Karen Freberg: Life with Spectacles as a Social Media Professor

By Karen Freberg, Ph.D.

I tell my students all the time I have three weaknesses: coffee, shoes, and technology. I have always tried to integrate as much technology into my work, research, and teaching as possible. So, when Snapchat announced their latest venture into the camera sector with Spectacles, I was beyond excited.

What was impressive to me was the fact they launched the product in a pretty innovative (and genius) way to create as much FOMO as you could possibly imagine. We'll be talking about the Spectacles campaign for a while since it really tapped into the notion you had to be somewhere at a specific time (as shown on their map page) to get these exclusive devices. The fact they were more affordable than Google Glass ($130 compared to $1500) was another deciding factor.

Investing in new technologies like this is not new to me as as professor. I was a Google Glass Explorer back in 2013 and it was interesting to see the comparison between the two different campaigns. With Google Glass you initially had to send out a tweet to them and state how you would use the glasses. I remember getting the notification I had been selected to be part of the Explorer group and I was super excited. My dad and I drove down to Venice Beach to pick them up in person.

However, as Edna Mode classically states in “The Incredibles” –  this was in the past and it distracts from the now. Now is all about Spectacles, among other emerging tools of technologies.


With that being said, getting a pair of Specs was NOT an easy task. Most of the locations were no where close to Louisville, KY. I also noticed most of them were in CA (not too far from my hometown) and everyone in my network was talking about it.

I saw some people who were able to get a pair and I was waiting in anticipation on what types of videos and coverage they would share with them. Some of the more innovative ways came from some of the professional sports teams, which was cool to see.

I had a few friends who were able to get a pair from the store in NYC, and I initially reached out to a couple of them to see if I could possibly get one from them. Unfortunately, I was not able to get one this way. So, I thought to myself – how can I get a pair? I realized I had to be resourceful (and creative) to see if I could get a pair in time before the spring semester starts.

The answer? This article from Mashable. Definitely check it out. I ordered a pair and a few days later, I got a package in the mail with my pair. Fully charged and ready to go!


This was something I felt was both surprising but also refreshing in many ways. Some voiced this and were publicly reaching out to others to see if they could get a pair of Specs to test, review, showcase, and share with their own networks. We’ve seen a few reviews of Spectacles and the story behind how they got a pair (see Carlos Gil’s review), and I do think the way in which these products were distributed definitely influenced how people perceived them.

We have seen influencer and influencer marketing become more mainstream as brands integrate them more into campaigns and other product/service initiatives on social media. They are the first ones to get the products most of the time and get the chance to share their reviews and feelings.

Some influencer campaigns are successful, but there are others that have not gone off so well and have actually (in my opinion) shifted the focus away from the product from a positive perception to a negative one. Exhibit A: Robert Scoble with Google Glass. When brands hand over power, control, and brand message to an influencer, they are giving them a lot of influence that may not be the kind they want. Scoble was still able to get a pair, but it did not have the same reaction as his initial posting with Google Glass.

With that being said, I think Snapchat did not want to be in the same category as Google with their product, so this is probably one of the main reasons they went a different direction. Do I think this is a turning point for influencer marketing? Yes to some degree. I think influencers have to be aware that not all brands are going to give them first dibs on a product and it all comes down to their vision, objectives, and relationships they have as a brand. We have to all recognize the differences among brands when it comes to this type of strategy.


There have been many reviews, blog posts, and even descriptions of ways you can use these devices in the workplacemarketing, brands, etc. I have been able to use Spectacles now for about two days, and I have to say there are a lot of things I found surprising about the devices, including:

  • Battery life: There were some reviews (like the one Carlos wrote) that discussed battery life as a main point of concern. I actually had no issues with my Specs when it came to using them on an ongoing basis. I took them out on a hike, walked around town, recorded a bunch of videos at my local coffee shop, and STILL had a lot of battery left.
  • Sync capabilities: I was concerned about this because Google Glass really didn’t sync up well unless you were either on wifi or had a really strong connection. Spectacles was able to sync up immediately, even on top of a mountain (yes, I was able to do this today). No worries there if you need to get your video snaps from Specs immediately.
  • No concerns for recording (or really knowing what they are!) from public. This was a HUGE issue for Google Glass. However, the glasses that are part of Specs are actually pretty useful. I picked out a black pair and they look like regular sunglasses. In the time I have had them, only one person said they only noticed when I moved my head they realized something was different about them.
  • Audio: Audio comes out pretty clear as well. I was surprised with how much it actually picks up from the snaps I was able to create.
  • One function for the product: Snapchat really did stay in their lane when it came to these glasses. They record video and allow you to upload it to Snapchat. That’s it. No apps, voice control, etc., like Google Glass. Essentially, they were able to make it simple (and effective) for the user to create and focus on content.
  • Cool factor: I felt exactly like the first time I got Google Glass. Spectacles are COOL! I got flooded with private messages, DMs, and emails about how I got a pair. There are many ways you can get a pair without following the bots at this point (at an affordable price).


