Facebook Marketing For Sports Teams

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Learn how sports teams of all sizes use Facebook to engage with fans and nurture them into loyal ticket buyers. The best part, it is all done automatically with automation.

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Facebook Marketing For Sports Teams

  1. 1. How To Guide: FACEBOOK MARKETING FOR SPORTS TEAMS Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 1
  2. 2. FACEBOOK MARKETING FOR SPORTS TEAMS When it comes to the sports industry, finding passionate fans is not hard. They are everywhere, just waiting to tell you why they love or hate a certain team or player. No, the hard part is engaging those fans, and turning them into your team’s super fan that will buy tickets, hats, shirts, mugs and anything else a logo is on. In the past, sports organizations relied on marketing approaches such as TV ads, newspaper promos and radio spots to sell tickets. In the digital age, the options to reach fans has exploded to the point that if you are not using them, those fans sitting on the fence, may jump to another team. Whether it is email, SMS, voice or another channel of communication, reaching a fan on their any of their devices is certainly a must. The hot, hot, hot area for sports organizations when it comes to marketing and engaging with fans, is social media. In particular, Facebook. cause that would be like telling a pitcher what a baseball is. Everyone knows. But, when it comes to engaging with fans on Facebook, we will go into much deeper conversation on how to do that. It is much more than saying hi and posting photos. What makes it exciting however is, using Facebook marketing for your sports team is about as fun as it gets and measure across the planet in an instant. So how is it done? Let’s throw the ball in the air and get started. 1. Have a Game Plan 2. Keep the Conversation Going 3. Offer Exclusive Content 4. Get Players Involved 5. Invite Everyone 6. Show Off Social Messages 7. Contests 8. Leverage Other Social Channels 9. Best Practices 10. Automation We won’t even bother going into what Facebook is beCopyright 2014 SimplyCast 2
  3. 3. #1: HAVE A GAME PLAN Going back to the world of sports, if you don’t have a defined strategy, you are most likely not going to win a lot. Yes, there are the odd cases where physical talent will beat a solid game plan. But unless you have the LeBron James of Facebook marketing campaigns at your disposal, you best sit down and strategize with your team. What are you hoping to achieve from engaging your fans on Facebook. Page likes, comments, photo submissions, click throughs to other content or gathering user data. Whatever it is, lay it out before you start doing anything. Then at the most basic level determine how often you will be posting to your wall and what type of content. Establish daily, weekly or monthly fea- tures in order to build a following that knows what is coming. Trivia, posts of the week, photos of the month and whatever you think will entertain the fans. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. If you find something that is new, it will stand out. Whatever you can do to lock into the passion and energy of the fans will grow your Facebook community much stronger. Set goals, stick to them and plan ahead to get the most out of your team’s Facebook page. Of course, monitor Facebook Insights to see how all your hard work is doing. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 3
  4. 4. #2: KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING The clear leader in sports popularity in North America is football. The NFL has games once per week and yet they have fans that live and breath football 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When it comes to fan engagement using Facebook, it is the off days that are just as important as game day. You need to fuel interest leading up to every game and provide insight after every game. With the accessibility of the Internet these days, fans have access to reading content all day long. But with the standard work hours being 9-5pm, remember that a lot of fans won’t be checking updates or looking at photos at work (or they should not be). Pinpoint those high traffic times on your Facebook page and focus heavily on those with fresh content. For NFL teams, the days leading up to a game during non-work hours are prime time. With games happening mostly on Sunday, Friday night and Saturday is when most fans will start digesting and interacting with what you post. These high-traffic times are perfect for content that sparks opinion. If the team is having a quarterback controversy, asking who should start the game will launch a comment thread of epic proportions. Posting round the clock may seem overwhelming, but remember that the Facebook news feed is designed differently than let’s say the Twitter one. You don’t need to post every hour on Facebook like you might on Twitter to stay in the feed. As a rule, three times a day is a good way to stay top-of-mind and maintain engagement. A diehard fan wants to know everything the President or GM knows. Fans want to be on the inside. Capitalize on this with behind the scenes updates and photos that can be as simple as the team having dinner together on the night before a big game. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 4
