Top 5 Takeaways: Hashtag Sports 2017


5. Sports teams are winning at social media.

The age of stiff, impersonal social media campaigns has passed in the sports industry. Teams have truly come to understand the ins and outs of social media and how to effectively leverage it – employing strategies that are both diverse and interactive. For example, the Coyotes have taken their social media strategy to the next level; thoroughly breaking down each social platform in order to understand how to best utilize them.

The key factor behind the team’s success is their ability to interact and engage their audiences in different ways across media, consistently giving value back to their fans with unique content! Mark J. Burns highlighted more important tips to succeeding on ‘social platforms’ in the sports industry, during a workshop at Hashtag Sports.

Not only do sports teams understand how to use social media, they are monetizing it. The Minnesota Vikings are especially ahead of the game in terms of producing and monetizing content. They have embodied an ‘out of the box’ mindset; expanding their social strategies to include claymation vines, the use of snapchat spectacles, and the employment of national influencers to market away-games. One strategy in particular has earned the team great success; utilizing Tagboard’s and Snapchat’s partnership to ultimately gain more Snap followers in one day than most NFL teams get in one month!

4. Open source is the new innovator’s role.

The move towards the open source, or rather, info-sharing culture in sports has been a pleasant surprise. Dennis Crowley, Founder of Foursquare and Dodgeball, prides himself in building things from scratch and insists this ‘startup mindset’ can transfer seamlessly to sports as well.

He is currently on a mission to build a NY based soccer club from scratch; thoroughly documenting the entire process for his followers on multiple social platforms. The remarkable thing behind this is the consistent transparency Crowley is devoted to – mapping out all of his expenses, thoughts, complications, and learned lessons for the world to see on his blog.

“If there’s something you want to see in the world and it doesn’t yet exist, go out and make that thing.”

– Dennis Crowley, Founder of Foursquare

His ultimate goal is to elevate and transform U.S. soccer, by making it easier for people to start their own local teams or clubs.

3. There are still holes in fan data

Some sports properties and agencies are learning how to better use and collect fan data; however, they still are limited by the many mysteries and black holes that their data-collection strategies produce. One example of where teams are still looking for solutions was perfectly highlighted by Randy Lewis.

“On average, the ticket buyer buys 3 tickets […] the one thing that keeps me up at night is who’s physically in the building,”

– Randy Lewis, VP Business Strategy & Analytics at the Brooklyn Nets

During a panel, Heidi Browning touched on the upcoming applications of fan data collection. “‘Live

will create a new type of fan. Social data helps us understand and personalize content for that audience,” she stated. As social platforms continue to develop, sports teams need to be on their toes in order to ensure they are leveraging these spaces to create impactful and valuable content for their fans.

2. Live video is here and it’s growing

The novelty behind live videos is the way they induce emotional connections. Live video allows real-time interaction between fans and players; giving them the special capability to be right there in the locker rooms or out on the field with the players as they celebrate a great victory.

Via a study conducted by Facebook, the company revealed that live stream viewers tend to comment “10 times more on Facebook Live videos than regular ones.” This goes to show that there’s value in choosing to invest in this “new media type,” as Brian Blau, a longtime personal technologies researcher at Gartner, calls it. “It gives users another way to interact with one another, and it gives brands another way to interact with their customers,” he says.


At the end of the day, “People don’t care about quality of video, it’s about the story that video is telling,” as Matt Cenedella, COO of the WTA, stated at Hashtag Sports. Whether it be a live video on Facebook or a quick 10 second snap, fans just want a genuine way to interact with their favorite teams and brands.

1. Gen Z is Going to Rock the World of Sports

Rich Luker, Founder of Luker on Trends & The ESPN Sports Poll, gave some excellent insight into the current state of youth technology adoption and how this will affect the world of sports moving forward.

Highlighting some intriguing statistics, Jorge Urrutia gave his opinion on market segmentation.

“Talking about “gen Z” or any “generation” makes no sense: very different behaviors when you break out in smaller age intervals.”

– Jorge Urrutia, SVP & Head of Operations, DigitalsLBi North America

The graphs that Urrutia referred to below, perfectly highlight the necessity to rethink marketing strategies and narrow the focus to be highly customized, rather than focusing on a broad demographic.


Final Thoughts

Overall, Hashtag Sports took place exactly as projected, “a global innovation festival exploring how digital media and emerging technologies are redefining sports.” So if you wanted to take anything away from this conference, make sure to remember these:

  1. Keep building your social channels

  2. Sharing information is key to industry-level progress

  3. Fan data is powerful, but difficult to take advantage of

  4. Live video will continue to explode

  5. Gen Z will change the future of sports