I will be trying to do this for my social media class at the University of Louisville (#Freberg17). And while I am still in the process of brainstorming different ways this could be accomplished, here are some initial tactics:

  • Immersive storytelling: This is similar to what we had with Google Glass, but it would allow the professor (and students) to create stories from their perspectives. A day in the life via Snapchat (possibly for a takeover of a university account?), fan experience, showcasing announcements (college acceptances, awards, graduation, etc), behind the scenes experiences, etc. The list is endless.
  • POV Interviews and features: This was what I loved about seeing what BBC was doing with their Snapchat (way to go, GiniCanBreathe!) You can give the power to the students to do an interactive interview where they are able to get both perspectives.
  • How to videos: If you wanted to showcase a tutorial via Snapchat perhaps for your students in specific amount of time, you are able to do this accordingly.
  • Different view of presentations: If you can multitask, this could be fun to share with others on what it is like to present in class (if you want to wear glasses inside), a conference, or a group setting. There are prescription lenses that allows you to change out the lenses, so that’s something to consider if you don’t want to have just sunglasses. This was also a feature that was not available for Google Glass.
  • Snapchat creative movie content: Imagine if you had footage from your POV and then were able to use your phone to capture other views to create a true integrated view of a story? 

Let me know what you think!

Karen Freberg is an assistant professor in Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville and an adjunct instructor for the WVU Graduate Online Program Freberg’s research has been published in several book chapters and in academic journals such as Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Education, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management and Health Communication. Freberg’s social media pedagogy practices have been featured in Forbes and in USA Today College publications. You can find more from her at karenfreberg.com/blog.

Instagram Stories and Sports

By Neil Horowitz

Instagram Stories are still relatively new (though the honeymoon period ended, as Instagram Live and, now, Instagram geo-stickers in Stories recently arrived). There is no right way or wrong way for sports teams, leagues, media, and brands to utilize IG Stories, but we're seeing quite a breadth of forms.

The biggest lesson is that there is no best practice - yet - but the competition for attention, retention, and to keep users coming back, is as fierce as ever. Here are a few very different examples of Instagram Stories in sports.

Polished and animated graphics

This is an visually appealing and narrative-focused use, which seems to combine the best parts of Snapchat (chronological, short-form storytelling) with the best part of Instagram (sharp, clean graphics). It feels like Snapchat Discover, which is exactly right — as Instagram allows [limited] file upload natively, while Snapchat only offers this functionality through its distinctly differently looking Memories feature. Check out this pregame example below from the Atlanta Falcons, building up to their game.

Another example from the NFL is the Green Bay Packers, who also have a sleek, animated graphic story for game day. They also included score updates with a custom-designed, visually appealing graphic.


The idea of top plays, photos, countdowns, etc. were an early, but effective use of Instagram Stories. It has also been used as a shorthand to deliver quick headlines. Sports media accounts and leagues have used this style the most. It’s a good way to keep users going through the story and curating some top content from the clutter of the day. MLB used it for headlines, SportsCenter for top plays, MLB for headlines, and more. Check out an example below of a top plays countdown from the NBA account, including tagging players (where applicable) in the highlight.

In a related version, they’re also using it for lineup announcements. Take a look at the examples below from the LA Clippers and Houston Rockets. Sharp.
[ht to Jeff Mason for this one]


Snapchat-like content

For many, especially teams, content in Instagram Stories is similar to what many have become accustomed to in Snapchat – the raw, uncut, behind-the-scenes content. It’s a good way to get that awesome access and content to a wider audience, and to fans not fluent in Snapchat. During games, it is also a repository for the best professionally taken photos. Some use video, others just go all photos. A couple examples below from NFL teams, but these abound across all leagues, too.


