How sports teams are best marketing themselves

In a day and age that demands immediacy, getting the attention of the consumer is becoming increasingly tricky. The window of opportunity to grasp the consumer eye is perpetually closing, so marketers are having to spread themselves out thinner and further than ever before. Television and radio advertising isn’t close to half the battle anymore, as most people’s attention won’t be garnered unless they’re bombarded with sponsored tweets and Facebook posts that if nothing else, subconsciously plant the product in their mind.

As an avid sports fan, its fascinating to keep tabs on how individual teams present themselves on public platforms. There’s no patented formula for success on how to best engage fans over the internet, but strategies and necessities are as fluid as ever. Simply tweeting out play-by-play of what’s going on in the game isn’t sufficient anymore. The basis of Twitter was short text blurbs to share thoughts, but now it’s becoming clear the most engaged tweets are the ones with media attached.

A simple scroll through the San Francisco Giants Twitter account shows a pinned tweet with an image, and then the four following tweets with an attached image and hashtag. The latest, and most-efficient method to grab sports fans’ attention on Twitter is by sharing individual top plays in tweets. Through entire 30-second videos or short GIFs, almost an entire game can be accessed remotely through social media.

As a scroll through a sports fan Twitter timeline, even while not watching the game, fetures a top play nearly instantaneously to the moment it happened in real-time. Access to the player’s Twitter handle further keeps the user engaged with the individual tweet longer as they watch the short clip of Matt Duffy diving over and over again. With short GIF clips like this one, it’s easier to get caught up and mesmerized by attached media than a 30-second long clip that the user doesn’t have the patience to watch more than once.

The consumer isn’t necessarily prompted to click a link to see the content they were promised, instead keeping their Twitter browsing session active while this individual tweet still has their full attention. If anything, the consumer is likely to click on the Giants’ Twitter account to see if there are more top pay GIFs to take advantage of.

Play-by-play GIFs are great, but its not something just any brand can jump into. It needs to be done at an appropriate enough frequency and be engaging enough content for the user to continue to find fulfillment and enjoyment out of seeing the Tweets. It needs to be complimented with other material that keeps the consumer invested and incentivized, like providing background or inside information the average consumer would be unable to access.

The Mariners provided a unique, light-hearted picture of childish backpacks their rookies were forced to carry around. That’s unique content that users won’t find elsewhere, and is nearly as engaging as a short GIF of a great play. If anything, the consumer is more inclined to share the “inside” picture from the Mariners as it’s something much harder to get hands on than just a video of a top play.

The video posted on the Giants’ Twitter account gives fans an unparalleled, on-field look of the team taking the field in the first inning in front of 40-plus thousand fans. The video is taken from a better vantage point than any other fan in the park, and as a consumer, they feel more connected with the brand as the curtain continues to be pulled further and further back from behind the scenes.

Obviously as information is shared on public social networks, the information and media is meant to be public. But as in these cases, with tweets providing a more inside scope of things, the thought is planted in the consumer mind that they can’t as closely follow the team and be apart of the experience if they aren’t connected through social media to get these behind-the-scenes looks.

What doesn’t get the consumer’s attention are poorly executed versions of these strategies.

The strategy of Bleacher Report is very clearly to drive the user to their website, but could easily tailor to the consumer much more by embedding the video in the tweet. Instead the user is left to scroll past a blurry image that may make them rub their eyes thinking something’s wrong before realizing the image is a screengrab of a fast-moving video. Simply stating “VIDEO” in all caps with a colon is far less engaging than even just a two or three second video clip or GIF that feeds the consumer essentially the same content as a full video.

The focus of this conversation has been on Twitter because that’s the social media platform that has emerged as the best news-gathering resource. Facebook relegates companies to individual pages that consumers can “like,” and then occasionally have that company’s posts appear in their timelines. Most pages seem to remain static with an image attached to posts and rarely a video. Twitter is very much live and in the moment, which is what the age of immediacy requires. Most other social media platforms are too far behind logistically to play a major factor.

Sports teams have become an integral part of delivering messages as teams try to engage with their fans away from the team. A select few teams even fully embrace the social media experience in-game, such as the San Francisco Giants’ offering of a Social Media Cafe.

The art of reaching the consumer is fashioning the most engaging message and content in 140 characters.


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