How do you get hundreds of millions of audiences to listen to you and patronize your products? The answer is as simple as social media, but it doesn’t simply mean throwing anything online just to be noticed. Today, Tracy Hazzard interviews Jack Settleman, the Founder of Snapback Sports, the largest sports Snapchat account in the world totaling over 500M+ views YTD, and the host of the Snapback Chat podcast. Jack shares some tips in creating great Snapchat podcast communities and how he got to have a huge viewership and followership. He also talks about how he was able to increase podcast ratings, encourage engagements, and book noteworthy guests.
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Diving Into The White Space: SnapChat Podcast Communities With Jack Settleman
I am excited to bring you someone unusual that I met. He has an incredible show. It is the top sports show in iTunes and Apple podcasts. Jack Settleman is the Founder of Snapback Sports, the largest Snapchat account in the world, totaling over 500 million views. Snapbacks Sports has created Snapback Sports Pod, which is a compelling sports culture podcast that hit number one on Apple’s top charts in 2019. Jack serves as an in-house podcast host and content strategy manager at Whistle, an entertainment and sports media company. We’re going to talk a little bit about that.
He’s an experienced social community creator and has been instrumental in the launch of Whistle’s other podcasts. As a college graduate, Settleman instills a voice that resonates with the younger target audience in Snapchat and has been fundamental in launching Whistle slate of original podcasts including Snapback Chat, where he interviews successful influencers, athletes and social media stars on their rise to fame. Jack has also had a hand in Whistle’s merchandising arm with his Snapbacks Sports March consistently ranking as a best seller. I want to talk about sports merchandising. Prior to Whistle, Settleman worked at Action Network, a sports betting media company where he managed the company’s social team.
Settleman is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In his free time, he enjoys attending sporting events, raising money for nonprofit organizations such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and giving back to his fan-base often by sending followers to their first-ever sports game. How cool is that? Jack, I have to tell you, I have a Memorial Sloan Kettering connection. My husband’s family is part of the reason it exists. They are part of the founding money of it, his family, the Howards. Does that have a personal connection for you?
Cancer affects everyone, specifically me. Over the summer, we play in a charity basketball tournament, me and my co-host, Abe, and we raise money. The goal of the tournament is to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Personally, it affects me and we chose them as the charity of choice.
You couldn’t pick a better facility as far as I’m concerned because we’ve been on the inside and got into some of the top trustee meetings and other things like that and what they’re doing there and research are incredible. Good for you to be giving back like that as well. Let’s talk about your show and let’s talk about what you’ve created here. You have, in a short time period, created quite a powerful show. How did it come about? How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
I started Snapbacks Sports in October 2017, which was to highlight behind the scenes sporting events. I was at the University of Texas, I was like, “It’s cool. I’d go to these basketball and football games.” Dallas and Houston are three hours away. San Antonio is one-and-a-half hours away. I kept posting and growing this community on Snapchat to where eventually I was like, “People will care about my opinions. People want to hear funny, entertaining stuff.” All they have is the ability to go on ESPN and listen to the guys in the suits, Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, etc. The way we communicate nowadays, specifically the younger audience, is completely different than the racial issues or the political issues that ESPN or Bleacher Report touch on. We want to be a fun, friendly, startup-style podcast for the younger audience.
In June in the NBA Finals, we kicked it off. We break down Raptors, Warriors and then NBA free agency. I’m a Knicks fan. It was a huge summer of basketball for us. Over the course of that summer, we pushed and spoke to the highly engaged audience. We call them the fam, which is family because that’s another thing with the younger audiences, that connection. Social media is supposed to connect, whereas nowadays on Twitter, it’s the biggest names using it to grow their platforms. It’s not using it to connect like it was originally built. We take pride in that. We always answer our fans, do Monday mailbag.
You’ve been skilled at creating community. Through your career, that’s what you’ve been able to do with that. What do you think the key to creating great communities have been for you?
The key is time, it genuinely is. This is how I always break it down if someone replies to me and I answer back, I have them interested, I’ll have them following me. If I then offer them a thought, not just, “Hey,” but it’s like, “LeBron James can do this to break down the Raptors defense.” If I offer them that, they’re a fan for life. If I do one a day, or in my case, 100 a day, 1,000 a day, then you build those communities and then you get back to those communities and then they stick with you forever.