This is a unique, novel use of the Instagram Stories that could have some legs for a team or brand with a talented graphic artist. By creating and uploading tons of frames, and instructing fans to tap quickly, a flipbook effect can be realized. MLS did this with a pencil-drawing like image to drive tune-in for the MLS Cup in late 2016.

Sponsored Content

Where there are eyeballs, there will be sponsored content. Instagram has not yet begun inserting any ads in Stories, but there are some instances of sponsored content in sports. Like with Snapchat, intrusive or not value-adding sponsor integration can be met with resistance and resentment from users intimately engaged with the content. Take a look at an example below with content on the NHL Instagram Story, sponsored by Ticketmaster.

Driving web traffic

Instagram Stories have imitated Snapchat with their ‘Swipe up for more’ feature and this has begun seeing some limited use in sports. The typical use case is to link to a highlight or an article. An example below comes from the Denver Broncos, where a swipe up reveals a full video highlight.


Probably my favorite use of Instagram Stories in sports so far felt like an abbreviated episode of "Cribs" (Google it, youngsters), in which Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi took fans through a day, including a mini tour of his house, his fridge, and more. I could watch quick little 1-5 minute ‘episodes’ like this often! And maybe a front or end card and/or logo placement and/or product placement could monetize it. You can see the sample below.

It’s always exciting when a new platform feature comes out (since that rarely happens. Ha!) and experimentation and practices play out before our very eyes. Take a moment to look, to learn, and get inspired.

This post was originally published on dsmsports.net, which can be found here.

Neil Horowitz is a Senior Customer Success Manager at Hopscotch and founder of DMZsports.net, an industry publication highlighting many aspects of the sports business. His Digital and Sports Media podcasts can be found here. Follow him on Twitter @NJH287

Advice from the pros: How to get ahead in the digital era

The SportsPR news team caught up with five industry professionals to find out: What is the most notable change you've noticed in the industry throughout your career and how do you keep up with the continuous digital/social growth?


  • The most notable change I've experienced in my career is the drastic increase in the volume of information available, which creates both challenges and opportunities. When I first started working in public relations, we faxed our press releases and spent A LOT of time on the phone. Now, we have to get more creative with how we build relationships with journalists and cut through the clutter to get attention for our clients. At the same time, now we have huge opportunities to create our own unique content for our clients. Being a good storyteller remains the common thread and has become even more important as we rely less on journalists to tell all our stories. 
  • It can be overwhelming to try to keep up with the constant changes and growth in the digital/social media space. As an agency, at PRO Sports Communications, we are always challenging ourselves to innovate and educate, trying out the latest tools and continuing to learn. We can't get complacent or think that we know it all.  A good place to start is to follow what others in the #smsports space are doing and talking about online.


  • The most notable change I’ve noticed in my industry throughout my career is the birth and explosive growth of digital and social media platforms where stories can be told……and news can spread in real time. It used be that stories were told through the newspaper, radio or on TV….and there was usually some delay in when those stories were told. Now there are social media platforms that allow for stories to be told instantaneously. Anyone with a camera on their phone can be what I call a “citizen journalist” and capture anything from disasters to celebrities in compromising positions to rude customer service.  Crisis PR has changed drastically with the growth of digital and social. Anyone in PR who isn’t monitoring those channels constantly, could wake up to a tidal wave of controversy for their client.
  • I keep up with the continuous digital/social growth by talking to leaders who are shaping the future of these technologies. Since I am the Founder of the Sports PR Summit (www.sportsprsummit.com), we are fortunate to engage leaders in the digital and social media space. Our Sports PR Summit Social Media Workshop took place at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and many of the brightest minds from digital and social media were in attendance. I am also constantly on social media for my radio show Sports Business Radio (www.sportsbusinessradio.com) and for my PR events and clients.

Kara Fisher, Assistant Director, Michigan State Athletic Communications

  • Technology is by far the biggest change in the industry. When I was an intern, I was dealing with modems and fax machines. I think the technology is great, but it also creates a separation. We are always connected, but yet personal communication is dying.
  • The social media growth is exciting; I love trying new things. I remember fighting Twitter and now I feel like I am fighting to keep Twitter alive. Keeping up with new ways to communicate with fans, media and student athletes is exciting, but it does add to the workload. The to do list seems to grow with time as well.

