2013 SSM Digest

Kobe Bryant and Maria Sharapova.

No, they’re not a new sports power-couple. Bryant and Sharapova were the subjects in my very first SSM Digest back in January. I started the SSM Digest to track the hottest topics in the social media-sports (#SMsports) world. Nobody that I knew of was doing anything of the sort. I set out to catalogue the latest happenings in #SMsports each month.

It all started with Kobe and Maria.

Note: Each month listed below is a hyperlink to that month’s SSM Digest

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January 2013

I said back then:

Time will tell if this proves to be a winning strategy for either Sharapova or Bryant.  I am, by no means, not one who focuses solely on Twitter followers. The fact that you can “buy followers” proves that those numbers can be skewed. Add in the fact that there are people who follow others just to “gain followers” (think people with relatively equal numbers of followers and following), numbers can be deceiving. But the way Bryant has used Twitter to engage, proves that he’s well on his way to “getting it”.

That first tweet from Bryant has been retweeted over 50 thousand times. Sharapova’s, 2600+ times. Again, I’m not one to focus just on one’s Twitter follower numbers, but Kobe has 3.9 million followers compared to Maria’s over 700 thousand. Both have only tweeted in the 600 range for number of tweets sent. Sharapova follows 40 people while Kobe at least follows 852.

Safe to say that the Black Mamba gets the edge over Sugarpova.

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February 2013

February was a very interesting month for me. I decided to do something that to my knowledge had not been done before. I “watched” the Super Bowl through Twitter. No television. No radio. Just Twitter.

Seriously. As much as Twitter had become embedded in the sports lexicon by early 2013, I figured it could be done. I wanted to see how well I could follow a game just through Twitter. Every play. Every questionable call. Blackout. GIFs. Replays. Varying perspectives. I got it through Twitter alone. My little Twitter experiment can be read here.

I said back then:

I am able to see conversations transpiring across a wide range of mediums. I try to be in tune to all sports on Twitter. It helps me to get a vibe for how people are viewing their sport, or, in the case of a sporting event like the Super Bowl, how they perceive it. Thus, it provided all the insight I needed to know as to how the game played out.

While the Super Bowl was the biggest story, we also had National Signing Day drama,

Danica Patrick leading a lap at Daytona, death of Dr. Jerry Buss, Richard Sherman-Darrelle Revis war of words plus a multitude of other sporting events including college basketball that I could not mention. Most memorable? This terrifying crash at a Nationwide race.

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March 2013

Sports had a case of the madness. March Madness, that is.

I said back then:

Many think of madness as simply the NCAA tournament. But it is so much more than that. Teams vying for conference titles down the stretch of the regular season generated some great games like the Michigan-Indiana game on March 10th. Or perhaps it was the surprising #1 ranking for Gonzaga.

Before we get to the madness, a word from Phil

Ha! A Zen language we don’t know about? *Sigh, no.* It was funny at first but it was simply for “promotion”.

March also brought us a posterization (Brandon Knight), Tiger-Vonn coupling, #RandomActsOfOpeningDay, sports reacting to a new Pope and a potential hoops scandal too. But we all know what March was really about this year, right?

DUNK CITY!!!!!!!!!!

Aww, yeah! Dunk City babyyyyy! Florida Gulf Coast took the NCAA tournament by storm with upsets and dunks and just playground style basketball. Not everyone liked their show, but it sure made for a fun Cinderella run.

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April 2013

Scandals, the Final Four, Kobe Bryant injury, Jason Collins coming out, NFL draft. All transpired during April. Only one stood out to me:

I said back then:

Social media, particularly Twitter, was the go-to resource for news. This is both a good and bad thing. The vast amount of information provided an exorbitant amount of factual news as well as rumors, instantly. Access to the Boston police scanners on the internet, to a certain extent, made matters worse for law enforcement.

Upon reflection, many tweets and posts showed how people felt about the tragedy and its aftermath. Contrast what transpired in the social media realm with the event itself. We wanted instant knowledge, instant justice. Instant, instant, instant.

But the event itself is not about instant. Pardon the cliché, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about endurance. It’s about venturing forward when everything within tells you not to.

Marathon. Endurance. Forward.

Viewed over 2.5 million times:

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May 2013

Gotta get to the playoffs. That’s what the NBA and NHL did in May. On the ice, do you remember this hit (viewed over 2 million times)?

Off the court, the Oklahoma City Thunder and others came through when their fans needed them most

In David Stern’s court: Seattle-Sacramento. Sacramento-Seattle. Who would get to call the Kings their own?

