Snapback Sports founder Jack Settleman talks building one of the biggest sports communities online
Snapback Sports is soaring upwards.
The Snapchat account recently eclipsed 500 million story views and 1 million followers, a remarkable feat achieved by few brands.
The account was created by Jack Settleman, a UT-Austin graduate who travels the country collecting big-time sports moments for his followers. Settleman’s track record includes the PGA Championship, March Madness, and several other major league sporting events.
I had the opportunity to speak with Settleman this past week and gain insight into his content platform. It was an informative and eye-opening session that demonstrated why Snapback Sports is a unique and audience-tailored feed.
Settleman grew up around his family’s beer distribution business. It exposed him to sports as they regularly sold to the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles in-season. Sports were always more than just wins and losses to him, as a home playoff game would draw a level of passion and celebration among his family.
He would return home from school in the summer to stack shelves, but he always wanted to pursue his entrepreneurial passion for sports business.
During his sophomore year of college, Settleman ran an e-commerce site where he imprinted phone cases and clothing items with sports designs. His profits were limited, though, and he wondered what would happen if he owned the content himself.
Enter Snapback Sports. Setteman transitioned his efforts into a sports content page where he had complete ownership of the content.
Reply with your favorite SnapBack Podcast guest to date 🔽 pic.twitter.com/gkgoQ29Bzc
— Snapback Sports (@snapback_sports) June 1, 2020
“About three years ago, I started the Snapchat account,” he told me.
“I’m posting every 30 minutes every single day for the past three years, building a community. I actually had success right off the bat, which was encouraging.”
Before pushing out his brand to include a vastly popular podcast, a YouTube channel, Twitter, and an Instagram account, Settleman faced the struggle of operating on a single platform. If Snapchat went down, all of his content would follow. So his brand has now expanded to numerous other platforms.
With over 500 million story views, Settleman focuses on the aspects that distinguish his work from other content pages.
“I pride myself on being super in the moment,” he explained.
“With no sports right now, the content is more of a sustaining piece. But when the NBA resumes, the second LeBron has the biggest dunk of the night, it’s going up on my page.”
Settleman’s combination of timely signature moments and audience appeal make for a strong page. He focuses on delivering the content that the audience wants while implementing a personal touch.
“It’s understanding what the audience is looking for, exposing them to new sports, and also giving it a personal feel. I will use the feedback of the fans, and I will actually listen; I think that’s what makes it really unique.”
— Snapback Sports (@snapback_sports) June 22, 2020
The personality of the page is just as important as the content posted. Settleman understands the necessity of authenticity in a sports page; he is willing to ride highs and lows in order to connect with his followers and provide a genuine experience.
“Everyone knows that I am a Ravens fan. I don’t post through a biased lens, but just simply rooting for my team. When the Ravens win, people are excited, but when they lose, they’re just as excited to crack jokes at me and come at me. You just wouldn’t get that from your traditional page.”
Settleman also has a notable connection with esports, an emerging digital sports field that he incorporates into his brand. He focused more on esports with the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few months, enjoying the communal aspects and opportunities that it offered.
Settleman also recently had the opportunity to play in Ravens wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown’s Madden league. He engaged with multiple NFL players and got to enjoy the lively environment that the league offered.
“People ask me how I get started,” Settleman says.
“Go commit to putting in five years, ten hours a day like professional esports players do. And then you’ll just end up doing it because you love it. And not many people are willing to do that.”
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We discussed the many misconceptions of esports, being that people unfamiliar with the topic often find it “lazy,” or “easy for anyone.”
That is rarely the case. As with managing a digital content page, esports requires relentless passion and hard work.
“I did a four-hour stream two weeks ago, and it was my longest stream ever,” Settleman detailed.
“It was physically and mentally exhausting. And these pros do this eight hours a day, every day. It is incredible because you’re constantly talking and engaging with the community and your mind is working to focus on the game.”
Looking at the whole picture, one of the major reasons that Settleman went to Snapchat was because of the opening. Much less competition existed than on other platforms.
At the same time, it was an easy and personable way to engage with the community, allowing the page to introduce new content to the audience.
“This is the biggest confusion when people ask for feedback,” Settleman explained.
“99% of customers don’t know what they want until you show them. We kind of put it on ourselves to figure this out and create the best content. And then they’re like: Oh, this is dope. I’m gonna keep watching this.”
As far as the next steps, Settleman wants to continue naturally building the platform. “Followers and social growth are the capitals in today’s society,” he explained.
He also wants to partner with strategic brands and continue growing his YouTube channel and podcast.
Five years from now, he aims to bring on more team members to join him. He would love to work with people who share his passions and want to get out there and work.
Settleman recently participated in a branded campaign with Nerf through the Whistle Sports media company. He commented on the competition alongside Spice Adams, which featured Steelers star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The YouTube video has popped to nearly 200K views.
— The Classroom (@the_classroom_) April 17, 2020
Last month, Settleman moderated two episodes of The Classroom, a digital series launched by Alex Sheinman.
He had the opportunity to interview Mark Cuban and Gary Vaynerchuk, two of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
It reached the #1 spot on the sports podcast charts and includes guests such as CJ McCollum, DJ Moore, and Myles Turner. The podcast also partnered with NFLPA to interview and shine a light on NFL combine prospects.
⚽️ Footy across the pond
🗓 NBA Schedule
📊 What the hell is that internet graphic
💌📥 Monday Mailbag: NBA Free Agency, Custom Jerseys, Stadium Seat Selection, Story Time
— Snapback Sports (@snapback_sports) June 29, 2020
Snapback Sports is a fresh and engaging brand that is pushing out quality content daily. It is satisfying to see a sports content page using platforms to connect with audiences in a meaningful and genuine way.
We cannot wait to see what Snapback Sports will be up to next. Visit their official website to grab some fire merchandise.