No matter how hard brands might try, they’re never going to reach the level of fandom a sporting team can create.
This is because for many, a sports team isn’t just a group of skilled athletes playing a game. It’s an extension of their own family, a crucial element of their identity for whom they have the utmost trust, confidence, and respect.
With that level of loyalty and love, it’s strange that spectator sports are still largely a one way medium. They’re events that are built around creating a spectacle for the fans, something for them to watch and be entertained.
Very few teams or brands have taken proactive measures to leverage the interest of their superfans beyond the basic sale of branded merchandise.
It’s a huge opportunity that’s being missed. Sports fans are some of the most passionate consumers on the planet. If you can find a way to leverage their passion and assist them in the production of User Generated Content (UGC), you could see the reach and impact of your wider marketing strategy explode.
UGC in Sports is Nothing New
For years US sports grounds have been using visitors to provide entertainment during gaps in play.
Kiss Cams, dance cams, and awards like the half court shot challenge all use ground attendees to create entertaining video. But these things don’t only have to be for the entertainment of those at the sporting event.
These compilations often make it to video platforms like Youtube which can increase the reach of the team and sponsor brands. Here’s a prime example leading with the State Farm logo.
The man in the video is obviously a plant, as he features in a couple of other Detroit Piston’s videos, but it still demonstrates how at-venue content can be repurposed through other digital channels to build hype and attention.
It’s a good example of how UGC can make its way into mainstream marketing channels, but it’s not the most dynamic method.
Sports fans have always been willing to be featured in support of their team. Rather than simply turning a camera on them and hoping to catch something that can be used in your wider marketing, the best brands are utilising tech in more effective, innovative ways.
Enhancing the Stadium Experience
Nothing compares to the atmosphere and experience of watching live sports.
Sports fans the world over are addicted to the noise and atmosphere of the stadium. It is, many would say, exhilarating. But there’s always a way to enhance and improve the experience.
We’re living in a digital era. People all over the world are constantly connected to the internet and sharing their latest thoughts and experiences. They want to brag, and they want to do it publicly.
When they’re in the stadium, users will be sharing where they are and what they’re doing. They create social media posts detailing how awesome the sporting occasion is and taking photos.
This is a great opportunity for the sports brand to create ‘boasting opportunities’ and curate the results.
Take the New York Yankees as an example. They’re one of the biggest teams on the planet known to baseball diehards and complete novices. A remarkable feat achieved through an ongoing, integrated marketing strategy.
Many of their more recent marketing campaigns leverages social media. You can see through the image how they operate Snapchat filters to ensure they’re represented in snaps, and are active in monitoring Yankee specific hashtags from users.
Even featuring users on the Jumbotron in matches can lead to a few extra social shares which could later be curated for a live picture feed.
There’s also the possibility to marry these two options. Many teams, including New York City Football Club, promote hashtags for stadium visitors so they can get featured on the Jumbotron.
This of course is great for the sports fans. They get featured within the ground, and the team get free digitalised word-of-mouth marketing.
Sports fans want to be more involved with their team.
If they’re already at the stadium, teams and sponsors have a great opportunity to collect huge amounts of user generated content through social shares simply by promoting certain hashtags.
User Generated Content to Benefit Team Sponsors
Big brands like Nike and Adidas spend inordinate amounts of cash to get the biggest stars using and promoting their products.
That influencer marketing goes a long way in establishing additional trust in the brand and their products.
However, sponsors can also leverage the love sports fans have for their teams.
One of the biggest overlaps for sporting brands is replica kits. Fans who want to show their support for their team will purchase a replica kit from Adidas, Nike, or whoever produces it.
So it makes sense to bring sports fans into the decision making on the design choices of kits, which is exactly what Adidas recently did.
In an effort to engage fans and get them involved in their next campaign, they put a mass callout on social media allowing fans to create their favourite team’s third kit for the next season.
This is a great way to not only grab some interesting UGC that’ll help increase the social media presence of Adidas, but it should lead to an increase in sales once the kit is finally released.
Adidas have expertly manoeuvred one of the most difficult tasks in sourcing UGC by finding a relevant overlap between their service, and the needs and desires of the target market of sports fans.
Letting Fans Handle Your Marketing
Sports advertisements often feel forced.
Actors jumping out of their seats in joy at a goal, manufactured friend groups enjoying the match, and uncomfortable sports stars giving wooden monologues.
They might be accurate depictions of real life, but they don’t resonate with fans.
Fans are, as we’ve already said, a family. So let them take over your marketing for you. Bring them in to create their own, genuinely passionate adverts and leverage it to your brand’s benefit.
Texas Christian University leveraged their fans’ love of the game by asking them to submit 21-second videos showing their pride for the team.
These 21-second videos were completely fan made and, thanks to their short duration, were easily shared through social media.
The NFL took this idea of fan produced marketing to the next level with their Together We Make Football campaign. An open invitation was sent to anyone with a love of football to submit a video explaining what football meant to them.
The best videos were then selected and whittled down to find a handful of winners who’d receive a free trip to that year’s Super Bowl.
Fans aren’t just willing to boast about their love for their team, they’re also going to produce more genuine and effective content. If you can plant the seed and mobilise the fans, you’ll be sitting on a ton of useful, exciting and authentic UGC.
Using UGC to Inspire
In 2015, Sport England launched an uplifting campaign with the aim of encouraging more women and girls to participate in sports. Rather than using typical athletes that may have alienated the very people they were trying to target, they instead used real women, of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities to prove that sports are for everyone.
With quotes, videos and images from real women, the campaign inspired many women and girls to become more active.
A Quirky Twist on a Fan Favourite
Sometimes simple ideas are the best.
Instead of a kiss cam, they created the Lion King cam and selected parents and children from the fans.
As you can imagine, this was a huge hit not only with the fans in attendance, but those watching through various social channels as well.
Another option is to offer a new feature on an accepted
and popular shared format. Liverpool Football Club has a great example of this through a tweet which allows you to slow, speed, or reverse the passing of time.
With sports fans often waiting for the slow-motion replay of exceptional plays, this is an incredible way to turn what could have been a run of the mill tweet of a free kick into something far more engaging.
Sure, it’s not traditional UGC, but these novel amendments to accepted formats often serve as a starting point which generate positive, wide reaching UGC.
Great UGC doesn’t necessarily depend on you forcing fans to craft something you can use in your marketing. Sometimes it’s as simple as implementing a new idea and running with it.
If it resonates with fans, you’ll find them producing their own content in response, content you can then leverage for further reach.
Generating New Revenue Opportunities
UGC isn’t just raising your sports event’s, team’s or brand’s profile, it’s also opening up new forms of revenue for your brand.
No one understands sports fans quite as well as other sports fans. Those that have created and shared content speak the same language as your target audience, so it makes sense to let their words (and photos) do all the talking.
The authentic passion they drive cannot be replicated, and if used correctly, it can heavily impact sales of tickets and merchandise. When purchasing experiences, such as sporting event tickets, fans want to make sure that they are going to have an amazing time. Existing fan content can pick up their attention, get them hyped up and deposit them on your doorstep, or ecommerce site.
Take Advantage of Sports Fan’s Passion
Sports fans are most definitely some of the most passionate people in the world.
For them, their team is more than a club or a business, it’s a huge part of their life. This presents some great opportunities for brands to solicit and leverage UGC.
All sports related brands need to do is find the best overlap in which to plant the seed, and as demonstrated by the examples in this piece, all you have to do then is sit back and let the fans run wild.
To find out how you can unite your fans, old and new, and spread their infectious passion worldwide, get in touch with one of our dedicated sports brand consultants today.