Let’s not sugarcoat it, it takes a personal effort. You can’t phone it in. Why Snapchat?
Everyone was on Instagram. Everyone was on Twitter. I had a business in my sophomore year of college. We were selling phone cases and we are advertising through social media marketing. I learned about this whole back world that you couldn’t even imagine a fourteen-year-old is running the internet. It is crazy.
I can believe it because I live it. I understand where you’re coming from.
After a year, we partnered with John Wall. We did Mohamed Sanu, a bunch of these pro athletes, but I was like, “I don’t want to pay to get shout outs anymore. I want to be the advertising platform.” I was like, “To grow on Instagram is going to be too expensive, to grow on Twitter too expensive. Why not Snap? It’s a cool vertical feed.” This was before Instagram Story. I like the Snap product. It gives you that one-to-one interaction that you have in the Messenger and it felt like the right way to go. I would take $500. I would buy shout outs from fifteen-year-olds while I was in college. I get shouted out. I would then go reach out to this same phone case company that I had, there were hundreds of them. I’d be like, “For $50, I’ll post an ad.” I would take that $50, buy another shout out, to the point where it grew much to where it’s a snowball and you could grow organically. The platform made too much sense.
There is something to being an early adopter into a platform that’s not utilizing something. Those that still want to be on Instagram, I keep saying, “Instagram TV has five people who show up all the time and everyone else is random.” If you did it consistently and constantly, which is what you did in Snapchat, you have a better shot of being seen, heard and found.
I don’t even know if it’s public yet but IGTV is going to turn on monetization so that’s a great opportunity to your point of like, “Go to the white space, it’s going to take time.” Instagram has shown that they want to build that platform. They’re pushing viewers way more focused on there. I’m in agreement with you.
On this show, I like to identify people’s binge factors, but I like to ask you whether or not you know what yours is and if not, it’ll be psychoanalysis here. I’ll give you my thoughts on it from a listener’s point of view. What do you think your binge factor is? Why do people come to you and when they find you, they start to binge listen? They show up every week.
It’s funny you say that because we work in slightly different ways. We work in a timely manner. We release every Monday and Thursday. It’s irrelevant by Thursday, Monday’s podcast because we’re reacting to the weekend’s news. My dad listens and he’s giving me insight. He enjoys binge-listening to them, three in a row if he’s on a road trip because he likes listening to our predictions. We’re always making predictions. In the sports world, many changes over the course of two weeks specifically NFL playoffs, stuff like that, where he can laugh at us and we’re wrong half of the time that it makes it entertaining.
What makes people coming week to week, in my opinion, is that relatability. It’s the differentiation of the suits on TV. We’ve been stockpiling some cool guests, which is cool. Our message to the listeners is always like, “We’re like you guys. We’re sports fans sitting on the couch, debating with each other.” When we get a big guest, we get to ask some fun questions and we’re appreciative of it that we were never like, “We’re cool now.” We’re still sports fans who happen to be doing what we do.
For everyone who’s reading, I met Jack when we did our Miami pre-Super Bowl event with Times Media. He was doing some interviews there. The word back, you may not have heard this but you went through and interviewed a couple of our guests that were there and they had been interviewed by a couple of other podcasters by the time you got to interview them. Their comment was that your questions were not the same old-same old. I thought, “That’s good,” because it’s always nice as a guest to be challenged and not be asked the same questions all the time.
Your perspective and the questions that you ask show a different level of insight from a fanbase and that’s what I think your bingeable-ness is whether it’s going back and listening to many but going forward and making sure I don’t miss any, it makes you as bingeable. That’s what it is, you have this overarching passion and excitement for the sport, all kinds of sports. It’s that exuberance that makes me want to come along. I can sit on the other side and go, “You’re wrong.” It’s in good humor. You’re right, it’s like we’re sitting on the couch, talking trash to each other and it’s fun. Good for you.
I appreciate that. We always joke around. My closest friends listen, which is awesome. We have an international audience. We always joke about having 8% international. It’s like debating with your friends because they know Abe and me well. We always joke that Abe is heavy Philly, but that’s what sports fans are. They are biased. They love to debate and support their own guys. Sometimes, you have to be unbiased when you’re talking sports. Sometimes, why not be a true sports fan and love your team?
