Cut Out, Cut Back or Reshape - Why your digital sport diet has to start TOO!
So who is doing a low-sugar thing for January? Maybe it is no carbs or good fats. Then there is the hardy perennial – an alcohol-free first month of the year.
Whatever your sacrifice, hopefully your resolution is holding.
But what about detoxing your digital? That too can suffer from not only the gluttony of the past few weeks but the previous 12 months.
Not long ago, the venerable chaps at Seven League made a strong case for casting aside tiresome content created out of habit that has been unmeasured and perhaps, unknown to the author, unwanted for some time*. Or maybe the notion of the content was fine but the execution (platform, aggregate etc) needed to change.
Either examination or alteration could be required. And, of course, New Year is grounded in the spirit of regeneration.
So, in no particular order, here’s where I’d cut out, cut back or rethink.
Play-by-play text coverage
It goes like this. [Minute] [Dry Description, with maybe an exclamation mark to ‘liven’ it up] [Score] [Hashtag]. A score graphic for a goal, try, touchdown**.
It has barely changed in a decade, which is a century in the dog years of digital.
Either you have to make your version the best-in-class visually and/or tonally. Be pithy, be sassy, be funny, be full of stats - but strike a pose. There are over 1,000 standard emojis and Twitter has armed everyone with a small army of built-in GIFS, use them for God’s sake.
Or take a more ballsy tack and assume your fans are watching the game and so you are more of a companion to the TV coverage rather than an alternative. NFL sometimes takes this approach.
Go short, go deep or go home. Great long-form content will always survive because of… well… the first word in this sentence. Poorly executed content normally withers on the vine, whatever the idea. But if you are not stroking your chin before committing your prose to ‘paper' then you may as well take the MLS approach and chunk it down to the three important points in the game. It should be noted that highlights are embedded in these stories. So the important element of the report, what happened, is covered.***
Given that playing games is 'what clubs do', a detailed record should be preserved. But it does not need to be produced on the whistle. Over the hours following the game, a detailed record can be built up, layer upon digital layer. Audio, video, pictures, the lot. That is where the depth and length comes in.
So it’s short on the whistle, deep for posterity but don’t plough too much in-game resource into match reports given the guts of information will be on your social and the story will be moving on to the reaction phase almost immediately.
These days if I want to see a major incident in a football match I can see a clip in minutes on Forza. Twitter and Facebook will look after everything else.
This is another part of our staple diet that has now become unpalatable. Or just plain dull. In 10 minutes of bog-standard post-match interview time spread across, say, three athletes, only about 90 seconds will retain any interest. Run them all together, cut out the questions and instead indicate them as text captions.
Of course, the answers need to be captioned too given the amount of audioless video watched these days.
Throw in highlights or, if time is pressing, still images. Anything to avoid death by witless cliché.
Doing more and more
How many people do you really listen to? How many people do you really follow? How much content are you desperate to get?
The answer is not as much as you think. Initially, most of us scan for the Cliff Notes version of our sporting stories, the headline or video that encapsulates everything. From this you'll get the goal, punch, throw, pitch or tackle on which the story hinged.
Then you will let the tweets and comments fill in the blanks. If you want depth, read an article or blog post.
In other words, there is loads of “stuff” out there. Lots of stuff for different levels of attention.
So “stuff” is no longer good enough.
Having reached sufficient quantity of content, cap it and concentrate on polishing your quality.
Don't waste words. Do sharpen your story. Think of cutting the length of your video edit, but extending the length of your shoot. Promotional tweets, gifs and graphics are no longer an after-thought. They are worthy of their own planning and precision.
To stand out, content must be crafted. Always.
Throwing out ideas
I understand the “Ideas are for s?#!, it is all about execution” mantra of Gary Vaynerchuk. He is all about the “doing”.
However thinking, research and experience have to direct the “doing”. And far too much content creation is made up on the spot. Few of us properly kick the tyres on the ideas of others or, God forbid, say that they simply are not good enough.
Force of personality can push through the average and bland in ideation meetings. Too much decision-making ends up being done in front of the video timeline and not enough at the inception stage.
Nobody likes referees, but someone has to take the role.
This is linked to “doing more and more” but too much average content goes out in the name of “doing” when “thinking” needs to be improved.
These are just a few examples, a brief tiptoe down boredom alley. There are plenty more. It is easy to plod along a treadmill of content which is unmeasured by creators and unloved by the audience.
But, in 2017, that is just not good enough.
* This is unforgivable but we have all been there. Grinding out "stuff" week on week while the engagement withers. Analytics and spring-clean, my friends. Analytics and spring clean.
** One reason for the malaise is that this job has been pushed down to a junior or intern, who often lacks the experience or confidence to permeate their personality into the most immediate content a club produces.
*** It should be noted that the cadence of the schedule is key here. NFL games are scarce, with high price tickets or appointment to view TV. These may not need reports/play-by-play. But baseball (162 regular season games), basketball (82), ice hockey (82), fewer people are watching every fixture. A football schedule is somewhere in the middle.
Do you agree? Are there more examples to add? Like or comment below
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