World Surf League (WSL), the global home of surfing, ranks only behind the NBA and NFL for American sports leagues in social interactions. The league has been able to achieve this scale and grow its brand thanks to mobilizing an active surfer community.
WSL’s Chief Community Officer Tim Greenberg recently sat down for a Q&A with Engage by Hashtag Sports to discuss the league’s approach to content and innovation, and why routing video highlights and photos directly to surfers to post to their own social accounts is key to WSL’s digital and social strategy. Here are a few excerpts from that interview with Greenberg.
Achieving fan growth on social with technology
Greenberg: “As a small team—we have three people on our social team who oversee and create daily content—we need to be extremely efficient. Leveraging technology to manage our content output is imperative because otherwise we would not be able to achieve the scale that we’ve been able to deliver, which is roughly 12 to 15 pieces per day on Facebook, an additional 5 to 6 on Instagram, and we’re now programming new platforms like TikTok. From a fan interaction perspective, social is also a great place for us to build community, in addition to achieving scale and reach, we’re using social as a tool to drive engagement.”
Empowering surfers on social
Greenberg noted that WSL empowers and educates its tour athletes to invest time into social content. The league has reps from the social platforms attend events and work directly with the surfers, and also has actively collaborated with them to help elevate the surfers’ presence on social media.
Greenberg: “We actually use the Greenfly app as a messaging channel to connect with our athletes. At any point in the day, our athletes can message us on Greenfly to say, “Can you send me that wave? Or where can I get this piece of content?” It’s become an important communication tool…”
Distributing content at live surf events
Greenberg: “On the technology end, we have a robust system for how we’re servicing each event – from content clipping to distribution…. We currently have 72 active athletes on Greenfly…That includes a mix of athletes from the Championship Tour, Qualification Series, Big Wave, and Longboard. Having 72 athletes in our network who can communicate with their fans in near real-time is incredible. With Greenfly’s gallery feature, we’ve created athlete-specific galleries to deliver individually tailored content to every Championship Tour surfer as it’s being uploaded to our CMS.
We now have an API integration where we no longer need an intermediary person to download and send clips. We actually have WSC and Greenfly talking to each other directly, which has been a game-changer for us because before we would have to manually do this process. Our athletes can now receive content in their Greenfly inbox before they even leave the water — that’s how fast we’ve become.
In the past five months, automation allowed us to upload over 22,000 pieces of content – photo and video – to the Greenfly platform, with over 3,400 assets downloaded by our athletes and 806 posts. This has resulted in over 9.1 million engagements (likes, comments, shares, and views) on surfer posts.
The impact on surfers
Greenberg: “I fundamentally believe the athletes should be able to promote their own content….One example where this worked well outside of our competition was the announcement for pay equity. We were able to use Greenfly to distribute custom content to each of the women on the Championship Tour and beyond. That was not possible at scale previously—emails would’ve gotten lost, but using a tool like Greenfly helped us to amplify the reach by leveraging the platform as a tool to synchronize messaging across the globe. So not only is it really helpful during our live events, but it’s also helpful for campaigns.”
Read the full article online at Engage by Hashtag Sports.