Why not? We all grew up with that. When you guys started your podcast, if you listen to it, it’s not overly-produced. You don’t have this heavy production value to your show. It’s good, but it feels somewhat casual. Did you do that on purpose or it’s the way you went with it?
First of all, we had no clue how to podcast. That’s the biggest part of getting into the industry. The second part is consistency and getting it done. We wanted to make it as low lift as possible off the bat. Our biggest accomplishment is the 30-second intro song that everyone loves, which are sports clips cut up and it’s a fun little intro to the podcast. We don’t overproduce anything. We don’t add interviews or sound clips because we’re reactive and it’s not naturally what you do in conversation. Sometimes you will pull out a video but I’m posting a bunch of that stuff on my Snap story so we always relate it back to that. I’ll mention, “I posted this on my Snap.” It could be a press conference quote or it could be a highlight. People generally have a good idea where it doesn’t necessarily have to fit into that.
You bring such a good point here. You’re building them as fans overall to your brand. If you’re on Snap, if it’s your website, if it’s your Instagram, it doesn’t matter where it is, but stake your claim, stake your home turf, and don’t put everything into the show. It’s okay to put other things elsewhere and invite them in to do that. When I started my first podcast, it was geeky, it’s on 3D printing. We did 560 episodes, Jack, I’m not kidding you. We did a ton of it. We didn’t do video because when we started it back then, the live stream wasn’t a thing, but we knew 3D printing is visual, people want to see the objects. We would send them back to the website to look at the images or we’d send them into our Pinterest or Instagram and we would have them look at it, watch time-lapse videos because we needed them to have that interaction with us, but building that community is part of that, getting them to move around your turf.
That was one of my biggest discoveries over the past 80 episodes was when I would tease out an episode on Snap. I wanted to give the title. I wanted to give one little hint. I would start giving away the best stuff and then we would go video when we had video and create the social assets and give it all away, the number one quote, the most interesting stuff. Not everyone’s necessarily going to go and sit down and listen to it, but you can feel aligned. For example, we have Derrick White, NBA player on Team USA coming and then they’re like, “I’ve heard about the pod. I wasn’t interested. That’s a big guest. Now I’m going to go and listen.”
They get hooked.
The bingeability helps them. One podcast, Pardon My Take, I don’t listen to it. It’s the biggest sports podcast in the world, hyper-engaged. I don’t listen to it but because of the way they cut on social, it feels like I got all the key parts. Then if they had Lamar Jackson, my favorite player, I’m going to tune in because I’m aware of the podcast. The podcast industry, everyone’s worried about the download numbers and getting people into that funnel, but there’s much more to build around.
Let’s talk about that because you’re in sports merchandising. We built the whole company that we have here at Podetize, and we built everything that we’ve done in all of our shows and what we recommend to our clients based on this idea that you should sell your own stuff because that’s where the money is. The money is not in the ad dollars, the money is not in that. You’ll make more money off of your own stuff. If you analyze the big guys, that’s what they did. You guys have your own merch. It’s selling well. It’s doing well. Why do you think that is?
It’s doing well because we’re coming up with fun designs. Whistle is helpful. We have a whole design team here. We’re reacting to the key moments. We’re being creative when we come up with this different type of merchandise. We’re capitalizing on sports trends. We don’t push the merch as much through the podcast as we should because of our deal with Blue Wire. We have a revenue share, so we have ad reads all the time.
A big goal in 2020 is to book a partner because it’s either to sell your own stuff or have someone who believes in what you’re saying because everyone wants reach. Podcasting is still the lost art of the engaged listener. You’re getting someone to listen for 45 minutes. The way Apple has built their podcast listening, they can skip over any ad, that’s a mid-roll or pre-roll, it’s too easy, but you have sponsored segments, you have genuine call outs. If you partner with a ticket brand and you go to a game and we’re talking about on the podcast, you’re going to shout them out and that’s going to mean much more than the mid-roll that can be easily skipped over.
From our statistics, we find that true listeners or engaged listeners don’t skip. They don’t bother to skip. Even though they can, they don’t do it. Number one, they don’t want to miss a second and they don’t want to deal with it, but heavy listeners, podfasters, binge listeners, those kinds of listeners are too busy, they’re running one after the other and they’re out there running at the gym, cycling, whatever they’re doing and listening at the same time. To take the time to skip it isn’t worth it for them.
