Updated: Sep 10, 2019
In each episode of The GameDay Playbook presented by FanFood, Rob Cressy discusses how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate gameday more efficiently.
Jeremy Guy, Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Digital Strategies at the Mid-American Conference, joins Rob Cressy to talk about engaging fans on social media. How does the MAC social team push the envelope and be forward thinking? What is their mindset on each platform? Why is using video so important? How does the MAC integrate fans while creating real time social media content?
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Rob Cressy: (00:04) Welcome to the Gameday Playbook presented by FanFood, a discussion around how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate gameday more efficiently. I’m your host Rob Cressy and joining me today is Jeremy Guy, Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Digital Strategies at the Mid-American conference. Jeremy, super excited to have you on the show.
Jeremy Guy: (00:34) Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to talk about fan engagement and I’m really happy that you reached out.
Rob Cressy: (00:41) Can you give a quick overview on who you are and what you do?
Jeremy Guy: (00:45) Sure. So I work for the Mid-American conference. I’m an assistant commissioner here in integrated digital strategies, which really boils down to PR and all of our social media here. This is my 16th year, entering my 16th year here at the conference. Love it. I’m a Bowling Green State University graduate, spent one year at Kansas as my internship. And you know, I’ve been at the MAC ever since, but yeah, branding and social media boils down to, that’s what I do every day.
Rob Cressy: (01:18) So you will be happy to know that I am a graduate of Miami University. Nice, nice. Very nice. And I was there when Miami had arguably their best basketball team with Wally Szczerbiak. And that was my freshman year in college where we actually rushed the court and got on ESPN when we beat Tennessee, which was the pinnacle of my college sports experience. And for Miami, the sports pinnacle has been few and far between unfortunately. But then the second thing where I got lucky is that Ben Roethlisberger was my college quarterback, which would have been my junior and senior year. And then he was actually there one more year prior to that. And it just so happens that I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and the Steelers drafted big Ben. My blood is nothing but Maction baby.
Jeremy Guy: (02:14) That’s awesome. I mean, we must be the same age cause I think my senior year of high school was maybe Wally’s last year and then, yeah, throughout college. Well we’ll see what happens now, but Ben’s been doing it to my Browns ever since. So yeah, I’ve had quite a history with with Ben and Wally was great for the league. I mean those two guys right there have been huge for the MAC. So yeah. You saw the good years for the RedHawks for sure. I’ll tell ya, I mean really quick before we get into things over the years or since I’ve been here, the names that have come through and just the superstar power that has been, that comes out of the MAC has been ridiculous. You talk Kaleel Mack, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, Ben, I mean I could go on and on and then, you know, basketball a little less. But we’ve had guys like Wally Szczerbiak…it’s fun cause I guess when you’re looking at the mag, those guys are recruited heavily and then you see what they become now in the pros and they’re like mega star. So, um, yeah, a lot of great storylines and guys that have come out of the MAC for sure. So I think this is a nice transition to talking about fan experience because for me, and certainly you, that the college that we went to, there’s a a certain amount of loyalty and fandom that comes with that. And as we’ve looked at the evolution of social, so when I started college, social media did not exist. So there was really no other outlet for us to share our enthusiasm for the team. But now if you fast forward to things, fans want to be able to go as deep as possible, which is where I believe you come in to help the conference.
Rob Cressy: (04:43) I share video and content in behind the scenes. And can you give your mindset sort of your creator brain for the conference and how that relates to fan experience?
Jeremy Guy: (04:54) Well, I mean you said it kind of in your opening and I guess it’s worked and it’s worked throughout the years. You know, the very first time, I won’t say ever that I created it, I saw it, but I took and ran. I was the only one doing our Twitter account. I was the only one operating all of our social media at one time. This is probably now, almost 10 years ago maybe when Twitter started really booming. But we hung on to the term action and we just thought, hey, it’s, it’s kind of just evergreen. It’s a word that works, but let’s tie it to stuff. Let’s tie it to everything we do on social. And I mean, you talk about the content, you talk about great players, you talk about great moments, teams go into big bowl games to college world series. Everything we put onto that has that matching brand. And over the however many years that we’ve used it, it’s a national thing. You could find a lot of people in this country that know exactly what Maction is, what exactly Maction for that. We play games during midweek, you know, in November and it’s just really its own kind of path and it’s been great to see. It’s just our website. It’s on all of our signage and that all started from social media. And I think that’s a big reason is because our fans got behind it. They like it, they love saying Maction, “we miss it.” And really tying in all of our video, all of our content that we do, just keeping that in mind and that brand in mind of what we stand for is you know what we tried to do day in and day out.