I said then:

For as much flux as the Kings were in under the Maloof ownership for the last few years, it seemed inevitable that with David Stern as commissioner, the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen had no chance of completing the purchase of the Sacramento franchise.

On the court? Well, close to the court at least.

Sure the games were entertaining. The NBA and its teams stepped up their social media game, led by the Golden State Warriors. Horse racing and Brad Keselowski made news. Super Bowl L too.

Ahh, yes. The biggest worldwide news of all? The pitch:

Do you remember this sports moment from May?

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June 2013

I said then:

Did anyone ever tell you that June is the best month of the year?

No? They should have. It truly is. Two world champions crowned. A golf major won. One tennis major completed while another begins. The final collegiate sports championship earned. The last of the triple crown in horse racing run. USA Soccer shining after rocky start to World Cup qualifying. Athlete arrests, auto racing tragedies, my show cancelled, controversial comment/tweets bring firings in college and media, I got another year older and…

Okay, I’m a little biased. June was a month for the ages in sports.

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Odin Lloyd's sister's Facebook*

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Triumph, tragedy, stupidity and my show cancellation. On second thought, maybe this past June wasn’t the best month after all.

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July 2013

I said then:

Dog days of summer in the sports-world. Not much happens in July, right?

Wimbledon, Aaron Hernandez, NBA & NHL & Twitter handle trades, Brad Stevens to the Celtics, Dwight Howard, Marshall Henderson, Manchester United, EA Sports, George Zimmerman verdict, UFC upset, MLB All-Star week, college football Media Days, Metta World Peace, Yasiel Puig, failed drug tests in track & field, British Open, Tiger & Phil, Olympic hockey returns, NFL & HGH testing closer to reality, athletes quit Twitter, PEDs & Biogenesis, Johnny Manziel…

If ever a month proved there is no off switch for sports, July was it. Constant. 24/7/365 – sports news in the social media world rolled on. In the social media realm itself, creative uses for Instagram and Vine were on display

One team even used Instagram for a meet-up (as opposed to “tweet-ups”).

A sign of things to come? MLB leading the way with a live-stream in a tweet during the Home Run Derby

There simply was a bounty of stories in July including Andy Murray ending the drought (my favorite take on it below)

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August 2013

Dempsey and Johnny and Chipper..oh my!

In the early days of my Twitter life (I should hashtag that #MyTwitterLife), I wasn’t afraid to let my fandom show. That was before the sports masses jumped on board. In today’s Twitter (#TodaysTwitter), with the volume of people using it for sports, you have to be more careful about showing your fandom. Some may disagree with that, but I believe it is necessary for those in media.

My caveat to that, however, is when one of my teams do something good or positive. BIG caveat is the Seattle Sounders.

It really was an innocent hashtag, #DempseyWatch. Every so often in the Twitterverse, hashtags take on a life of their own. It helps when…

If not hashtags, well, stories too can take on a life of their own. And when your name is Johnny Manziel, the spotlight can amplify every little move you make. 

I said then:

The Manziel saga, because that is what it’s become now, dragged on through the month. In the end, Manziel would be suspended for a half in the Aggies’ home opener against Rice.

He’d go on to make even more news on August 31 with some of his on-field actions during the game.

Every brand has to needs a presence somewhere in the sports-social media world, right? Dempsey and Manziel have theirs. Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves) has…no, had…wait…has (again) his. (Jones rejoined the Twitterverse on September 9th.)

Sometimes, brands have to go big or go home. In the U.S. Open’s case, they chose the former option.

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September 2013

Welcome back, NFL and college football. You made my job curating these SSM Digest much harder with your return.

I said then:

This month, due to the sheer volume of items to track, I’m changing the structure to this month’s digest. Less input from me and more of the stories, images and videos that crossed our timelines in sports-social media. The biggest stories lead us off followed by a few of the images that grabbed my attention, followed by some daily sports-social media news.

I changed the structure of my digest due to “sheer volume”. Football, baseball, soccer, NASCAR, tennis proved quite challenging to track everything. It all begins though, with football.

Despite separate litigation issues hanging over their heads, the NFL and NCAA football came back with a vengeance. Most days/weeks, you could find trending topics on Google or Twitter included something related to those two sports. But, there was one other sport that captured the attention of another type of football fan around the world.

Football has an iconic place in American culture. Two other sports icons were part of September news too.