Aimee Dulebohn, Communications Manager, Phoenix International Raceway

  • The most notable change I’ve experienced is the sheer number of PR people who are out there. There can be a lot of gatekeepers to reach a certain individual or find an answer that you need. But if you take advantage of these opportunities, and always build on your relationships, you will find yourself well connected. I’m not the best at staying up to date with digital and social platforms, but I have noticed that those organizations that utilize these opportunities to create a different voice, and those that may push the limit, are often well-received and well-respected.

Valerie Krebs, Media Relations Manager, Fox Sports

  • I consider myself very fortunate that I started my career in sports PR as digital and social media was just beginning to take off, so I’ve been able to grow with it. Although, when I first started, we asked ourselves “if” we should be using social media – now I don’t think a brand can truly thrive without it. Personally, I love the instant feedback you get from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I think it makes me better at my job, as I’m able to keep up with news and trends much more easily. However, I think you have to take that feedback with a grain of salt. You’re always going to get more negative comments than positive ones, so you can’t let the vocal few dictate your strategy.

College Sports Social Media Strategy > Communications + Branding = Recruits

By Gary Clarke, President and CTO of GotChaDigi

All major Division I Programs must connect and stay relevant to fans, recruits and players.  Premier programs recognize the most efficient and cost effective way to achieve these goals is via social media.    However, being inaccessible is only slightly more damaging to premier sports programs than being unresponsive on social media.

Since the NCAA has announced it will no longer regulate electronic communication between coaches and recruits as of Aug. 1 2016, the landscape of recruiting will change sufficiently.  Social media is the definitive preferred method of communication for today recruits.  As social media is their platform for communication in general, especially since they feel that phone calls, home visits and text message are more time consuming and intrusive to their day-to-day activities and family.  Social media messaging plus liking and re-tweeting are ego boosting and less intrusive ways of communicating and getting their attention.

We’ve already seen schools compete with one another as far as multi-million dollar facilities; social media will be the next place to be “better” than your competition.  It is critical that programs have dedicated resources to the support the social media curation within the program and from recruits in particular with the content creation, monitoring and responsiveness plans and services that these new rules require.

Social media curation and campaigns should  support the athletic program(s) by addressing the following:

  • UNIVERSITY IMAGE: Timely and appropriate response to comments on social media is the key to maintaining a program or coaches image.
  • SPORTS PROGRAM IMAGE: Providing salient insights through social media will help re-build and promote a programs brand worldwide.
  • AUGMENT RECRUITING EFFORTS: Positive messaging and careful promotion of a program will facilitate recruiting of future players and high quality students who want to attending a university with top sports programs.
  • TRANSPARENCY: Social media provides a clear view of what goes on in a high-level athletic program.
  • INTIMACY: Fans want to have an intimate connect to the coaches and team that only social media can provide.  Social media can give fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process and team activities, with live-streaming options on Facebook, Periscope, Instagram or Vine.
  • INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE: Social media breaks down geographical barriers, as recruits and fans from all corners of the country and world have immediate and unfiltered access to the program.


The NCAA passed proposed rule changes on January 19 that took effect on August 1, 2016.

NCAA Proposal No. 2015-48




According to the NCAA, “Divisions I and II look at social networking less in terms of the technology being used and more in terms of its recruiting impact.”

As a Division I or II coach/institution, Sport Programs and Coaches can:

  • Market and promote its university/program by setting up social networking pages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
  • Send messages to recruits through a “social networking program’s email function.” [This prevents coaches from posting on someone’s wall, but allows them to send a Facebook message.]

Coaches cannot use the school’s social networking pages to:

  • Feature photos of prospective student-athletes.
  • Contact individual prospects publicly. (No posting on player’s timelines!)
  • Discuss specific recruits on any wall, public forum or chat room.
  • Contact prospects when it is impermissible as per NCAA recruiting laws

Gary Clarke, Founder and CTO of GotchaDigi, has worked as an IT strategic executive and business analyst specialist and has evolved into a social media strategist and expert for numerous businesses. He is a passionate Social Media Marketing consultant, curator, and coach. He specializes in Social Media Marketing, Social Media Consulting, Social Media Curation/Management, Facebook Marketing, Twitter Marketing, YouTube Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing, Pinterest Marketing, Instagram , Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Direct Sales and Network Marketing Training, Relationship Building Strategies, Community engagement, Executive Communications, Keynote speaking, business strategy, online marketing to leverage social media.

This post was originally posted on the GotChaDigi Blog, which can be found here