Hashtags, Virtual Autographs…Good ideas This Week

As we hit the final steps before the World Series, move deeper into the NFL and college football and welcome college hoops and other winter sports, some interesting best practices for the week…

Hashtags Abound: Last year the University of Mississippi cracked the hashtag on the field boundry by dropping one in the end zone for their Thanksgiving weekend game. At the time it was seen as evolutionary, with a chance to track how often people would actually engage on twitter while following the game…sort of. It was awareness but not a real call to action. Regardless it was a good litmus test. Since then, hashtags and twitter handles abound…on the lower corner of TV broadcasts of games,¬† on press conference banners and now on every new field design. The Brooklyn Nets have their twitter handle on their baseline (the Celtics took the first step last year) and this weekend Syracuse dropped a hashtag on the Carrier Dome carpet. All, this is nice and it alerts people to the fact that the property is somehow engaged in social media, but what’s next? One idea? Dasher boards and digital signage. Maybe teams and schools can run instant contests on live signage calling for the viewers to instantly engage and win prizes or sponsor giveaways that change every quarter, every inning, every possession. That would be an active way to test engagement and bring people back to your website, twitter feed, or Facebook page. Social media is fluid, so just checking the box and dropping a handle on a field is nice, but its not active. Using that handle to keep people engaged is really the key for ROI, otherwise its just covering some real estate on a field.

The Virtual Autograph Challenge: Much has been made about what the next steps in memorabilia collecting will be. Topps has launched digital sports cards, companies offer special messages from athletes and celebrities customized to that person for your mobile device etc etc. Whatever longterm value these items have remains to be seen. They are collectable and interractive but they are not hard goods. and the greatest value of any collectable is the worth to the colelctor along with its uniqueness. If everyone can have it, what’s so cool about that? However the company Egraphs has tried to forge its own market, combining an audio message with autographs delivered in a virtual world. It is a pure digital play, no hard goods exchanged, you never meet the signee, but for someone who craves celebrity items, its a new unique play.¬† More importantly egraphs has tried fun and interesting ways to garner attention using their celebrity clients. The most unique was this week, when St. Louis Cardinals reliever¬† Jason Motte sent Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey a little Egraph customized love. Dorsey, now a Bay Area resident, is an avowed Cardinals fan, got the alert from Dorsey via twitter, and responded with a nice message back of his own. It was a very smart way to get Egraphs through the clutter in the space, engaging a high profile tech business executive with an athlete who understands the value of engagement. A little research and some smart placement goes a long way.