A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity for the second straight year to assist the John Deere Classic’s social media efforts in Silvis, Illinois. For me, being a fan of golf and also someone who works within the digital advertising industry, “working” 10-12 hour days at this event does not feel like “work” at all.
My week started out on Wednesday, which was the final practice round/pro-am. This is a very casual environment that gives the players an opportunity to interact with the fans, sign autographs, take selfies and even FaceTime with significant others on smartphones. Not only was I fortunate enough to meet country music artist Jake Owen (who was extremely courteous and genuine with fan interaction), but this was also the day that my favorite moment of the week happened when, former Masters and British Open champion, Zach Johnson, introduced me to CEO of John Deere, Sam Allen. As if the fact that Zach Johnson knew my name wasn’t enough!
Once the tournament started, our social team scattered throughout the golf course to cover different groupings and give a different look at their positions and situations than what is available during typical television coverage. Our teams also looked for opportunities to capture moments with the galleries and fan interaction in places like the Family Zone and Social Media Lounge which housed golf projectors for longest drive and closest to the pin contests along with photo opportunities with fun digital backgrounds (18th green, winner’s check, etc.)
Our social teams were also given use of the media center, which had ShotLink computers that gave extremely detailed analysis of the play in the current round and throughout the tournament. A plethora of stats including the average tee shot distance, number of fairways hit, average distance from the hole on approach, etc. were all at our disposal to push out to the tournament’s social media followers.
In 2015, the John Deere Classic won “Most Engaged Community” and “Social Media Activation” awards from the PGA Tour so we had big shoes to fill in 2016. We came up with some additional strategies tgus year using animated GIFs (links below) to bring humor throughout the tournament, and we interacted with followers who were engaging with both our handle and our hashtag #JDC16. On Sunday, the final round, we added a Snapchat filter (seen below) on holes 15 – 18.
During the week of the tournament, @JDClassic generated 1.1 million impressions, an average of 142,500 impressions per day. Our top tweet generated almost 70,000 impressions by itself with 1,175 engagements (much to the thanks of a Jake Owen’s retweet to his 1 million followers). The handle also generated almost 2,000 link clicks, 850 retweets and 3,400 likes!