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Engaging fans home and afar with UGC

Rafael Molina Harno

February 21, 2022

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Globally displaced fanbases

More than ever, European clubs boast transcontinental fanbases across languages, oceans and time zones. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United have between 200 and 300 million followers on socials. Fan engagement has never been so important.

Fan interest in certain teams or leagues has long been tied to connections to players, such as Didier Drogba and Mohammed Salah (for Ivory Coast and Egypt) who became huge ambassadors for their clubs, creating organic fan engagement. South Korea now also has an incredible connection to Tottenham Hotspur because of Heung-Ming Son and So-hyun Cho. These relationships are fostered by pre-season tours, country-specific sponsorships and marquee signings (e.g., Christian Pulisic signing for Chelsea FC), as clubs seek to take advantage of the internationalisation of a fan base to engage their fans. In truth, giving back through fan engagement will provide brand amplification which add further value to these commercial goals and improve the relationship with the fans.

USA deep dive

US supporters have a growing preference for the Premier League. The majority in fact, started watching in the last 5 years. Indeed, fanbases are much younger (35-43%) than the most popular sports such as NFL and MLB - younger people want to be different. NBC forked out 1 billion dollars for the PL rights back in 2015, and further extended them until 2028 last year for almost 3 billion. The exclusive time-slots make it an extremely attractive proposition, while europeans battle with blackouts, sparse broadcasting and new pay-to-view services, the states have access to all 380 Premier League games, making fan engagement easier through access.

‘The total audience delivery (TAD) for games aired on NBC’s commercial network broadcast channel actually saw a two per cent YoY increase to 879,000 average viewers. The network appears to be encouraged by the figures overall, with eight NBC and NBCSN matches averaging a TAD of at least one million viewers’ - SportsPro Media

Clubs need to focus on engaging fans abroad just as much as local fans - and this is especially apparent in the US. The answer? Online fan engagement. The solution? Complicated but possible. It is a reason that many clubs have adopted American twitter handles to better target that particular market, and teams such as Manchester United having special accounts for Indonesian, Hispanic, Arabic, Indian and Korean speakers, illustrative of their international fanbase.

Engaging displaced fans

The nature of social media encompasses ease of access, the possibility of gathering people with the same interests and the translocal connectivity that results in building wider communities. Digitally native fans want quality engagement with their club. Sports organisations have an entertainment product like no other with superstars, personalities, drama and millions of fans waiting for the latest juicy story. Harness that entertainment, and brand amplification is an inevitable consequence.

Second screens have transformed the fan experience, as sports organisations have the chance to offer fans an enhanced experience which is not available in the stadium. Amazon’s coverage of the Premier League gave in-game statistics and highlights so that fans could follow an entire match-day seamlessly. NBC meanwhile, made waves by organising weekly online campaigns (My Premier League Mornings) where fans can watch along, and hold a live fanzone event every year in a major city. Broadcasters see the value in creating a welcoming and appealing environment for fans, as they know the better the experience, the more the product they sell is worth. Clubs must heed this lesson and focus on community building.

User-generated content (or UGC) can provide a baseline for this community. The rise of web 2.0 and social media means that platforms are two-way communicating channels, and yet the consumer side is often forgotten. Sports organisations already have an army of content creators at their fingertips that allow them to reach certain markets more effectively than they ever could. UGC increases conversion rates, and the authenticity and social proof are key factors in its effectiveness through micro-influencers.

ScorePlay: fan engagement made easy

ScorePlay optimises media asset processes so sports organisations can concentrate on content creation to further engage their fans. Live mode allows assets to be processed directly from photographer’s cameras through FTP connection and the dedicated Player App makes it easy for the club’s best ambassadors to post immediately after games, without the hassle of Google Drive, WhatsApp, WeTransfer or Dropbox.

We’ve also developed a new feature which will allow clubs to engage their fans directly on social media. This new fan-centred update offers opportunities for UGC, mini-games, community building and long-lasting engagement. Fan first, consumer second. Sign up for the beta today, and check out how Toulouse FC used it for their Ligue 2 win and promotion back to the first division.

Or just try out our demo.

Photo credit: Stade Rochelais

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