Okay, this isn’t iconic, but I couldn’t resist adding to my year end post

What’s a year-end post without an “own goal”?

Side note: Check out my “Fun with Topsy Search” post reviewing the first time popular hashtags were used according to Topsy.

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October 2013

Get your game face on, October!

We welcomed back hockey and bid adieu to baseball. And, we also said “thanks”. Wait! No we didn’t. We said, “you’re welcome”. Well, U.S. Soccer did:

I said then:

Mexico survived to play another World Cup day thanks to a last-minute flurry by the USA in their 3-2 victory over Panama. The U.S. victory enabled Mexico to solidify that final World Cup qualifying spot. That Mexico needed a U.S. victory to qualify was not lost on fans of both teams, nor the official U.S. Soccer account. Expect to see that tweet on most end-of-the-year Top 10 lists.

With over 83 thousand retweets and 31 thousand favorites, I do expect it to at least be in the Top 10 of Top Tweets for 2013.

One of the top stories in baseball, aside from the Red Sox winning the World Series (and Facebook)

…had to be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back in the postseason after 21 years (Roberto Clemente’s number), the Pirates, their city and their social media were a joy to watch.

Another team’s social media that is a joy to watch has to be the Golden State Warriors. Their team is embracing the social media outlets they use with passionate innovation (#passionateinnovation). Innovation like this G+ Hangout called #WarriorsLive:

Also innovating this month were the New Orleans Saints becoming the first NFL team with a Snapchat account and the Tampa Bay Lightning freezing their Instagram account (a first).

Innovators in their own right, we lost two football legends in October.

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2013 was a professional roller coaster. Starting the year with two jobs and by summer’s end I was jobless. Until November. My new job with Sportsmanias meant less time for writing up my monthly digest. Abandonment was not on my mind. As the year was drawing to a close, I had the idea to create this year-end digest instead. Although I have no links for November and December Digests, I did curate content that helped shape their storylines.

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November 2013

Welcome, November. The month where hockey players grow their mustaches and beards to their heart’s content. Movember arrived. No shaving allowed.

Also not allowed? One of the more bizarre stories occurred between two Dolphins players, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. 

The story itself was fluid all month-long Even to this day, the situation has still not been resolved. Just another in a long line of off the field stories the NFL didn’t need. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter summed it up:

As the NFL world changed…constantly, one sports returned to “normalcy” (think six-pack), despite what flows from Donovan McNabb’s mouth.

Not normal? On second though, maybe this is normal…for Alex.

Apologies for not touching on amazing NFL games, college basketball, college football, soccer, #SFBatKid, Veterans Day celebrations, Thanksgiving, WWE, NBA, women in sports, Google Glass, YouTube videos, MLB awards, Twitter and the Phoenix Suns and so on and so forth. Suffice to say November did not disappoint. Especially when you have Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach, Jerry Kill, dancing upon his return from his health hiatus. Go Jerry!

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December 2013

Coaching changes.

Coaches in trouble.

Free agent signings.

The final BCS Championship game.

World Cup test draw

And…a now-deleted penis tweet (saved via the beauty of Twitter).

Whew! That’s plenty, but December isn’t even done yet. We have the college bowl games, Liga MX final, NFL season wind-down, NBA digging in to their holiday season and am I missing anything?

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There is much to reflect upon in social media-sports. 2013 was a huge year. Fans engaged on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, G+ more than ever in social media. Unfortunately, not always in a positive way.

We saw a rise in Infographics and GoPro/Google Glass videos, more specialized apps, creative team promotions, heightened social-television relationship and more.

Professionally, I have “met” some amazing people in the sports media/sports biz world through Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Social media in 2013 made the world a little smaller for me in sports. Knowledge is a precious commodity. I’ve learned more this year via my “friends” about journalism, marketing, business and yes, social media despite my lack of a college degree. Although I do like to say I have a degree in Common Sense from the School of Hard Knocks at the University of Life. But, I’m still learning. Social media is a great teacher, beyond just Twitter.

As for 2014, I don’t know that we’re fully prepared for what 2014 will bring in social media-sports. I expect there are things to come that we haven’t given a thought to yet in terms of creativity, platforms, or even tools. The actual sports stories, oh my, I can’t even imagine what we will see, especially withe the Olympics and World Cup in our future. Sounds exciting.

But, before I close, in reviewing this past year’s content, there is one photo that captured my heart and I wanted to make sure I shared it with you. I’m always looking for the good in sports and this is perfect:

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CadChica Sports

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