CP3 on NBA.com and NBA TV

Posted by Octagon Digital on March 6, 2009 – 11:05 am

Quick post about the new Chris Paul video series (called “On Point with Chris Paul“) that premiered last week on NBA.com.

There is no doubt that CP3 is one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, both on and off the court.  To help fans understand what life is like for an NBA superstar, NBA.com is distributing behind the scenes videos of Chris on NBA.com, with added promotion for the series running on NBA TV and TNT’s NBA broadcasts.  3 videos have been distributed so far (2 from All-Star weekend and one from CP3’s charity bowling event), and they really do give a cool glimpse into Chris’ life.

The videos also highlight a growing trend of athletes using large portals and distribution channels to connect with their fans, instead of relying on the athlete’s personal website.  There is no doubt that it makes sense for athletes to have a personal digital presence (although I tend to favor Facebook fan pages over personal websites - check out this one from Michael Phelps), but at the end of the day, the vast majority of athletes simply do not generate enough content to keep fans coming back to their personal sites on a regular basis (after all, they have the business of being a professional athlete on which to focus).  By utilizing established distribution channels, however, an athlete can tap into the channel’s existing user base and reach a much larger fan base.  And, for the NBA.com’s of the world, they get great content that helps make their site that much more compelling.

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Posted in Athletes, Octagon Digital | 103 Comments »

Twackle Now a Human Powered Recommendation Engine (and The Business of Sports is making us famous!)

Posted by Octagon Digital on March 6, 2009 – 10:44 am

The fact that the last post on the Octagon Digital Media blog occurred in early February is proof of one thing - launching a new website and blogging regularly do not mix well.  But, we have to take at least a couple minutes to highlight some recent Twackle developments.

First, late last week we pushed out a new feature for Twackle that we think is really cool - a Top Links module for every Twackle feed.  As mentioned on this blog previously, Twackle aggregates the latest sports tweets on Twitter into one spot, and then divides these tweets into different feeds for leagues (e.g., NFL, NBA), teams, players, and sporting events.

The new Top Links module extracts and ranks the top URLs for each feed over a 24 hour period (based on how many times a URL shows up in that Twackle feed), and surfaces these URLs in the Top Links module to the right of every Twackle feed.  Basically, the URLs surfaced are those the community on Twitter and Twackle think are the most relevant - i.e., human powered recommendation!  The exciting part is that users on Twitter and Twackle already are using the services to distribute URLs, allowing the Twackle Top Links module to work without having to ask users to take another step (e.g., “Favorite” a link).  Hopefully, others agree with us that this is a cool new piece of functionality.

Second, I gave my first podcast interview earlier this week with Russell Scibetti from The Business Of Sports blog.  We focused primarily on social media as it applies to sports, especially the use of Twitter and its adoption by professional sports leagues, teams, and players - Go Shaq!).  And, of course, Russell let me dive into Twackle a bit.  Russell really does a great job on his blog covering a wide range of sports/business issues, and is a good addition to your blogroll.

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Posted in Octagon Digital, Technology, Twackle | 4 Comments »

It’s Alive!

Posted by Octagon Digital on February 4, 2009 – 5:19 pm

At the very end of 2008 we launched Twackle.com, which at the time aggregated all the latest sports tweets on Twitter into one spot, divided into different feeds for leagues (e.g., NFL, NBA), teams, players, and sporting events.  While pretty cool, the site lacked full Twitter integration, and was essentially unidirectional.  We knew at the time that without those pieces, Twackle did not have a ton of utility, but we decided to stand it up quickly anyway to get more experience as we moved towards launching Twackle in the form we initially envisioned.

Well, that launch finally came today (only a couple days late), and we are totally psyched about the results.  The new and (greatly) improved Twackle still organizes sports tweets into easy to navigate feeds, but now with a deeper Twitter integration.  What this means for the user is that they can log into Twackle using their Twitter credentials, add messages to any feed or respond to tweets displayed right from Twackle, and send messages to Twackle.com from Twitter by putting “#Twackle” anywhere in a tweet.   There also is now a myTwackle section, where users can organize their favorite feeds and follow individual Twitter/Twackle users, and we refreshed the UI.

