Today’s social media habits have rewritten the rules of sports marketing and now teams must engage with fans long before the game begins as well as after it ends. In fact, the shape of the fan’s customer journey has changed considerably over the last few years, resulting in a larger window of opportunity for a sports team to stay top of mind. By understanding who their fans are and using their preferred social media channel to regularly communicate with them, a sports team can deepen loyalty and following.
Consider the pre-game opportunity that exists; fans want to engage with a team in the build up to match day. They want to be a part of the hype and speculation. This is an opportune time to give the players a voice by allowing them to take over a team’s social media account and show the fans what is happening behind the scenes. Deliver unique photos, entertaining videos and interesting statistics and fans will engage.
During the game
Dual screening is a phenomenon that should be exploited by any spectator sport. Fans can watch the live activity while being a part of the conversation on another screen. Facilitate that conversation by hosting the chat forum or engaging in fan conversation on social media. Use the big screen at the sporting venue as that second screen and post tweets and other social media activity to the crowd. Technology like LiveWall (http://www.livewall.co/) can help bring social media interactions to one central screen in a fun and interactive way. The big screen is also a great way to encourage further social media interaction, advertise competitions and promote fun gimmicks like a social media treasure hunt. This will help build a closer fan community and will provide all the more reason for fans to regularly attend matches.
After the game
The fan’s customer journey shouldn’t end after the game; drive marketing efforts into overtime. This is an opportune time to promote brand advocacy by giving the fans a voice. True, not all comments may be positive, but they will be authentic. Again, curate conversation by hosting a forum on the team website (which also improves SEO) and continue the conversation with fans on social media. Someone within the marketing department should have the responsibility of responding to social media.
Digital media has given sports marketing a greater ability to reach out and engage with fans. Although some teams may be under resourced, building advocacy with fans should be a priority and a clear social media plan that considers all of the fan’s customer journey touch points must be exploited.
Greta Paa-Kerner (@gretapk) is an independent marketing consultant and a senior lecturer at Bucks Business School as well a guest lecturer at other high learning institutions. Visit her website at www.ganduxer.com.