The social space has never been more important for every aspect of sports business, especially if you are a team, a league or a brand and crave that efficient and authentic direct to consumer engagement. It can be fickle, elusive, sometimes frustrating and difficult to measure and quantify, but it is the way to stay in and create conversation on the platform, or platforms of choice.
This week at our NYVC Sports event on the social space a lot of the talk was on social engagement around teams, leagues and athletes, and we came away wth some of the great tidbits from speakers like David Wright at Minor League Baseball, who talked about MILB’s brand reinvention in engagement through Latino communities and with the LGBTQ programs they run, and Octagon’s Alyssa Romano adding in her thoughts on the most engaged athletes like former NFL’er turned social media savant Andrew Hawkins.
Another chat we had off to the side was a catch up on the Professional Bull Riders (the PBR) and how their edgy and engaged niche audience was doing in the space.
What did we learn? Some point furnished were surprising and impressive.
The PBR is the fastest-growing sport on social media, according to information from CrowdTangle (1/1/19-8/14/19). Some of the numbers?
**Fans consumed more than 185 million minutes of PBR social content on Facebook and YouTube since January 1, 2019 – the equivalent of 128,472 days.
**PBR’s growth rate on Facebook is the highest among all major sports (with the exception of PGA) this year, including: More total growth than NFL, NHL, ATP, NASCAR and WWE; More interactions than ATP, MLS, and NASCAR; More Facebook video views than NASCAR and ATP.
**PBR’s growth rate on Instagram is the highest among all major sports this year, including:
More total growth than NASCAR, MLS and ATP
More video views than NASCAR.
Now of course it is a good amount of spin, but the numbers for a disruptive property are on the rise, not the decline, so we asked Josh Tucker – Sr. Director, Social and Digital Partnerships for the PBR, who has spent time at teams like the Dodgers, to give us more of the scoop.
I’m sure there are many differences between working on social for the Dodgers and PBR; are there any best practice similarities?
It’s a completely different world, but not due to the nature of the sport or the brand – it’s a result of the evolving platforms. In 2012, the Dodgers didn’t have an Instagram account, Twitter didn’t have an algorithm, there was no way to program native video, and no one had an answer for, “what’s the ROI on social media?”
Today, there are dozens of unique ways to program across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, etc. Each platform requires a nuanced strategy and can help your brand achieve a number of business objectives.
At the end of the day, it still comes down to storytelling – we use our events to drive storylines, storylines to drive community, and community to drive commerce.
What platforms perform best for PBR and why? any surprises?
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Specifically, our fans appetite for long form content on those channels. I’m just surprised at how tough our riders are…
This is a demo which some may think is not that socially savvy, yet the numbers say the opposite. What is the biggest surprise you found in the data of PBR fandom?
Watch time. The sport is built around 8 second rides, but our fans are consuming hundreds of millions of minutes of PBR content across platforms.
As a disruptive brand you can try lots of things to engage; are there platforms that you think don’t fit? TicToc for example?
Every platform has its own roles and goals – we’re bullish on TikTok, and it hits a key target demographic, but at the moment we’re prioritizing our efforts on the platforms that are directly tied to monetization (in-stream video ads, sponsorship and commerce).
What other sports platform is similar to PBR in engagement and what are some of the key markers we should be looking for going forward?
Traditionally, PBR has been excluded from conversations about major sports, which are generally divided into two tiers: the four major “stick and ball” sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) followed by the next tier comprising WWE, NASCAR, MLS, ATP, and PGA. Analyzing important measures like television ratings and social media engagement, PBR belongs in the mix.
PBR and Social. No Bull on success…