Any time you try something new, there will be rewards and challenges. But, trying something new in social media centered around the NFL Draft? Well, that almost seems crazy!
Crazy, or perhaps, crazily innovative.
Last month, I told you about multiple Google+ Hangouts On Air that would be centered around the NFL Draft. These weren’t your ordinary media-based Hangouts. These were ones with recently selected NFL Draft picks.
At the time, I was extremely intrigued. I am a believer in Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA). Their potential in the sports space, especially for athletes, is huge. I host my own HOA shows and have seen how it takes social media connecting to the next level. It’s one thing to communicate in words on Facebook and Twitter or pictures and video on Instagram or Vine. It’s another thing to do so face-to-face, albeit via video.
I did, however, wonder how it would work as a live-event showcase.
Final result? Well, you decide.
The logistics of trying to hold HOAs around a live-event were enormous. Technology requirements are one thing. But, imagine trying to host a press-conference via video immediately after a player was selected. Challenging.
My perspective on the challenges faced:
- Start time: The nature of the draft dictated start times. Some players who didn’t get drafted that were scheduled to have a Hangout On Air, did not get the opportunity to do so.
- Connectivity issues: Bandwidth issues can be a problem with HOAs. Poor bandwidth can cause grainy/pixelated video which can be a turn-off for viewers.
- Distribution: I did my best to promote the HOAs, but I’m not on the level of a Sports Illustrated, SB Nation or Bleacher Report. Although many national media were advised ahead of time about the HOAs, few took advantage of the opportunity to join in. They missed out on the chance to connect with these players who could very well be future stars. Was it a disconnect by the media or something on Google’s side? I cannot answer that question.
Despite the issues faced, Google was pleased with the overall results. Google’s Sports Partnership Manager, Max Goldstein, said, “It was exciting. We’ve never seen that much first person perspective around a major sporting event before.”
Although several players did not get drafted or weren’t drafted where they were expected to, Google still made it possible for some of them to have their Hangout.
I asked Goldstein what feedback Google received from the NFLPA, their partner in this venture. According to Goldstein, the NFLPA was pleased. “They loved it. The players loved it. They love talking to people. Guys want to do Hangouts. We’ll see how it translates going into the season. They see the value in it.”
What’s next? Goldstein said there are sports opportunities on the horizon that Google may be looking at getting involved in. What Google did with the #MyDraftDay Hangouts was “a step in the right direction”, according to Goldstein.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: First, let me say, I applaud Google and the NFLPA for their efforts. Make no mistake. This wasn’t Google’s first venture with HOAs in sports. There are people in the sports-social media space who haven’t fully grasped what Google is doing on G+ in sports. For them, it’s all Twitter, all of the time. They think it’s something new for Google. But, it’s not. HOAs of this magnitude, however, that’s different.
This was a learning experience for Google and its social media platform Google+. Media distribution, key sporting events and technology will be vital to helping these grow. But, I think the biggest key will be buy-in from athletes and their representatives.
Will it be a certain athlete to bring HOAs more into the mainstream? Perhaps. The opportunities are there for HOAs in sports. Whether it’s a weekly show like mine or a special event, I can see athletes taking advantage of this new way to connect with fans. The savvy ones will also see the potential for monetization, depending on how Google’s Shoppable Hangouts beta-testing pans out.
I get the feeling this isn’t the last time we’ll see HOAs centered around a sporting event. If players loved it like Goldstein said, they and their representatives may be willing to give it a shot more than others in the sports space. Google+ is growing. With efforts like this in the sports space, Google could be leading us into a very different future in sports and social media. I’m looking forward to the future of Hangouts On Air in the sports space.
You know I’ll be there to cover it.
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