A guide to fan engagement

Dhruv Tewari

May 1, 2022

ScorePlay fan engagement thumbnail article

What is fan engagement in sports?

Fan engagement is about the relationship between a sports team and its fans. Fans are arguably the most important stakeholders in their clubs and fan engagement is all about how clubs listen and communicate with them, providing an end-to-end experience through the entire journey of being a fan: before, during, and after an event, game, or match. The ultimate goal of fan engagement is to build brand loyalty—for teams, leagues, sports, and brands—by creating a more personal connection with fans and their willingness to participate in activities surrounding the organisation. This emotional connection is then capitalised on by teams and leagues to shape their strategies moving forward. Fan engagement is at the heart of any digital strategy in the 21st century, but needs to be implemented correctly in order to truly form this bond. Tokens and company like sometimes forget the very essence of being a fan and feeling engaged.

Fan engagement can be direct or indirect. Direct fan engagement refers to the activities that a fan does directly to interact with a sports organisation, such as purchasing tickets to various sporting events or buying merchandise that directly impacts the team. This type of fan engagement affects the sports league and team by supporting them monetarily, but also adds to their general brand visibility and value by being ambassadors in their daily life, fostering even more fan engagement and being walking advertisements.

Indirect fan engagement is when fans interact with the team or sports organisation through social media platforms and other means. This typically involves being active in the various platforms that the organisation is involved in, mentioning the team on their own social media accounts, and possibly even participating in various events or rituals that bring attention to the team. Although this doesn’t necessarily bring in direct revenue, these fans again act as online ambassadors to the organisation and build their brand up online whether through mentioning, talking or writing about the brand.

Redefining the digital fan engagement

In a growing digital economy, the sports industry is also undergoing a huge transformation. There is added urgency at every sporting club and organisation to fast-forward their digital transformation as a new breed of connected and digitally native sports fans emerges - fans who want to be constantly connected to their teams, whether that’s through real-time team news or notifications on the the latest transfer rumour on their phones. They require a new level of fan engagement that purchasing tickets or kits, going to the stadium or going to the pub does not quite achieve. Fan engagement that is on their smart device at all times, fan engagement that makes them feel like part of the project, fan engagement that creates a sense of belonging like no other.

How well all of the experiences are delivered depends on whether organisations understand their fans fully, and how that understanding is used to personalise their online content and media even more. That’s why data and how its collected plays such a critical role in creating the experiences that digitally native fans crave.

Fan engagement examples, strategies & tips

Engaging content

Engaging content is at the forefront of digital fan engagement. Young sports fans use social platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok to consume and share content, and it’s crucial for sports teams to use these effectively to drive fan engagement. You can already see sports teams on TikTok using the most trending videos and adapting them to engage with the digitally native fans whose consumption of sports is making teams rethink their current strategy when it comes to fan engagement.

Three pillars drive fan engagement on social media. Timing, quality and format. The ability to combine all three, knowing when to post that quality content on the right channel, will drive engagement. Moreover, targeting your fans where they already are, on social media, is the best way to engage them.

Focusing on players

With the tremendous increase in social media use, sports marketers have seen that players and athletes are marketing channels. They engage sports fans and audiences and bring exponential growth to the social media reach and engagement for their team and sport. Today, collaborating with players to drive enthralling content across digital and social platforms offers sports properties the shortest path to fan engagement, loyalty and revenue expansion.

An example can be seen here with ScorePlay club West Ham United hosting challenges with fans, giving them an opportunity to interact with their favourite players. This is a great way to engage fans through engaging short-form video content in down time between games.

How ScorePlay drives fan engagement

ScorePlay brings everything together when it comes to sports media assets: photos, short-form videos, raw videos, broadcast streams & archives. A media-hub software like ScorePlay not only allows storage of streams and archives but acts as a dynamic tool that helps every internal team work more efficiently and faster every day, and is the absolute best way to share photos and videos with a group of athletes and foster fan engagement. ScorePlay is designed to automate manual media asset tasks to help you focus on content creation. Furthermore, our athlete app makes it possible to instantaneously distribute content to athletes which they can further push to their social media for fan engagement.

We’ve also developed a feature which allows clubs to engage their fans directly on social media. This new fan-centred update offers opportunities for UGC collection for clubs, where they can hold contests and ask for content from their fans in order to engage them. Fan first, consumer second. Check out how Toulouse FC used it for their Ligue 2 win and promotion back to the first division.

Kick off your digital fan engagement strategy today. Join ScorePlay.

Photo credit: West Ham United & Scottish FA
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