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Social Media

Introducing Snapchat Discover & ESPN

Yesterday, Snapchat launched their new short-form, fun media product Discover: "Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media." I am excited to say that ESPN is part of that launch - among ten other great launch partners. We of course represent your sports news and content. You'll find unique, daily sports clips, articles, photos and takes. It is fun and compelling - and most importantly, it fits really nicely within Snapchat's environment and interface. I think you'll have fun playing with it.

Also: our team is growing. So whether you are interested in creating the great social content or helping to build experiences like these - please contact me. There are many great positions.

snapchat discover espn

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guGvV8LCx7o]

More: Techcrunch: Snapchat Launches Discover TechCrunch: Hands on with Snapchat Discover

Social Commerce Done Right: Nike's Takes to Social for "Twitter Only Sales"

If you are a sneaker aficionado, you are probably well aware of Nike's fantastic, online, social-only commerce routine. You might even have signed up for Twitter alerts from @NikeStore so that you never miss a special sale. And as a geek and a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (defined here: NYTimes here and here, FiveThirtyEight here)... Nike's Twitter usage is among the best examples of social commerce and part of my shopping habit (I actually have Twitter iOS notifications turned on for @NikeStore). And if you're not a sneaker fan, you should find Nike's tactics interesting in the same way that some brands have mastered Pinterest, blogging, etc. Nike has created an experience and specialness around their routines... and in the process, amassed a social following, engaged their highest value buyers / fans, and proved that social + commerce can indeed work.

Here's how it works and what makes Nike special:

1. Nike has a slew of special content and one-time sales (ie a sneaker Pop Up shop). These are often one-time colorways and styles of a certain sneaker. But Nike will also release special products tied to current events (like an Oregon football game) and so forth.

2. Nike shares these product launches via an online release schedule and then tweets each specific sale in the days leading up to the sale. The product preview page includes a "Launch Tips" section which encourages fans to follow @NikeStore and pre-register for the sale so as to expedite the purchase process (inventory is hotly contested):

3. Nike amplifies those tweets with other Twitter handles (ie running-related products are also shared via Nike's running handles).

4. product launches happen at pre-announced, defined times (usually 8am EST).

5. At 8am EST, @NikeStore tweets a special URL for the sale. Many of those releases are only available via Twitter - what Nike calls "Twitter Link Only (TLO)". Meaning, users have to follow @NikeStore to purchase the products.

6. The tweets arrive promptly at 8am EST and always have great visuals and a short, swoo.sh URL, like so:

photo 3

7. The shoes sell out within in minutes... sometimes seconds. The speed is pretty remarkable actually... again, encouraging followers to turn @NikeStore alerts on and to create their NikeStore.com account (with credit card on file of course).

8. The web purchase flow - on mobile and big-screen - is equally good looking: big visuals, social sharing tools, and focus on urgency.

nike kobe sold out

A couple other examples to highlight:

1. Nike had Christmas-day sales that coincided with the special shoes worn by its players (like Lebron James) that day. It was a Twitter-only sale.

Here is the pre-sale post... whetting the appetite:

And then the sale announcement:

Lebron then shared with his followers and posted an Instagram picture of his new shoes.

2. Nike does something similar during big sporting events. For instance, Nike now sells NFL jerseys and merchandise and during big, nationally televised games - they share related (and sometimes special) products via Twitter:

And lastly, my favorite screenshot: Nike's Launch Tips - which are included with pre-sale products.... again: encouraging users to follow Nike and not miss an opportunity:

nike tips

Facebook Extends Mobile Ad Units from Likes to Installs to Downloads to Purchases

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Facebook's mobile "Install" ad units now driving movie downloads. Over the Christmas holiday, another format arrived: "Shop Now". The unit itself is the same: a glossy, mid-stream ad that asks users to "Shop Now" (rather than "Install" or "Download"). Clicking the units keeps you inside the Facebook Application - which is a little confusing since it is an App Store icon and says "open in app". The landing page is a gift store for iTunes gift cards - like other Facebook digital gifts.

The interesting point is less around the unit / action itself... rather, it is that Facebook has successfully created single in-stream, mobile-only unit that is flexible enough to drive "Likes" (purchased by brands), drive Installs (purchased by developers), drive Downloads (purchased by media) and now drive sales (purchased by e-commerce companies).

