Are UK sports rights holders and brands guilty of not capitalising on the single most important vertical in engaging their audience, social media?
Across the pond our American friends are approaching the most important time of the NFL season, the college football season is finished however the recruitment drive and NFL draft are in full swing and the NBA is in home stretch for the playoffs.
In the UK the FA cup is picking up steam, the transfer window is still wide open and the champions league is gearing up to take centre stage and crown the best club in Europe.
At such an important time during the sport calendar why are we not seeing a surge in content from UK rights holders and brands? As a reference here is a collection of some of the greatest pieces of content produced from just one weekend of NFL football.
After the San Deigo Chargers moved to LA yesterday there were several major teams that took advantage and leveraged social media to increase the outreach.
Los Angeles now leads St. Louis 2-0.
…both in this game and in professional football teams.
— #LAKings (@LAKings) January 13, 2017
A recent study found that 86% of US adults aged 18-29 were social media users so its no wonder that teams are following the attention of its target audience and producing more and more digital content. College football teams are seen as the leaders in producing digital content for social media, utilizing the big 4 platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat) to cover all aspects of games from inside the locker room to sideline action.
The major difference is the amount of exclusive, innovative content produced; there are Instagram stories from on field celebrations which capture the pure emotions of winning. The pre-game content gives insight into the personalities of athletes and form a virtual bridge between superstars and fans.
Certain major UK clubs like Manchester City are starting to adopt new ways to engage fans, “We want to be more innovative, more creative and we want to be the first,” says Danny Wilson, director of operations at Manchester City. The club invested in Snapchat glasses to improve fan experience and are committed to innovation recently hosting a 2nd hackathon on improving digital fan engagement.
However until more clubs across the UK adopt the philosophy that social media is THE way their fans consume content then its likely the UK will be playing catch up to the likes of the NFL. The digital era has brought new focus to the demands of fans, team news and basic graphics are no longer enough to satisfy the modern fan. They want to be immersed within the club, for the club to be as open and transparent with as many aspects of daily life as possible.
Here are 5 areas teams should focus on using when social media;
– More behind-the-scenes/exclusive access
– Club to own its news
– Producing content on every platform
– Making fans feel part of the action wherever they are
– Creating a feeling of value to each individual fan
Filling stadiums, providing the best experience to fans and ultimately winning games are the priorities of all professional sports teams. Although the latter will generally take care of the first two it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and find a balance between being creative and producing high quality content. Utilising social media to connect with fans should be the primary topic of discussion within any team strategy boardroom. At the moment the UK could learn a thing or two from the way American sports teams use social media to engage it’s ever-growing sports fan base.
Deputy Editor & Social Media Specialist