When it comes to sports marketing, sold-out stadiums and extreme reverence for sports teams are good indicators of engagement and memorability. That said, there are an increasing number of content strategies that sports teams and their management can employ to engage with fans in more meaningful ways. The latest Hashtag Sports panel, What Can Sports Marketing Learn from Entertainment and Brand Storytelling?, explored how sports marketers can use the same successful storytelling techniques as entertainment companies to create a deeper sense of fandom. These techniques reach beyond traditional sports fans and have the potential to engage all sorts of diverse communities.
Joseph Matsushima, Director Social/Digital at Sid Lee, moderated the discussion with Sydney Zuelke, Social Media Manager for the Sacramento Kings, Doug Ryder, Team Principal for Team Qhubeka ASSOS, and Joe Carr, CEO of Thrill One Sports & Entertainment.
Here are the panelists’ three main takeaways.
Sydney Zuelke: Be individual-driven
“Our brand has taken on a personality. We want to be relevant with what is going on, and we want to be a part of the conversation. We post content that is engaging to sports fans and non-sports fans, including memes, user-generated content, and viral videos. We find a way to incorporate the Sacramento Kings into internet culture to attract and retain new followers and traditional sports fans. Our social media team does this by leveraging the personalities of the players and oftentimes we combine the two. Also, we bring in internet celebrities. We think, why not invite Lil BUB and introduce him to the team? We definitely try to integrate our athletes but integrate internet celebrities as well.”
Joe Carr: Brand integrity is essential
“The lines between sports and entertainment are blurred. We live out that nexus of creative flexibility in how we roll out content. Brand integrity must be at the forefront of content distribution. Brands can fall into the trap of chasing data.
“Organizations still have to look at social channels as their first point of contact with fans, and brand integrity is critical. Balancing brand positioning and performance should always be top-of-mind.”
Doug Ryder: Bring people along for the ride
“Focusing on impact and not ego is about being honest and authentic. It has connected us with a global fanbase and helps us tell stories through individuals, using all the platforms we can.
“For example, Team Qhubeka ASSOS uses YouTube to get our message across. Cycling is based on a gladiator sport—it may seem quite dull, but we use it to tell people’s stories by bringing them into our world and making them a part of it. Instagram is a huge platform for us. The scenery of cycling is breathtaking, and it attracts other communities. Team Qhubeka ASSOS thinks about how cycling makes people feel, and capturing those moments is important.
“For us, it is about being consistent. You can only make a movement and create an impact if you are consistent.”