Yesterday, ESPN sent a memo to all employees telling them not to tweet or participate in social about sports without permission, as ESPN is building a system to push content simultaneously to both Facebook and Twitter. I understand ESPN's desire for quality control and respect ninety percent of this policy. But the message not to participate as an individual on your own, was the wrong one (this post focuses on value to ESPN, I know there is a moral argument for work/life rights, I'm not addressing it here). This was the strategic wrong move for two reasons.
A) Their employees are having conversations and not pushing messages. Unless ESPN's system powers conversations, they are talking apples and oranges. ESPN needs to build a system or policies and guidelines, not walls. Use your employee influence. Let them build it, then SELL IT!
B) ESPN is a network. In social, ESPN's influencers have far more value as conversational influencers than as traditional content sources.
There are three components common to all social influencers that drive attention and engagement:
- Destination (their earned audience on a given platform)
While I am sure that @ESPN feeds on Twitter could draw a large audience,this audience wouldn't be as intimate or meaningful as that of a conversational influencer. As an advertiser, I would want to buy into BOTH @ESPN's push message stream and an influencer engagement.
So listen up ESPN. Sports fans love your tickers and streams, but they also have a close connection with your on-air and in-print personalities. Use them wisely.
(If you work with ESPN and would like to discuss how to build a cooperative strategy with your employees, please feel free to email me. My address is in the sidebar on the right.)