What are the best examples of creative digital fan engagement by sports clubs and federations?
© OMNIGON - German Football Association (DFB) Case Study
Fan engagement is ultimately about giving customers what they want, when they want it, in the format and on the platform that suits them. Data and personalisation are important drivers in this process, but without content that grips and engages fans, the process can't even begin. Here, GlobalSportsJobs highlights some of the most innovative and captivating recent digital fan engagement campaigns from some of our partners.
Most clichés only exist because they happen to be true, and that's certainly the case with the hackneyed phrase 'content is king'. There are now so many ways for sports fans to satisfy their desire for information, entertainment and interaction that the fight for their eyeballs is incredibly competitive. That's why innovative and captivating content that grabs users' attention is so vital to sports clubs, rights holders and brands.
Tapping in on the trend for 'gamification' as an effective engagement technique, as well as providing compelling second-screen options for fans during live matches, the International Cricket Council (ICC) released an exciting package of digital fan engagement products in May ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.
The Fanscore Champions Trophy app allowed fans to 'represent' their nation through gaining points from predicting the result, innings scores, highest-scoring batsman and best bowler in each game of the tournament. Fans love the competitive element and the feeling that they are 'part' of the action. There are also in-game polls to decide the fans' player of the match.
Like many rights owners, the ICC are also recognising the value of platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube for delivering their own video content, in this case post-match reaction and live press conferences.
The ICC's tournament package also pioneered a new kind of 'push' mobile service to fans via personalised direct messages on Twitter featuring tournament information and videos. Anyone using the hashtag #CT17 also unlocked new cricket-themed emojis and received personalised video messages from TV commentators.
This sort of immersive and compelling suite of products is a blueprint for how federations and rights holders can hook fans into a live event, deepening engagement and providing value for sponsors. "This is undoubtedly our most exciting and innovative approach to an ICC tournament yet," commented Aarti Dabas, the ICC's Head of Media Rights, Broadcast and Digital.
Leading sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media took a 'digital first' approach to its launch of the Hammer Series event in June, with several intriguing and innovative twists to deepen fans' engagement in the new cycling event.
As well as mass participation races, a youth race, a fan village, a cycling expo and team bus parades at the inaugural race weekend in Limburg, Netherlands, live coverage on Facebook and YouTube and traditional media platforms will incorporate on-board GoPro video footage and real-time performance data such as riders' speed, power, cadence and heart rate - just the sort of in-depth stats that cycling fans love comparing to their own Sunday morning rides!
OMNIGON - a team of digital strategists, artists and technologists working exclusively in the areas of consumer loyalty, audience growth and digital content delivery - has created a products team that takes fan engagement a stage further.
After years of creating fan engagement experiences on its clients' behalf, they have now released ProSuite, three distinct products that empower its clients to deliver unique, compelling fan experiences that are customizable, quick to launch, and satisfy brands’ sponsorship initiatives.
BracketPro and PollPro enable the user to set up custom round-by-round competitions and polls. The third product, MVPVote, lets fans vote for 'man of the match' assisted by real-time statistics from the game. All include video, photos, animated GIFs and user data capturing capabilities. The results are visually captivating, drive reach and traffic and satisfy brands' sponsorship initiatives. One early example, the #DreamFearlessly campaign for Under Armour, garnered 1.2million votes.
SVG Europe – a group set up to advance the creation, production and distribution of video sports content - provide a fascinating snapshot of the fan engagement landscape in terms of content that works and the platforms it works on.
From their findings, it's clear the Millennial generation are less willing to sit down and passively watch live match coverage on TV for two hours, preferring highlights clips, interaction on social media, user-generated content, virtual reality, gaming and even watching other gamers on platforms like Twitch.
This trend is manifesting itself in falling pay TV subscription numbers and a fracturing of the rights market. Rights holders are launching their own OTT services and the likes of Amazon, Twitter and Facebook have bid successfully for rights to show live coverage and highlights packages.
In such a radically altered and fractured sports media landscape, clubs, federations, rights holders and brands have to work even harder, be bolder and more creative to seize and keep fans' attention. Many of GlobalSportsJobs' partners, such as those mentioned above, are sure to be at the vanguard of the fan engagement revolution.
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