5 Trends for Sports Social Media that can be used in Football
In the past 18 months Sports Social Media has come a long way, especially in Football! In the English Premier League for example, it’s no wonder that the combined number of club Twitter followers has grown by an astonishing 69% since the start of the season. Similarly, on Facebook there are over 50 million Facebook fans of EPL clubs – that’s nearly a whole nation. Yet, US Sport franchises still lead the way in creative and innovative Sports Social Media. With that in mind, here are my top 5 trends to watch out for and what we can expect to see soon in European Football:
1. Marketing the Experience, not the Brand!
Teams in the NBA, NHL and NFL differ from European Sports teams in that they have already evolved the way they engage with Sports fans. Social Media is used to not market the brand – tickets, products, merchandise or adverts. Instead, teams use Social Media to focus in on the “game day experience” – the highlights, the atmosphere, the music playlist, the pre match rituals, views from seats and funny anecdotes from the game. Here in the UK we are far too focussed on telling what the fans want, rather, marketers should be sitting in the fan seats and absorbing the emotions and stories during a game. Sports fans want a shared experience, not a broadcast competition about a free subscription to the club magazine!
2. Social Media Command Centre
I’ve spoken about this brilliant invention before hand but it’s still incredibly relevant and untried on this side of the Atlantic. Social Media Command Centre’s – or Hubs if you don’t want to be too dramatic – are allocated areas within the stadium on a gameday where pre-selected fans can take control of the clubs Social Media presence. These fans are usually selected for being Social Media savvy and tend to be quite influential in the space. Not only do they create content, but they curate content from their fellow fans. They are the perfect Community Managers – they know what the fans want, they know the fan chants, know the fan groups, they know what the expectations are. But most importantly, they focus on the experience – not the endless stream of sales spam so many clubs force onto their fans.
3. Fan Nights
If there’s one thing the American know how to do – it’s reward their fans. US Sports recognise how powerful and influential their Social fans can be, one way of rewarding them is the increasingly popular “Fan Night” in which fans are invited to come to the stadium to meet their fellow Tweeters and put faces to Twitter handles. It’s a simple enough idea and a nice gesture to bring your most influential followers closer to the club. Clubs might put on some food, give a stadium tour, or even meet a player/legend. It just shows that the club genuinely cares about their fans and appreciates their efforts in the Social Media space.
4. Fan Content
Again, this is a topic I’ve already written about at length and although clubs like Manchester City and Norwich City are starting to integrate fans into their official content – there’s still a long way to go. Content has dramatically changed in recent years, no longer should it be aimed at audiences, but it has to involve them as well. Clubs can tap into their fans’ talent and encourage them to be content creators for official media. Whether that is crowdsourcing questions for an upcoming YouTube interview with a player, a match report in the programme, or even getting fans to create biographies about their favourite players (past and present). Fan Content is more engaging, authentic and usually a whole lot more interesting.
For those not currently up to speed with the very latest Social Media crazes, Pinterest is a rapidly growing Social Network in which users “pin” their favourite content – essentially curating content. In the U.S., they haven’t missed a trick and teams are already using the popular Social platform to promote their online stores. However, it can be used for so much more. Clubs could use Pinterest’s collaborative features to host an “Iconic Photography” board in which selected fans can pin photos of their favourite moments, players and jerseys – thereby letting fans curate the clubs history. Pinterest is a fantastic tool for this kind of collaborative sharing and undoubtedly could be used for competitions, video libraries or even fan-photography.