The business of sports marketing, branding and sponsorship is changing, offering opportunities for athletes to activate their fan base–and perhaps become a brand name themselves.
Sqor Sports is a free social media and editorial platform revolving exclusively around sports, athletes and fans. With more than 1,500 professional athletes who have joined TeamSqor, the network is dedicated to building digital tools that help athletes manage, grow and monetize their digital brands in just about every sport imaginable (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, MMA, skiing, tennis, sailing and more).
Sqor Sports CEO Brian Wilhite and CTO Noah Gift spoke with me about how their company leverages both data on and off the field. This installment of my Data Innovators in Sports and Entertainment series includes the use of social and further engaging the athlete/fan relationship.
Kaan Turnali: How was the Sqor, Inc. idea born?
Brian Wilhite: When I looked at the sports editorial ecosystem, what I thought was missing was a product that was dedicated to the athlete and specifically the relationship between the athlete and the fan. Most of how sports, as a product, had been delivered to consumers was around the team, the league and/or the game. There was a discrepancy between sports delivery and a digital solution for the athlete. We’ve built a social network dedicated exclusively to sports, but more specifically to the athlete/fan relationship.
The Virtual Fan Network’s (VFN) was created in 2011 as a turnkey technology platform connecting fans, athletes and brands in a rich, compelling, and engaging manner. The VFN consisted of syndicated rich media Virtual Fan Cards which delivered the best digital experience between the fan and the athletes that existed at the time. VFN was re-branded as Sqor Sports in April 2013, and in April 2014 the company introduced the social and editorial content platform that exists today.
At Sqor, Inc., we love and admire athletes as much as their biggest fans. Sqor.com and the apps enable fans to quickly find all of the top news on and social media from one’s favorite athletes, all in one place. Sqor Sports takes the all traditional sports media channels (such as ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sporting News, Associated Press and social media channels (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) and combines them to create a “one-stop shop.” Athlete/fan engagement on Sqor Sports has been tremendous versus other social media channels.
KT: How does Sqor Sports leverage data? And how does the technology work?
Noah Gift: We live in a world where data is everywhere, and sports are no exception. Sqor Sports is built on athletes and we have a massive amount of stats on athletes per season and throughout their careers. In addition to on-field performance, we also collect data on how athletes perform off the field in social media. Sqor Sports creates an opportunity for brands to participate in the relationship between fans and their sports heroes in a meaningful and fun way. With its turnkey multi-platform network, Sqor Sports provides a rich and engaging experience for the fans wherever they are.
Here is a perfect example of what we do with athletes, fans and customers.
- Content: Sqor Sports works together with a brand to develop unique video content through the voice of the athlete, as well as social media posts featuring the athlete that are aligned with the brand’s message. Rich daily infographics and videos will provide fans (consumers) with inside footage and perspective into the athletes and their life.
- Engagement: Fans do not want an athlete simply pushing a branded video at them; they want to be able to engage with the athlete and the interesting content they create, branded or not. Sqor, Inc. delivers a social platform for fans to follow their favorite athletes while providing in-depth, robust statistics and editorial content at the athlete level. The athlete may post their experiences about a brand reflecting the brands tagline. What the athlete says might surprise the fans, as they may speak about their family values, physical and mental training, overcoming obstacles, and personal inspiration(s).
- Distribution: Sqor, Inc. takes a different approach to content distribution, and therefore focuses on the preferences of the consumer/fan, such as team and player affinity, regardless of where the consumer is geographically. In addition to the Sqor Sports platform’s reach, Sqor, Inc. also leverages other social channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), athlete channels and brand owned assets to deliver content to the fans.
- Measurement (ROI): Sqor Sports platform provides analytics and business intelligence that allows the athlete to quantify their off-the-field value and digital marketing impact when creating brand partnerships. Additionally, these analytics provide marketers with a unique perspective on which athletes to activate for a campaign, and which athletes will provide the greatest return on their investment.
KT: What are some of the projects that you are working on?
Brian Wilhite: Our Android app launched at the end of August 2014. It’s exciting to expand our athletes’ mobile followers with the addition of this app. Showdowns brings gamification to future sporting events and allows users to challenge their friends and athletes to earn bragging rights and virtual goods which may later be redeemed for autographed memorabilia from their favorite athletes.
Athlete Crowdfunding will be launched on the Sqor, Inc. platform very soon. TeamSqor athletes will be able to utilize the feature on their profile pages to raise funds to assist with financing their athletic careers and/or to support their philanthropic cause(s).
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Data Innovators in Sports and Entertainment series.
Data Innovators in Sports and Entertainment Series: