Sports fans are a passionate bunch. They plan social events around fixtures, flock to stadiums wearing their team colours and shout themselves hoarse whether they’re sitting in the front row or on the couch. They’re just as fervent online – two of 2016’s top stories on twitter were sport topics and Facebook’s most liked page belongs to Christiano Ronaldo.
Engaging such passionate fans on match day is easy enough but sports marketers are under increasing pressure to grow both online audience numbers and engagement rates all year round.
Maintaining fan interest and social interaction off season can be tricky so we’ve put together seven digital media tips for sports companies – and illustrated the points with success stories from some of the brands attending National Sports Forum 2017 – to inspire your efforts.
- Use different platforms for different kinds of content
By now everyone should know that different kinds of content work well on different social platforms. But that doesn’t mean you have to create completely original content for each medium – just that you should tweak each post to fit the distribution method.
NASCAR took customised content to a whole new level when they created a Yelp page dedicated to reviewing Joey Logano’s moustache – proving that your brand can be successful on any platform if you get the content right.
2. Create sharable content
Getting people to share your content is the holy grail of social media marketing – it exposes your content to their network of contacts, increasing your reach and potentially attracting new followers.
2016’s top NFL team on Facebook, the Denver Broncos, earned a good share of their 43 million Facebook engagements by creating content designed for sharing – like branded victory celebration photos.
3. Offer unique experiences online
While match highlights videos have proven to be incredibly popular on social media, sports brands can now take this further by offering fans unique online content. Take them behind the scenes to create a personal connection with players, give them access to restricted events through live online broadcasts or create 360 degree and VR content for immersive experiences.
The NFL Players Association is working with Superstar Games and Hall of Famer, Joe Montana, to create the first football game for Samsung Gear and Google’s Daydream mobile VR platforms, and the first mobile VR game licensed to use the likeness of active NFL players. Montana 17 is expected to connect a new generation of gamers with their favourite players in a unique way.
4. Be generous
You don’t need to be a high-earning sports club to give something back to your fans and your community. Competitions are a great way to boost engagement and prizes can include branded merchandising or face-to-face experiences with star players. Sports organisations should get involved in local fund-raising and support local charities to earn their community’s support.
The proceeds from the Texas Rangers Winter Caravan, an event for Frisco RoughRiders and Texas Rangers fans, were recently donated to the family of a local police detective killed in the line of duty. The event gave fans a chance to meet players from their favourite teams and brought the community together.
5. Have a sense of humour
True fans take their sports very seriously, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for a bit of fun – and it’s often the unexpected “inside” jokes that enjoy the most success. Providing it’s not offensive or cruel, posts that poke fun can be a great boost for social engagement.
The Dallas Stars saw an opportunity to have a bit of fun with the controversy around President Trump’s claims that 1.5 million people attended his inauguration in Washington DC, despite media reports of less than half that number. The following day, at the Stars’ game against the Washington Capitals, they used the big screen to publicise the game’s attendance as 1.5 million – in a stadium with a capacity of 19 323 people!
6. Hijack the news
Not every news story can be turned to your brand’s advantage, but when you do have a connection with trending topics reacting quickly lets you ride on the coattails of someone else’s social success. Viral posts are hit and miss, but one hit is all you need to expand your reach exponentially.
The Minnesota Twins were quick to see an opportunity when Beyonce announced that she was pregnant with twins.
7. Engage with fans
The most effective way to boost fan engagement is to engage with your fans. Rather than using online platforms as just another way to broadcast your news, get fans involved by giving them an opportunity to submit user generated content, inviting them to online and real-life events and making them feel like they’re part of the brand.
The Milwaukee Brewers have an impressive fan section on their website where fans can take part in competitions, find their big screen appearances and sign up to a fan newsletter or the Brewers Kids Crew. They also host Brewers on Deck Fan Fests which give followers the chance to get up close and personal with the Crew through autograph sessions, photo ops and Q&A sessions.
Forscene helps sports brands engage with fans through the power of video. Get in touch to find out how the video platform can help you keep your fans entertained all year round.
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Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre