Social Media Ghost Town: Google Plus

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager and guest blogger.

Last summer’s much anticipated released of Google + introduced another social media platform to the masses. According to ZDnet, G+ amassed 5 million users within the first month after launch. While G+ does not yet compare to the 1 billion users on Facebook and 500 million users on Twitter, the platform does boast 400 million registered users (as of November 2012), making it the 4th largest social network in the world (these statistics derived from expanded ramblings). This helps support the fact that G+ still maintains a significant number of global users and offers another great opportunity for sports brands to connect with fans.

Google has, for the most part, been a leader in innovation. With “Project Glass” and a driver-less car project on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that Google’s commitment to creating an unparalleled user experience is unwavering. That commitment only reinforces the untapped potential of their social networking platforms. To underscore this point, consider the unique features G+ offers, such as the “hangout” feature, a tool enabling multiple users to live video chat, creating a new and unique way for face-to-face communication to occur. From a sports business perspective, what better way for teams to promote their athletes and connect with fans or for athletes to promote brands in which they represent?  G+ also offers an easy for news and updates to be posted as well so that fans no longer need to look up a “page” in order to get their information about favorite teams or athletes. Considering the potential of G+ to help brands connect with fans, how have those in the sports industry integrated G+ with their overall digital strategies?

Brands:

A recent post on Forbes online highlights the most profitable brands in the sports market. Heavyweight Nike reigns above the competition and has long been a leader in the digital space, but has been largely dismissive of G+. Nike currently stands at +337,660, with 338,243 in their circle. Considering the millions of consumers that consider themselves fans of the swoosh, Nike has done little via G+. The last posted was in May of 2012, ironically promoting Nike Golf using the face of one of their top athletes in Tiger Woods. Nike’s rival, Adidas, has a smaller presence with +9,317 and 7,328 in their circle. While Adidas doesn’t post to G+ every day, they have frequently promoted commercials and encouraged fan interaction. In addition to commercials, Adidas has posted a ton of content, including interviews with sponsors, and product release dates. Another Nike competitor, Under Armour, is also active on their G+ page, but has yet to reach a wide audience. Under Armour currently stands at a +487 with only 184 fans in their circle. While this is relatively low, Under Armour continues to take the time to provide promotional content within their page, with the hope that more consumers will take note. On the flip side, Gatorade, another premier sports brand, has not posted to their G+ page since June. Subsequently, they currently sit at +695.

Meanwhile, in the Forbes list of most valuable sports brands, ESPN ranked second behind Nike. While they are more than just an apparel industry, ESPN is highly active within G+. Their page caters an amazing 2,214,671 followers with a +2,243,674. ESPN doesn’t let their fan base down, consistently posting on their page every single day. ESPN not only posts highlights on their page, but also creates points of fan engagement through polls and hangouts, while promoting commercials as well. They are a leading example of how using G+ can be an extremely valuable medium for connecting with and engaging fans online.

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Around the Horn: April 17th

Groundbreaking news from the racing world:  Announced today, the Ford Focus will become the first ever electric car to lead the field as the pace care at a NASCAR event during the April 28th Sprint Cup race in Richmond.  The decision drives homes NASCAR’s continued emphasis on green initiatives, but Ford has the most to gain by showcasing an electric model and educating a large number of consumers about new technologies.

Today a Kenyan runner won the men’s division of the Boston Marathon, marking the 19th time in 22 years that a Kenyan has won the prestigious race.  A Kenyan runner also finished first in the women’s race, the 3rd time that has happened in the previous 5 years.  The big winner, however, is the city of Boston.  According to estimates from the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (via myfoxboston.com), the race was expected to bring in over $137 million to the Greater Boston area, an economic impact roughly equal to that of a Final Four.

With 22 million hits already, I must be one of the last to see this TNT viral video…however, if you are like me and hadn’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out.  The stunt provided a brilliant means for building buzz surrounding the launch of the station in Belgium…

Did the Planned Parenthood PR debacle back in January really result in a significant drop in participation rates for Susan G. Komen for the Cure events as USA Today is reporting?  If so, that’s the sad end result of a botched crisis management effort, providing a perfect example of why the “all publicity is good publicity” theory isn’t exactly spot on…

Last night, the world of entertainment marketing gave us one of the most innovative things we’ve seen in a while after a performance at the Coachella music festival managed to create a frenzied buzz among fans all over the Internet.  During a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg concert, a 3-D hologram of Tupac Shakur (who died 15 years ago) created the illusion of the legendary rapper performing live.  As a testament to the stunt’s overwhelming popularity, 2pac’s HOLOGRAM had nearly 3,500 followers within 12 hours after his “appearance” on stage…

The Twitterverse (via @msament) presents this week’s installment of Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm:  “Misplaced priorities? KY public colleges fund subsidize athletics by $50M while state cuts school funds by $105M..http://bit.ly/HCr2ah.”

Around the Horn: April 5th

For those interested in Masters social media, the folks at Octagon First Call have assembled a “social media guide” to the 76th Masters golf tournament at Augusta.  Great resource for those who want to follow their favorite golfers or get real-time updates on scores.

