Social Round-Up: Chelsea Ladies FC manager Emma Hayes wins Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium

It’s not every day one of your best friends wins silverware, especially when she’s representing as the only female manager in the FA WSL. Here’s a round-up of some social posts and links from a tremendous day as manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women’s Cup with Chelsea Ladies FC.

The gaffer, the win, and the trophy

Dig into the awesomeness of today’s win by clicking the links below. Of course, if you have more to add, please tweet them to me @vandey01 or leave in the comments below.

CLFC social was on fire

The world was able to follow-along in real-time, both with the match and the celebrations after, thanks to some astute social media work by the Chelsea media team. Some of my favorite posts below.

Football friends

Of course, as the match went final, love, support, and congratulations flooded in from all around the world. Here is just a small slice of what the twitterverse looked like today.

Staff and players behind-the-scenes

This group of people at Chelsea Ladies FC has worked so hard to be here today. I’m so happy for Emma, Rob, Paul, their full staff, and all the amazing players on this squad.

Props to Emma’s sister, Tor, for capturing and sharing these special moments on Facebook.

Best.Moment.Ever.

Best Moment Ever

Influencer Content on Vine, Snapchat and Instagram during MLS Cup Playoffs

During MLS Cup Playoffs, the MLS social media team worked with platform-specific influencers to bring the event to life for fans across North America. The schedule stretched from the last weekend in October through the last weekend in November, and here are just a few examples of work we did on emerging social platforms Vine, Snapchat and Instagram.

Vine

Ahead of New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls Eastern Conference Championship, we worked with Vine influencer Christian Leonard (900K followers) to bring the experience of going to a game to life. As I’m writing this blog, his post has nearly 5 million loops.

Snapchat
On each weekend of the 2014 MLS playoffs we commissioned Snapchat influencers to preview the game using their own unique style. Each photo was uploaded onto the MLS Snapchat account, and whoever received the most screenshots would advance to the next round. Influencers promoted their posts on their own accounts to drive new users to MLS, increasing our users by 25%.

Instagram

All throughout the playoffs, we took the tact that our fans are often our greatest influencers on Instagram, so we encouraged them to share photos and videos from their #MLSPlayoffs experience via a contest. One lucky fan won a trip to MLS Cup, and along the way we created compilations of all the awesome fan submissions.

For more, be sure to follow MLS on Snapchat, Vine and Instagram.

Brazil and Back Again: Three Days at the 2014 World Cup

Three days was all I needed to find a window of opportunity to get to Brazil for World Cup 2014. The 12-hour flight down, and 24-hour trek home, were totally worth it as the experience of attending a World Cup game is just beyond comparison.

On my first day, I was a tourist in Curitiba. I met a wonderful local woman who was playing music in the hotel bar when I arrived, and she recommended I do the bus tour. Being the city girl I am, I was hesitant because it felt like a pretty inauthentic way to spend my day. Buuuut since I was in the city for a day alone, I hopped on board. And I was so thankful I did.

Linha Turismo makes the city sights easily accessible since they’re pretty spread out across the metropolitan area. So with the tourist bus you can reach them all really easily. And, since there were so many soccer fans from around the world in town, I made a ton of friends throughout the day.

The next day, I was a fan. My one and only match was Honduras vs. Ecuador, and I was pumped to see four MLS players on the pitch! Before the match, I wandered around outside the stadium and took some photos of the atmosphere. Ecuador was there in full force: Honduran fans a much smaller group for sure.

Inside the stadium was incredible. Loud, passionate fans who didn’t stop singing and chanting for 90+ minutes. Neither team advanced from the Group Stage, but given the passion and energy of the fans, I honestly could have thought I was at the World Cup Finals.

Saturday was an open day for me, with a flight out of Curitiba later that night (I needed to be back in NYC to work USA vs. Germany on Sunday). So when an invitation to pop up to Rio and see my friend Alex Stone at FIFA hit my inbox, I couldn’t say no. Surprisingly, flights between cities in Brazil were super easy and inexpensive to secure. So at 6am the next morning I was on my way North for a quick 8-hour stint.

Rio was absolutely breathtaking. With rocky cliffs and stunning hillsides, to the beautiful beaches and welcoming people, this city is just without comparison. Not many cities are on my must-go-back list, but this one is, for sure.

I was also lucky to spend time at the FIFA Headquarters in Rio. Their Digital HQ was built at the end of Copacabana Beach. Here’s a write-up by Sam Laird over at Mashable who describes the set-up far better than I ever could.

For the World Cup, FIFA has no fewer than 68 members of its digital team stationed in Brazil. A dozen editors are stationed at each of the tournament’s 12 venues, and 12 photographers are fanned out across the country as well. The remaining dozens of programmers, writers, photographers and strategists work from the seaside Forte de Copacabana here in this iconic city that will host the World Cup final on July 13.

