3 Ways Crazy Sports Fans Transform Brand Engagement
Ambassador is based in Detroit, so as you can imagine the majority of our staff are avid Detroit Tiger’s fans. So when our home team swept the New York Yankees [in 2012] to secure a spot in the World Series, celebration ensued.
You might have noticed us: shirtless, bodies painted, voices hoarse from yelling? But in the midst of the euphoria, we stopped to think…”why are we doing this?”
A valid question considering the world is full of sports fans, and only a few are deemed fanatical “super fans.” And to the interest of most companies, there’s a connection to be made here between said super fans and their potential as brand ambassadors.
The question remains: What makes a “super fan” tick?
Here are 3 drivers of fandom, and how we can leverage each to build brand advocates:
1. Fan Socialization
Think back to the first professional sporting event you went to. Remember who you were with, the energy of the stadium, the excitement of the crowd? Your memories surrounding the event are likely less about the game, and more about the experience. It’s that shared experience that does more for creating life-long fans than a team’s trophy ever could.
Marketing Take-Away: Give Fans a Shared Experience
With over a billion people engaging on social mediums, interacting with a brand is no longer an individual activity, but rather, a shared media experience that cultivates communities. You, too, can take advantage of online mediums, to create a strong social presence that gets fans involved with your brand.
Plan of Action: Offer fans contests that call for personal stories, photos, experiences, feedback, and/or crowdsource your next big product—institute a practice that encourages fans to interact within an online community, and feel as if their voice matters.
2. A Sense of Belonging
Sports fanatics tend to say, “we won!”, or “next game!”, implying a connection with the team that goes beyond the average viewer. A hardcore fan will hold on to their passion despite wins and losses, because at the end of the season it’s not about the team, but about a sense of belonging.
Marketing Takeaway: Give Fans a Place to Connect and Share
Take advantage of the “second screen.” Fans use social media to connect inside and outside the stadium, and their buying habits are no different. Customer reviews and peer-referrals are critical to making the sale online, and giving fans the platform to do so is equally important. Fans that “like” your brand or follow you on Twitter are looking for more than updates. They’re looking for a truly social experience.
Also consider a players “celebrity” factor. All sports fans have a favorite player—a hometown hero, a sports legend, or maybe just an all around team player. Regardless, the bond between the fan and superstar can be as strong as the fans bond to the team itself. These team leaders tend to successfully grow and reinforce their social engagement by targeting messages to passionate fans. Your brand can leverage its leadership role in the same way.
Plan of Action: Ask fans to share opinions, and experiences to engage conversation relating to your brand’s personality. Offer a strong social platform to generate a sense of belonging amongst fans, and you’ll see a significant increase in involvement and brand loyalty.
3. A Sense of Exclusivity
The most fanatic of fans passionately love their teams and, in some cases, are hostile to other teams in the league. This sense of exclusivity is part of what drives fans to dedicate such passion to one team, while depreciating another.
Fans like to be appreciated for their dedication either with victories or simple gestures of good will. The team that exudes a strong sense of devotion likely has the most passionate fan base.
Marketing Takeaway: Offer Fans Creative and Meaningful Promotions
Show appreciation to your best supporters by paying close attention to what is important to them and adding value to their experience. Acknowledging fans makes them feel valued by your brand, and will enhance their devotion and dedication—leading to more referrals, positive reviews, and sales revenue.
Plan of Action: Create promotions and campaigns that are targeted, creative, and meaningful. Offering exclusive content and rewards for referrals does more for building excitement around a brand, than do bland promotions and ads.
Teams win and lose, superstars come and go, but ultimately what drives a sports fanatic is the sense of community surrounding the team. Social media gives your brand the outlet by which to tap into this world of sports fandom, and effectively leverage a strong community of advocates.