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5 Sponsorship Activation tactics for Sports brands on Social Media - Digital-Football.com - Football Social Media & Digital Sports news

5 Sponsorship Activation tactics for Sports brands on Social Media


Recent Social Media data from Digital-Football.com showed English Premier League clubs have added an additional 30 million followers on Twitter alone in the past 3 years. As clubs have managed to clearly grow their social media presence, they’ve also been able to look to monetize these channels and attract new sponsorship revenues. With just football shirt sponsorship growing by 30% across the Top 6 leagues in 2016 alone, sports clubs and their sponsors have been thrust forward and forced to work together to make the most out of the relationship.

For the sponsor, their objective is to get the most from the fees they’ve paid and ensure that their brand awareness and reputation benefit from the deal. For the sports brands, they want to ensure that they provide sponsors with everything they need but don’t jeprodise the integrity or relationship built their fans across their social networks. Getting the balance right between the two can be difficult and easy to over-complicate.

With this in mind, we’ve put together 5 very simple sponsorship activation tactics that can be employed from smaller clubs on a budget up to the global elite. If you want to explore how to implement one of these tactics, or just want a general chat please do get in touch to see how you can work with Digital-Football.com in the future.

#1 – Branded Twitter Q&A

askgirffthsThe branded Twitter Q&A has been about for years – sponsors live tweet fans questions with a particular athlete either under a branded up hashtag or through their own brand Twitter account. The tactic relies on using an athlete who firstly warrants the attention and can draw in engagement for the sponsor, but also that the athlete understands the opportunities/pitfalls of Twitter as to avoid a PR disaster.

Typically, live Q&As last for 30 minutes to an hour and are usually moderated by a Social Media expert either from the club or the sponsor to ensure things don’t go out of hand. Sponsors tend to ask the athlete to tweet out/promote the live hashtag a few days in advance to build anticipation as well as brand awareness. Crucially, it’s important that some of the questions are actually interesting/engaging. A mix of humour, insight and a tad of personal opinion goes a long way.

#2 – Video Content

arsenalnflBecoming every popular but perhaps more difficult to execute is a sponsored video campaign. The continuing trend, and one we highlighted nearly 4 years ago, is to provide behind-the-scenes content with staff and athletes. Some clubs/sponsors choose to take the Q&A further by making is a Skype session, others have worked with clubs to go behind the scenes at the training ground in order to offer fans an insight into what makes their club work. Increasingly though, sponsors are desperately trying to inject humor into the videos and often engage players in some form of challenge.

Such challenges can be as simple as a crossbar challenge or a keepie up challenge. More creative clubs have leveraged the sponsors country of origin and tried to get the players to participate in some activity that has cultural significance e.g. attempting to kick an NFL football. Video can be tricky as it does require athlete access during busy periods and relies on the athletes actually being open and up for having some fun, which depending on the current performance may be harder to generate.

#3 – Creative Content with a simple “Sponsored by”

programmeThis year football has seen some wonderful creative content pieces produced by football club art teams – there’s numerous great programmes out there that have changed their artwork from the usual drab “us vs. them” footy programme to following themes more akin to a comic book. Sponsors and clubs should be jumping on the back of this and looking at ways they can do more with their creative.

As an example, any football programme enthusiast will know, there are some seriously great vintage designs from the 50s and 60s out there. Clubs are already redesigning their traditional matchday programmes to give them a vintage twist. Sponsors should be working with clubs to reproduce / mock-up glorious famous matches or try hype up upcoming derby games by going back to their routes with vintage programmes.

#4 – Social Media isn’t just online – bring your online fans offline

sleepoverAmerican sports, as ever, nail the concept of taking a social media audience online and bringing them into the real offline world of a football stadium. Clubs and sponsors need to be doing more with their brand influencers across Social and hosting offline events that allows these precious brand ambassadors more access than ever before. Whether that’s a “blogger training session” with the gaffer or inclusion in the press pit for core fan led blogsites.

Marriot recently announced a competition allowing superfans to sleepover in the stadium ahead of the next Super Bowl so they can be their first to take in the atmosphere. This isn’t anything new in the NFL in fact, as it’s been going on for nearly 6 years – in most cases with a charitable angle to help kids without beds sleepover in the same stadium their heroes perform in week in / week out.

#5 – Sponsored App Development

Unbelievably many sports brands are still struggling to get a half decent app developed that actually has a purpose. A purposeful and well built app costs money, and whilst sports like football are multi-billion pound industries, marketing budgets are often tight. Therefore, there’s a fantastic opportunity for sponsors to stump up the cash to develop the club app in partnership with the club.

This might mean sacrificing an area of the map to some branded/sponsored content somewhere, but it will also allow the club to create a new potential revenue stream and partnership with their sponsors and fans. Whether thats the design and build of an informational live match day app or perhaps just a branded game, there’s a great opportunity for both sites to collect audience data and help each another out

Sean Walsh

Founder of Digital-Football.com and leading Football Social Media expert.

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1 Response

  1. October 23, 2016

    […] The incident does pose an interesting question for clubs whether they’ve catered for third-party involvement when players sign official club Social Media Policy documents? With so much sponsorship now focused on social media, this doesn’t just harm club/player brand but also potential revenue generated from sponsorship activation. […]

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