FIFA publishes digital content — via its websites, official app and social channels — for fans in six languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Arabic.

With many of the digital workers gathered in one place at the Forte for the World Cup — an extremely rare occurrence, since they usually work from posts around the globe — the team’s workspace resembles the tournament itself. Teams who work in different languages gather at their respective pods of desks, and national flags hang from the walls.

In all, my trip to Brazil was an absolutely incredible three days! But with so many demands on our team at Major League Soccer during the World Cup (uhm, we kind of crushed it –> scroll to the bottom), it was a very tough time to make this trip happen. But thanks to my awesome team, and the support of my peers and coworkers, I was able to make it work.

Three things I learned from MLS media training

Throughout the month of February, I traversed the country with my co-workers and peers – Gabe Gabor, Sean Dennison, Brian Dunseth and Dan Courtemanche – to deliver media training on behalf of Major League Soccer to our players at 14 clubs (the remaining clubs used outside firms for their media training fwiw). Seth Vertelney wrote up a great overview about media training over at Goal.com, and I highly recommend you go check it out.

In addition to the topics Seth covers, we also spent a sizable section of our time on social media. This was the first year I’ve presented in this capacity, and I’d like to think that me being in the room acted as physical recognition from the League that social media is an active part of the players’ everyday experience. We talked about strategies for posting great content, and each session got a unique presentation highlighting positive examples from the guys in the room (those always get a good laugh). Of course, we also talked about things to stay away from, and I shared some insights and information that really could only come from three years running the @mls handle as the MLS Director of Social Media, seven years working in professional sports, ten years researching and reading sites like Mashable, and a lifetime in soccer.

So in this post, I’d like to get a little more reflective about my personal experience in media training. Here are three takeaways.

1. Social media is a critical component of any useful media training for a bunch of guys in their 20-30’s.

The players are open, honest, receptive and in most cases hungry to talk about social media. A quick, very unofficial, show of hands – which I do at the beginning of every session – delivers somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% are probably on Facebook and Twitter, around 60% on Instagram, and a surprising (to me) 15-20% or so on Snapchat. In the past we may have talked about, why you should be on Twitter, but today we’ve evolved to, how to be your best on social media. Inasmuch as they need the tips, tricks and tools to respond to pen-and-paper reporters and video journalists, players are managing relationships with fans and media everyday across these social platforms. In all, the guys were super attentive and responsive, and their thoughtful and insightful questions will help us shape future media sessions as well.

2. Players are making social media decisions every day.

Sometimes it’s as simple as, to tweet or not to tweet? Other times it’s a complex decision whether to engage with a fan after a match. We advise them to take a moment before they post and ask themselves, could I be offending anybody with what i’m about to say? and if so, just don’t post it. Additionally, we do our best to give them inspiration and ideas for posting about positive and interesting things that MLS fans generally respond to. Since media training, I can honestly say I’ve seen a marked difference in the content our guys are producing. I’ve never delivered the social media segment as part of MLS meadia training before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or compare to, but I am pleasantly surprised that our recommendations resonated in such a powerful way.

3. Sometimes there’s a hard-to-define grey space to which I don’t have all the answers.

As much as I’d like to tell the guys that there’s a right way and a wrong way to engage on social platforms, in the end it really comes down to each individual’s judgement and personality. My job is to give them methods and strategies for making those decisions. Everybody’s social experience is unique and special to them, and I found the players’ openness and willingness to talk about everything from getting harangued by crude fans to dealing with privacy issues refreshing and honest. There will be difficult decisions they will have to make, but my hope is that they’ll remember the tips we gave them to determine when to post, what might be good to post about, and when to step away. I’m definitely looking forward to future sessions where we can dig a bit deeper into more comprehensive community management, the decision-making process and the impact of such immediate and public feedback they both give and receive.

Bonus takeaway: Any session is only as good as the instructors leading it ;)

A sincere and serious thank you to the team of rockstar presenters I had the pleasure to work with. Gabe, you’re an incredibly thorough and thoughtful media trainer and have an amazing method of delivery. Sean and Dan, you rep the league with class and style. And Dunny, your honesty and sincerity with the guys and ability to harness the teachable moments within your own experience is unparalleled. Can’t wait til the band goes back on tour next year!

What happens when a social media director gets married

Instagram Happy Wedding

Ethan and I got married on September 21, 2013. And despite my best efforts to keep my cell phone by my side for most of the event, I only took a few photos, most of which were selfies with my new hubby and bridesmaids. I suppose wearing my Google Glass was an option, but to be honest in the end I decided to keep the attention on the event itself, not the technology I was wearing. Plus, we hired an amazing photographer who I’m expecting to deliver some incredible shots.

Facebook Wedding

I did manage to get a hashtag onto my programs – #ethanandamanda – and you can see a few of my social-savvy friends picked it up on Twitter and Instagram.

