social into CRM is the way to capitalise on who your fans are.
MATCHCHAT Presentation – James Routledge (jdroutledge1)
Founded by 3 friends, Matchchat is a conversation platform installed on football-related websites with the aim of keeping the discussion on the website rather than outside (e.g. on Twitter). It’s a completely free service which offers football websites advertising opportunities.
- For Matchchat bloggers are the key market and they’ve been trying to get in touch with them.
- Email is not enough! – Bloggers, especially influential bloggers receive thousands of these types of email on a daily basis.
- Money is not the object for bloggers – they’re not bothered about the money, they blog because of the passion.
- Twitter is a great to get in touch with bloggers.
- The best way to build relationships is via phone/skype.
- Get in touch with them on Twitter and then phone/skype them – that’s the best way.
Panel Discussion with Lynsey, Karis and Gary
This great panel discussion was hosted by Richard Gillis, an award-winning journalist, blogger as well as judge of the prestigious Sport Industry Awards.
Lynsey Hooper (@lynseyhooper) is a sport broadcaster and co-founder of football podcast The Offside Rule (@OffsideRulePod). So far the podcast hit 150,000 downloads.
Gary Andrews (@garyandrews) is a PR expert during the day and popular and skilled blogger during the night. He regularly writes for When Saturday Comes, The Two Unfortunates and many others.
Karis Buckingham-Jones (@K_BJones) is a founder of sports blog GirlsSportTalk (@GirlsSportTalk) which is only 2 years old but already gaining momentum.
They gave great insights into sport blogging and a lot of useful tips and ideas emerged from the discussion including;
How to approach bloggers
- Be patient when it comes to reaching bloggers – Most bloggers do it out of love and passion. They all have day jobs so don’t expect immediate replies, plus they all receive tons of these emails every day.
- Make it relevant – Don’t target bloggers with content that is not relevant to them. General stuff doesn’t work.
- Try to make us (bloggers) feel like we are getting something unique and very specific to us.
- It can’t be one way conversations but rather partnership – helping each other.
- Your pitch needs to be really good to grab our (bloggers’) attention.
- Number 1 rule from Dan McLaren – If the email doesn’t have my name on it I hit delete straightaway.
- Dan McLaren – Having employees who are bloggers themselves is the best strategy for blogger outreach as they know how to approach them.
What get hits – Advice for wannabe Sports bloggers
- Very club focused blogs do very well as they already have audience.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the name (of your blog, podcast) – if it sounds interesting it may get you audience.
- Newspapers have become blogs, blogs are trying to be newspapers so you need a tone of voice to become a good blog.
- You need to find your niche and/or look at things from different angles to what is already out there.
- You need to keep your identity.
- It can take quite a while to get noticed but if you’re good you will get noticed.
- Don’t be ambitious at the start but be realistic.
- Blogging is the labour of love.
What Social Media channel has worked for you?
- Karis – Twitter was/is absolutely key as well as outreach.
- Lynsey – Twitter as well as the platform itself (Audioboo).
All in all it was a great event and thanks to Dan, Kerry and The UK Sports Network for organising it.