Exclusive: Neoco's Benn Achilleas explains company's work with QPR and Chelsea
As a fan of the Champions League, QPR or Chelsea then you may well have come across the engaging, fan-driven Score Predictor app created by Neoco. If not then let us introduce you to founder Benn Achilleas, the man at the forefront of the social company currently amongst the leading pack of companies working with football clubs to improve fan engagement and, as a result, marketability through a number of social initiatives.
We caught up with Benn to get an insight into the workings of Neoco and their Score Predictor app as well as discuss the future of social and digital media in sport.
Anchorfan - For those unfamiliar with your work can you explain a little about who Neoco are and what it is exactly that you do?
Benn - Neoco are a creative agency with social at the heart of everything we do. We work for global brands helping them understand their audience better and build exciting ways to engage the fanbase, creating a reason for people to share the brand.
A - Your website clearly states that you look to “inspire action” through “transmedia storytelling”, what does this mean and how do you go about achieving this?
B - We inspire action by understanding what excites the audience. From there it's about creating something special that people will want to engage with. Transmedia storytelling is about being able to deliver an experience/story across several media in a relevant way. Too many brands or agencies just share the same content across multiple channels, effectively spamming the audience. That's just bad for everyone.
A - You have worked with the Champions League, Chelsea and now QPR. What service do you provide the clubs?
B - At one level, the service we supply to the clubs is the same - ways to excite and engage fans so they are happy to share their data and pass on the brand to their friends. At another level, the service can be very different as different clubs have different levels of resource to activate campaigns.
A - Is it important to be social media savvy as a sports club/athlete/journalist/fan? If so, why?
B - It's very important and becoming critical. The sheer number of fans in the Social space and the speed of news means it is an essential part of the media mix for clubs, athletes, fans and journos. There needs to be better protocols put in place across the board to get the best for everyone (see Ashley Cole recent tweet) but I do not think anyone should be denied a freedom of their opinion (see Ashley Cole again) as this is a fundamental part of Sport. Everyone has an opinion.
A - Exactly how do Apps, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc all offer different engagement and is it important to shape your use differently across all platforms?
B - This needs to be focused on the audience. All the channels you mentioned might not even be relevant if you have no fans using them. See what the fans are doing, what they want, how they are using the channels and how they could be using them. Align this to the brand/club goals and then you will start to understand how and why, or even if, a social platform should be used.
A - Your Score Predictor app is a particular success, how does this allow clubs to engage with their audience?
B - To date, Score Predictor has had over 1 million predictions and engages fans across the globe. Score Predictor is a very successful product for several reasons:
• It enables fans to have their opinion - which all fans do
• It creates a huge amount of relevant social content without burdening clubs with loads of extra workload
• It rewards fans for taking part and supporting their team
• It reaches new fans through it's use, without spamming fans
A - How significant a role does social media play in sport and how we engage with sport?
B - Social media is the next frontier for sports brands to grab a fan base and show their dominance. You can see this across European football with the top teams competing off the field in a Social battle for innovation, fan data and engagement. The biggest area for them right now is the far East and US where many football fans actually follow several clubs; maybe Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid (because they like Ronaldo) and Manchester United. The clubs are all working hard to build a closer affinity to their brand at the expense of competitors.
A - How can you see the relationship between sport and social media developing in the coming years?
B - Sport will get much closer to Social. You see Twitter names and hashtags on so many broadcasts and games now. Soon you will see much more social data (fan predictions and buzz) being shown live with games. Sports fans love stats and Social enables a whole other level of stats, data and competing - my team generated more tweets per minute than yours!
A - Without giving too much away, what would be your top tips for engaging with sport on social media?
B - OK, firstly, don't just do Social because you can or because everyone else is. Good, successful social is really easy if you follow the right steps:
Goals - define why you are doing Social. Do you want better fan engagement, more sales of merchandise, better fan insights? These and many more objectives are easily achievable but you need to know what you are trying to do and what is the priority - you cannot achieve everything straight away.
Audience - you need to understand your audience. The more you understand your social fan base (that could be very different to you physical fan base), the more you will understand what excites and engages them.
From this point it is a matter of aligning your goals with the audience's wants and needs. This would normally be delivered as an insightful Social strategy from which we can build the brand and achieve goals. [ENDS]
Neoco are currently working on a number of projects and were speaking at the Leaders in Digital Sport event at Stamford Bridge today. For more information on Neoco then visit their website - http://www.neoco.com/ - and sign up to Anchorfan to stay on top of all the latest sporting initiatives involving Neoco, including some exciting news set to be announced before the end of the year.