Color Commentary and Play by Play: A Well-Rounded Approach to Facebook

by Ken Mueller on May 2, 2012 · 9 comments

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I watch and listen to a lot of sports, particularly baseball. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting and watching the Phillies play the Braves. If there’s a Phillies’ game on, there’s also a good chance I’m watching or listening to the game.

My love of baseball, combined with my love of radio (and radio history), often has me thinking as much about the announcers as about the game itself. Sadly, there are very few announcers left who I can really enjoy. I’ve spent some time studying the greats of the game. I had a chance to interview Red Barber. I spent time with everyone from Harry Kalas to Bob Costas, and a few I don’t even want to mention. I had the great fortune to get to know Bob Wolff, who did the radio call of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. And I’ve had the chance to listen to archival recordings of greats like Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Russ Hodges, and more.

There’s nothing better than listening to a baseball game with a great team of announcers in the booth.

Traditionally, there are two announcers, one designated as the “Play-by-Play” announcer, and the other the “Color Commentator.” In general, the play-by-play announcer is the one who calls the balls and strikes and all the action in the game. They tell you what’s happening when it happens.This is a role that is much more important in radio than it is in television, since you can see what is happening on television. A great radio play-by-play guy truly paints a word picture as he describes what’s happening in the ballpark.

The color commentator, on the other hand, fills in the gaps. He’s a storyteller. While the play-by-play announcer is describing the play, and rattling off numbers, the color commentator might be telling us a story about the player that adds a level of interest for us, and gives us a more well-rounded picture of the participants of the game.

Both of these are integral to our listening experience, and when done well, we are educated and entertained.

This is the approach we should be taking with our Facebook business pages. Too often I see businesses doing too much play-by-play of what’s going on (merely talking about sales, specials, and constant mentions of how many fans they have. On the other hand, there are those businesses who go a little too far on the color commentary, offering up non-stop “inspirational” quotes and general mundanery (no, it’s not a word, but I’m going to claim it as my own).

A well-rounded approach mixes it up. Tell us what’s going on in your business, while also telling us the stories. Be conversational. Tell us what’s happening, while also telling us why we should care. It’s good to have a consistent voice, but it’s also helpful to have a team where the members can play off one another’s strengths and deliver a steady stream of varied and interesting content. And this cuts across all social channels.

Think about your audience and what will hold their attention and bring them back for more. Both the play-by-play and the color commentary are important. Just play-by-play is boring; “just the facts, Ma’am”. But just color commentary, while interesting, leaves wondering what is going on.

As you approach Facebook and other social channels, how are you allowing both of these voices to have their say?

 Color Commentary and Play by Play: A Well Rounded Approach to Facebook
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9 comments
kmueller62
kmueller62

@ShakirahDawud thanks, Shakirah!

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

Another Muelerific post!  Have you started your own dictionary yet?  I really liked this one and it got me thinking about the way that I post to my business Facebook page.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Extremely clever analogy Ken, and I'm sure with baseball season in full swing, you just couldn't help yourself to tie something about the sport into a meaningful post!

 

Growing up in Baltimore, the voice of Jon Miller was always my favorite. I think he is a brilliant announcer and was sad when he left Baltimore (they essentially blew it and let him go) and when ESPN removed him from Sunday Night Baseball.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

The Mets have some great announcers right now. Now if they can fix their bullpen problems too they would be in good shape.

 

Without me using the F word since it is but one Social and Communications Channel, I love your analogy Ken. In fact a business as a whole, especially consumer businesses should have a coherent voice and message whether online, in a store, email etc. People love stories (color) but also need to know about what you sell (play by play).

 

Vermont restaurants have this going on. They created the Vermont Fresh network. Farm to Table. So menus say where the cheese or vegetables or meat came from. And you can often go visit these places if you felt the urge. So you have the color commentating story of sourcing with the play by play 'and we make this great dish with them'. Ironically the prices are higher for local sourced ingredients vs something trucked in from Pa or Ca.

Anthony_Rodriguez
Anthony_Rodriguez

Great analogy! Both strategies will really help round out the message. BTW, Ernie Harwell is my most favorite announcer of all time.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @John_Trader1 Thanks, John. Yes, this came to me while watching the game last night. I never got to meet Jon, but I remember when they let him go. Great voice, though!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @HowieSPM I commend your for not using the F word, but even worse, you dared to use the M word on my blog! Horrors. When I was in NYC I had Gary Cohen on one of my seminar panels. nice guy!

 

And I"m seeing more and more of that from restaurants. Here in Lancaster we have quite a few Farm to Table, Buy Fresh, Buy Local places, including two of my clients. One of them is known for their corn chowder during the Summer months, and they blogged about the local farm that supplies the corn. People really connect with that. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Anthony_Rodriguez Love Harwell. Never met him, but have listened to a lot of recordings. My favorite, not surprisingly, is Harry Kalas. Man had serious pipes.

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