On Wednesday, April 29th, Managing Director of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab Erin Reilly moderated a panel on “Activating the Fanbase for Music and Sports: Strategies for Content, Platforms and Technology” featuring an esteemed group of marketing researchers, investors, and brand experts:

Many important topics were discussed, including the nature of entertainment fans and how they engage with a brand on a platform, which platforms to choose as a brand, content development strategies and partnerships, the evolution of social metrics and analytics, and the staying power of word-of-mouth marketing in social media.

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Erin kicked off the panel by asking each panelist, "What is your definition of a Fan?"

"A fan is someone who likes something and pay attention to it over time," answered Jake DeGrazia of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. "We're looking at how to categorize fans based on behavior and how they engage with a brand."

Of the many insightful panelist insights: Sports fans are inherently competitive and care about the storytelling during a game. Fans are listening to what peers are saying about brands. Gameification, competition and strategy are key to sports fan engagement. Brands that listen to fans, and give more power voice, will build long term relationships.

"Traditional brands have been very hesitant to partnering with YouTube creators that afford less control over the message," Alan Resnikoff said. "The truth is that's happening all the time; the more genuine the better."

With a limited marketing budget, the key is to pick the right platforms where fans are most engaged, understand how to tell stories on these various platforms, and develop a content strategy for how that platform is intended to be used, asserted Jon Farb of ListenFirst Media.

“YouTube channels are now cross-platform channels, predicated on engagement,” Farb contended. "YouTube stars feel like they're your friends, you comment, they comment back."

Highlighting the impact and importance of user-generated micro-content, Justin Junda expanded upon his recent success at developing Score! On Friends, an interactive, trash-talking app within Facebook Messenger.

Alan Resnikoff discussed how FanDuel successfully targets casual sports fans, emphasizing the 40% increase in engagement FanDuel saw with fans who wouldn't necessarily be watching a particular game. FanDuel is effective at leveraging casual fans who don’t have time, or are not invested in, watching waiver wires to be competitive.

“It allows fans to step in step out as is convenient for them,” explained Resnikoff.

Furthering examples of how brands have activated fans in entertainment, Thomas Jorion illustrated Havas’ recent partnership with Coca Cola to align its marketing activities with Just Dance, an extremely popular video game in Europe. To leverage fans of Just Dance and encourage an active lifestyle among teens, Havas launched the “Movement in Happiness” campaign, maximizing shareability by creating an app with Ubisoft, and launching a Just Dance flash mob in the heart of Paris, encouraging participants to try the game.

The Evolution of Social Media Metrics

From Conversion metrics to push notifications, sentiment analysis to machine learning, it’s clear that social media marketing analytics are evolving with technology. Predictive features and actionable insights will be the most helpful for brands.

"We're going to see push notification metrics as a new, measurable marketing metric," Junda said.

Facebook and Twitter have retreated from new social metrics to traditional marketing metrics, engagement, reach, sentiment. Engagement across multiple platforms is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

“YouTube, Facebook & TV views have different value level. YouTube value is quantifiable, Facebook is less so,” Resnikoff explained.

A good analytics manager will know how to analyze the data and take actionable steps. The line between what makes a brand, media, musician, or artist is blurring. Great content is based on context and analytics. Context influences a change in consumer mindsets.

"Each situational trigger has potential to push a fan in a new direction," explained DeGrazia.

Check out our live-tweeting social media recap of the event: