This episode took an athletic route, as Joe spoke with Joey Buskirk, content lead for the NFL and its clubs, on how digital has shaped the on-field experiences at games and the evolution of the customer. He explains why content is king, how honesty is bred through organizations, and how game experience is key to customer loyalty.
His Role on the Team
Joey is the manager of club content strategy, and while employed by the general league, has a hand in the day-to-day digital strategy of all thirty-two clubs. His focus is long form-video, social strategy, SEO, and how to best optimize each club platform.
He’s a big believer in telling a story through data, but how he goes about telling each story is tailored based on whichever team is being marketed. Recognizing that the voice of the New England Patriots brand differs from that of say, the Dallas Cowboys.
Cutting Through the Noise
Joey breaks down how crucial it is that each club has a strong, but distinctive brand presence. Originality is a word thrown around a lot in the marketing world, but clubs staying true to each of their individual brands, showcasing their specific players’ personalities, and catering to their cities’ fan base plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining the casual NFL fan. This mindset can be effectively applied to any brand trying to distinguish itself in the year 2021.
For brands like the NFL, authenticity is also key. He mentions the Cleveland Browns’ humorous social approach in acknowledging a season in which they had only one win. The humanization of brands is a trait that we’ve begun to see more and more of in the past ten years, and it tends to resonate with customers. Tell them how it is. There’s no reason to sugarcoat, fans (customers) can see through that, so you might as well tell the truth in a fun and compelling way. Straightforwardness is a win for companies in any industry and a great way to garner long-term customer loyalty.
Most organizations do not struggle with a lack of content. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite, this makes prioritizing the good stuff and knowing the proper way to deliver that content all the more important.
How you execute the distribution of content is every bit as crucial as the content itself. A long-form written player piece, a funny excerpt from a press conference, a formal interview- all valuable content forms, you just have to utilize the right avenue. What works for a tweet is not what will work for YouTube engagement. With all of the different channels available to consumers now, It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Joey is constantly reiterating this to each of his clubs.
Don’t Forget the Visuals
When done well, video and visual imagery can strike an emotional chord that isn’t attainable through any other means. Joey notes his clubs seeing far more considerable year-over-year growth in video engagement than articles or photos. Combining quality footage with the right background music and a compelling caption can culminate in a really special moment for fans. Good visuals can create an almost magical effect if done correctly.
At the end of the day, it’s about catering to your customers in the way that’s the most effective for a specific platform.
Timing is (Sometimes) Everything
When putting out content, especially for a brand as time-sensitive as the NFL, where fans expect play-by-play updates and an almost immediate return of information, having a fast turnaround is often non-negotiable.
Whereas a club social media manager in an ideal world might want to make sure a video is pristinely edited with top-of-the-line sound quality and an A/B tested caption for every single post, waiting for perfection might not be the most effective. In sports media, capitalizing on big moments is everything, as once those moments pass, you can’t get them back. It’s important for content managers to find the balance between content quality and speed, and knowing when to prioritize each factor. This reigns true for any business producing content, as capitalizing on major cultural moments can result in some great engagement. Joey says mastering this balance will help in creating an organic and immersive-feeling experience for NFL fans both physically at the game, and those following along online.
It is important to remember that a team can only plan for so much when you inevitably will have people putting out content in real-time, so it’s important to provide the appropriate tools and the right people on your team who are capable of following through in those big moments.
Final Pep Talk
Sports are unique in that there are customers in attendance every single week who are experiencing a brand for the very first time. This makes the first impression absolutely crucial, as there may not be a second chance. Forming a positive all-around product for fans from the stadium maintenance, to concessions, to parking convenience, to team performance are all important factors in making sure they return. No detail of customer experience is too small, and all brands should be checking in on fan feedback and innovating new ways to keep customers coming back for more.
Listen to the episode here.