This afternoon, Brent Dewar, Chief Operating Officer at NASCAR, and Bob Bowman, President & CEO for MLBAM, joined reporter Rachel Nichols for a discussion on how each league thinks about technology, and more importantly, its fans.
NASCAR looks to its very passionate audience for guidance, including a group of about 13,000 that make up its Fan Council.
MLBAM also prioritizes its fans. “With technology, it’s hard not to make money as long as you serve the fan first,” Bowman said. If you don’t put the fan first, “it will either be inauthentic or it won’t work.” It’s wise advice but too many brands forget the fan, putting emphasis instead on internal or sponsor demands. By focusing on the fan, brands can find success and the rest should follow suit.
Another encouraging tidbit from MLBAM is that they start with social media and, from there, they work backwards. “It’s the only way to reach tens of millions of people,” Bowman said. This is another common brand miss. Many brands start with a message, thinking about it from a television or traditional website perspective. By starting with social, the content or program goes where fans already are. And it can ensure it’s focused and relevant to fans. From there, it can be built to go deeper across a variety of platforms.
Closing out the session, an attendee asked how MLBAM tackles the question of the ROI of social media. Bowman’s response was that he’s not sure if there’s a direct link to commerce, but “you ignore at your peril.” Baseball has to be where its fans are. Even if one of those fans has been a Facebook fan for three years before making it to a game, it’s a big deal. “Once you’ve gone to a game, you’re a different kind of fan,” he said.
It’s a theme NASCAR echoed in the session as well. Their highest loyalty comes from the fans who attend at least one event a year. Serving those fans at the event and away from the event is the key to success. And to that ROI question, those fans who are attending are likely promoting the experience to friends and family as they post to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and/or Facebook. If you’re looking for ROI, that kind of promotion is priceless.