OMG just make the timeline chronological
Five social media platform tweaks that would benefit sports content admins...
Have you ever noticed the responses every time one of the major social media platforms announces a new feature?
Typically it's distressed resistance to change from core users coupled with "why can't you just [add an edit function]/ [make it chronological]/ [stop showing so many ads]" requests for good measure.
Three weeks later, everyone's assimilated the new feature into their usage and moved on with their lives.
But whilst (hardcore) consumers crave a return to chronological timelines, or that infamous edit button, what about the people who run social media channels for a living?
Let's say sports social media managers were given the chance to make changes to the major platforms. Based on Seven League's experience of working with some of the biggest sports teams, leagues, associations and athletes in world sports, here's what we think they'd ask for ...
Instagram: admin access for everything but DMs
At the athlete level, agents and agencies need full-blown password access just to access their clients' analytics. We've heard from multiple agencies that their biggest frustration is not being given this access and they tell us that the reason is simple: DMs.
DMs are private for everyone of course, but for athletes, Instagram is often characterised as the 'nice' social channel - it's where fans love you, at least compared to the more mixed response they regularly get on Twitter - and that 'love' regularly spills over into fairly candid Insta DMs. Whether encouraged or otherwise, you can't blame the athlete for wanting to lock that down.
An admin mode that granted everything except DM access would solve this at a stroke.
Instagram: feed expiry
Half time 😮😂!
Full time 🙁
The non-chronological feed is really not the friend of anyone trying to cover live events on Instagram*. But whereas Facebook allows expiry dates/ times to be set on posts to manage this, Instagram can still be delivering optimism to fans several days after if was cruelly dashed by 3 second-half goals from Wolves.
*To be fair, Insta Stories are are great for live events and don't suffer the same issue. But expiry times for feed posts would still be very welcome.
Twitter + Instagram: post-level geo-splits
YouTube is solidly excellent at analytics. At both the macro-account level and for per-video insights, no other social platform can touch it. You can learn that videos of Type A are best for adding subscribers in Territory B, while videos of Type X will generate the most comments amongst demographic Y.
Facebook can tell you where your video watch time and views have come from, and to an extent allow you to interrogate post geo-splits via facebook.com/analytics, if somewhat slowly and buggily.
Instagram and Twitter don't have any post-level geo-splits at all though, for organic activity. Twitter doesn't even have a valid measure for Reach ('impressions' are... not useful numbers).
Being interested in international splits is not unique to sports of course, but the top 100 football clubs in Europe (at least) are all looking east, west or both for growth, and the ability to parse out content performance by market is key for that - particularly if your branding partner has priority territories and they don't include Indonesia.
Everyone: Inbox management
Seven League work with some of the biggest sports organisations in the world, and it's fair to say none have a 100% handle on social community management, i.e. responding to a significant portion of DMs and @mentions. Even when you filter out the stuff that obviously doesn't merit (or even ask for) a response it's still a ton of correspondence, and sports orgs are not generally staffed up like utilities with big customer service teams.
But let's say you do want to have a proper go at it. Holy moly the native inbox functions across the board do not make that kind of CRM easy. Keeping track of what has or hasn't been responded to across a community team of any size is very manual, and a disincentive to getting involved.
Facebook are just starting to make inroads in this area with the Inbox function in their Creator Studio - this combines DMs to your page with comments on Facebook and Instagram posts, unifying the community review and response process.
YouTube: alternate audio tracks
If everything else on this list could be grouped under "things that only battle-weary social media managers would really care about", we'll finish on something that could be a great product feature for sports fans, as well as benefiting the engagement of the organisations.
It's possible for videos to have multiple audio tracks (e.g. language alternatives, director's commentary) and they've long been a feature of offline media (DVD, or offline desktop players like VLC).
The NBA offers alternate commentary versions for match content in its League Pass product, as every game has commentary from both the home and away TV stations. Alternate match clip commentary - from players, coaches, fans - can extend the life and engagement of a very bread-and-butter content format, but currently none of the social channel video players support it easily.
YouTube has the most feature-rich video player of any channel, so this feels more likely to come from them before any of the others.
Those are our top five - what would be your requests for the social media platforms? Let us know on Twitter (@7League) and we promise to read them all however difficult the inbox management might be. We're professionals at this, after all ...
This article first appeared on sportspromedia.com on February 7th 2019