Sports is one industry that has derived huge benefits from the rise of social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have helped sport-related brands reach a global audience previously unimaginable.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed personality on Instagram (163m and counting). Real Madrid has 242 million followers across the Big Three social media platforms.
These numbers are staggering. It is an indication of how integral social media has become to marketing/perception management for sports-related brands and individuals.
Rockstar SM (social media) managers have become an in-demand commodity amongst competing brands; from football to sportswear manufacturers and even gambling companies.
The dude/girl leading a team that captures attention, get engagements by the thousands and conversion of this attention into sales has become the proverbial hotcake.
What does one need to become a social media rockstar manager?
Like the best things in life, rocking SMM (social media management) for sports-related brands is a skill that can be learned.
This should go without saying but the love/passion for sports comes first. To be able to create content that stands out, social media managers must understand the passions that drive sports fans.
Why for instance, do people still get misty-eyed about events that happened 40, 60 years ago (sometimes even before they were born)? The passion that they generate makes little sense to someone who does not have that level of emotional commitment.
Without this passion, a social media management team will fail at creating content that gets the attention of its desired audience.
Being on top of topics and trends is also essential for an SM manager who wants to do great things.
How to “win” for your brand on social media
There are techniques and methods that fit into the tried and trusted category. However, a daring SM manager goes beyond the norm to explore ways of achieving the set targets; engagement and conversion amongst others.
Here are some ways social media managers can get results managing a sports-related brand:
Local Content is Critical
Simply put, you have to talk to your audience in the language they understand. Sports fans are more likely to associate with a brand that gives them content in their local context.
As a manager for a sports-related brand, local content should be central in the content plan. Adding localized content that resonates with the immediate audience has been shown to create brand affinity fast.
You can never go wrong with focusing on content people identify with. Brands are likelier to achieve the desired engagement/lead generation with content that resonates.
- What does my immediate audience care about?
- Who are their local heroes/heroines?
- What kinds of stories matter to them?
- How do they perceive the industry I represent?
Answering these questions helps create content that will be consumed by the target audience.
I have seen this at play many times managing SM accounts for some of Nigeria’s leading sports betting companies.
I have seen fantastic results from posts featuring Nigerian sports stars like Rashidi Yekini, the music star, Olamide amongst others.
Humour and Banter are Growth Vehicles
Sports fans are a humorous bunch who often tend to take themselves too seriously. This provides quality material through which smart social media managers can build amazing content.
Humour in posts and playful engagement with followers is a surefire way for a sports-related brand to do well on the social web.
Sports is one of the biggest forms of entertainment. Therefore, it goes without saying that a sports-related brand has to entertain its followers on social media.
Lots of brands understand this and have used it to grow followership and sell their products/services on social media. A brilliant example of this is PaddyPower, the British sports-betting company.
With light-hearted banter at the vehicle, it has used humour to get amazing engagement on social media i.e. Instagram and Twitter. This has been converted to customers/revenue and has seen the company grow steadily despite playing in a very saturated market.
Videos are Life-Affirming
The statistics on video as the best means of content marketing are well-known. For a sport-related brand, it is essential to have it as the most used form of storytelling/advertising.
Due to the number of games involving their favourite sports teams/stars, videos have become integral in marketing anything related to sports.
Behind-the-scene, unveiling, product launching are just some forms of videos that fans avidly consume on social media. This appetite is never-ending and a goldmine for capturing attention for a brand.
A smart manager capitalizes on this by creating videos that entertain, educate and incite engagement from its followers. It can take many forms and
Videos generate the biggest sign-ups, engagement and emotional connections for sports-related brands. A good example is the farewell video Budweiser made for basketball star, Dwayne Wade.
Piggyback on Trending Sport Topics
Lionel Messi generated over 3m tweets last night after his performance in the UEFA Champions League. The memes, highlights, incidents and more from that game have provided great content for SM users.
A good manager will not miss out on getting engagement for the brand on days like this. The TOMA (Top Of Mind Awareness) aspect of these sporting events allows a brand to achieve certain goals easily.
For instance, motivational posts built around the narrative of the top performer at a sports event has consistently delivered amazing engagement. For this to be achieved, the posting should take place almost immediately after the event has concluded (6-12 hours after the event).
Statistics, funny quips, GIFS, memes, and other content forms can help a smart brand capitalize
Endorsement by Sportstars/Influencers
Getting popular stars/influencers to spread the word about your brand is very important. These stars and influencers provide an opportunity for brands to create an affinity with customers on a personal level.
The celebrity/influencer form of advertising is one that has proven to be effective when used right.
The formula is actually quite simple; the bigger the sports star, the better the derivable benefits. For example, Serena Williams hyping up a new set of sports shoes or Ronaldo promoting Juventus’ jersey.
Influencers who have created a following in niches that could serve the brand are also good for business.
These guys usually operate at a closer emotional level to the target group than the sports stars. This includes fan groups like AFTV that has a dedicated following from supporters of Arsenal FC.
In conclusion, becoming the go-to manager for a sports-related brand can be challenging. With the right skills, passion and tools, it can be done.