That’s great for the podcast industry. It’s a pod by pod breakdown. I would say the biggest thing for us is we have many interchangeable partners. The more consistent you get, yes. If you do a genuine dynamic ad read, they’re going to hang around. It’s your voice. Some podcasts are inserting pre-recorded stuff.
They don’t want to listen to that as much. I agree with you there. If it’s programmatic like radio, they know when the spots are coming, they can more easily skip it. Every episode you have has a different length. You’ve got all these different lengths going on. They don’t know when to skip. They don’t want to miss something. That’s your benefit too if you’re that type of podcaster.
We’re always getting messages afterward like, “Where did you read your ad reads?” We could do 30, we could do an hour and a mid-roll is at fifteen. Nowadays, a mid-roll is at 40. Later on, you never know.
On our system, you insert them in after the fact, so people never know. You create the spot randomly later if you want to. You can always move it around. That’s the great part though, but people want more of you and that’s why your merch is selling. They want more of what your ideas are. They want to share your philosophy with their friends and their buddies and things like that. It creates this great gifting idea and that’s where the merch starts selling. You have been doing this for a while. I’m sure things have gone wrong and some things have gone right. I’d love to hear a couple of stories.
The 1st, 2nd or 3rd episodes that we recorded were terrible. The audio didn’t work. One was wrong. We were trying to shoot for game one of the NBA Finals and if you know the NBA Finals, it’s a two-week thing. We got our first official episode out at game 4 or 5. It didn’t go well and then the mic issues. The importance of perfect audio in podcasting is high because that’s why you’re listening to a podcast. Abe and I, I swear, for 50 episodes, every time there would be a problem, it would be his mic, my mic, my headphones and his. It was never right. We’re now at a place where we finally feel comfortable. This is how new we were to the podcasting space. Abe was like, “Do I click? Do I set my setting on the microphone?” I’m like, “That’s how it’s going to work.” It seems basic now that we’re months into this. It’s such an experience.Relatability is the factor that allows people to keep coming back to your account. Click To Tweet
For everyone reading out there, I did this because the minute Jack says that it creates this anxiety, I flipped up my settings to make sure it was on my microphone because it still happens to us all the time. There’s always this moment in it where I’ll go, “Did I forget to check the settings?” I’ll double-check right then and there.
We have not had a podcast episode where we didn’t have audio, which is the luckiest thing ever.
You are extremely lucky because it has happened to all of us.
I’m sure it happened to every single person. When we do in-person, we have these new handheld mics. They’re not plugged into the computer and they have a recorder and my first three times doing it with that, I’m nauseous like, “Is it plugged in? Is it going to pick up the sound? How are the sound wave levels?
I’ve done the thing where I stick. I also take the recording on my phone and I drop it down to make sure. Jack, the funny story is that I don’t know if you saw them at the event, but we had our hands-free ones that record within the microphone. I did a 3-hour event where I interviewed for 3 hours straight, we call it a podcast blitz. I had Tom design it with lights on the top so I would know when it stopped recording. I lost an amazing interview with Gary Vee, which was only a three-minute interview. I asked great questions, he gave great answers and when I went to pick up that recording device, it ran out of battery. Unless you had earphones plugged into it, you’d never know it. That’s why those devices freak me out too because you never know when it’s going to run out and you won’t get something.
Pissed as I was about losing the recording, Tom invented something to replace it. I was doing it and luckily, I’m short. As I’m holding up the microphone, the lights are casting on underneath the chin of the person that I’m interviewing because he’s much taller than me, and all of a sudden the light starts flashing and I was like, “It worked.” I know it’s going to run out. I finished my question with him and then I replaced the battery. It was that awesome.
It’s a weird feeling but it’s amazing.
I needed that visual feedback for myself to know it was still recording. You need that.
Those were the bads, but there are some goods. The good, two weeks after we released our first episode, I run a little quick giveaway. I’m always giving back. The giveaways normally are to entice people to help us out as well. It’s a fair trade-off. We’re like, “We’ll give away five Raptors championship t-shirts. All you’ve got to do is to subscribe to the podcast, leave a rating, give it a listen and let us know what you think.” We’re up to 5,800 ratings on iTunes, which ranks in the top 10.
