This week, Sophia had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Garcia
(@JeffGSpursZone) of WOAI News 4 San Antonio, KABB Fox 29 San Antonio, and host of “Locked On Spurs
Sophia has known Jeff through Twitter for 5 years and has always admired his work. She discussed his approach to using social media to market his work and build his sports-media empire through digital relationship building. Sophia’s questions are in bold.
Q: Tell me a little about your background and how you came to do what you do today for work?
Many know me as a Spurs writer/media personality but I am actually an attorney. I practiced Immigration Law for years but moonlighted as a sports writer since 2004. I started off as a co-founder of Project Spurs and from there my love of sports media/writing took off. From covering the Spurs as a credentialed member of the media, covering Team USA basketball, attending major NBA events such as the 2014 NBA Finals and multiple NBA Drafts to co-hosting a sports talk show on 1250 ESPN San Antonio all led me to where I am today. Now, I am the Spurs beat writer for two local news outlets in San Antonio (WOAI News 4 San Antonio and KABB Fox 29 San Antonio). And yes, I am still an attorney.
Q: How do you approach digital marketing of your content?
I approached it by what I like to call the new “word of mouth” approach – Twitter! Heavy use of Twitter. That platform was actually the first social media outlet I used to promote my content. From there, I developed Twitter relationships where people who enjoy reading my work would re-Tweet my work. Today, I have the back of the two local San Antonio media outlets who in turn promote my work on their official Twitter feeds as well as on their Facebook pages.
My approach also involves a balancing act where I will promote my work multiple times on Twitter but in different forms. For example, I will tweet my own work, then re-Tweet others who Tweet my work and space out my self-promotion by an hour. With tweets getting “buried” on people’s timeline, I feel one has to stay on top of it (see what I did there?) and tweet as much as one can to keep my articles fresh on people’s minds and eyes.
I believe with digital marketing being so fast and furious, so can people’s memories. Fans get swamped with so much digital marketing, I have to be unique, and mix it up.
Q: What is it about social media that makes sporting events so fun to talk about online as they are happening?.
That is the best isn’t it? I fall into the drama of it all. And that is what makes it fun. The passion, drama, angst, etc. from fans who give you their emotions in an instant. I can “feel” the excitement that it only enhances the fun of watching events. It also gives me a sense of the pulse of the fan that I can use in my articles.
Q: Is twitter the new sports bar?
Yes but at a whole other level. It is a 24-hour sports bar. A mega water cooler for people to gather around and talk sports. You meet new people with similar interests, viewpoints and build from there. It’s a sports bar that never closes. You can go in and out of it and catch up on what the talk is or sit back and watch the drama unfold.
Q: How can businesses capitalize, in an authentic way, on massive social media user-ship during sporting events?
Simple – play to the emotions of fans. If their team is winning and fans are ecstatic then a business can capitalize on that and, for example, have free social media codes for a discount for whatever they are selling. Another example is what the Spurs do at games. If the Spurs win at home, everyone in San Antonio gets free coffee at their business.
Same can be done online.
Q: What is your most popular social media driven piece of work?
I noticed anything where a team’s rival opponent is giving them some juicy locker room material or if the team they are cheering for gets crushed on the scoreboard is when I have popular social media driven content. Anytime there is some sort of “emotion inducing” moment during the season gets fans going and it gets popular. Oh and odd-ball, random posts. For example, I can write a 1,000 worded piece on why the Spurs need to change their lineup. It will get views but if I find a video of Tony Parker dancing with a teddy bear in Portland while singing a Taylor Swift song, well that will explode on Twitter. My suggestion, do both.
Q: What advice do you have for newcomers to the online world of sports reporting?
Be consistent. Find out your strengths and run with it. If you are good at writing from the hip, then do it but do it well. If you notice you get more views from Facebook and not Twitter, then focus your strengths there and eventually it will even out. Meaning eventually fans will ask “Why aren’t you on Twitter?” and vise versa. Then you can branch out.
Write a lot. I mean even if there is nothing going on with your team – find something. It makes you stand out. You got to satisfy a fan’s thirst for the love of their team. Quench it.
Do not give up. Keep on writing even if your work gets hardly noticed at first. I recall starting off with no one knowing who I was and couldn’t care less about my articles. But perseverance paid off for me. Do not be afraid to ask. Seriously. My first big “break” into the larger NBA writing world was in 2004 when I just asked the NBA if I can cover the Vegas Summer League. Days later I got a “yes” and from there I established myself.
If I can do it, so can you.