Monday, April 25, 2011

Tips for Live Blogging Sports

Over the past week, I've been discussing the merits of live blogging a sporting event. My first post on the subject covered some of the basics and outlined why I'm a believer in avoiding in-game live blogging.

But there are absolutely a few instances to use live blogging to convey information.

Before we dive into them, a bit of a disclaimer: this is just my opinion, and I encourage you to agree, disagree or add more color to my views in the comments section or on Twitter. My goal here is to expose just a few valuable approaches to live blogging as a sports blogger.

Additionally, if you're looking for generic blog tips or an overview of live blogging, I'd recommend more overarching sites like ProBlogger.net or longer examinations such as Colin O'Keefe's post on Past the Press Box. And here's a great ode to live blogging as well.

Above all else, no matter how you convey info and express yourself online, remember that your words must provide value to someone if you plan on blogging for an audience.

Now, onto the rundown!

Live Blogging Use Case #1: Exclusive Events


As I mentioned last time, live blogging while you attend an event can offer a wealth of information to your readers and create digital "attendees" that can even interact with actual event participants. MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference comes to mind as the perfect place for sports bloggers to live blog. Just think of the benefits to readers:
  • You provide instant analysis, key quotes and a digestible summary of an event that, without your blog, your readers would miss until after the conference ended.
  • You offer a means for readers to pose questions sent through your blog to the event's speakers, given the right type of event.
  • Speakers are held more accountable, as readers with the time and technology on hand can immediately check facts and figures.
Posting live during this kind of event busts open otherwise closed doors. That is unbelievably valuable (not to mention an incredibly cool feat for you to accomplish). Platforms such as CoveritLive are also available for bridging the gap between current events and digital audiences.

#2: Providing a Holistic Digital Presence

In my work at Google as a digital marketing consultant, I've learned that every brand and advertiser today needs to reach their audiences in a variety of different ways. It's no longer enough to dominate a search results page alone. Audiences are fragmented across a massive online landscape, and each web traveler has an attention span more limited than ever. (Fact: people now have the attention span of a goldfish online: 9 seconds!)

Live blogging can therefore serve as a complement to other points of contact with your readers, such as Twitter or Facebook discussions/forums. This allows you to reach people who choose one medium and stick with it, as well as those that bounce between sites.

(By the way, my readers are definitely not goldfish…they need to read my posts, their own posts, the posts of fellow bloggers, etc…I'd argue they're more like tiger sharks. Domination.)

#3: Playing to Your Audience

Live blogging, as I've said, may not make much sense for summarizing or highlighting in-game action. Caveat: if you have a fiercely loyal or insanely large audience.

Take Bill Simmons for example -- he's a comedic writer with an immense, passionate following (there's even a site called Sons of Simmons!). He can live blog (or write a retro-diary) because it's insightful, entertaining, funny and already a part of a major destination site for fans in ESPN.com.

You may have readers who are loyal and vocal too, in which case they're willing to supplement their viewing experience with your set of facts and opinions. But even if that's the case, they likely read you because of a unique angle or ability you have. Run with that! Don't just spit out a log of the game action!

And finally, since most bloggers don't have the reach or frequency of readership of the Sports Guy, you'll need to constantly bring something new to the mix if or when you live blog. Throw out some poll questions, some trivia, some giveaways, some user-gen videos -- whatever it takes. 

Considering the time commitment and the relatively low chance of adding followers via your live blog, your time might be better spent on Twitter.

What are some other positive use cases for live blogging?

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