Sports is more than an international pastime and passion; sports is a way for brands to share compelling content all year-round. Many sports brands have masterfully used social media and branded editorial to create an ongoing thread of audience engagement. Three brands, FC Barcelona, Red Bull and ESPN, represent best practices for audience engagement that any business can learn from.
FC Barcelona, one of the most popular international football teams, has a digital audience of more than 116 million. The team has a massive following on Facebook. With large followings on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Vine as well, FC Barcelona has become its own media platform. Its fans view the players as rock stars, standing behind them with a fierce loyalty and passion. FC Barcelona has tapped into that passion with a sustained effort to share visual content such as photos of players and video to keep fans interested in the stars on the field. Although the organization is many decades old, its visual stories stress the contemporary excitement of watching current-day players rock the field. FC Barcelona is just starting to tap into the power of partnering with major brands including Nike, Audi and Estrella Damm. Tim McCord, vice president of digital strategy at GMR Marketing, believes that FC Barcelona should share sponsored, behind-the-scenes footage of some of its upcoming partnerships. These experiences offer immense potential for brand storytelling, a surefire way to keep their already rapt audiences tuning in even more frequently.
Given Red Bull’s staggering success with content marketing, it’s not surprising that the company has taken sports marketing to the extreme. Red Bull has sponsored more than 500 extreme sports – from snow sports to base jumping – in order to connect with its young audience. Fans can keep tabs on anything and everything related to extreme sports through a wide range of Red Bull digital channels including YouTube, Instagram, and its own online TV channel – Red Bull TV.
Traditionally, paying large amounts of money to sponsor an event or team will set a company apart from its competition. Red Bull has adopted a different tactic: taking ownership with its own Formula 1 team. Red Bull bought the Jaguar F1 racing team in 2004. Since then, the team has undergone a full rebranding and won three championships. Investing in Formula 1 demonstrates to young audiences that the Red Bull product is associated with style, adventure, speed and fearlessness.
Since 2013, the Disney-owned sports giant ESPN has been making waves in the social media world. Katie Richman is largely responsible for the company’s unique blend of social media interaction. Among other accomplishments, Richman is behind ESPNW and X Games’ strategies to interact with fans. One of the integration tactics that EPSN has grown substantially is including social photos in all of its shows. The Global X Games team scans Facebook and Twitter athlete streams, keeping an eye out for the best photos. The team puts these photos into graphic shells and includes them in their live shows.
For even more inspiration from and insight into how sports content creators engage their audiences, start following the social media accounts for some of your favorite sports outlets. There is nothing quite like seeing ideas in action to inspire you to take your audience engagement approach to the next level.
For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org