Rob Cressy: (06:41) So how do you try and stick to your brand and not stray from it when you’re dealing with a handful of different schools? So you’re just not necessarily one organization even though you are, you’re a collection of organizations promoting the greater good. Is there any differentiation from someone who just runs like the Miami University account as opposed to the MAC account?
Jeremy Guy: (07:06) Yeah, we work with all of our schools. I mean all of our schools in this day and age, they all do their own thing. What we try to do, it’s sticky. There’s not a possible way when you’re dealing with 12 schools and 23 sponsored sports to get everything in — so you’ve got to pick and choose. In this day and age, I think we stick more to the graphics. We stick more to the highlights. We stick to championships. To video content and all that. And I think, you know, it’s time. If you’re off Twitter or anything for five minutes, you feel like you’re missing something these days. That’s just how it goes. So what we’ve tried to do with our schools, there’s just really always tie in and keep an open line of communication of what’s going on on their campus, how we can help spread their big messages.
Jeremy Guy: (07:57) And then really around championships, time is where we really come into play because those are our events. Sometimes they might be posted on a campus, but you know, our neutral site events or when we go to a championship, we try to blow that out. That’s big thing for a lot of these student athletes. So not all of our student athletes obviously go pro. So the championship, especially when they’re an upperclassmen, this could be the last time they’re competing. So we try to make that really special. We try to get behind the scenes and we try to push as much content no matter what the sport is, for that individual for those schools. For those coaches.
Rob Cressy: (08:37) How do you think about the usage of the platforms? So as I think about sports and certainly football and even basketball itself, Twitter is where the conversation is. So there’s NBA, Twitter, and then there’s sports betting, Twitter, and then there’s insert any number of versions of types of Twitter. So do you find that you lean more on Twitter as opposed to right now Instagram is arguably the number one platform when it comes to all things engagement. But you’re much more likely to shoot off 20 tweets in a day than you are shoot off 20 different Instagram videos. And oh, by the way, Instagram is owned by Facebook. So what is your mindset when it comes to the platform?
Jeremy Guy: (09:24) Yeah, I’m glad you asked that because we just kind of had just put together a report. We have our media day meetings next week and I put together something for our athletic directors. And what it does is outline each platform. I think Facebook is like a mass reach platform, a thing where this, you know, they’ve changed that algorithm and I still have no clue. But that’s where you want to take your live video. That’s where you want to take any video that you have from a championship. I think that’s your best bet on that platform. Like you said with Twitter. That’s in the moment, right? That’s all real time. That’s when you’re following an event. When you want to share highlights, when you want to share gifs, when you want to be conversational. That’s definitely our bread and butter. Instagram, like you said, was out of all of our accounts that grew for us, 44% last year for us, that was definitely the highest of any platform. And I think that’s just in college athletics, prospective student athletes, current student athletes, they’re all living there and they want to look at those pictures. So it’s tough for us and quite honestly, because we’re not on campus every day, we’re not, um, able to get that content as easily as a school. But that’s something that we definitely are setting out to focus on those great pictures from championships to highlight when those teams are hoisting their trophies, all that stuff. You know, media day next week. That’s where all that lives. And clearly a visual expression of our brand is what we want to get to and you know, kind of just an overall approach of how we’re doing that. And then you know, YouTube is our hub for all of our longer videos. That’s definitely how we look at that, where our website is.
Jeremy Guy: (11:08) Um, here’s with Sidearm and we’re able to take our YouTube link and put that on our website. That’s kind of how we take those videos and then it comes to Snapchat. And to be honest, Snapchat for us, we know that there’s value. That’s where fun is, that’s where real raw access is. We have a feature right now that we’ve run probably three years where we will hand it over our Snapchat account to student athlete for a day in the life of a student athlete. And that’s pretty much how we use that.We just turn it over to them. So we have some content on there. But that’s the only one where you don’t know where the, and when you have a boss that wants numbers and wants to see how you’re growing, you can kind of have an idea about how many people are looking at it. But those other platforms you can get that data. And that’s what in our business, you know, if you want to sell sponsorships, if you want to get all that stuff, that’s, you know, people want to see numbers.