During that giveaway, during that week, we’re climbing the charts and we got all the way up to number one for sports, number twelve for all shows. We’re passing our idols, Stephen A. Smith. We’re passing Woj, NBA, the Barstool guys. It was a crazy experience to see us up there. That’s our highlight. Number two is been able to speak to all these different athletes and hear their story, get it out there. We’ve talked to undrafted players, which is a perfect fit for our podcast. It’s like us. We’re not drafted by anyone. Blue Wire took a chance on us. We’ve built everything from scratch. That’s truly what’s been amazing.
I want to touch on that. Let’s talk about the relationship with Blue Wire. What are the benefits of being a part of a network in that sense? How did that come about for you? Lots of people are saying, “I want to be that. I want to be in that because there’s power to that.”
The benefit to the network is support. When I was getting into this thing, the support I needed, every time there’s a problem, I would text Kevin, the CEO, and he was that hands-on helping us out with audio, ordered us mics, told us how to build on social. He was mentoring us and touring us in the industry. On the ad revenue side, they’re bringing us in partners, which make you feel more established when you say, “This is sponsored by Untuckit.” That’s some free publicity for Untuckit. On the other side, I also work for Whistle, who has great relationships with a bunch of talent agencies and they’ve helped source guests for the show. It’s a combination, the best of both worlds. It’s all about support and building yourselves up. Anyone can record a podcast by themselves, there’s no doubt about that, but to build, it’s helpful to have people on your side.
That is great and you have people to go to and say, “Are we doing what we need to do? Do we need to do things differently?” You’ve got people to bounce that off because many podcasters are independent and they feel isolated in that. Do you spend a lot of time checking out your stats?
When we first launched, I was obsessive. It was scary. First of all, it only refreshes every hour.
It was not enough for the intensity.
I would refresh every ten minutes and nothing would happen. I was obsessive. Now, we’re at a comfortable point in understanding how many downloads are going to come in per episode. I thought we were going to have a higher NFL listenership, it’s been proven now because we haven’t even done a full season of the sports here but we’ve gone through NBA Finals back to full NFL, back to NBA and NBA fans are highly engaged. They want to hear about the drama of the league, the excitement of the league. The NFL can get monotonous. You can only have the conversation of, “This team is playing well. This guy is the MVP.” Many times, the NBA is a soap opera constantly.
There are a lot of divas over in the NBA.
I know now, generally, the number of listeners. I get excited if there’s more. I get upset if there’s less. Now it’s not as obsessive. It’s a check once a day, once every two days.
That’s good. Here I talk about, especially when you start out, I call them vanity metrics. We want our ego boosted by the metrics of what’s going on. It’s not always a sign of a great show. If I have 10,000 listeners, but they’re binge listeners who buy stuff, who are engaged, who tell everybody, that’s okay. I’m happy with that. That makes for a great show either way. I can have hundreds of thousands of listeners but they’re casual about it.
To your point, when we first launched, the listenership was off the charts because people are coming to check it out. They like the NBA Finals. It’s a hot topic. After we’ve dropped off our peak numbers to our more consistent base, that’s what’s so cool. No matter what episode we put out, no matter who we’re talking about, who we’re talking to, this amount of people are coming back to listen twice a week. That has been amazing.
Let’s talk about some of those things. Let’s go over our five pieces of advice. Some of the best ways you found to book great guests.
The best way to book a great guest is, first of all, reach out. Don’t be afraid to cold-call. I don’t think you can cold call.
Cold email. Cold message.
Cold email, DMs. Whistle is great because we have a verified account and that gets us more access, but we’ve used our own Snapback Pod account and got even bigger replies from bigger athletes, which has a way less following and isn’t verified. Cold emails, cold DMs, comments and always target the person with something that they’re going to relate to. Don’t have the same standard message. Be like, “We saw you were talking about this. We want to give you this platform. What is the startup podcast? We’re the undrafted podcast, you’re an undrafted superstar, come share your story with us.” Make it personalized and make it short. These people are busy. They’re busy and they get turned away from long messages, “Want to come on our podcast? We like what you do. What do you think?”