Need evidence to support your theory that the NBA loves star power?  Look no further than last night’s highlights of the Clippers vs. Lakers game on nba.com.  Based on the ratio of Clippers to Lakers highlights, one would assume the Clippers won the game (they didn’t).  That said, seeing Blake Griffin dunking on Gasol like that (twice) makes a pretty compelling case for why Kia and Subway seem to think he can help them sell more product.

Brands looking for the next up and coming athlete with real star power don’t need to look any further than Robert Griffin III, better know as RG3, who posted his first tweet to his twitter account this week.  Just 24 hours later, he already had nearly 75,000 followers (and nearly 80,000 at the time of this post).  You think this guy is going to help whichever team drafts him sell tickets?  Adidas also stands to benefit from RG3′s foray into social media because Griffin endorses the brand.  Nike probably isn’t complaining either, knowing the former Baylor QB is likely to sell a LOT of jerseys, and they now have the sacred NFL apparel deal.

Speaking of the NFL’s apparel deal with Nike, I’m still amazed how much hype Nike‘s new uniform “reveal” event on Tuesday generated.  Nobody manufactures buzz like the swoosh

For those wondering how lucrative the digital media market is for the NCAA, AdAge recently reported that digital viewership of March Madness generates $60 million in advertising revenue for Turner and CBS.

In entertainment news, it was announced earlier this week that James Bond (Daniel Craig) will help open the Summer Games in London.  GREAT score for MGM Studios as over a billion people are expected to watch the Opening Ceremonies…

JOB SEEKERS!  Seattle University Athletics is looking for a ticket sales Account Executive & Assistant GM of ticket sales.  For more details, please see the previous post on our blog.

Around the Horn: March 27th

Mashable.com published an interesting story suggesting the Boston Bruins launch of a digital media “network” encompassing all their social media platforms as the first of its kind among professional sports teams…hard to believe that nobody has engaged in a similar initiative before but certainly seems likely that others will follow suit.  Either way, kudos to the Bruins for creating a mechanism that makes it easy for fans to streamline content from their various social platforms.

Tebow Mania is back, just in time to fill the void of over-the-top NY star gazing left by the fading Linsanity.  Immediately following the press conference introducing Tebow as the newest member of the New York Jets, Carnegie Deli (a NY restaurant institution) introduced a 3.5 pound Tebow-inspired “Jetbow” sandwich…the cost?  Just $22.22.

While we are on the topic of food, last year the Texas Rangers rolled out a 3 pound  pretzel as a concessions item. This year, the team introduced a 2 foot long hot dog slathered in chili, cheese, onions and jalapeno peppers, estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 calories.  The jumbo dog, called the “boomstick“, comes with a special carrier requiring handles and will set hungry fans back a whopping $26.

More food for thought:  Buffalo Wild Wings‘ stock (BWLD) price was trading at around $85 on March 6th, jumped to $91 on March 14th (the Monday when “bracket madness” began), and closed at almost $95 yesterday.  Savvy investors scooped up the stock for $55 per share back in October.

News from the world of entertainment…it was announced earlier today that all seven Harry Potter books will soon be available in digital format on Amazon’s kindle…how long will it take for J.K. Rowling to shoot up the best seller charts yet again?

Around the Horn: Feb 29th

Looks as if ESPN “likesFacebook…The sports media giant recently re-designed their “Sports Center” page on the popular social networking site as Facebook continues to roll out the new “Timeline” features.  ESPN integrated their ESPN3 video player within the new page and, on Thursday, will begin streaming coverage of NCAA championship week games.  This marks the first time live sporting events will be streamed directly to Facebook.  Is this the start of a new trend?

I wonder how many sports teams are taking advantage of “Leap Day” as a promotional opportunity… Count Minor League Baseball’s Peoria Chiefs as one of those teams.  They are extending a leap year promotional ticket offer to fans, buy four tickets and get the fifth free.  Tweet us @sportsbized or comment below if you have seen any similar offers from other teams.

There appears to be no end in site for the “Linsanity.”  Jeremy Lin has captivated the NBA audience and brands are taking immediate action to cash in.  The Knicks‘ star’s brand continues its meteoric rise in value while the world continues to watch.  Today, Forbes published an interesting piece online, broaching the Lin subject from a little different angle.  The story, titled “4 Lessons Your Business Can Learn from Jeremy Lin(sanity),” is an interesting read, well worth a few minutes of your time.

Around the Horn: Feb 22nd

Nike continues to remain ahead of the curve within the world of digital sports marketing…in yet another great example of the brand utilizing social media as a platform to build buzz, the company recently introduced the Team USA Basketball uniforms on Instagram.

From the Twitterverse…@laureni reports in her feed that the digital consumption numbers are in for the first week Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue’s release and they are impressive…482,000 iPhone app downloads already and 6.2 million visits to the website.

Totally dig this idea idea from Minor League Baseball‘s Fort Wayne Tin Caps.  The team is running a promotion in which they will randomly select a season ticketholder to honor with a life-size bobblehead to be displayed all season at the ballpark…great way to generate excitement at the start of the year while instilling a sense of loyalty to the most important segments of their fan base.

FedEx has apparently agreed to a $35 million per year extension of their PGA Tour sponsorship for five years, minimum value of the sponsorship reported to be no less than $175,000.  Something tells me there were some pretty happy sales folks when that renewal deal was finalized…