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Hello SportsCenter App & 8 Takeaways

On Thursday, we launched the new SportsCenter Application, an update to ESPN's existing and popular ScoreCenter application. With 50m downloads and millions of daily users, ScoreCenter is certainly successful and our hallmark application. We didn't set out to replace it; rather, we set out to expand the experience and better present the vast array of content that makes ESPN so special: video, articles, imagery, television clips, social activity, statistics, and more. You can get it here: - for iOS: http://es.pn/scapp - for Android: http://es.pn/scappandroid - Or, dial **SC from your cell phone

sportscenter app

A handful of product highlights

- Scores / News / Now: ScoreCenter delivered scores and stats... SportsCenter does that alongside News (video, highlights, articles, analysis) and ESPN Now (tweets and live scores) - SportsCenter's Best Of: The SportsCenter Tab is the best stuff of the day (games, breaking news, analysis), merged with your favorite team scores. - Personalization & Inbox: The focus of the app is on delivering a personalized experience through alerts, favorite teams, and the new Fan Inbox (which is a personalized feed of your favorite teams' news, highlights and scoring alerts). - Clubhouses: My favorite enhancement is the introduction of Team Clubhouses. Fans can quickly access each team's scoreboard, newsfeed and social feed... and set alerts directly within the Clubhouse.

Here is a screenshot of the Duke Football Clubhouse which is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it is relatively long-tail content that would not elevate to the national level - but it is important to me. Second, the content is fantastic. These are in-game highlights, streaming live into the feed seconds after they occur on the field. It's a tremendous experience that is highly personalized.

duke clubhouse

That's the new app. I hope you download it, enjoy it and pass along feedback. I also thought it would be worthwhile to share some takeaways:

It's a Mobile World

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about ESPN's recent digital patterns. September was a record month for ESPN in three ways: 1. we saw record overall traffic 2. during that period, more fans accessed ESPN via mobile than desktop 3. over 36% of users accessed ESPN exclusively via mobile

It's a mobile world. The focus on re-imagining ScoreCenter was predicated on better serving our fans in an increasingly mobile world. And if you haven't done so already, read Benedict Evan's Mobile is Eating the World deck.

It's a Native Mobile World

It's a mobile world... but it's also a native world for applications. Long gone are the days or porting a single app from platform to platform. Users don't want this... and neither do the platforms themselves. Experiences have to be built and designed specifically for the platform and the device portfolio. The challenge of course is to maintain brand familiarity and consistency while also designing differently and specifically for each platform. It's a difficult but critical balance.

Native also applies to platforms beyond the mobile operating systems (ie iOS, Android, etc). For instance, we took care to make sure that the application leverages native integrations with Twitter and Facebook - both within the application and within their own platforms. This, for instance, is a screenshot of the new Twitter Card integration:

twitter cards

Disrupt Yourself

AllThingsD wrote a nice piece on the SportsCenter launch entitled: "ESPN ScoreCenter App Is a Hit, but It’s Getting an Overhaul Anyway: New Name, More Video, More Stuff". It's an important mentality: don't wait for something to break before considering / forcing change. The world changes too fast - technology, platforms, standards, habits - to sit still.

Scaled, Pre-launch Distribution and Usage

Between services like TestFlight and Google Beta, it is relatively painless to distribute pre-launch builds and collect usage data / feedback from large numbers of relevant users. It's the purest form of user-testing and user-feedback. For SportsCenter, somewhere around 1,500 fans played with the application ahead of launch. Others like Facebook are doing that at grand scale using the Google Beta program:

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Press as Pre-Launch Users

My friend Matt Schlicht of Hipset recently wrote a nice Medium piece about driving press for your startup. My strong opinion here: treat everyone as a user and a fan. SportsCenter received some excellent coverage and those writers had access to the test builds of the application for several days (or more). That translates into more organic coverage (good or bad), deep insight, and some unique perspectives. It is also how pieces like Ryan Lawler's on TechCrunch get written - where he had a fantastic, in-depth usage video.

Advice: trust that your product is high-quality and give users and writer's full, early access.

A couple other pieces: - TechCrunch: ESPN’s SportsCenter App Combines News And Highlights With New Personalization Features - AllThingsD: ESPN ScoreCenter App Is a Hit, but It’s Getting an Overhaul Anyway: New Name, More Video, More Stuff - PandoDaily: ESPN Launches Personalized SportsCenter Feed Web App, Proves It Just Gets Digital - AdAge: This Is 'SportsCenter'...on Your iPhone

Twitter As Real-Time Customer Service

This is obvious for most: Twitter is immensely powerful as a real-time insights and customer support platform. During launch, we were seeing 50+ tweets per minute. Between sentiment tracking, bug monitoring and usage habits - we had an immediate understanding of how fans were engaging and interacting. This isn't shocking to anyone... but one point worth noting: I have spent a lot of time responding to tweets of all ranges: positive, negative, open questions, etc. Users were almost always happy to hear from someone connected to the product. Feedback was universally helpful and, even when a user was unhappy, the outcome was positive.

It's Iterative

There are things we got wrong. There are things we had to cut due to time. And there are things we didn't get to but are on the roadmap.

It's an iterative process. It has to be... in part because user feedback will dictate changes and time won't allow for everything to built. The challenge is determining what viable release requirements are... and communicating iteration to users.

I'm Old

Along with the core team, we read every single tweet. The big lesson: my vocabulary is very out of date, emoji are king, and I'm clearly old.

twitteremoji

Wordpress + Facebook [Embeds]

Facebook recently enabled embeddable posts (see announcement here) - theses embeds can include public status updates, images, videos, etc and enable social sharing directly within the unit. On Wordpress, it's particularly easy: simply paste the Facebook URL between the Wordpress embed tags. That easy. For Facebook, this is important for two obvious reasons: first, it encourages public posting for users and celebrities (brands are already public). And second, it gives publishers and brands a simple way to amplify their on-Facebook content - which in turn enables social sharing directly on the publisher site. Twitter has had great solutions here for years - Facebook's embeddable post can be an equally powerful mechanism (content dependent of course).

[embed]https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=638282669523912&set=a.166942843324566.37299.147262525292598&type=1[/embed]



[embed]https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=613289692051124&set=a.114588455254586.5908.104266592953439&type=1[/embed]

ESPN.com Moves to Facebook Comments

Starting this past Thursday, ESPN.com comments are now done through Facebook comments / authentication.We had tested over the last several months on various ESPN properties like ESPNW, X Games, Grantland and ESPN's Major League Baseball section. The results were overwhelmingly positive and we are excited about the resulting quality of conversation and social connections made through ESPN + Facebook. With roughly a quarter-million comments each day, we are excited about this step forward and have more to come. Feel free to provide feedback.

"We want people to be candid -- actively engage in strong and thorough debate, but do it in a way without anonymity,” Patrick Stiegman, editor-in-chief of ESPN.com told Poynter. You can read Patrick's entire interview with Poynter here.

facebook comments

Facebook Premium: It's in the Product Experience

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, took to Medium this week to share some thoughts on Facebook: "Now that I use Facebook more regularly, I started having some ideas for the service—here’s one... They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too." First off, I like that he's doing this on Medium - a service / platform that I am really growing fond of... and a service / platform that encourages this kind of discussion from thinkers like Biz. (The other service I am enjoying: Branch, which enables discussion in a different, interesting way).

On Facebook Premium - it's the right idea, particularly for a service that so many users are so passionate about and dedicated to. At ESPN, we have a premium service called ESPN Insider that is sneaky-big itself and a combination of premium tools and content (ie Fantasy Football product enhancements and unique articles on recruiting, etc).

For me to pay a monthly subscription to Facebook - which I gladly would - I think it has to follow suit: it would have to be some specialized feature(s), enhancement(s), etc. My guess is that mobile and the mobile application are the biggest opportunities for those sorts of features.

And then there are single-use purchases as well: while Path is a much smaller community, my network has been gobbling up premium stickers ($1.99 each) to make conversation richer. And there are filters, etc. This is different than Facebook Gifts - which is really a one-to-one transaction rather than an enhancement that adds value to core product. Path's stickers, for example, have become mechanisms for comments / conversation... which of course has a viral loop.

The trouble with marking premium as ad-free is that it changes much of the Facebook experience. Sure there are ads that are not much different than traditional CPM advertising... but most are hybrids of advertising and social interactions. A couple questions arise including the central point that many of Facebook's units, while paid advertisements, are actually value-add to the consumer - for instance, the mobile application installer ('your friends are using xyz') is quite useful. What happens to the social and advertiser economy if certain friends pay to opt out? What happens to fans who want to follow brands onsite? Many brands are hybrids of paid and organic content, activity, etc. How does this effect Facebook's relationship with advertisers - whose network of users (and likely the most active, influential users) shrinks?

In short: if Facebook's ad strategy were solely traditional banners and units, it would be a far easier proposition to all (users, advertisers, etc). But the deep blending of advertising with social layers & interactions makes it far tougher. And that's a credit to Facebook because they are innovating on the ad experience. The premium opportunity better exists within premium features and products.

Path Stickers Facebook

Twitter Brings Mobile Notifications Front & Center

One of the great (maybe most under used?) Twitter features is mobile notifications. They are very valuable when used properly (ie following the right users) and overwhelming when used incorrectly (ie following too many people) - and Twitter recognizes this. Hence, Twitter is now recommending mobile notifications of recommended users on Twitter.com. Great in-the-river promotion that encourages cross device use (from web to mobile) and for users / content that they believe I will appreciate. mobile notifications