Sports fan engagement is a must today. So this article outlines some ideas that might help the sports teams who want to involve their fans and encourage them to attend their games or even buy their merchandise.
In the world of fan engagement, it’s a continual arms race to outdo other sports organisations and gain an edge on your competition. If you ask any group of marketers or executives if they feel like they have the best fan engagement possible, chances are they will respond with “no.” Yet, the art of engaging fans has taken on new meaning as sport teams grapple with how best to surprise, delight, and build loyalty while never knowing just what will be next in sports technology.
Sports fans are as loyal as they come, but how do you take engagement to the next level?
We’ve put together a list to help you engage your audience.
7 practical fan engagement tips that works
1. Get Social
Social media provides an opportunity for a direct connection with your fan base that you cannot afford to ignore. With the world at their fingertips, you need to make sure they can find you quickly and easily. Your social media strategy should include posting updates, photos, videos, and other content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
As part of your social media strategy, keep the following in mind:
Create a branded hashtag for your team and promote it across all channels.
- Share photos and videos regularly.
- Make athletes and personalities available for one-on-one interaction. It can be through Facebook Live, Twitter Spaces, and other tools.
- Build a personalised experience for fans that creates a value-add for them. For example, create birthday cards or thank you videos.
- Offer exclusive content for social media followers only.
- Make it easy to share with others.
- Use user-generated content to share your story and build fans.
- Asking for a retweet, like, or pin may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many don’t.
- Make it easy for fans to show their fandom – and remember – the best way to increase engagement is to give them something they want.
Give Fans a Voice
Fans are your biggest advocates, but sometimes they need a little something extra to get them going. Give your fans a voice by asking for feedback on the products and services you offer as well as the content you create. Consider giving them a chance to vote on social media about your next line of merchandise or which players should be in your next television commercial.
Personalise the experience
Many companies mistake taking a “one size fits all” approach to their social media marketing strategies. However, if you want to succeed at engagement, you need to tailor your social media efforts to the needs and wants of the specific audience you’re trying to reach. If you can’t create a tailored message for each fan, segment your audience into smaller groups based on demographics and interests. The more personal your engagement, the more likely fans are to respond. For more information check this detailed guide – bilue.com.au/fan-engagement-guide
There’s a reason that responsiveness is a crucial tenet of successful fan engagement – it’s a fundamental tenet of human nature. We all inherently want to feel heard and appreciated, and if you can make your fans feel truly special, then you’ll strengthen their connection with your brand. The key to responsiveness is that it should never be automated – every response should come from a real person.
If you want to engage your fans, don’t treat them like numbers in a spreadsheet. Every fan is unique, and each has a different reason for cheering on your team. Therefore, the way you engage with them should be personal and meaningful – not random and fleeting.
2. Gamify Your Fan Experience
Gamification is the use of game mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. By incorporating various game elements into your fan experience, you can drive engagement and improve the ability to monetize customers.
One idea: include a leaderboard on your website, mobile app, or social channels. It would allow fans to see where they stand compared to other fans and encourage them to share their status on social media.
3. Create once in a lifetime memories for fans
What makes sports fans different from other types of customers? The fact that fans have a direct relationship with the players, coaches, owners, and teams. By providing unique experiences for your fans, you can give something that most brands can’t. It could be an opportunity to meet with players or coaches before or after the game or even getting a chance to watch pregame warmups from the bench or field with some of your favourite players.
4. Enhance Fan Experience with Mobile Apps
Go ahead and roll your eyes if you want, but mobile apps are quickly becoming essential for any business these days. The sports industry is no exception. Fans today expect their favourite teams to have a mobile app available for them on iOS or Android smartphones. It’s not enough for an app to show scores or schedules anymore.
The experience must be fast and easy to navigate.
Keep this in mind:
Let them share
Give your fans the ability to start conversations and discuss events as they’re happening by integrating social media feeds into your mobile app. Include links to Twitter feeds, Facebook fan pages, and other social media sites, as well as a live chat feature or text messaging capability so fans can interact with each other and with you during the game or event.
Make it easy to find tickets
It would help if you had an interactive seating chart on your mobile app that allows fans to pinpoint their seats in seconds, see what’s going on around them, view available concessions and restrooms, and even purchase additional tickets using a credit card right from their phones. It makes buying tickets more convenient for fans (who don’t need to print out anything), gives them an interactive map of the stadium or arena, and allows you to sell more tickets.
It’s all about the fans.
The most crucial element of any mobile sports app is to have the fan experience in mind at all times. Just like sports are woven into the fabric of our culture, so should your mobile app.
5. Design Immersive Experiences
Think outside the booth
Fans today want a more in-depth experience with their favourite teams and athletes. A great way to do this is by designing immersive experiences that enhance their connection to what you’re offering.
Here’s what to do:
Explore Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is here, and it promises to change how we watch sports. Brands like Oculus and HTC have already created a buzz around virtual reality, but now it’s time for us to explore how we can use it to engage sports fans.
Sports, with their fast-paced action and competitive spirit, are the perfect type of entertainment for virtual reality.
Augment your reality
Augmented reality (AR) is the idea that you can add layers of digital information to the environment around you. For example, an augmented reality app can enhance fan interest in sports by creating a more immersive experience, helping them feel like they’re part of the action.
Fans could be courtside on their seats with a virtual player right in front of them or on the field with their beloved players during action – seeing the game from the point of view of a professional athlete.
You can even allow your fans to see how their faces would look like with that fancy haircut or beard they just saw Christiano Ronaldo rocking in the game last night.
Or, perhaps they could see how they look with players’ gear on simultaneously.
Deploy Custom-branded Photobooths/Video Booth
Photobooths have been a staple at many fan fests and events for years, but you probably didn’t know the background could be manipulated to display your brand or even the specific player. These booths are a fun way to engage players with fans and give your team exposure while you’re at it.
You get the idea…
Give your fans a more personalised, customised experience.
6. Engage year-round
It’s not about the big games alone.
Start thinking about creating an engaging experience for fans as a 365-day thing. Yes, you’ll want to make sure you have special events and stuff for fans to do on game days, but you need to be thinking about your fans even during the off-season.
Create special offers for fans that are open all year long, not just game days. Think about these options:
Give to your community
You can take it a step further and create partnerships with local sports bars, barbershops, gas stations, etc., so your brand is represented in the community and seen by fans all year round.
7. Reward your loyal fans – you can’t give them all the attention
While you want to engage with both new and existing fans, you also have to recognize those who have been around for a while. They’re the fans that can help you grow your brand and attract new fans, so you should always be rewarding them as much as possible.
You can have simple ways for them to accumulate points or rewards, like:
- Create an online game your fans can play to get free stuff.
- Offer discounts, whether it’s new or returning fans. Maybe you can host contests on social media so they can win some free swag, too.
- Invite them to exclusive events or to meet with athletes.
- Offer them special sneak previews of new gear, etc.
- Give them the opportunity to pre-order your product before it hits the shelves.
The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is that you should do everything possible to retain your loyal fans and attract new ones.
Being a sports fan is an emotional experience, so you should do everything possible to make them feel like part of the team.
Ultimately, the best way for sports teams to reach and engage new fans is through creative tactics that break the mould of traditional fan engagement. As we’ve demonstrated in this article, there are various ways that teams can put a creative spin on their fan engagement and make them feel like they’re part of the team.