Golden State Warriors Giving Fans Instant Social Media Payoffs

With a new coach in Mark Jackson and some new owners at the helm the Golden State Warriors are trying hard to forge a new way to make the NBA playoffs. But while the team so far is struggling to find a winning combination on the court, in the world of social media the Warriors are scoring big with some well-thought promotions that are giving fans instant gratification — like going on the court to shoot free throws — for simply connecting via social media.

I’ve been following the Warriors on Facebook and it seems like at every home game there’s a different promotion. But unlike some team promos that are hard to value, the Warriors seem intent on giving their fans access to things that used to be off limits — like letting them sit in on post-game interviews, or the latest one shown in these pictures, letting the first 200 fans who check in on Facebook on the Oracle Arena parquet to shoot some charity shots post-game.

I am in favor of promotions that give fans something cool to do (meet players, run laps on a baseball field) instead of some of the other ones surfacing these days where people need to sort of act like trained monkeys to win. I’m generally don’t like “contests” that award some prize to the person who shoots the funniest video, or wins fan voting to get a social media job. That seems like rewarding people for being social media experts, with a prize that’s not really fan-based.

Instead, I admire giveaways like the Warriors’ which may not be high in value but connect directly to what a fan wants to do: Be more immersed in the team they love. And by running the promos through Facebook check-in the Warriors are making them easily accessible to any fan with a mobile device (meaning everyone) and via the application (Facebook) that everyone already uses. In other words, no need for extra heavy lifting (shooting a video) but instant fun for fans. Social, mobile and sports. Go Warriors.

UPDATE: Just saw this relevant tweet:

Pac-12 Looks to Build ‘Digital Network’ for Social-Media Centric Sports Future

The Pac-12 conference, one year into its new broadcasting deal is now looking to expand its presence in other areas aside from broadcast television, a move that will encompass streaming media and other technologies broadcast to smartphones, tablets and other devices, mobile and immobile.

To spearhead the program the conference‘s wholly owned subsidiary Pac-12 Enterprises has hired David Aufhauser as vice president and general manager of digital media. He has been in various positions in the sports and social media market for almost two decades with his most recent position being Vice President, Media at Say Media where he managed the global ad network. Prior to that he led business development at Yahoo Sports and has a variety of positions at Citizen Sports, Evite and Netscape.

The job will entail all aspects of the digital media properties of the Pac-12 as well as the creation and management of the Pac-12 Digital Network. The Digital Network will be a unified web site that will provide world wide access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as computers and even television for a wide range of sports activities that the Pac-12 is involved in.

The group will handle hundreds of sporting events and provide original programming at all 12 major campuses. This will include live streaming, mobile technology and social TV capabilities, the world. The network is expected to be launched in late summer 2012.

Last year the conference entered into a major upgrade on its broadcasting presence by working with major cable companies to create six regional cable networks as well as signing new national deals with FOX Sports and ESPN. The Digital Network is expected to work with the television networks to provide a more unified presence for the league. The new effort will also handle all sponsorship, licensing and event management for the Pac-12.

His hiring is just the latest in a string of newly enlisted personnel, all seemingly with wide experience in both sports and an array of various media. Last August the conference hired Gary Stevenson as the head of the Enterprise group. Stevenson has more than 30 years in a variety of sports and broadcasting experience including working with the NBA, the PGA Tour and owning his own sports consulting firm OnSports.

The Pac-12 Enterprise has also hired Bill Cella as its chief revenue officer. Cella has experience in sales and marketing and will design and implement long term strategies and oversee the management of all revenue generation for Pac-12 Enterprises.

Expect this to be the tip of the iceberg and a move that is carefully watched by both rival conferences and the NCAA governing body. No school is going to let additional revenue slip through its fingers and we will probably see a number quickly emulate the Pac-12.

The NCAA on the other hand may want a bigger piece of the pie. When Major League Baseball teams started to move onto the Internet MLB itself was a bit slow to follow. When it did it moved everything under its own umbrella, and no doubt gets a larger cut for its effort.

PlayUp Signs Exclusive Deal with Fordham Athletics

In what is expected to be the first of a series of school-exclusive deals, fan-based social network app provider PlayUp is partnering with Fordham Athletics to be the exclusive “fan engagement partner” for the sports teams at the New York-based Fordham University.

Fordham said the PlayUp app, which gives sports fans the ability to track teams, scores and to converse with other fans in either small or large, or private or public groups, is a good fit for schools like Fordham who have interested alumni who might not be able to view games in person. From the press release announcing the deal:

“PlayUp is a very unique service that allows fans who cannot attend Fordham games in person to actively chat on their mobile device while following the action,” said Julio Diaz, Associate Athletic Director/Marketing and Promotions, Fordham Athletics.

According to PlayUp, the company will promote its app live at four upcoming Fordham men’s basketball games, and will be featured in television ads shown during the game broadcasts. PlayUP said it will also have in-game contests and promotions, part of a strategic move to make PlayUp the app fans check in with first when they are at a live sporting event. Here’s the PlayUp quote from the presser:

“We are very pleased to be Fordham Athletics’ Official Fan Engagement Partner,” said David Brody, PlayUp U.S. Head of Marketing. “This partnership will help Fordham fans, friends, family and alumni alike, connect worldwide over Fordham Athletics. Even if they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away, they can hangout together in the PlayUp app. Our app breaks down geographical barriers and allows real interaction between fans all over the globe.”

