How do fan engagement strategies differ across multiple touch points?

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Social media is evolving at a tremendous rate with each new platform offering marketing possibilities waiting to be explored. Sports rights holders have to adapt quickly to tailor their product to all the new ways their fans want to consume it. By providing the world's leading sports organisations with the best young media talent, GlobalSportsJobs is playing a key part in helping to meet this demand. We asked several of our partners how they're exploiting the fan engagement potential across their digital estate.

The fracturing of the media landscape provides challenges and opportunities for sports clubs, federations, rights holders and sponsors. The domination of television as the major marketing vehicle is in decline; in order to connect with customers across multiple screen sizes, touchpoints, demographics and personal preferences, fan engagement must be proactive, flexible and innovative.

The NBA is the No.1 professional sports league on social media globally, and is the highest profile example of a sports organisation recognising the different ways of packaging its product to meet the diversity of its fanbase – diehard fans and potential new audiences across the global social media landscape.

The NBA were one of the first sport rights holders to launch its own OTT online subscription service, NBA League Pass. With live game coverage options including virtual reality, multi-game views and interactive stats, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes content, clearly this will satisfy the appetites of the most dedicated fan.

“We produce games especially for virtual reality. It’s customised, not repurposed for the fans,” commented NBA Deputy Commissioner/COO Mark Tatum – a quote which shows how it is producing content exclusively for each of its platforms, rather than capturing content centrally and editing it appropriately for each channel.

Another example of this is Snapchat, which the NBA see as a chance to reach young audiences who may not watch games on TV. Shorter, punchier behind-the-scenes content, which is often celebrity-focused and only loosely related to basketball, is key to hooking in younger eyeballs to the NBA brand. Its three- or four-minute NBA Snapchat Shows are watched by millions of young users.

Formula 1's recent change of commercial rights holder has given the motorsport's governing body the FIA freedom to exploit a litany of new fan engagement opportunities.

Sean Bratches, the FIA's new Managing Director of Commercial Operations promised to "detonate the fan experience", adding: "There's an opportunity on multiple fronts to engage not only the next generation of fan but also better serving the incumbent fan."

Those "multiple fronts" refer to the variety of previously untapped touchpoints and audiences that F1 have now begun to exploit. Already a deal with Snapchat has harnessed user-generated content to compile 'Stories' from F1 fans across the world. The remaining course of F1's fan engagement "detonation" will be fascinating to follow.

It's not just early days for F1, but for every sports organisation in identifying the most commercially valuable avenues and mechanisms. SVG Europe – a body that advances the creation, production and distribution of video sports content – admit that "what works and what doesn't is still anyone's guess".

SVG's experts recognise that millennials (the most sought-after audience) are deserting linear TV yet at the same time they expect broadcast-quality coverage across their other screens. They prefer highlights packages to the apparent inconvenience of consuming an entire live match, and are dispersing to social media, eSports and creating and consuming user-generated content.

The fact we're still in an experimental period is also proven by English Premier League clubs initially embracing, but now increasingly distancing themselves from Facebook Live as a potentially valuable platform for hosting their live streams (such as pre-match press conferences). We've also just witnessed a flurry of creative experimentation across different social platforms by clubs announcing new summer signings.

Of course, all this sophisticated experimentation with content across different platforms, as well as the capturing of fans’ data and segmentation of audiences, needs to be powered by a savvy digital workforce. It’s the sort of expertise that hasn’t traditionally been attracted to the sports industry, but that’s changing rapidly.

“The desire for sports clubs and sponsors to engage their fans through multiple touchpoints in these new, sophisticated ways is driving greater diversity in the sort of talent coming into the industry, and we’re leading that shift,” says GlobalSportsJobs CEO Will Lloyd.

“We’re driving greater awareness of this need for diversity, having worked with a client such as TwoCircles since its inception four years ago in attracting a more ‘techie’ type of candidate, while also promoting their new TwoCircles Academy.

Back to content platforms, Facebook Live is still a key component of the ICC's fan engagement strategy, along with Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, but most intriguing was the world cricket governing body's recent use of Twitter.

They tried a new way of 'pushing' targeted content to fans with a pioneering personalised direct messaging experience during the ICC Champions Trophy in June. With a single click, fans could opt to receive up-to-the-minute video round-ups, personalised video messages from commentators and other exclusive content.

Whether it's tailoring their product to suit the medium it's delivered on, or exploiting new mechanisms to access each fan's eyeballs, it's clear sports organisations who don't look to adapt and reinvent themselves risk being lost amidst the din of the digital marketplace.


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