There are many of us who take time off from work to chill out ! And then there are those who chill out during work because work is fun!

Shyam Krishnamurthy From The Interview Portal interviews Bharath Ganesh, Social Media Manager for Hyderabad Sunrisers

Bharath, can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in Chennai and did my Engineering from Venkateswara College (ECE) .  From a young age, my brother and I were sports fanatics. We used to subscribe to every sports channel under the sun and watch every sport whether it was cricket, tennis, football or F1.

After my graduation, I got a campus placement at HCL Technologies where I worked in software testing for about 3.5 years. I realized at HCL that IT was not the right job for me.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?

During those days I used to play tennis at an academy. My coach was my inspiration and I used to teach tennis at the academy(part-time). I applied for an AITA coaching certificate for which I traveled to Delhi. There was a 4-5 day training programme followed by an exam. I passed the exam.

My first job as a coach was at Kinesis Tennis coaching academy in Bangalore. My stint at the academy, though one year, was very intense and I learned a lot of skills there. The work hours were long with multiple shifts and I had to work with players across multiple age groups and this experience helped me understand athlete and child psychology. This experience taught me people skills and was my first exposure to the world of sports and its challenges.

During this time, I also realized that I was interested in Performance Analytics. So I acquired a camera and would take videos of players while they played. I started analyzing their game and gave feedback for improvement. This experience also helped me evaluate my strengths and where I could contribute in the world of sports.

Tell us about your career path

After a year, I decided to explore other options. Through a contact I applied to a startup company, Sports Mechanics and was hired owing to my experience in tennis. SportsMechanics were pioneers in video and performance analytics in Cricket. At Sports Mechanics, I contributed in the functional development of a coding software and fan engagement product for Tennis called InstaPlay for Tennis. The product was first used in the IPTL(International Premier Tennis League)

Instaplay for Tennis:  https://www.facebook.com/IPTL/app/203351739677351/

My job at Sports Mechanics was to work on sales and marketing strategies to sell our analytics and fan engagement solutions to sports teams, clubs, federations. I was involved in strategizing and closing performance analytics and fan engagement deals with West Indies Cricket (2016, when they won the T20 Worldcup), Hockey India, Squash Rackets Federation of India, Indian Olympics Association.

After 2.5 years at Sports Mechanics, I shifted back to Bangalore and worked briefly for a Mobile gaming startup called MasterMind Sports, which is currently acquired by Nazara Games. Their game “Sportsie” is a sports predictor game for Cricket and Football. This was the time when Dream11 was starting to get popular. I am also an active gamer and I wanted to explore fan engagement through app marketing. This stint helped me learn more about app marketing and product development and the customer/fan journey of a mobile consumer.

How did you move to IPL?

At this time, I got an opportunity to work with the technology division of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on their website and mobile app. This was a big turning point for me. At CSK, I was involved in building their entire website and mobile app in terms of handling all the content. I was involved in various marketing activities including the mobile app launch. We would work with designers, animators and other creative artists to produce content in the most interactive way. I was responsible for creating a solid content plan to increase website traffic and identifying different strategies to increase clicks. For this we created interactive games, quizzes and engaging videos.

Content examples:

Super Mahio:  https://twitter.com/ChennaiIPL/status/987291969096265728?s=20

CSK App Rap: https://twitter.com/ChennaiIPL/status/977395077705187328?s=20

Harbhajan Tweet on App launch:  https://twitter.com/harbhajan_singh/status/978130461498081283

AT CSK, I also had access to the entire team and I was involved in preparing the content for interviews with team members. For fan engagement and promotion one of the ideas conceptualized and produced by me was Book Cricket with CSK players. This style of content was used for CSK’s app promotion .

CSK Book Cricket:  https://twitter.com/ChennaiIPL/status/982508507520876544?s=20

The whole idea was to create engaging content for the fans through the website and the app.

What do you do at Hyderabad Sunrisers?

After working at CSK for a year, I got an opportunity at Hyderabad Sunrisers where I am in charge of their social media strategy. I travel with the team during their matches and I also plan for off season content.

Leading everything digital at SunRisers, I evaluate and select the best social media agency, find out appropriate partners for fan engagement and with by watching/following cricket tournaments around the world, I also help in player scouting. My main role is to keep SunRisers fans engaged throughout the season. With direct access to players during the season, I make sure that we shoot content with the players which can be used during season and offseason. I make sure that brand SunRisers don’t miss out on any social media trend and we tweet about every topic. 

Instagram marketing is our main focus this year and I make sure that, we leverage on any new feature of Instagram.

Example: 

Instagram dark more update: 

Another example: leveraging Instagram stories for daily fan engagement. We run a segment called Wallpaper Wednesdays. You can check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17923392898320560/?hl=en – a segment where SunRisers fans can download wallpapers of their favourite SRH player.

Content produced with SRH players during IPL 2019:

SRH MasterChef:

Power play with Kane Williamson:

FIFA showdown with Saha and shreevats goswami:

I make sure that we create “thumb-stopping” creatives for SRH social media and we are actively involved in fan banter and witty social media battles with other IPL teams. This brings in a lot of fan interactions.

Lets now talk about the challenging part of your job

Though IPL lasts only 2 months my job is to make sure we are able to engage fans for the whole year with interesting content. So we do several interviews and chats with players capturing lots of interesting things about them. So I need to look at keeping the brand in the news all the time for the fans. I also work on getting more sponsors for our digital media channel and also improve traffic on social media.

Some pictures from this season:

Though the job is extremely demanding, I love my work.

Your advice to students?

Initially when I had decided to quit my job at HCL and venture into the world of sports, it was a tough decision because it was perceived as a huge risk. But my family supported me. Also, I had saved some money at HCL that helped me explore options for one year. That helped me evaluate my strengths and pursue those strengths.

My advice to students is, interest is not enough. You need to evaluate your strengths and focus on building those skills because sports is an unforgiving industry with intense competition.

Take calculated risks, explore a bit and try to figure out our strengths. You need to find your niche and be damn good in that niche!