We are spending the next two days learning from a great group of sports marketing folks. After one panel into the conference some key themes are starting to become apparent. The first panel included folks like Mike Grahl from the Bucks, Craig Pickens from Oregon, Jeff Koleba from the Kentucky Derby, Chris Yandle for U Miami and Wayne Patello from the Padres.
The two themes that emerged were the importance of fan engagement and how social media impacts the brand. These are interesting themes as they both speak to two key marketing assets. The “Brand” is an obvious marketing asset. Engagement is a bit less obvious but should really be thought of as an element of the team’s customer relationships. The value of a team’s portfolio of customer relationship assets is a matter of both the number and the passion of the fans.
Reading between the lines, all the organizations are dealing with the same fundamental issues. First, as it’s a new area all the organizations are trying to figure out the best way to use social. For example, there has been significant discussion regarding avoiding mistakes. Since social accounts are the voice of the team we need to ask who should be able to tweet and what external tweets should be retweeted.
The second issue, that hasn’t been directly addressed, is that social assets and brand assets are fundamentally challenging because they are intangible. How can we measure the impact of social activities on the brand when it’s tough to even measure the value of a brand?
It will be interesting to see how the conference progresses. From my perspective I think the key is in bringing data and analytics into these discussions. On the site we spend a lot of time thinking about valuing marketing assets and using social media. Thus far the conference message (to an academic) is that linking social to branding to loyalty and revenues is an important endeavor.