AFL

An Experiment In Social Media

When I tell people I work at Messages On Hold every now and again I’m met with a blank stare. That’s until I ask them ‘Have you seen those big yellow hands behind the goals at Eagles home games?’ Once I let loose that little gem, people immediately know who I’m talking about. Trevor and his comrades have become synonymous with West Coast home games for waving our big yellow hands, so I thought it would be fun to take our Facebook friends behind the scenes of the Messages On Hold team at Patersons Stadium with an experiment in social media.

The Aim: To live update sights, sounds and insights from the Eagles home game.TrevSmall

Now I’m a big social media freak – if there’s sport/politics/anything on the TV and there’s a hashtag, you better believe I’m going to join the conversation. I love blogging about events and places I experience around Perth and I get a weird thrill out of getting as many ‘stats’ as I can with my own personal uploads to Facebook. So you can imagine my excitement at the idea of sharing the fun of an Eagles home game on social media when the opportunity presented itself.

Doing my pre-game research I wondered a fair bit as to why no sports clubs actually updated their Facebook pages during matches. West Coast Eagles, along with most other AFL clubs, is fairly prolific in its tweeting during matches but it had started to bother me why they never updated their Facebook mid-game. Well my foray into Facebook updates during sports games gave me a stern and no buts about it answer – there’s no reception in big stadiums when there’s heaps of people in them!

The Twitter platform is highly suited to covering sports games because you don’t have to rely on mobile data. Clubs can tweet from a PC or laptop and it’s instantaneous because they don’t have to rely on mobile data – which is slow and often times drops out completely. When you’re updating Facebook with pictures or video, it’s time consuming over a mobile network. Something I learnt quick-smart on Sunday.

Up until about 15 minutes until kick-off I wasn’t having any issues with my network connection (thanks Vodafone). Once the stadium had filled-up though, there was no hope. I did a double-lap of Patersons Stadium to try and find somewhere to upload something… anything… but I had no success. I even tried going up to the highest stand right next to the phone tower. Still nothing! It seems too many people one spot causes data over mobiles to slow down so significantly logging on to Facebook becomes nigh on impossible, let alone uploading a video.

Sunday’s game certainly gave me a lot to think about. Social media at sports events is a great way to share experiences, especially for a company like ours who is an official sponsor of the club. How am I going to solve this problem next time? Well I’ll try and take a different phone and I’ll probably take along a WiFi hotspot just to make sure I can stay connected to the network. Either way I’m pretty determined to keep trying because sport is an undeniably effective way to get people active with social media and our involvement with West Coast is an opportunity too great to miss.

If you’d like to keep up to date with my progress, jump over to our Facebook page and hit that like button. Remember to add our page to your interest list to ensure you’re across our latest posts.

– Sophie

Risks Reap Rewards!

Most people like to play it safe, but personally I’m a big fan of taking risks. And so is Executive Chef and owner of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal. After all, it was taking a risk that propelled him to superstardom.

Liquorice salmon. Snail porridge. Quail jelly. These aren’t your average run of the mill dishes, but he took a risk believing the public would develop an appetite for them. And he was right. The Fat Duck has been ranked one of the Top 5 Restaurants globally since 2004, and claimed top spot in 2005.

In Heston’s case, a calculated risk reaped huge dividends. The same applies in marketing. Let’s take an iconic Messages On Hold image – the yellow hands at AFL matches.

Our Managing Director, Kym Illman, knew it would be a risk ‘ambushing’ each game with his big yellow hands behind the goals. And sure enough he was right. (Once he was evicted from the ground!) Yes there was negative press, but he was able to go on radio and explain his motivation, ironically securing more free exposure at the same time.

You could think of it as a cost-benefit analysis. Is the potential reward greater than the risk? In our case yes. On one hand paying sponsors were upset, and there was some expected backlash from fans and viewers. But we were getting the Messages On Hold brand out to a national audience for the price of admission.

In the end we came to an agreement with West Coast that’s mutually beneficial. In fact – we’ve been a proud official sponsor for the last 20 years.

We’ve all heard this one before – “look before you leap”. But no one ever said you couldn’t leap at all! If you’ve done your research, weighed up the pros and cons and are prepared to take a risk, go with your gut! Next week we’ll take a look at how to manage any potential fallout.

– Magnus

Here’s a Handy Idea

If you’ve ever watched AFL, chances are you’re familiar with our ‘big hands’. Positioned behind the goals at Subiaco Oval, they’ve been prominent on every Eagles telecast since 1993. Of course, I’ll take any opportunity I can to get the Messages On Hold brand out there – and the recent Targa Tasmania was no exception.

I was competing in this 6 day event for the first time. My Evo 9 was one of 300 cars competing over nearly 2,000 kilometres of tarmac around this picturesque island state of Tasmania. Entrants comprise a myriad of well-known sports people, national & international celebrities and most importantly, lots of business people!

On the first day I was amazed at the number of locals that lined the transport stages (the bits we drive under normal road rules). Hundreds of kids would wave as we passed their schools or homes, so on Day 2 I packed several hundred hands in the car. Along the way I’d stop and hand out these hands to every child we saw. They, in turn, waved them at every subsequent car – and loved it! As you can imagine, every driver behind us, many of the prime candidates for Messages On Hold, spotted these branded hands bearing our logo for the rest of the day.

I chose to target the drivers instead of the general public because firstly, reaching the general public would be an expensive exercise and secondly, the drivers were easier to reach. This “sniper’s approach” to marketing meant that in the end, these fellow drivers were seeing upwards of 300 MOH hands a day and thinking “bloody hell, these guys are everywhere!”

I know what you’re thinking, “great idea!” right? Well it was, until I spun out, landed on some rocks and put the MOH Evo 9 race car out of action. But even then, we turned that into a promotional opportunity – have a look at the video here.

Smile – You’ve Just Been Ambushed!

For years I’ve been a devotee of getting the Messages On Hold logo exposed throughout the media without paying for it. We’ve ambushed AFL games, Ashes Cricket test matches, Wimbledon, live news broadcasts, even the Olympics. The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of free media exposure.
But isn’t there a risk of upsetting people with this cheeky (never illegal) form of marketing? Sure. After all, this sort of marketing can polarise people. Some love it, some hate it, most notice it and then get on with life – it’s no big deal.
I’m never going to do business with everyone. So why should I worry about alienating a small segment of the market. So many business people spend their lives treading the safe line, making sure they don’t do or say anything that might cause offence or gain unwanted attention.
Messages On Hold has always been “out there” and those who do business with us tend to love that sort of brash attitude. I remember when we ambushed Tim Gossage in the betting ring a minute prior to the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Glenn Wilson held up a Messages On Hold sign over Tim’s shoulder, not an easy task (he’s about 6’5″ tall). The phones went berserk. We must have received 40 calls from outraged viewers. I think we even lost a client over it. However, half the country saw that logo and focused on my business for 15 seconds.
“Would you give up a $2,000/year client in return for $50,000 worth of national exposure?” Is it ethical? That’s for you to decide. I can’t make the media expose my business, but if the opportunity presents itself and I don’t take advantage of it, more fool me.