Thank you for saying make it short. I love that. That’s great. What about some of the ways you’ve done to increase listeners ongoing? You talked about having the contest going early on. What do you do ongoing to increase your listenership?
Everyone thinks you get the big guests and that’s going to drive because they’re going to repost your Instagram story. I don’t know if it will drive three listeners. Unless you get LeBron James or Obama, nothing is making your podcast blow up. They need to come to you. What we do is we have that rapport. Abe and I have been friends since we were eight. We have that relationship, but also introducing creative new segments into the podcast, changing it up and then sharing out on social.
We started a rank segment. We’re not ranking the top five basketball players of all time. We’re ranking the top five jerseys of all time. We ranked the top five touchdown celebrations of all time. It takes people back and it’s a creative way to be like, “I want to get in.” They hear analysis on teams and games and stuff and they stick around. It’s always changing up and testing new things. You have the power listeners. They’re coming no matter what. How do you get more people in? You test and you try and you figure it, you make it up and see what works.
I want to stop you right there before we go on to the other three. This is why you are starting to hear that casualness. You’re buddies. We get to be friends with Jack and Abe too. That’s the level of what you’re doing there, which invites that camaraderie and invites those listeners in. When I said what your bingeable secret is, I feel a part of your community from day one because you don’t go and explain backstories. You don’t spend all your time on you guys. You guys are jumping in mid-conversation between the two of you. I want to catch up, I want to be a part of the fun.
Half the time, when we start the podcast, Abe and I are always texting throughout the day figuring out our plan. Then when we go to record on a Sunday night, we’ll be talking, “You’re taking this viewpoint on this topic. What are your thoughts?” We’ll talk for 12, 15 minutes, and we’ll be like, “Can we start and hit record?” We’re always having the conversation before we want to hit record.
My first editor said, “I should turn the recording on the way before you do it.” I record with my husband so it’s always mid-conversation. That’s why it works. This is part of why people come back and listen again. You guys have a little bit of production help and you said you made it simpler. What do you do to produce it in a professional way?
Our producer, Charlie, is a godsend. I love him so much. We always are communicating. We’re marking our time codes. We are making sure if there’s a pause or there’s a little mess up, that’s part of the business, it’s part of the game. Mark it down. Make sure it’s communicated to him. Any additions we did, add a sound bite to our rank segment, communicating that. Taking any advice from fans, “Your audio is a little off in this last episode.” We’ve done that a bunch.
I was listening to one where you could barely hear Abe and I was like, “He must have his mic off.”
That’s another example, listening to your feedback. A lot of these bigger podcasts, maybe if someone’s mic is fully off, they’ll find out. If someone’s like, “At minute twelve, your audio was messed up for a minute,” they would never see that. They’re getting too many comments, too many engagements. We see everything so well, go check it out, make sure that doesn’t persist in the future.
You’re involved in the process. This is something that is important that you raised up, many people leave it to their producer or forget about it and don’t try it at all, but if you’re involved in the process, making notes, someone can do a fabulous job editing your show, they can’t think like you. They will never think like you. If you want to cut something or you want to fix something, they won’t know it. They can cut out ums and ahs, fix sound levels, but they cannot fix the quality of what you say in the show if you don’t take your time to put the input in.
I do much of the production outside of raising the levels and the actual cutting, but I’m much in that process. We have an open communication channel with Charlie at all times. I don’t think he sleeps so we’re like, “Charlie, did you get the episodes?” He’s like, “I’m almost done cutting it.” 3:30 AM. He’s crazy. It’s all about communication. He wasn’t there so he doesn’t understand maybe what happened or what we are trying to communicate fully.
He’s not a mind reader.The best way to book guests is to reach out to them such as cold DMs and cold-emails. Click To Tweet
It’s complicated, even for someone else to write the titles and descriptions. I write those out because I want to make sure that the message that we want to communicate is clear. I know people who will give the episode and be like, “Go listen. Cut everything out that you think should be cut and then title it.” I’m like, “That’s not the best way to go about it.”
Not if you’re building the audience and not if you’re trying to maintain the voice that you’re maintaining, and that’s the critical part. Good for you. You encourage engagement through contests, through other things. What are some other ways that you encourage engagement in your community?
