Speed, excitement and power: Why can’t your content be as good as the sports it is talking about?

“Hang on… I have an idea…”

What happens next has changed recently. It used to be your newly formed idea would need to go over many hurdles to get to the finish line. Even with determination, one of these hurdles – be it brand guidelines, bad timing, player approval – could trip your idea up.

“If we had more time…” you mumble. You scrunch the post-it note into a ball, take aim and throw at the bin, only for it to roll around the rim and fall limply onto the floor. The final annoyance of an idea missed.

Social media has changed this. During a recent World Rugby Sevens tournament, James Fleming playing for Scotland made a great try-saving tackle. Posting a picture of this tackle would look good, posting video footage would be better, but adding an original idea to either could make it go even further.  The process for the idea went as below:

Client: “I have an idea”

Us: “What you got?”

Client: “Fleming plays for Scotland and has just made an epic tackle. Could we have him running over Scottish hills?”

Us: “Like this?”

Client: “Something like that”

Us: “On it”

This idea worked and scored very well on social.

It came about by knowing the market and players, trusting the creatives involved, and agreeing a flexible pre-tournament brief: Have an idea and make it. This streamlined process, with no layers of approval, meant we were able to get to market very quickly. Admittedly, trust has to be earned between yourself and your creative team, to make sure your are on the same page and the content reflects your brand and messaging, but it is probably the most important part to the process. Even if an idea doesn’t work out as planned, it’s social media, you will have another chance very shortly.

Just before the Super Bowl 51 final we were brainstorming with their social team.

Client: “I’ve always liked this picture…can you do something about him winning 5 rings?”

Us: “Sure, but we don’t know what the ring will look like, I said.”

Client: “We can guess from the others, what do you think? It will go huge if the Patriots win…”

Us: “Let’s give it a go”


Posted by NFL on Sunday, 5 February 2017


This has become one of the NFL’s biggest ever posts.

Original ideas are essential. The market is saturated with the same content and everyone has access to the same sources. Getty, AP Images, soundbites from PR-trained players. The result is content that is copied on nearly every comparable channel. If fans follow a few of accounts giving them sports news and all the sports news looks the same, they will start unfollowing the least creative. Even a post showing news of a goal can be made into something funny or beautiful.

Your social media strategy must use your ideas and your insight to win new fans. You can take the raw material and make something new. Something your fans or potential fans haven’t seen before. And once you have created something new, you need to do it again and again, because everyone else will be working just as hard to grab your fans’ attention.

The ideas don’t have to be part of a long campaign or tied to a particular theme. They have to be reactive and original. There a few patterns emerging about what successful ideas look like:

Quick– Quick reaction gets good traction

Beautiful– People may retweet to share news, but more people retweet to share how that news is told

Trending -Take advantage of trending subjects with clever cross-overs

Grand Slam Dunks

Some late entries into the NBA Slam Dunk Contest… ???? ???? Participants: Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Gael Monfils Tennis

Posted by Wimbledon on Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Personality– Giving your accounts stories and feeling

Trust– Be brave. We don’t have time to second guess an idea

With trust and a little creativity, your ideas can make your account stand out from the crowd.

Your ideas can help your content connect with fans. Just publishing photos and videos of the action can form a very formal relationship, it can create a distance between your fans and brand. Telling stories with human connection, adding humour to make fans smile or putting time into artwork, helps develops the relationship. Sport will always be giving you new stories. Having a trusted creative process means you can turn these new stories into the best original content.

About author

Mike Miles
Mike Miles 2 posts

Mike is the Founder and Director of Visually Speaking, a visualisation company based in London specialising in producing original and creative content. Follow him on Twitter @TheVisualVoice

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