If you follow any of the Fresh ID team on Twitter, you probably couldn’t have missed the snowbrawl mayhem we dove headfirst into yesterday. It actually began the night before, when I noticed Sporting KC, Kansas City’s pro MLS soccer team, who we follow and have met with before, posting about one of the players needing a hashtag for a snowball fight. Kei Kamara who hails from Kenema and is the forward for the team, had been tweeting about never having been in a snowball fight, and some fans from The Cauldron (Sporting KC’s most active fan group) were talking about rectifying that, and a plan was hatched. There are more details and a great post about it at the Sporting KC site.
Now, Fresh ID has already been talking with Sporting KC about doing some live online events, and I couldn’t help asking if we could jump in and get this captured live for people who wouldn’t be at the match. Kyle Rogers, the Digital Strategist for Sporting KC, was game, so we whipped up an Intefy page and wrangled our friend Steven Chau to go over and film the snowball festivities for us as the Fresh ID team had all stayed home because of the weather. Our friend and commercial photographer Zach Cobb was already planning to be there to do photography of the event, so we owe them a nice big lunch to thank them for being the ones to get their hands cold and wet while we stayed in! Zach’s pictures of the day are totally awesome – check out the full gallery at the Westside Studio site.
The day of #specialKCsnowmageddon, our whole team was glued to the computer tweeting and organizing behind the scenes with Steven and Kyle, who were on the ground at Snowbrawl Central. The chat room on the Intefy page was packed with people for two hours prior to the high noon event – we don’t know how many exactly, but have estimated between 45-75 at any given time. People were lamenting on Twitter they hadn’t gone to UMKC where the players and fans were headed for the snowball fight, and some people ditched class and left work to go attend, because it just sounded so dang fun.
So what is the point of this post, exactly? There have been dozens of recap posts by people who know the game of soccer far better than I do, but I wanted to share what I noticed most in the afterglow of this very impromptu, very unexpected and utterly fun event:
A player’s relationship with his or her fans is ALWAYS on the fan’s mind. When you take the extra time to acknowledge fans, that’s one thing. But when you take the extra time to spend real time with them, off the field of your sport, an enduring and very special bond is cemented between you and the people that admire you. That many of the posts by fans reflect an awe-inspiring feeling of communion with these guys is no accident. The price? A few hours time, the willingness to play, and some burritos (Kei graciously footed a Chipotle bill for folks afterward, with Chipotle kicking in at least 23 free meals in honor of Kei’s jersey number.) The thing most remembered about the day will be that we all had fun together – both the online watchers and the players and fans who shared time in person.
A sports organization who will step outside the lines of what is typical, what is traditional, or what is expected, is a pretty damn cool organization to be around. Sporting KC tossed in support of this little adventure, let us hack their brand to toss a branded entity online in a hurry, showed up to help with the event, brought their video production guy who did interviews and made a wonderful recap video of the day, and worked with us to help host this online. With no executive committee meetings, no delays which would have made it impossible to proceed, and with a good-natured sense of humor about it all.
It’s good to have friends and fans, because they will help you make things happen. When Kei first started tweeting about snow and his lack of experience with it, that might have been the end of it. But his team mates got involved, their fans got involved, our friends got involved, other photographers and videographers and Chipotle and soccer journalists and people who just wanted to play with the whole idea, all pitched in and the involvement of all is what enabled this idea to become a reality. Part of the reason for the “afterglow” of this special snow day is that this was an exhibit of social media connectivity in its finest form.
Sometimes, the best social media moments are totally unplanned. What makes an idea “viral” or get momentum around it can seem a fickle thing in the world of social media. Everyone wants their idea or video or campaign to take wing and be spread far and wide with tons of enthusiasm around it. But that cannot be guaranteed, and if something like this had been planned by the marketing department at Sporting KC, the idea might have fallen flat… we’ll never know, because this idea was the genuine inspiration of a man not born around snow who wanted to have some fun with folks.
You can’t pull off a rocking event or campaign successfully without being prepared. Despite the lack of planning, the ONLY reason this worked as a totally spontaneous bit of real exposure for the soccer team is because a number of people were ready to make things happen given an opportunity. For example, Kyle was ready to throw support behind this, and he brought people to do a video recap of the event. Our team has a platform that can be branded pretty nicely in an hour or less, and an art director who can make adorable, Sporting KC attired snowmen at her boss’s whim, plus Fresh ID has the capability to organize live events online with short notice as we’ve done a number of them now. Someone (not sure who) contacted the press and I hear one of the TV stations was at the snowbrawl but I never saw footage on TV. A shame, really, because this was a very neat experience that others have already talked about emulating in other cities. Many soccer bloggers in and out of the area saw what was happening and posted a story – including one from the Kansas City Star and Yahoo Sports. Planning may not be an option, but preparation is a necessity if you want to be able to move as swiftly as the tide turns in the world of social connections and random ideas.
Athletes are inspiring. For me, at least. It was great fun to watch these guys sled, and dive headfirst into the snow, and get pelted with snowballs and play soccer in the snow, an act that already has me fantasizing about what it would be like for them to play snow soccer in their new stadium next year. Their agility, their flexibility, their prowess in their chosen sport is very admirable and inspires me to get off my rump and do something sporty. So for that, I thank these guys especially! They touched a lot of hearts, made some new friends, captured the interest of some new fans, and turned a few other teams green with envy yesterday. Not bad, for a boring old snow day!
Here’s the recap video. Enjoy, and never be afraid to follow a crazy idea all the way through!