With the changes in digital consumption behaviors and the rise in social justice, how do marketers reach a younger audience while also bringing light to what needs addressed in this critical time? Join Eric SanInocencio, Associate Commissioner of Strategic Digital Media, as he discusses successful tactics used by the ACC and how the industry is addressing social justice in 2020.
Amy Teller: In terms of digital marketing, what have been one of the most successful strategies you have seen since the beginning of the pandemic?
Eric SanInocencio: What I've noticed specifically in the sports space is how much sports provides a calendar to our daily lives. We know during certain times of the year, whether it's March and March madness, or September and the return of football, we count on that as fans. We count on that as consumers to better inform what we're doing and what we're looking to follow and where our loyalties lie. Where we've really tried to focus on in terms of sports and at the ACC, is using that built-in schedule to create content that can still engage and feel familiar to fans when they didn't have sports. What we've tried to do is build out a specific content plan, the digital marketing strategies that were already tied in to customer behavior that they would be doing had sports still been being played at the time. I'll give you an example, we did a Best ACC Player bracket in terms of the best in our history—we've got plenty to choose, from Michael Jordan, to Grant Hill, to Tyler Hansbrough. We built that as a bracket during the normal time that it would have been March Madness. We thought about it as, what was the normal tendencies and behavior would have been had sports been going on? How can we use either our archives, the ability to create content on social, but also just to give fans that feeling of being connected?
Amy Teller: In your opinion, how are athletic organizations addressing the topic of social justice?
Eric SanInocencio: I'm glad we're able to spend some time on this, it's something very personal to me. Obviously with my long last name, I think most people can figure that out, I'm Hispanic. One thing that's really happened over the past six months is just the awareness and understanding of better integrating and better knowing what we're doing in this space. I know at the ACC specifically, we've created what we call the CORE Initiative, which is Champions of Racial Equity. I'm one of the officers on that committee. I am inspired by the fact that we are at the point where we can have this conversation. I'm 39 years old, and I think for most of my career, it wasn't something that you were told to bring up or felt comfortable bringing up. It was like politics, religion, you don't talk about those types of things. With everything that's happening in the world, the best thing that has come out of this is that we are talking.
Amy Teller: What strategies do you think have been most effective for navigating the issue of social justice?
Eric SanInocencio: It's not easy. I think you've got to have that discussion with your organization as to where you stand. Statements are one thing, but actions ultimately are going to be what everyone is judged on. You've got to marry those two concepts together, and it's okay if you don't have something really in-depth to provide at the beginning or to not participate. When it was the Blackout day on Instagram, and everybody's putting the square on Instagram in support of Black Lives Matter, we hadn't made a statement at the ACC. What is our statement? What are our next steps? What are our goals? How are we going to tackle this from an action item standpoint? We didn't participate because we didn't think it was the right move to make because we hadn't stated who we are and what we supported yet. I think sometimes people feel pressured to jump in. And in my opinion, again this is just me, not the ACC, or not the league as a whole, sometimes diving in without understanding what your larger strategy is or what you're trying to accomplish, to me, is the wrong move. Because in the end statements that are made, those are great. But the actions are really what determines. Customers expect more out of their brands now.
Amy Teller: Why do you feel it's so critical that these sports industry be a part of this narrative?
Eric SanInocencio: Because the sports industry in theory is supposed to be the one industry where everybody comes together, right? You think about you go to a Texans game, you go to a West Virginia game, you are sitting with people from all walks of life, from all political beliefs, from all walks of equality, we all come together during that two or three hours to watch a game. Sports has already played a big role in making society feel connected and feel as a part of a community. To me, it's a very logical step for these discussions to happen in this space because of that connection, because of who we are, because of what we ask of each other. It’s opened the door for the opportunity for us to continue discussions in this area, because there's such a great community aspect to it. And again, sometimes that's uncomfortable. Sometimes you're trying to separate what you feel you come to a sports stadium for, but in the end, these are larger discussions that I think most of us agree are positive to have.
Amy Teller: What advice would you give to an organization who is just beginning to address this topic of social justice?
Eric SanInocencio: I would huddle as a larger, either staff or senior staff, and really try to map out either a mission statement or some bullet points. What is important to us and what are we hoping to provide to this conversation? I think a rule in general, people always asked me, "Now how do I know when to jump in on a trend? Or how do I know when to respond to a comment on a social feed?" And for me, my philosophy is you jump in whenever you can provide value.
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