Sports Marketing Hacks to Boost Your Brand
Nothing gets sports fans tweeting, commenting and posting pics on social media like a great sports event. For teams wanting to build fan loyalty—and other brands wanting to enter into the conversation or just learn from what fans are saying, doing, wearing and more—sports provide plenty of marketing opportunities. We contacted five marketing experts for their favorite tips.
What are your best sports marketing hacks and how can sports teams—and other brands—make the most of social media during sports events?
- Show fans you’re interested in what they say
- Motivate fans to achieve their own athletic goals
- Retailers: Know what you’re talking about before entering the conversation
- Use visuals—but choose wisely
David Waterman, The Search Agency, @SEOWaterman The best way for athletes and teams to market themselves on social media is by listening and responding. Many sports fans mention their favorite athletes/teams in social media via a simple tweet, comment, etc. If a team/athlete wants to build loyal followers and fans, they need to respond to tweets and mentions. For example—thank Joe for the commenting about the last game. Give Jane props for her loyalty to the team.
Sports fans often go to social media during sporting events to voice their support. By listening to the commentary going on during the game, a team/athlete can gather valuable insights about their fan base (such as gender, location, opinion, etc.) as well as directly engage with them.
Alex Kehr, LeadBoxer, Wander, author of Hacking Growth, @WanderCreates Athletes and teams can best market themselves on social media by focusing on being aspirational. The aspirational mindset is what has propelled Nike to greatness; this marketing tactic works insanely well. If a team or athlete wants to increase their following, engagement, and other key social media performance metrics, he or she (or the team) should be focused on inspiring people to achieve more through sports.
Retailers can also benefit from “listening” to social media during sporting events in order to market their wares to customers. Look for creative opportunities to engage authentically with your target audience. Authentic engagement means doing things like simply commenting on what’s happening in the game. Don’t be salesy and throw yourself into the conversation with the sporting event hashtag (i.e. “BUY OUR STUFF.” #NYCvsLA) Say something genuinely interesting that people will want to respond to.
Rachael Nichol, The American Board, @RachaelNichol The best thing a retailer using social media listening can do is prepare ahead. By researching sports games ahead of time, they will know the big stories that will be focused on during the games. This could be an athlete coming back from an injury, a player with a personal story currently trending or a surprising upset. By knowing what will be mentioned during a game, retailers can prepare tweets, Facebook posts, and graphics to share when appropriate.
Retailers should also follow the game hashtags and watch the game to see what is being mentioned. The ability to create a relevant tweet on the fly that ties to the game is essential. It's also important to know what is going on to save your brand embarrassment. You don't want to tweet out a link to buy the jersey of a player who’s been kicked out of the game for harming another player.
Sean Kim, GlimpzIt, @GlimpzIt The world is becoming increasingly visual as people are abandoning text and letting pictures/videos do the talking. That said, there is an art and science to visual campaigning for marketers to achieve the right effect:
- Sports teams encourage fans to post live authentic content on game days, but often times undesirable content makes its way onto the public stream. Research shows that one bad picture can negate the positive effects of 10 good pictures, so it’s vital for marketers to filter/curate the content they post onto their page
- Live pictures of people tend to resonate more with consumers over visuals of material goods, caricatures, etc., which further increases the importance of curating the right content
- Humanizing athletes tends to provide the most lasting engagement with brands. Instead of simply posting pictures of an athlete on the field, post pictures of the athlete’s family or weekend activities, and you’re sure to captivate the fan base
- Sporting events aren’t just for athletes and their teams. It’s the perfect time for retailers to spread their message as well. A great way they can go about this is by encouraging real-time fan engagement. A clothing company, for example, can run a visual campaign where fans submit a picture of their favorite moment at the game for a chance to win prizes—leading to a more natural dialogue between consumer and brand
Jason Parks, The Media Captain, @TheMediaCaptain Each sports team needs to create its own personality so fans and followers feel a part of something. It is not just about posting pictures of the players and highlighting the final score. Sports teams need to give behind-the-scenes access, show off the personalities of the players and have a sense of humor along the way.
The Florida Panthers of the NHL recently pulled off an amazing social media feat. The top performing player of each game wears a Kevin Spacey T-shirt where his head is in outer space. Spacey in Space has turned into this huge inside joke among the players and the fans. The Panthers even got Kevin Spacey to go to a game—all from a story that came to life on social media. For retailers looking to use sporting events as marketing opportunities, try following Instagram and Twitter to see what type of apparel fans outside and inside of the arena are wearing by geo-targeting the location. They can run advertisements to fans of specific sports teams if there is a connection and synergy. Between targeting and closely observing trends, retailers can learn a lot from sporting events.