Monday mailbag is a big one. People want to hear themselves be shouted out. They care less about their name being dropped in the podcast than having our thoughts on their question. One guy asked, “Why don’t you guys ever talk about Supercross?” We have never crossed that bridge before. Abe and I, admittedly know nothing about it, but we will bring it up on the podcast and be like, “We hear you.” To be honest, we’re not going to cover Supercross. At least now he understands. He gets an answer of what is going on and makes him feel part of the show. The mailbag is a big part of answering people on social media because we’ll post graphics on our social that are not related to the podcast at all. They build out our thoughts in general. They know our opinions on certain players and teams. Engaging with them on social, it doesn’t always have to be podcast-related.
What about the best way to monetize? What are you guys thinking? What have you found has been best for you?
The best way to monetize is to bring on a partner. I’m good at building communities, but also what I pride myself on is storytelling. My Snapchat platform, with our @SnapbackPod Instagram, with our personal brands and then with the podcast, we have the ability to be a storyteller. I’m at the Knicks game, if someone wants to sponsor us going to the game and communicating their message in a fun, unique way and then we can talk about it on the podcast because we break down the game. We post the graphic with their sponsorship on. It’s a full circle. That’s what my audience has always been in love with. They don’t necessarily want the one-off ads, they want brands who believe in us, the fam, and they want to connect with that brand and the more we push them, the more success we’ve had. It’s finding those partners who understand. The podcast isn’t necessarily the end game and it doesn’t matter if we get 1,000 listens or 100,000 listens, it’s how dedicated that audiences to go and convert.
You’ve got some great things. You get to go in games. You’ve got some cool things. What other authority raising things? You went from your couch watching it to being one of the top commentators on it. What has that bought you? What has that gotten you?
There have been a few things. I was down in Miami for the Super Bowl, staying with my friend. There was a day, Radio Row on Wednesday, all the big radio guys, the media giants are there. I try and get in and they’re like, “You need a credential.” I’m like, “There’s no way I can get a credential.”
“Would you like to look at my Apple podcast ranking?”
No one cares. I text my friend, he texts a friend and somehow, I get on Radio Row and I’m sitting there. These people, they’re interviewing hundreds of guests over the course of three days. Abe is at work and he calls into Radio Row because he wasn’t in Miami with me. We do a podcast live from Radio Row and that was a cool moment. The coolest was when the Knicks brought me out to do some work to promote the pregame tours that they’re offering and I happen to see the best Knicks game of the year. If you know the Knicks, there are not many great next games, but we won. It was an amazing game. They beat the Rockets. It was cool.
I always stay humble and people are like, “No way. You’re a big dog now.” I’m like, “I’m not.” I’m going to root for the Knicks. I happen to have a following where I can promote and it’s a nice trade-off. The way I always look at it is people are like, “What do you want to do?” I’m like, “Honestly, this is what I want to do.” If I were to go work in investment bank and you gave me $10 million and I could retire at age 35, I would then take that money and go to Knicks games and go to the Super Bowl and talk to professional athletes because it’s cool to hear the stories and I get to do that right now.
Without the $10 million, let’s bring that on anyway.
Less money, but I get to do it while I’m young and it’s more fun that way. The podcast opens doors, it opens conversations. You can drop the tidbit that we’re ranked number one and people, they will listen. The NFL not so much, but other people will.
You’d be surprised. We got invited back to do the next pre-Super Bowl in a bigger way because the word got around to how great it was. We’ll have you back in there for sure and you will see.
It’s funny you say that because this idea of we’re regular everyday guys, you gave me the custom mic block. I thought that was the coolest thing of all time.
Tip to everyone else, these are 3D printed. They fit any microphone that’s an HDR, that style microphone, the dynamic cardio style microphones, they fit those. When we did ours, we created custom mic flags for every single person who was there because we wanted you to feel professional. We wanted you to feel you weren’t dropped into this thing and it was all about the event itself. We wanted to make sure you took ownership back to your show because that’s why people are listening and that’s why they’re there. You are a celebrity. I’m glad you felt that way. Thank you, Jack. Before we go, the last thing I wanted to talk with you about is you saw that video, what happened as you get partners in. How do you keep that young energy, that exuberance that you’ve got going for you and not get into this old radio model? How do you not let that influence you?
