There are only 30 PGA TOUR players in the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Such a small field compared to a typical PGA TOUR event can open up some fun content ideas that feature every player.

For this year’s final event, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, we enlisted the help of renowned pancake artist Saipancakes. And yes, you read that right. He’s a pancake artist. Armed with a portable griddle and an ample supply of pancake batter, we put Saipancakes to work at this season’s finale.

As he created pancake renderings of each of the 30 players in the field, we captured photos and video of the action—the perfect type of fun content for our social media channels. Many of the players got into it as well, sharing their pancake doppelgangers on their own social platforms.

The program helped generate more than 1.8 million impressions from @PGATOUR handles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. With players and other media outlets also sharing the content, that boosted exposure to 13.7 million social media impressions.

My role: Social Media Strategy & Promotion

CBS Sports was one of the media outlets that covered the pancake art story.

Twitter was one of the platforms where we published pancake art photos and video.

PGA TOUR players as pancake art

The Guardian was one of many media outlets that covered the pancake art.

This week, the PGA TOUR reached a Facebook milestone – one million likes. About five months ago, we hit a similar milestone on Twitter – one million followers.

I’ve always said it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the engagement with the community. And that’s still a true sentiment. But these milestones are still things to celebrate because they validate the quality and creativity of the content. They validate the fact that the community has been responding well to our content and that we’ve been listening.

Since adding an Analyst to our Content Team at the PGA TOUR, we’ve made it a formal practice to constantly evaluate how our content is resonating with fans. Where we need to tweak, we tweak. Where we see an opportunity to amplify something that’s performing well, we amplify. And where we need to refrain from doing something in the future, we refrain. It’s this combination of analytics and creativity that’s pushed us to these milestones. And it’s that combination that will keep pushing us further.

This type of relationship between data and content and the way that we can track it and adjust in the moment is new to the media landscape. It’s creating new disciplines and even new career paths. And for those publishers and brands that are paying attention, it’s creating serious opportunities. As a brand that’s looking to get on the radar of new fans and to cut through old stereotypes, this is key for long-term success. This week, as we hit one of what I hope will be many more milestone to come, I’m proud to be working with and leading a team that’s embracing this approach.

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In 2014, Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez joined the Champions Tour and earned a victory his first week out. Around the same time, he also played extraordinarily well at The Masters.

In addition to playing well, Jimenez is also somewhat of a unique character, particularly in the golf world. The Spaniard is known for his flowing blonde ponytail, the signature cigar in his mouth during play and of course his love of good wine.

Inspired by Jimenez’s larger-than-life persona and his victory, we drew comparisons to the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World,” with Jimenez being the real-life version of this character. We crafted statements about Jimenez and meme-worthy graphics to go along with them. Some of the statements included: “Arnold Palmer orders the ‘Miguel Jimenez’ at restaurants”; “Trophies long to kiss him”; and “He may miss fairways but they miss him more.”

The Miguel Memes were posted to one central spot on PGATOUR.COM, along with a blank version of the photo so that fans could make their own. PGA TOUR-crafted memes were shared to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. From there, the community responded in a big way, sharing their own memes about Jimenez in comments on PGATOUR.COM and across social media. The best of the fan-created memes were gathered and shared on PGATOUR.COM.

Between the memes crafted by the PGA TOUR and the ones crafted by fans, the execution helped the TOUR to engage current fans and to reach new audiences about a player many of them hadn’t heard of. A byproduct was that people were also exposed to the PGA TOUR in a new light—and one that’s also indicative of the direction we’re heading in online.

It’s also notable that this execution earned a Cynopsis Sports Award in the “Hashtag Promotion” category.

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My role: Content Strategy & Content Promotion

To drive more awareness around the FedExCup Playoffs, we brought an on-site Twitter experience to each of the four PGA TOUR playoff events this season. Meet the Twitter vending machine. Equipped with NFC technology, this machine gave us a unique way to interact with fans on-site, encouraging them to Tweet about the #FedExCup Playoffs and be rewarded with special prizes.

The machine traveled to each playoff event. Once on-site, fans were able to interact with the machine, responding to a question with a Tweet using a specific hashtag. The Tweet unlocked a prize from the machine, which could have included anything from an autographed pin flag or a ticket upgrade to a meet and greet with a player.