Hashtag pic

One of my favorite social shots came from @ArmieSF on Instagram, who caught a pic of me practicing my #henrying.

But that was only to be outdone by @gaetjens and @judyconcha who snapped a photo of my entrance into dinner. Yes, this happened.

I’ve since grabbed a couple pics from around the interwebs, and smashed them together using @flipagram which is a superfun way to make a slideshow to music.

To my surprise and delight, Ethan even tweeted a photo from our rehearsal dinner. Good job, Mr. Social Media!

Finally, while some folks may not appreciate a good tweet the way I do, each and every social media shoutout was a welcome compliment to this amazing day. Thanks guys!

Five First Impressions of Google Glass


I was lucky to be selected as part of the Glass Explorer program (thanks to my rock star team at Google Plus!), and after a couple days of obsessing over them, practicing with them, and showing them off all around New York City, here are five of my first impressions.

1. Glass is all about what’s happening right now.

When I take a photo, I share it. When I receive a tweet, I reply. After the moment has passed, any piece of content or comment feels like old news, and the way a user accesses cards in timeline isn’t really conducive to searching back through old photos, videos, tweets or searches. Though it is pretty handy that all your photos are automatically backed up to Google Plus.

20130706_130221_236 Coffee

2. Glass is a curiosity.

People take photos of me on the subway and stop me in the street to ask about them. When I’m in stores or at work people want to try them on. My optometrist was so intrigued he even tried to do my eye exam through them!

williams_sonoma Glass on the subway
Eye Doctor Erin

3. Glass is probably better with Android.

I’m currently connected to Glass via my iPhone, which works fine, but I can’t send text messages or get directions. The Android app, My Glass, which enables these features, could be a real game changer.

4. Glass takes incredible photos.

The ability to snap a photo the moment I see a good shot without having to grab my phone, load the camera app, and line up the shot, is incredible. And the image quality is surprisingly sharp.

Brooklyn Brooklyn BridgeGlass Studio Building

5. Glass has a serious learning curve.

Remember the days when Apple hosted courses on, “How to use your iPhone?” When Glass is released to the public expect much the same from Google. Getting a handle on My Glass website, uploading and installing apps, and using the hardware is going to become more complex as the technology evolves. Here’s Sunil, my awesome Glass Guide, and my first-ever Glass selfie – which I had to find a mirror to take!

sunil selfie

Thoughts on Major League Soccer’s YouTube Live Stream with Google+ Hangout

State of the League

It’s no secret: I love Google+ Hangouts. They’re effective, innovative, engaging and fun.

I actually feel the way about this technology today, as I did about Twitter back in the early days of WPS (2008) when we needed a way to share our player allocation and subsequent draft. The technology and opportunity Twitter presented seemed like the perfect way for us to share these events in real-time. The naysayers said, “It’s useless, you have no followers.” But my team and I persisted. Within a year, we were speaking to an audience of 250,000 followers and engaging with fans on a level that was never possible before.

Today, as the internet has evolved from real-time text, to real-time photos (cough, instagram) and videos (ahem, vine anybody?), I think the Google+ platform fills a niche where people with great things to say and content to share can come together both virtually and publicly and do just that. Like Twitter offered an entry point into real-time communications for the 2008 world, I think Google+ Hangouts offer useful and unique real-time technology for today.

My co-workers use Google+ Hangouts for private work meetings, our Digital team uses Google+ Hangouts on Air to heighten the conversation at key moments, and our clubs are using them to bring their players direct to their fans. Here are just a couple recent examples:

A year ago, naysayers told me, “Google+ will fail. Nobody uses it.” Yet my coworkers and I persisted. Today, it continues to grow, and we’re now over 1 million circlers strong. And because of the investments we’ve made in time, staffing and innovation, we’ve also earned the trust and support of our platform partners.

On Wednesday this week, we hosted Commissioner Garber’s 2013 March to Soccer Address and media availability via a live stream on the MLS YouTube Channel. Watch it here:

The Commissioner spoke for about 20 minutes about the “state of the league,” then took questions from fans and journalists through a Google+ Hangout – on everything from expansion, to the schedule, to TV ratings. The event took place at Google’s New York City office (thank you Google!), was streamed live on the MLS YouTube Channel (thank you YouTube!), the MLS Google+ page (thank you Google+!), and MLSsoccer.com (way to go MLS Digital team!).

With this event, Commissioner Garber became the first commissioner of a major sports league to address media and fans via a live Google+ Hangout (way to go MLS PR team!). Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

For the fans, this event marked the beginning of the 2013 season. But for me, it was another great example of Major League Soccer truly embracing the evolution of media and the digital age. I love that we don’t do things the way we’ve always done “just because,” but instead we try new ways of moving the game forward for our tech-savvy fans.

I’m energized by our Commissioner and executive team, because they believe in innovation, and I’m humbled by my incredible coworkers who continue to push the envelope with new technology day in and day out.