Rob Cressy: (12:12) So let’s talk about video for a second because I have to imagine it’s a good part of your strategy and you’ve already mentioned it and I am all in on video, and I recommend to everyone that I work with on the social and content side, that video needs to be a large part of your strategy. And there may be someone sitting there thinking, yeah, Rob, but the MAC has so many opportunities to integrate video and we’re different and videos are not for us. And my mindset is that you have to be doing video. It gets better organic reach, you can go deeper, you can build more experiences and relationships. And quite frankly, the fan experience is going to be so much richer. So what can you say to someone who isn’t using video yet for their brand?
Jeremy Guy: (12:59) Oh, well you got it. I mean, you just said it all, you gotta do it. For the first time since I’ve been here, first time ever, I guess you would say is, last year we added a full-time video person. That’s first. I mean our staff is 16 full time people, maybe 17. And last year was the first time we have an dedicated video person here in the office. What would he had been able to do in this past year is tremendous. It’s something we never had before. We’re able to take videos, we’re able to shoot features. Sometimes there’s a good place, time and place for raw video, especially around championships. And then when you really want to capture that moment right then and now we all know that with social media, time is of the essence and you kind of want to be that first person.
Jeremy Guy: (13:53) But when you’re putting out some great pieces, we’re able to not only use those pieces on social media, but we’re able to then repurpose those say at our basketball tournament. So we’re putting our basketball features throughout the regular season, but not all those people we know, not all those people, all those fans, there might be a lot of alums that might not be on social media. So we’re able to take those videos and then put them on the video board here at Rocket — Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse where the Cavs play, where we’ve had our tournament. Then that adds a fan element during the tournament that they’re not just looking at a board during the timeout, they’re seeing some content and you know, being able to repurpose video, being able to use it not just once on social media but over different platforms and then use it again on video screens or even PSRs. You know, commercial-like video is key because you can use it among multiple ways and it usually gets engagement and eyeballs on it.
Rob Cressy: (14:56) What are your thoughts on the dynamics between highly produced video and let’s call it more authentic raw video because I believe one of the beauties of social and certainly video is your ability to capture the moment. And certainly with fandom, if you’ve ever seen the myriad of commercials that show people in specific set sections when a shot happens or an amazing football player, they’re like, Hey, let’s go to Jeremy and section 103 right there. And just because a brand may not be a team or a conference or a league, I don’t believe that means that you still can’t use us. Call it less than polished video that still aligns with your goals. So what are your thoughts on that?
Jeremy Guy: (15:44) I love it. I mean if I think the way of the world and just what you see on social, you have to have some of that polished video. Cause now it’s gotten to the point where people are competing and comparing and all that. But I’m not a videographer. I’m using my phone all the time and I have two little ones at home and I’m always capturing moments, clearly. And that video gets spread throughout our family and people love it. And when I’m at sporting events, you know, for fun, clearly anything I shoot on my phone, especially if I’m at, you know, an event where a big moment happens. I mean that’s video I watched back and forth and it might be because, or it might be because I was there. Um, but I love seeing that fan perspective that really, I’ll give you an example real quick.
Jeremy Guy: (16:35) A couple of years ago, we finally got a title here in Cleveland. LeBron delivered us his title. And we were all downtown at an establishment and enjoying game seven cause it wasn’t here as a golden state and I still have that video from inside this bar that we were in and the celebration that ensued and outside spilling onto the streets. And just that, you know, having that viewpoint. And I posted on social media, having that viewpoint, having that excitement that just like right now that video is great and we use that a lot here. You know, locker room celebrations, that stuff’s not polished. You go in there with a phone, if you get a good locker room celebration or a coach getting dumped Gatorade, you know, dumped on him, anything like that and post that right away. People love that. And I think there’s definitely a place for that. And at the same token, I think there’s a place for polished and you know, feature video and getting your point across. But me personally, I’m in the moment, God, I love it.
Rob Cressy: (17:39) So as a conference, what can you do to help support or encourage the teams or universities to integrate more realtime social into the fan experience? Knowing that from my marketing brain, the most authentic best content you could conceivably get as a team or conference is the person in the stands who is going nuts and they’re actually living the action. And it’s not just a phrase, they’re actually experiencing it. So how do you try and encourage or integrate the realtime social nature of things?
