Building Social Influence With Sports Fans
In this interview, I talk with JR from JRSportBrief.com. JR discusses how he got started in social media and has very quickly made a name for himself in the online sports communication world. JR has built a large fan base in his niche (Sports) by creating engaging content on YouTube where fan feedback is encouraged. (Just check out one of his recent videos titled “Top 6 Hated Athletes in Sports“. The video was uploaded only a few days ago and already has close to 500 comments!).
Big brands are starting to take notice of online influencers like JR and, I’m sure it won’t be long before we see a big brand attaching themselves with JR’s brand. His combination of storytelling and humor makes his videos entertaining, thought provoking and leaves his audience wanting more! Make sure to check him out online after watching the interview below.
A workaholic, JR has turned a love for sports and the internet into a full time obsession. JR has developed a successful online sports brand of his own and has mastered the art of online distribution. Starting out in marketing and events at VIBE Magazine at the age of 17, JR is now a full fledged online marketing geek and guru.
Since leaving VIBE and attending Baruch Colleges Zicklin School of Business he’s built out online sex and relationship show Man and Wife and watched it become the first podcast to go directly from the web to MTV. He has developed online strategy for for many others including Legendary music icon DJ Grandmaster Flash, Madison Square Garden working on in game entertainment and his own online sports show JRSportBrief.
In his spare time JR enjoys talking online strategy with independent musicians, traveling, attending sporting events worldwide and watching BBC News.
Social Media Interview
1. How did you get involved in the social media world?
I was initially a producer on a show called http://www.manandwife.tv/, a sex and relationship show, with FatMan Scoop and his wife Shanda. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3whwEIAPL14). We built it up being interactive. They sat in their own bed in their own house and took sex & relationship questions via email, voicemail, video submissions and we ended up turning that into a TV show on MTV.
One day, I was in a meeting for Man & Wife to discuss some new distribution channels for the show and I was in the meeting with a gentleman by the name of Fred Cyber (Co-founder – NextNewNetworks.com) who was looking for new online content. That day in the meeting, I just so happened to have on New York mets gear. He was looking for new sports content and he suggested to me that I start a sports show and see how it goes.
Now, I’m a producer….more of a “behind the camera” type guy. And, you know, I went and made a video blog about Gary Sheffield needing to retire (last March 2009) and next thing you know, 500 people watched it and I just took it and ran from there.
Trevor: You clearly have a passion for the sports world and have utilized these platforms to essentially create your own media and it’s kind of exploded from there. You started your YouTube channel back in March 2009 and currently have almost 25,000 subscribers and 2.6M views on your videos which is really amazing.
Ya, at the rate I’m going, maybe before July is up, I may be hitting that 3M mark. I really think I carved a niche for myself in regards to sports communications via video online. People always used to use message boards. And, when people go online to look for sports, it’s generally highlights they are looking for. And, I think I filled a niche, and I wasn’t necessarily the first person to do this. But, I filled a niche in the format of how I did it in regards to fans being able to interact with each other around sports online. So, it’s been great!
2. How do you approach mixing your personal and business brands with regards to branding your online social accounts?
For me it’s all one. I’m JR. There is not a lot of personal and business separation. I can measure the two, you know, when I go out to eat with my girlfriend, there are times when my Blackberry will be going off. People will be asking me about Lebron James per say. Facebook and Twitter will be going off, it’s a balance. But, I find it all mixes, because there really isn’t that much of a separation between who I am as a person and JRSportBrief as a brand.
Trevor: Ya, I hear that a lot from people that I interview that you really need to put a personality behind your social media efforts because that’s what people are engaging with. They are not engaging with a logo, they are engaging with a real person. In your case, your brand is yourself so it really works together that way.
There really isn’t any separation between what people see about me on camera and what happens when I turn the camera off. I’m generally the same around the clock. I’ve even picked up on comments that people have said like “Are you sarcastic all the time?”. I have to chuckle to myself when I hear that. These people that follow me really know me pretty well.
3. Which social tools do you focus on to distribute your content and create engagement?
I can find a happy medium using Facebook. I can find a happy medium via Twitter. Whenever I turn my Skype on, regardless of whether or not I am away, there’s a million messages popping up with people trying to talk to me. I have so many people trying to reach out that I try to find a balance in between each one.
