Michelle Andres is vice-president of digital media for the Baltimore Ravens. She joined the organization in 2006, and she has 15 years of experience in pro sports entertainment. She leads the franchise’s digital media strategy, including the team’s social media presence, BaltimoreRavens.com, mobile, online sales, email and database marketing, market research, and photography.
Prior to working for the Ravens, Andres led the interactive marketing department for the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
I invited Michelle to Marketing Smarts to discuss sports marketing and social media, and how she brought the Ravens website—ranked 31 out of 32 teams in terms of unique visitors in 2006—to the top 10, and how she turned the organization into a social media powerhouse, 14th among NFL teams on Facebook, and 9th in Twitter followers as of August 18, 2013. The Ravens also have 197,000 followers on Instagram, for which no NFL team rankings are available.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
No matter how good your social media team is, you can't be everywhere (7:18): "You make difficult decisions.... When you talk about all of these mobile platforms, social platforms, platforms in general, you have to make decisions about where are you going to spend your time. Are you going to do Google+? Are you going to do Pinterest? Are you going to do Instagram? Facebook? and you have to make tough decisions about what you realistically can and cannot do, and hopefully choose the best ones that are going to reach the most fans.... The reality is you cannot be everywhere."
If you want to keep game-day complaints about the stadium experience off Twitter, give people a better option (16:20): "We've not really found that people are using social channels to do that, and maybe it's because we have a text message number that's very prominently posted within the stadium that says: 'Having any issues? Safety concerns? Text this number.' It will anonymously go to our security system and the security team can check it out."
Strike the right balance between sponsored content and audience interest (17:23): "Especially as it relates to social, we are extremely careful about sponsor integration, because it's been made pretty clear to us by our fans that they're there to see Ravens content, not a sponsor's content, so we've tried to be smart about how we integrate a sponsor.... We do things like 'caption this photo, presented by so and so.' We call it a sponsor-integrated promotion, for example. So, Papa John's has the 'Touchdown of the Game' or something like that. We feel like we can safely get away with those types of integrations without alienating our fans, and that it's worked pretty well for us."
Sometimes, even tweeting about the weather can be a bad idea (19:30): "At the NFL combine every February, draft prospects go and they work out for all of the teams, and the teams also get to meet with them. There was this one guy from a warm-weather state who got off the plane in Indianapolis for the combine and tweeted 'man, it's cold here," or something like that. Well, that kid was meeting with our coaching staff and, pretty much the minute he walked in the door they asked him the question: 'Can you not handle cold weather?' And he was just completely shocked. They don't realize immediately who's looking at them. The media is looking at them, their coaches are looking at them, their family is looking at them, and the fans are looking at them. I think it was a real eye-opening occurrence for this guy to realize 'hey, this could affect my ability to be drafted by this team... Baltimore is obviously playing in the snow.' We give players examples like that."
Michelle and I talked about much more, including the dwindling role of traditional media in sports marketing and the increasing importance of mobile, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Michelle Andres, vice-president of digital media, Baltimore Ravens.