Monday, May 19, 2014

Sports Marketers: Tips on Creating a Successful Social Media Campaign

From the NCAA to the NFL to the PGA, its no secret that sports teams and athletes generate fan bases the size of small countries. As sports marketers, it is our job to harness this following to generate excitement for our teams. But how can we make sure we are truly maximizing the full potential of our fan base? As a graduate student in Northwestern University Medill's Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Masters program, I have found 2 articles on how to create successful social media campaigns to engage your fans.

Lauren Drell, author of Five Tips for Marketing to Sports Fans on Facebook, focused on understanding the sports fan persona.  Sports fans are passionate, loyal and more importantly "they crave interaction with the team and will gladly engage right back." Think about any passionate sports fan you know and you'll see the signs - the baseball fan who goes to the game with his glove, in hopes of catching a foul ball; the football fan who plays fantasy football as the "owner" of their own team; the NCAA basketball fans who will paint every inch of their skin and dye their hair simply to match the colors of their beloved team. They all want to feel connected to their team - and as sports marketers, you have the power to make that connection. This is crucial for sports marketers to understand when formulating their social media campaign.  


Ty Scheiner,  author of Four Winning Sports Social Media Marketing Campaigns You Can Learn From highlights the work of teams that have successful social media marketing strategies.  Baylor University has a rewards program that encourages content sharing.  The New Jersey Devils "Mission Control" campaign rewards loyal fans with the opportunity to be part of the team.  Each campaign that Scheiner highlights shows the teams engaging and interacting with their fans through creative social media campaigns.

After reviewing these articles, there are three action items you should immediately consider when developing your own social media campaign:   

  • ENGAGE ALL FANS - Social media gives you opportunity to engage with fans anywhere at anytime. It is important to find ways to keep fans feeling connected with your team - Find a way to reach those who can not make it to the games and ways to keep the fire burning even during the off-season.
  • INTERACT - The fans want to be a part of the team and they want to interact - so be sure that your social media campaign is a two-way street. Create contests, offer give-aways, involve players - anything that provides an interactive forum for the fans to get involved with the team.
  • GET CREATIVE - Create unique content that is cannot be found anywhere else and is only specific to your team. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box! Crazy fans get excited by crazy ideas, so run with it! 

Every sports market is unique and it goes without saying, that it is important to know your market before establishing any type of program. But if you follow these three simple tips, you will be on the path to creating a successful social media campaign for your sports team.

Danielle Pierce, a sports fanatic and marketing wiz, is currently completing a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.  She previously completed her Masters of Science at Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelors of Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Follow her on Twitter @dmapierce912

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