I hope everyone checks it out at Twackle.com, and please make sure to send us any comments, bugs, etc.  Finally, keep an eye out for the features that we hope to roll out over the coming weeks.

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Posted in Octagon Digital | 4 Comments »

The End of Athlete Blogs? (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by Octagon Digital on January 21, 2009 – 2:52 pm

In our last post we discussed whether athlete blogs really were worth the effort, given an athlete’s demanding schedule and the competition from pro or semi-pro bloggers to build an audience.  The answer, we decided, was “It depends.”  For some athletes, like Gilbert Arenas, it makes sense (please start posting more Gilbert!), but for most others, blogs are just not worth it.  This does not mean athletes should not try to develop an online presence.  Given that online platforms provide athletes a chance to control their message to the fans, and provide an online marketing and PR channel, today’s athletes must look at their online options beyond blogging.  One option that athletes are starting to embrace is Twitter.

By now, it is well-known that Shaq is on Twitter, and sending out some classic tweets.  (One of our favorites: “Its co sold in porltand i catn even tpye straight”).  But other athletes are getting in on the act now too!  Golfer Natalie Gulbis, New Jersey Devils player Patrik Elias, and Lance Armstrong are all on Twitter.  Even Britney Spears (granted, not an athlete, but more famous than all athletes except a few) created a Twitter account.

It is easy to see why athletes would use Twitter instead of blogging.  It’s faster, easier, and cheaper (i.e., the same reasons everyone else is starting to use it).  For sports fans, Twitter is a godsend.  Freed from the burden of drafting a longer blog post while in front of a computer, athletes can now shoot from the hip, telling their real feelings about a topic as it pops into their head.  Even better, because all an athlete needs is a cell phone, athlete tweets provide an immediacy and intimacy that blogs (even those written by pro bloggers) cannot match.

For example, imagine your favorite player tweaks an ankle and is carted off the field.  Would you rather read a blog post the next day about his or her status, or have that athlete send a Twitter message from inside the locker room (“Don’t worry, the ankle is going to be OK!”).

I’d say Twitter wins over blogs, and it’s not even close!

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Posted in Athletes, Blogs | 11 Comments »

The End of Athlete Blogs? (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by Octagon Digital on January 16, 2009 – 5:41 pm

An interesting thing happened over the last several years as blogging went mainstream – athletes decided that having a website was not enough, they needed a blog too.   Name an athlete with any bit of name recognition, and chances are they have a blog.

In theory, this made sense.  What better way to connect with fans than through a blogging platform?  And, it would give athletes a chance to control their message more than they could by speaking to the press, while developing an online marketing and PR channel.

In practice, though, an athlete-written blog is an incredibly tough to actually pull off.  First, being a professional athlete is often (especially during the season) all consuming.  Given the choice between resting for 20 minutes or hammering out the beginning to a blog post on that day’s game, most athletes will (rightfully) choose rest.  If an athlete posts 1 time per week, they are doing a great job.  Meanwhile, for many bloggers, blogging is their job (or at least what they do while at their actual workplace).  They are posting 3, 4, 5, times a day, and probably live blogging during the game as it unfolds.  Not surprising, then, that athletes have trouble building an audience that returns on a consistent basis.

Ah, but the athlete has information that bloggers do not, you say, and that gives the athlete an advantage.  True, but how often does an athlete really give away a nugget that’s not already being reported on ESPN.com, SI.com, etc. (especially considering the lag until an athlete gets a chance to blog).  And, while some athletes have amazingly entertaining blogs because they are willing to say just about anything (I’m looking at you Gilbert Arenas and Chris Cooley), most athletes are (again, rightfully) not as willing to be so controversial or brash.

So at the end of the day, does it even make sense for athletes to have blogs?  Arenas and Cooley have shown that for some athletes, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes.”  For others, though, given the time constraints caused by their day job as a professional athlete and the competition they face from pro bloggers, athlete blogging may not be worth the time and effort.   But, just because blogging is not the way to go, that does not mean athletes should abandon developing an online presence.  They just need to be smarter about it, which we’ll go into in the next post.

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Posted in Athletes, Blogs | 7,504 Comments »

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