I was upset with what was happening on the radio. Everyone’s dressed in a suit. After we recorded the podcast with Abe, because we wanted to do one on the radio, we thought it would be fun. I look around and I see setups with radio, old gray, radio. What I did is I pulled out my GoPro and I started to try to get video content. I would walk up to athletes, ask them a question, give them a minute to respond, and I got some cool pieces of content doing that. It’s always about being creative and zigging while others are zagging.
In terms of me, I’ll never fall into that trap. Even if I go on to greater and greater heights, I’m going to be who I am, which I like sports. I like to talk about them. I like to give back, whether it’s through charity and giving back to Sloan or giving back to my fans with T-shirts. I come from a privileged situation where I attended Ravens games growing up, Orioles games. I went to college. It was an amazing experience. I didn’t know about all this world, which these people have never seen a football game before.
One of our partners, TickPick, gave us courtside tickets to a Warriors-Hawks game in Atlanta. I posted on my Snapchat story, I’m like, “Can anyone get to Atlanta tonight? I want to give these away. I’m in New York. I can’t make it.” One guy takes his brother who has Down Syndrome. They drive 2.5 hours to the game. They see their first basketball game, courtside Warriors-Hawks. That’s all I want to do, make cool moments for other people because I’ve gotten to see them. They supported me, which got me to Super Bowl. I support to support them which gets them those opportunities. It’s always going to be the one to one connection.
That’s what sports is about. That’s what your angle is. When I look back, someone was asking me what my favorite Super Bowl moment was. When we were at the event, we did a networking event and we went around the circle and everybody said who they were and they would say, “What’s your favorite Super Bowl moment?” I was like, “I can’t even think of too much detail in the game because I’m not a super fan. My favorite moment was the fact that was the one time where my sister and my mom would be out of the room. They didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It was my dad’s space. If I hung out in there, then I got time with my dad, that was my favorite Super Bowl moment.” Everyone there was like, “Aw.” That’s the true connection that we each have, it’s that moment side of it. It’s not the score, it’s not as much the players, it’s what that makes us feel like.
The way I always describe or make an analogy for sports is if I go into my office and we sit in a meeting, we have a great meeting and we come out of that, I’m slapping people in the butt, kissing them on the head. I’m probably going to get fired. In the sports world, it’s emotional and powerful that that’s what you do. You have business people who wear suits every day and then they go root for the team on Sunday, they wear face paint, they’re going crazy. It breaks down all of those walls, which is what makes it authentic and that’s the key to podcasting. It’s the same, it’s being authentic.
If all of us can take that passion and that excitement for what we do and make it our business, wouldn’t that be a fantastic world? That’s what you’ve done here, Jack. I’m proud of you. You have a great show. Snapbacks Sports, Mondays and Thursdays they come out. You can listen on your favorite player anywhere. Be sure to tune in. Jack Settleman, thank you for joining me. I appreciate it.
Thank you for having me. This was enjoyable.
- iTunes – Snapback Sports Pod
- Snapbacks Sports
- Snapbacks Sports Pod
- Snapback Chat
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Blue Wire
- @SnapbackPod – Instagram
About Jack Settleman
Jack Settleman is the founder of SnapBack Sports, the largest sports Snapchat account in the world totaling over 500M+ views YTD. SnapBack sports then created the SnapBack Sports Pod which is a compelling sports culture podcast that hit No. 1 on Apple’s Top Charts in 2019. Jack also serves as an in-house podcast host and content strategy manager at Whistle, an entertainment and sports media company. He is an experienced social community creator and has been instrumental in the launch of Whistle’s podcasts.
As a recent college graduate, Settleman instills a voice that resonates with the younger target audience and has been fundamental in launching Whistle’s slate of original podcasts including SnapBack Chat, where he interviews successful influencers, athletes and social media stars on their rise to fame. He also has a hand in Whistle’s merchandising arm, with his SnapBack Sports merch consistently ranking as a best seller.
Prior to Whistle, Settleman worked at Action Network, a sports betting media company, where he managed the company’s social team.
Settleman is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and in his free time, enjoys attending sporting events, raising money for non-profit organizations such as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and giving back to his fan base by often sending followers to their first-ever sport games.
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