When it comes to the next generation of sports fans, there is one company building their fanbase more effectively than nearly anyone else. We’re talking about Overtime, of course.
Their social-first approach to sports and culture has attracted investors like Kevin Durant, Drake, Devin Booker, Trae Young, and Klay Thompson. Their main account on TikTok has over 19 million followers, and they have numerous other accounts in the millions of followers.
We sat down with Tom Weingarten, Overtime’s Head of Social Media, to talk about how they dominate on TikTok.
When you look at the Sports Media TikTok rankings list, there are a lot of Overtime accounts on there, but there is one thing that stands out above anything else. Overtime leads all sports media accounts in average likes per video, average comments per video, and average shares per video. That doesn’t happen unintentionally. Can you detail some of the strategy on how you believe that happened?
I think it’s a combination of two things. First, when I think about comments and shares, I think about community. We’ve aimed to do a really good job of always communicating with our followers, making sure they know there are people behind the account and it’s not just some company. We want to grow that community as big as possible, which is why we spend a lot of time in the comments section across all of our social platforms responding to our followers. We love that there is a certain expectation that when people comment, there is a good chance this verified account will reply.
The second thing is we always want to be first when it comes to viral content. When you’re first to post a viral video, that tends to lead to people wanting to re-share it. This has been our strategy from day one. When we were way smaller than everyone else, we always had the mindset that if we’re first, at least we’ll be able to beat them to the punch and get that first wave. I think that mindset has always continued.
How many people on your team are working on or are touching a TikTok account?
We have over 15 people on the social team now. Everyone is tasked with trying to figure out what to post on there, and then we have about 12 different publishers. Our teams are in constant communication, which is key. But to be honest, it’s really anyone at the company.
That’s what’s so great about Overtime. I have people from the sales team send me videos all the time like, “Hey, what do you think of this?” Everyone is curating and trying to figure out what the next thing is; no one is turned away from doing that.
Anyone can have a great idea.
With such a big social team and the desire to move quickly, it seems like you empower your team to work autonomously in a lot of ways. What’s your secret to building that trust with your team?
Since day one, we’ve always given ownership to people on the team of those specific accounts. To get to that, we have
a very solid process for onboarding people where they’re writing hundreds of captions before they ever actually publish one. They’re spending all that time looking at different accounts and seeing what works and building up that trust.
We have a really great team, so just giving them trust has allowed them to be themselves on the accounts. Once they get handed the keys, we really say, “Hey, it’s yours now.” We want our followers to know when our account leads are having a good day or a bad day. We want their experience with our account to feel like a human as much as possible. I think that’s been the differentiator for a lot of our content.
One of the most popular TikTok strategies recently has been to build out multiple accounts for different niches. Overtime has done this as successfully or more successfully than anyone else on TikTok. Do you have any tips for starting up and managing numerous TikTok accounts?
On TikTok, when you want to build an audience, you have to be so specific about what you’re sharing in the beginning so people know, “Hey, I go to Overtime SZN for this type of video. I go to Overtime FC for that type of video.” It works really well for Overtime because our accounts are split up mostly by sport. It has made it really easy for people to know what they are looking for on most of our side accounts.
It all starts with setting the expectation that, “Hey, here are the types of videos that we want to see on there,“ and the audience grows based on that.
One thing we are really careful about is trying not to duplicate content. We’ve noticed the algorithm hurts you if you’re sharing videos that someone else is sharing. We just have that conversation trying to figure out like, “Hey, based on who your audience is, based on how you’re performing lately, what is going to do the best on each page?”
Are you experimenting with longer videos on TikTok?
We haven’t gone up to 10 minutes yet, but that’s not to say we won’t. For Overtime, it’s all about a slow build. Early on, we were only sharing 15-second videos. Now we’re more in the 30- to 45-second range, and our talent is now experimenting with one-minute to one-minute-and-30-second videos. For longer videos, it’s really something you have to train your audience on.
I think the long-term solution for us is figuring out how to create something that people want to stick around for. We haven’t done a ton of it, but it’s definitely in the cards.
How much of your TikTok strategy is living in the moment, and how much of it is part of a content calendar?
I would say about 90% of it is figuring it out in real time, and that goes off of us trying to be fast and trying to hit what’s hot. Then the 10% that isn’t, it’s mostly stuff around our shows.
Final question: TikTok is all about experimentation, innovating, and trying new things. What are you experimenting with now?
We’ve been really getting into the podcast space which is something I think could work for some of those longer-form videos we were just talking about. For us, we call them micro-pods or mini-talk shows. We’ve seen a lot of early success. One of our accounts called “Mind of Zero” hit 140,000 followers within two weeks.
We view it as a whole network. How do we have a football show, a basketball show, baseball, soccer, sports betting, etc.? How do we touch everything the same way that traditional television has on their sports networks? We’re trying to build that same network but just specifically for TikTok.
This interview was originally published in Conviva’s 2022 TikTok Benchmarks and Strategy Guide for Brands. Follow Overtime on TikTok and Tom on Twitter.