Throughout the playoffs, fans were excited to encounter the machine and the special prizes it unlocked. A few lucky fans were able to connect with some of their favorite players thanks to the Twitter vending machine experience, including Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka, Charley Hoffman and Hunter Mahan. Those fans walked away with a lifelong memory and of course the social media posts and photos to prove to friends that it happened.

The program not only generated more than 11 million impressions through fan Tweets and major media exposure, but it also delivered on a broader PGA TOUR objective—Connecting a real-world, offline experience to the online world where it could reach more people and show the TOUR in a new light.

My role: Strategy & Concept Development, Execution

Brooks Koepka meets a fan thanks to the Twitter Vending Machine at The Barclays.

Special FedExCup Playoffs prizes in the Twitter Vending Machine

Forbes was one of many media outlets that covered the vending machine program

USA Today was one of many media outlets that covered the vending machine story

Fans interact with the Twitter Vending Machine at The Barclays

These days, it’s common to turn to Twitter or Facebook during the course of a sporting event. What better place to talk trash, brag or even commiserate with fellow fans when your team isn’t doing so well. Among the college set, it should come as no surprise that Snapchat and Yik Yak are spots for the sharing of similar content. During last night’s NCAA men’s basketball Finals, both apps also brought official programming to its users.

In Snapchat’s case, they executed their “Our Story” feature, as they’ve done with major events this year, including one of my employer’s — the Waste Management Phoenix Open. If you’re not familiar with one of these features, it’s a way to check in on the action around a live event. A team at Snapchat collects photos and videos shot by Snapchat users. The tool ties into location so the Snapchat team is able to pull content coming from people at the event. From there, Snapchat curates the best content, which is strung together in one narrative. In line with other Snapchat functionality, Our Story content lasts for 24 hours before it’s wiped away.

Last night, Our Story was up and running, and showcasing some serious school spirit from both Wisconsin and Duke students. As is the case with other Our Story executions, the content isn’t live game footage. It’s much more about telling the story of the game from the fan’s point of view. Ads are integrated as well.

Duke Fans via SnapchatWisconsin Fans via SnapchatSnapchat Ad

For the first time, I also noticed that Yik Yak had a dedicated program around the game. It was in conjunction with Bleacher Report but also centered around what fans were talking about. The Yik Yak execution made perfect sense given their college audience and presence on campuses around the country. While I haven’t seen details on whether or not Bleacher Report paid for this integration, it does open up interesting possibilities around brands, publishers and monetization on Yik Yak going forward. That has to be on Yik Yak’s radar in a big way.

One of the big differences between the two platform executions was visual. Snapchat centers around visuals. Yik Yak (at least for now) is text-based and it’s in line with their view of the app as an anonymous platform. The curation within Our Story also was a point of difference. On Yik Yak, it’s more democratic. The users are meant to up or down vote content, which in turn makes it more or less prominent.

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The 24-year-old co-founders of location-based app Yik Yak took the stage at SXSW this morning, donning matching socks with the notable Yik Yak mascot. Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington recounted a familiar story in the world of startups — meeting during college, coming up with a cool idea and eventually launching. The difference with these two is they weren’t out of one of the typical schools like Harvard or Stanford. They actually hail from Furman, a small liberal arts school in South Carolina. Well beyond launch and investment rounds, Yik Yak is still based in the Southeast, something the founders are passionate about.

That’s not where the differences end between Yik Yak and other startups. Their approach to outreach around the app was also unique in that it was incredibly personal. Maybe this is the Southern touch. The founders went school by school, sending personal emails to student representatives and school newspapers. They’ve actually stayed away from the tech press, “doing a lot of college paper interviews. Those are the people who are using the app,” Droll said.

If you’re not a college student, you might be wondering what Yik Yak is. It’s a location-based application that surfaces topics around you. Where it gets really interesting is that the people posting are anonymous. When you log in to Yik Yak, you’re not prompted to develop a profile and follow people like you would elsewhere. All of this was of course done on purpose.

“On Twitter, it takes a long time to build followers,” Droll said. He and Buffington wanted to make conversation instant, so they removed user names and ensured the platform isn’t about building a following. “Location first, anonymity second.”

The anonymity angle may remind some of other apps like Secret but Yik Yak is different, according to the founders. “The reason why people are anonymous on Yik Yak is that it puts everyone on a level playing field. It matters that you have something good to say. Other apps are anonymous for other reasons.”

