ESPN's Rob King Shares 3 Steps to Better Social Media Engagement
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ESPN's Rob King Shares 3 Steps to Better Social Media Engagement

by Phil Garbrecht | Oct 15, 2019

Few audiences can match the level of unfiltered passion – and participation – found in the sports world. Khoros sat down with Rob King, Senior Vice President of Original Content at ESPN, to shed light on how brands can improve and increase their social media engagement. Rob discussed three steps for social media marketing professionals to take and offered his insights on other issues keeping them awake at night.

Step 1: Understand digital audiences and the active role they play

We’ve all heard that social media has created a generation of people demanding instant gratification. Time Magazine went so far as to call millennials the Me Me Me Generation. But as Rob points out, audiences are simply more empowered nowadays to seek the content and experiences they’ve always wanted.

The greatest opportunity that social media content provides for your brand is to attract, cultivate, and involve fans, since they turn into customers for life. Your content strategy should cover all three of those aspects. And for applicable posts, make sure to give people a call to action that leads to the next stage in the customer journey.

To learn more about today’s digital audiences and what they expect from your brand, read this Forrester Consulting report.

Step 2: Empower your audience to connect in the moment

As Rob noted, social media is a communal channel that thrives on live interaction. Whether or not your brand streams sports every night, there are many ways to share exciting live moments and spark group conversation. Consider live streaming an event or holding an ask me anything session with a popular figure from your brand.

Step 3: Personalize interactions with your audience members

One of the biggest mistakes your brand can make is viewing social media purely as a broadcast channel, posting content in a one-way relationship. Sure, you might be able to get likes, shares, and comments on your social media content with that strategy alone, but you’re missing out on adding real business value if you don’t nurture relationships with personalized content.

Whether it means listening for moments that are ripe for interaction, or delivering excellent 1:1 care, social media success is built on strong one-to-one interactions.

More ways to step up your social media engagement

In addition to these three great steps, Rob addressed other issues preventing digital marketers from engaging successfully. Even with over 30 years of storytelling experience, and overseeing SportsCenter on his resume, he noted that he’s always learning new things about his audience. Here’s what Rob had to say:

Q: How can marketers learn more about their audience through social media?

A: There’s one example that comes to my mind immediately. It was during a basketball game with a James Harden crossover. It was the most debilitating crossover I have ever seen in an NBA game. I can't tell you who won that game. And nobody cares. Our social media audience just loved the James Harden crossover. And it's a move that will live in basketball history forever.

From that crossover, we learned that micro-content can serve as a focal point for exciting fans. This live moment was the starting point for a conversation that outlived the game itself. Because we were live with them in the live game window, it was an opportunity to gain insight by seeing the volume of activity and comments.

That raw interest — and it may not be the most eloquently stated interest — is very informative. Social media provides us the ability to listen in real time and inform what our shows should be focusing on.

Q: How can brands create original social media content?

A: You cannot do it in a room of the same three people. Be relentless in trying to make sure your deepest thinking is inclusive in the minds and voices that you pull together. The world is too diverse, we have too much access to other ways of thinking, you must be relentless in pursuing inclusivity.

Q: What’s next in digital and social media marketing?

A: I think we're getting ready to roll into a pretty exciting time where the content experience is going to be right next to the purchasing experience, which is going to be right next to the overall product experience. I don't think we're going to be as bifurcated as we've been.

I think that's a good thing all around. It's going to force us to sit at the table in ways we never had before. But it's what we've always wanted.

Editor’s note: To learn more about customer expectations in the digital age, read the Forrester report: Getting to Know Your Customers.


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