MSR will track PlayUp (which just launched a beta version of a website component) and its competitors in the fan-conversation market closely. If you are a PlayUp user, give us a holler in the comments below and tell us what you think of the service.

Lexus Partners with NBC on NFL Hashtag Twitter Game

Count Lexus as one of the first major brands to dive into the sports social media gaming space, as the luxury auto maker has partnered with NBC Sports to produce a game that allows sports fans interact with sports trivia and win prizes during the NFL Playoffs.

Called TweetDrive Engineered by Lexus, the promotion is essentially a “social media activation tool,” according to an AutoGuide report. Sports fan register with Twitter, follow the game during NBC broadcasts of NFL football games and tweet answers to trivia questions to #LexusTweetDrive. Each correct answer delivers yards toward a touchdown, and each touchdown enters fans into a drawing for two tickets to a 2012 NBC Sports sporting event.

The move is significant because it marks the expansion of brand advertising during sporting events into social media tie-ins. Super Bowl XLVI on February 5 will mark the first time Lexus has advertised during the NFL Championship game, and that it felt the necessity to include a Twitter tie-in is likely to be matched by other brands in the years to come. That means a growing number of consumers will not only be watching the game at parties in coming years, but interaction with a smart phones or tablet during the game will become a standard practice.

Lexus Vice President of Marketing Brian Smith announced the program.

“TweetDrive Engineered by Lexus offers a unique way to challenge sports fans to put their knowledge about football and social media to the test,” Smith said. “There is a lot of excitement about football this time of year and Lexus is pleased to join in the action through this program.”

In engineering the campaign, Smith moved quickly to put Lexus out front of social media promotion tied to Super Bowl commercials. He was named Lexus’ marketing chief in September after Toyota hired former Lexus executive Dave Nordstrom to head its social media strategies, according to a Lexus Enthusiast report.

Lexus VP of Marketing Brian Smith breaks new ground with social media campaign during Super Bowl

AT&T Provides Assists to Mobile Sports App Developers

Joe Tafoya giving a demo at the AT&T Developer Summit. Photo courtesy of Unsocial.

LAS VEGAS — CES 2012 — How can a big, established company like AT&T put itself at the center of mobile apps innovation? By giving smaller companies hooks into the cellular giant’s extensive wireless network and back-end operations, making it easier for developers to reach a wider audience and earn money faster.

For entrepreneurs looking to break into the exploding world of mobile sports application development, having AT&T as a BFF is a no-brainer, according to Joe Tafoya, a former NFL player who is now heading up a mobile content company called Viva! Vision Inc. Viva’s still-in-development app for Dallas Mavericks star Jason Terry was highlighted on stage at the AT&T Developer Summit here Monday, with Tafoya giving a quick demo of the forthcoming app’s ability to give fans lots of content centered around Terry, including training videos that will be available for purchase.

Where AT&T comes in is via links to the cellular giant’s network and payment systems, which will allow people to purchase items from the Jason Terry app by simply clicking and having the charges appear on their monthly cellular bill. In the not too distant past, having access to services embedded deeply into the cellular infrastructure was something small developers could only dream of. Now, up-and-coming players like Viva! Vision can theoretically gain easy links to AT&T’s millions of wireless customers as part of a big push by Ma Bell to help find and partner with the people who are truly innovating on the app development front.

“We looked at a lot of payment systems but being able to use AT&T was a no-brainer,” said Tafoya in a quick interview following the AT&T presentation, citing both the ability to have a quick, easy payment system in the app as well as access to AT&T’s millions of cellular customers.

And while sports and gaming are always at the top of the list of popular mobile apps, AT&T is of course extending its new programs to developers of all stripes, from in-car applications to enterprise apps to apps that let you compile grocery lists. Part of the company’s push Monday included new programs to make using its APIs (application programming interfaces) easier for developers, as well as programs to help developers get their apps noticed by more consumers and companies.

“Our goal is to make it easier for [developers] to navigate the mobile ecosystem,” said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, during the Summit’s keynote address. For some developers like Viva! Vision’s Tafoya, that’s a goal that’s already happening.

‘Hard Foul’ Sports Video Crests 6 Million Views

If you are a high-school sports official, and you don’t think your calls can’t earn a national spotlight, think again.

A YouTube video of an obscure high-school basketball game in Washington State is getting national attention because it shows a series of flagrant fouls. It was posted by a local fan, and shows two Connell High School basketball players hacking, clothes lining, and pushing Vanderbilt rivals. Since it was posted, the video has accumulated over 6 million views.

The video was taken by a local fan, who initially posted it to demonstrate the need for better officiating, according to a Seattle Times report.

The video underscores that any sporting event — not just nationally broadcast games — can gain the national spotlight, and could eventually lead to better standards in prep sports officiating.

If you like wrestling, this basketball video is worth watching: