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March Madness Has Lessons For Social Marketing

Sports teams, fans, and sports marketing pros have many lessons for social marketing. Just ask legendary sports broadcaster Butch Stearns.

Here’s a scenario that would appeal to any social network-aware chief marketing officer: intensely loyal fans, physical venues intermixed with digital and broadcast platforms, and employees and customers ready to tweet and post every detail about the company’s activities.

That scenario is played out year-round in the sports industry, but is especially intense in March. The college "March Madness" playoffs, the pre-season baseball games, and the increased tempo of pro basketball and hockey as the playoff contenders start to become apparent, all take place in March.

Butch Stearns is one of the best known Boston sports broadcasters and is well known to sports fans throughout the country. He has also been involved in developing social network-oriented companies and events. In this exclusive interview for The Brainyard, Information Week VP Eric Lundquist and Stearns delve into the lessons from sports marketing as they relate to social networking for technology executives.

As Stearns explains in the interview, sports has been involved in social networking since the first fan bought a ticket or yelled at an umpire over a disputed call. Sports has defined events with a final score, which lend themselves to marketers doing their best not to just fill the stands but also make sure the social network discussions continue long after season’s end.

The advent of Twitter and Facebook has added an entirely new dimension to sports marketing, as players work to build their brands and tell their own stories rather than have these filtered through the corporate public relations offices.

Stearns looks at not only the "good news" stories but also what happens when a team gets caught in a scandal, or a player decides to make a social event over the decision to bring his talents elsewhere.

In this interview, Stearns also relates his learnings from interviews with the sports executives in charge of social network activities for their teams. The use of social networks to maintain a year round dialog with fans and potential fans has strong implications for technology executives looking to use their social networks to build customer support networks.

Check out the video interview with Stearns, below.

social business, social marketing, social media, Tech Marketing Smarts Blog