While some of the use cases around this end up being completely for fun (just look at the prevalence of people posting as “Campus Squirrel”), there is a lot of utility for Yik Yak. Droll offered up the example of the Florida State shooting. “People found out about the shooting on Yik Yak nine minutes before a campus alert went out.” With that kind of hyperlocal utility in mind, Yik Yak “can have more serious implications around petitions, elections, and protests.”

The ability to broadcast to only those around you, it makes Yik Yak different from Facebook or Twitter — at least for now. Twitter, reportedly, has been exploring a location-based Tweet feature. Would that kill Yik Yak? The founders don’t seem to think so and, for now, are focused on international growth and then a post-graduate audience.

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.

Much to my delight, Skeletor came to life on Twitter today. Or more specifically, he came to life on Honda’s Twitter account. He posted a series of hilarious Tweets aimed at longtime nemesis He-Man, as well as brands like Charmin.

SkeletorTweet1

As the Tweets started rolling in from Honda’s account, it seemed the account had been hacked. Not the case at all. In fact, the #Skeletakeover was part of an effort to launch Honda’s new television campaign, which features Skeletor and other retro toys.

Kudos to Honda for finding a fun way to bring social media into a television campaign. While some brands may attempt this sort of integration, most fail because the social media element ends up feeling too forced. This execution, on the other hand, didn’t feel forced at all. It was rooted in humor, which can play well on the Interwebs. Plus, Honda wasn’t afraid to engage with other brands and find relevant ways to tap into existing hashtags like #ManCrushMonday.

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When Coca-Cola relaunched its old school Mello Yello soda brand, the challenge was how to reach a younger generation of consumers. Through initial research, my team and I discovered a fan-created Facebook page. The person behind the page turned out to be not only a die-hard fan of the brand but also a college student, putting him right in the middle of Mello Yello’s new target demographic. After a little persuasion (cases of Mello Yello and a branded beanbag chair), he turned over the management of the Facebook page to the brand and became the hero of the community.

From there, the brand would need a content plan for the social community. We created a character sketch to provide the framework for a unique and fun voice–something that would make content creation and community management seamless for multiple team members.

The unique voice helped the Facebook community to grow organically, through original posts as well as fun responses to fan questions and comments. Within the first three months of content and community management, we had more than surpassed initial goals. This approach was written about by the likes of Mashable and others.

The next step was to put fuel on the fire and get people talking about Mello Yello. We started with an application that allowed fans to create a retro version of themselves. This fun application, combined with unique content meant 200,000 Facebook fans within a year.

With a growing and highly engaged community, more fan-generated content poured in, including a lot of songs about Mello Yello. This sparked an idea to give fans an official platform for their music, whether it was directly about Mello Yello or simply in the spirit of the brand. Along came One Track Find, a program launched at SXSW 2012. With street team action in Austin and free lunches and gear for bands, Mello Yello secured an audience with indie musicians from all over the country. This helped jumpstart One Track Find and the online song submission process. Musicians submitted original songs for fan voting, which in turn determined five finalists, who received studio time and went on to a final vote. That final vote determined one winner, the recipient of $30,000 and much promotion.

The top five finalists were provided studio time to record their song professionally. Video captured the action for the final stage of voting.

Along the way, it was also important to create a more solid presence for information about Mello Yello, promotions and tools for loyal fans. We created a responsive website that delivered against the brand’s personality while providing fans with digital assets that could be used in their own social media profiles.

My role: Strategy Director, Content Director, Photographer, Video Producer

Lance’s 100th birthday milestone became the driving force behind a much bigger activation and strategy.

Prior to its birthday year, it was apparent the brand was losing traction among moms, a key consumer group. After conducting focus groups and research, it was clear there was a perception problem. Moms needed the facts on Lance and the goodness of their product lineup.

We kicked off 2013 by re-establishing the brand’s presence online with a revamped website and social media communities. These drove home the goodness of Lance in a fun way, providing recipes and activities for moms and kids to take part in with Lance products.

With a foundation in place, Lance’s official birthday celebration began with the 100 Ways To Win program. Promoted in store, through digital ads and with online influencers, the program encouraged moms to take part in daily challenges, which would in turn give them a shot at prizes including $100,000 toward a dream birthday party.

The influencer outreach component of the program was key. Videos created with well-followed YouTubers helped to show Lance in a new and meaningful way to moms.

 

My role: Strategy Director, Content Director, Video Producer