Pro sports teams are pouring resources into content. Major brands are dedicating ad dollars. Media outlets are launching daily programs. What started as “an app for the kids” is making major waves in sports technology. Don’t have a strategy for one of the fastest growing social media platforms? You better snap to it.
The advent of Snapchat’s My Story has opened up a new channel for widespread user engagement, and a fascinating loophole around televised programming. Users can create an unlimited series of 1-10 second video clips that play consecutively—summarizing a day, telling a tale, or forming a seamless performance. Four cutting-edge sports media brands are turning My Story into the microcosm of a morning sports show. And by exploiting Snapchat’s built-in communication platform, these brands are personalizing content and interacting with users on a whole new scale.
1. Chat Sports
The closest cousin to a SportsCenter experience, Chat Sports’ Snapchat morning show Quick Hitters relies heavily on top headlines and breaking stories. Chat Sports is the newest of these brands to adopt consistent programming on the platform, debuting Quick Hitters in late July. But their viewership has grown at a feverish pace—over 10x in less than a month “on air.”
“Modern fans are on-the-go. They can’t be tied to SportsCenter’s slow-moving queue,” Director of Brand Marketing Suzi Alvarez comments, who serves as host on Quick Hitters. “I’m excited about the movement we are creating—toward fresh, fun news that gets right to the point.”
Chat Sports’ approach isn’t just an innovative hack for televised programming. Opinion polls generate user engagement and creativity. A recent vote on the NFL MVP yielded everything from video snaps from the tailgate lot at Lambeau Field to a Russell Wilson-themed wine tasting party. Viewers can also weigh in simply by screenshot-ing the image of their vote, shown on the Chat Sports My Story dashboard. “We continually find ways to lower barriers to participation,” Alvarez explains. “So that as our audience grows in size, it also grows in loyalty.”
Follow Chat Sports on Snapchat at @chatsports
2. USA Today
Space Jam spoofs and office polls: USA Today is taking off its “hard news” hat and playing along with Snapchat’s silly side much to their follower’s amusement. The shift in tone reflects their overarching goal for the platform, according to Social Media Editor Tanya Sichynsky. USA Today is pursuing an audience that isn’t regularly turning to its print or even digital product for news. Unlike platforms that simply further engage an already active demographic, Snapchat’s value skyrockets as a tool to gain an entirely new contingent of USA Today devotees.
Sichynsky also points to the active nature of Snapchat’s user experience. “Content you’re creating is all the more valuable because the user cares enough to sit through it,” she argues. Viewers are required not only to follow an account, but also to select that specific story from a large list. If they want to save valuable information or funny visuals for later (as they often do), they must screenshot in a matter of seconds.
The casual office antics seem to be working for this media brand. Calling their approach “unfiltered” and “unedited,” USA Today reveals that follower numbers “spiked” due to newsroom polls and coworker trivia games.
Follow USA Today on Snapchat at @usatodaysports
3. SB Nation
If the Snapchat version of USA Today is silly, then SBNation is outright absurd. The pencil-scribbled intro slide sets the tone right away for class clown-style humor and pranks. Host of Sports Morning Rodger Sherman’s voiceovers and doodles focus more on comedy than sports news, but viewers still laugh their way through most major headlines.
SBNation uses Twitter as a primary acquisition and engagement tool, promoting Sports Morning across accounts. Competitor Chat Sports’ Quick Hitters takes a similar approach. Host Sherman is also extremely active on social media, boosting both his own and the show’s brand through his personal twitter account.
Although SBNation declined to comment on their Snapchat strategy, we hope Sports Morning’s hilarity continues to reign.
Follow SBNation on Snapchat at @sbnationsnaps
Consistency and content breadth define our last company’s approach. SportsManias posts the longest stories of the bunch, and more frequently. Using more direct-to-camera narration than other outlets, show host and Director of Social Media Alex Perrault aims for a truly personal experience. “I try to make our SnapChat stories feel like a 1 on 1 experience, where the viewer feels like I’m talking directly to them.”
Perrault attributes the growth of SportsManias’ following to “word-of-mouth sharing,” a surprising acquisition method for a digital platform limited to mobile devices. As for the future of Snapchat as a platform, Perrault believes that there are already a host of replacements to traditional television programming. Snapchat is a new competitor to these existing TV replacements. “[It] could evolve even more in the next few years, into an alternative to YouTube, Facebook, and maybe even Netflix.”
Follow SportsManias on Snapchat at @sportsmanias
All four of these sports media brands have cornered the market on quick, consumable news, often served with a heaping side of comedy. They are tapping into younger demographics, writing a new handbook on viewer acquisition, and potentially usurping the power of traditional television programming. If SportsManias’ Perrault’s assertion is true—that Snapchat could involve into the winning alternative to Youtube, Facebook, and Netflix—the resources brands spend now will be well worth it.