Jeremy Guy: (18:16) Yeah, we’ve actually put together a video this past year of how people enjoy Maction. We actually reached out on our account and ask people to send us raw video of why they love Maction. And sometimes it was like a family cheering. It wasn’t necessarily in the stands for this, but we’ve reached out on the fan level. I think that our schools could do that as well. I think you know, you never know when a big shot’s going to happen. You never know when that game is going to happen. But I think you just need to be prepared for like a thing where you can, you know, send in your video or we want to see your video or, and it might not be that day. Obviously with fans it’s going to be hard to capture that like right there and then that’s your own content. But Hey, let’s relive this seven overtime game. Show us any videos you took, anything you have and there’s bound to be people out there and you could probably make a pretty nice piece with that. Um, you know, as we’re talking and you’re giving me ideas, even with our tournament or our championship game, you know, kind of bringing that to life with how people. If you send us your celebrations, if your team wins, we want to see how you’re celebrating. We want to put that in or capture that as maybe a bigger part of a video we’re doing or just a raw video. I think there’s a lot of things that you could do in arena, in stadium, wherever you are, to reach out to fans to hashtag it. But to make mention of hashtag, you know, you enjoying my action here. You enjoying the game at home. It doesn’t have to necessarily be all there and the arena can be in your home or a bar or anything. So yeah, I think kinda hitting up people and being aggressive and just kinda throwing out there and casting a wide net for that kind of content would be beneficial.
Rob Cressy: (20:13) And my one tip for this to generate user generated content is you have to be proactive about it. So as you’ve mentioned, you need to consciously put in your messaging on social media, in arena or in places. We want you to send us X in, be specific about it because so often one of the places where a lot of brands fail is that they don’t get engagement with their fans because they never ask a question. Everything is always looking at what we’ve done and it’s like it’s cool and all, but there’s like, I’m not just going to watch a million highlights. Sometimes you may want to see, Oh by the way, we would love to see what was your reaction here? Where were you sending us a video? And that’s what’s really part of the relationship between a brand in the fan on the social side of things is if brands asked a question in every single post, guess what would happen? Their engagement would rise.
Jeremy Guy: (21:09) Yeah, absolutely. You’re dead on. And I think, you know, from our standpoint that’s something that we try to work on or what we’re looking to work on this past year. I think there’s definitely a mindset that you get into when you’re getting in season of players of the week. Especially for us. I mean one of our big things is promoting who won player of the week or the results of the game, but adding those questions to fans or you know, even before the games, like what non-conference football game are you most looking forward to today? Or what conference game you’re looking at, you know, just getting that. And, and we’ve, uh, we’ve definitely tried to reach out and, and ask those questions to get that engagement again. Twitter, get a ton of engagement in Facebook, still working on how to really grasp, um, getting those people to answer those questions into getting engaged. But, you know, it’s one of those things that there’s no, there’s never been a real playbook written about all this and a lot of it’s trying out what works for you, your brand and finding out how your fans react and what times and all that good stuff.
Rob Cressy: (22:16) Jeremy, I really enjoyed this conversation, not just because you’re awesome, but also because I love the MAC. And while we’re having this, I’m thinking about Antonio Gates and your former coach, Urban Meyer at bowling green. And the list goes on of amazing people from the MAC. Where can people connect with you and the Mid-American conference?
Jeremy Guy: (22:36) Sure. So on Twitter our official handle is @macsports. The same on Instagram. Our Facebook is @GetSomeMaction. And then my personal Twitter is, @ImThatGuyJG. A lot of conferences have like their Mac or SEC tied to their name. But we even felt here that, you know, social media is important for users and professionals as well. And you almost sometimes have to create your own brand. And we do focus everything. We’ve pushed everything. We used to all cover our own sports on our own handles and then kind of push things to the MAC. But now everything’s under one umbrella. We made that change. It couldn’t have been a better idea, but we still have our own comments about whether it’s MAC stuff or just everyday things. And I think, you know, social media is a fun, conversational place to be. There’s things I’m interested in that aren’t MAC-related. So that’s when we tied back. I do talk a lot of MAC stuff but it mix in my fair share of professional and other social media, digital stuff. Golf right now, big, big watch. I’ve been watching the Open all day. So I appreciate the time though. This is, this has been great.
Rob Cressy: (24:12) And as always, I would love to hear from you about does episode. Did it cause you to think or take action and I’ve got a specific call to action about video. Can you take us to one moment where you are at a sporting event or watching a sporting event where you captured video? Just like Jeremy watching game seven for the Cavs, for me it would be, I was in Wrigleyville when the Cubs won the world series against the Indians. Sorry, they are Indian there, but it was a historic event and of course, what did I do? I captured rock video of it because it’s something that I’m going to have with me forever and we want to see that from you or hear from you. You can hit up FanFood on Twitter @fanfoodondemand, on Instagram @fanfoodapp or on LinkedIn. And as always, you can hit me up on LinkedIn by searching Rob Cressy.