I mean, there’s times at the end of the day, I work from 6am – 10pm, and generally in the morning and late in the day I try to answer emails, comment on things people have said on Facebook, get back to everyone on Twitter.
I try to find a happy medium, but I can get back to the most people personally at the same time via Facebook.
Trevor: I think you bring a good point up there as that’s one of the biggest challenges I find when I get questions from other people. They want to know how they can do everything as there are only so many hours in a day and if you want to be engaging and care about getting back to everyone, you really need to pick which platforms you are going to focus on (where your audience is) and focus on that platform.
It’s difficult because people know me and yes, I have the Blackberry. It can be difficult because I have so many people hitting me up. Everybody wants a follow up to what they are initially asking. I try to get back to everybody. Certain people that know I have a Blackberry and use Blackberry Messenger, such as family and close friends. But, I have people from clear across the world that ask me to share my BBM pin and I have to tell them to email me and I’ll answer them just as fast. So, there is a happy medium that I find with everything whether it be email, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
4. What resources (online & offline) do you use to keep up with trends in social media?
I’m a fan of Mashable and I’ll generally go there in regards to advertising and to see how these new applications fit in with people and how it applies to the business world. And, every once in a while, I’ll swing by Engadget.com. But, those are the two main ones for me.
5. What is your “WOW” moment as it relates to social media?
There really isn’t one “WOW” moment for me. Every day that I can get up and say “WOW”, this is a cool ass job, that’s a “WOW” moment in itself. I’ve been stopped in Rockefeller Center, here in NYC. I think I told you, someone recognized me in the gym. I get emails from people from as far away as Hong Kong. Every message that I get, every fan that emails me, any person that requests any part of my time, those are all “WOW” moments for me. I can’t necessarily rate one over the other, after that Gary Sheffield video gathered 500 views in a few hours, and being somebody that didn’t have anything on their account prior to that, I just thought that this is pretty cool! Every day is a “WOW” moment, right now is a “WOW” moment talking to you Trevor.
Trevor: I agree, it is always cool to see how you can easily connect with new people everyday. There are multiple “WOW” moments every time you flip the computer open and start interacting.
Ya, the first time I turned on Skype, there was a guy that I spend a few minutes speaking to and two seconds later he said “Oh my god, I spoke to JR” and I was like, “Oh my god, I spoke to you”. Every day is a “WOW” moment, I don’t take anything for granted.
6. What kind of advice would you give to any other individual or business that is thinking about getting involved in social media?
You have to find that central location. I’m centrally located on YouTube. I’m also on iTunes. And, I use the other mediums on Facebook, Twitter, Skype and email to keep in touch. So, I think what you need to do is find that one central location to communicate with your fans to start things off. I think once you have that, you can brand out a little bit.
At the same time, you have to know what you are talking about. You have to have a subject, a topic, you have to be direct. If you look at my earlier videos as compared to what they are like now, everything is much more direct.
It’s really not that difficult, you find a topic or subject, establish a primary place to communicate on and go from there.
Trevor: So, find a niche, something that you enjoy talking about and are passionate about is a good place to start. I know it’s a lot easier to get up and talk about something love than it is to get up and do a job that you hate.
Ya, for instance, I love politics. I get up in the morning and I will watch CSPAN just to hear people on the phone arguing with each other. But, if it was time for me to sit here and talk to you guys about politics, I mean, I’m not going to make a fool of myself. No more than I’m not going to argue with my Mom about her cooking recipes, you know, it doesn’t work.
Connect with JRSportBrief
Current Occupation: Sports Video Blogger
Skype Name: JRSportBrief
Personal Website/Blog: http://jrsportbrief.com/
Facebook (Personal): http://www.Facebook.com/JRSportBrief
Facebook (Group): http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=105788112792252&ref=ts
Facebook (Fan Page): http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/JRSportBrief/129393440408622?ref=ts
Twitter (Personal): http://www.Twitter.com/JRSportBrief
YouTube (Personal): http://www.Youtube.com/JRSportBrief