The other night I posed a rather cryptic tweet about the future of Sports Rants. Essentially, the tweet indicated that I had a brainstorm about the future of Sports Rants and, more specifically, the next evolution in the brand I launched in 2011.
After some time to fully immerse myself in the thought process I have come to a conclusion about the next direction of the sports media brand I have dedicated the past 5 years to.
Like most brand, we have gone through many changes since our original inception, but overall the “spirit” remained close to the same as it was on the very first day of testing; Sports Rants was to be a merging of popular social media features and content.
In theory, I thought this was to be the next step in how people (you and me) share, speak and communicate regarding content. My theory was that while mainstream social brands such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc targeted the mass population, Sports Rants would segregate and target only the sports industry. It wouldn’t be just a blog or just a forum, it was intended to be a condensing on these popular features to present a “one stop shop” to users.
When I would speak of Sports Rants and how I came up with the idea for it, I would tell people the following: I was doing a study on my own behavior online, when I first get up in the morning, over the course of a week. I found myself consistently (and somewhat religiously) opening up 4-5 tabs which included a content publisher/news source (ESPN,CnnSI) my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and a blog I was working on.
In my head, I envisioned taking these 5 tabs (their core purpose) and condensing them into one, therefore creating a hub for all resources centered on one specific broad topic; sports.
Building Sports Rants into a globally recognized brand has been a process, one I am very proud of. But through our many changes I have found that our user base simply does not use our site as a social networking community in the way it was intended to be.
Grant it re-designs, self-funding, change of courses and trial and errors influence any given course and it certainly impacted the brand. I wouldn’t dare say negatively, but I would say that after 5 years of our user base using our site in a few specific ways as opposed to attempting to use it another forces you to re-evaluate your direction.
I always prided myself on being different, making any brand I owned, worked with or operated “different”, and that is what led me to the Sports Rants journey.
We are not without our mistakes, our missteps and our pitfalls, we have had many. From functionality to content, just like any other brand, we have experienced our fair share. But to ignore our user date, the behavior analytics and what you, the user, are telling us would be futile and self-defeating in the long run.
With that being said, over the course of the next few months, Sports Rants will undergo a change and I will be re-directing our course to a more specific route.
Our contributors and our members are what drives Sports Rants. Our content is what drives the brand. It is the “meat and potatoes” of what it is we do.
To offer more clarity on what I am referring to, I have decided to eliminate a lot of the social networking functionality and features that have prominently utilized by our site. The Activity stream that acted and behaved like Facebook and, to some degree, Twitter will be phased out.
Social Media profiles, friend requests, private messaging will be phased out.
The sub-sections of Sports Rants such as Sports Rants NFL, Sports Rants NBA, etc will all be merged into the main part of Sports Rants, acting more as a hub of our content than a social sharing community.
Going this route we will not completely rid ourselves of the social elements that made us unique, we are simply eliminating the features that aren’t warranting any continuation. With that being said we are focusing our attention on a viable Forum for our members, our readers, our community, to socialize in. A forum has always been on the backburner as we have not been able to find a viable solution OR one worth the resources over the past few years.
Our site will act, behave and appear more like the sites you are used to seeing. We will be featuring more content, bringing on more talent and spotlighting our contributors more than ever.
Our forum will be the place to hang out , the place to talk in-depthly about sports.
It’s unfair to say that we will never re-visit the features we are filtering out, but our data suggests that you (the user) don’t need that functionality at this point in time.
I have to always remember that my creativity sometimes is far ahead of my capabilities. As a one man team running this brand, I take a lot of the work on myself throughout all facets of the website. Social Media communities are a massive undertaking, demanding a team of talent to properly execute, maintain and sustain. For one person this can be a lot. Therefore we will re-visit these features once we are further along in the journey that is Sports Rants, and if user data tells us it’s what you want, we will deliver.
In conclusion I want to thank you in advance for your patience as we undergo these changes and, more importantly, thank you for your unwavering support over the past 5 years. This brand went from a simple blog started in Albany, New York at a small desk in my house to a much bigger brand than I could ever imagine, and in sunny South Florida.
The next evolution of Sports Rants is on the horizon and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s next!