  5. 5. #3: OFFER EXCLUSIVE CONTENT How many brands do you follow on Facebook that simply fill their walls with sales pitches, promos and other self-promoting information. None? This is probably because you stopped “liking” them the moment you realized they were not providing value. No matter what Facebook page you are managing, you can’t make it all about your company, team or brand. This means no bombarding fans with ticket deals. No telling fans how awesome the team is. No endless coupons to save on sweatshirts. You get the point. Fans are on your Facebook page to learn more about the team and establish a deeper connection with the sport, team, athletes or event. Try to keep your content full of value and almost special in a way. Don’t just post what is already on 10 other sites. Give the fans something unique. These fans are opting in to your messaging and are at the ready to interact and answer questions. The team’s official website is where anyone can find the team roster, schedule, stats and other news. Don’t be lazy and post this information again on your Facebook page. Give it a spin and make it more interesting. This can be stories from team outings, pictures from a road trip, injury updates and other non-game day information. Use your team Facebook Page for exclusive content, something that is perceived as a value for the fan, such as a discount at the Arena Store. If players are shooting interviews for the website or a TV show, get your social media team to ask one question that will go live only on Facebook. Let fans know that a big reveal to do with the team will only happen on Facebook a few hours before the game and watch the flood of fans. It makes them feel like the Facebook community itself is an exclusive group and that its members are entitled to special rewards. Our last example would be, two or three times throughout the season, run exclusive Facebook Fan Days, for which the team offers their social media followers steep discounts on tickets and access to an exclusive game experience. Followers on social media platforms like Facebook are some of the most passionate and loyal fans and you want to provide them with once-in-a-lifetime experiences they can’t get anywhere else. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 5
  6. 6. #4: INVITE EVERYONE Regardless if your team plays in an arena, stadium or other type of venue, it is impossible for every fan to come to each game. So how do you take advantage of the thousands of fans who could not get tickets or who live far away as the big game approaches? As the Facebook marketer, you need to be sure that those who are left at home still feel like they are part of the crowd. In the old days, this was limited to television and radio. Not anymore. Some NFL teams host an online or virtual “tailgate” party on their Facebook Page. Some teams have live chats on Facebook where fans can ask questions about the game they are watching. Another example is a type of Pre-Game Social party, which is a cool way for thousands of fans across the world to come together and talk about their team for a few hours leading up to the game. If you don’t have the resources to run exclusive Facebook events, an easy way to bring fans into the game is to post photos of the actual crowd, the physical ticket for the game, the field, players warming up and any other image that will set the atmosphere. These photos could elicit thousands of Likes and hundreds of shares, helping fans (and their friends) feel like they are in the building as well. Bring the world to your venue with these simple Facebook marketing tips. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 6
  7. 7. #5: GET PLAYERS INVOLVED Sports fans love the teams they do because of the players. Without players to love, a team won’t have a hardcore following. This is because every sports fan has a favorite player. So just imagine the impact you can make on your fans if you can make it possible for them to interact with that player. Engagement will explode just by using the resources you already have access to. For the holiday season, many teams will feature videos of their players wishing fans a happy holiday season whether it be Christmas, New Year’s etc. For the athlete it takes a few seconds but for the fans, it will have them watching it over and over and sharing it with their friends. The payoff is excellent when it comes to fan engagement because it is the personalities of the athletes that help humanize the brand. The job is actually getting easier for marketing teams as well. Players are becoming more involved with social media efforts as they try to brand themselves as they enter into endorsement or sponsorship agreements. If you can leverage an athlete that already has a strong following on Facebook, then it can only spill over onto the team if done properly. Think about your own club. How hard would it be to post videos on Facebook of fans asking their favorite players a question? Not very hard. You can also advertise live chats with the players or other exclusive player interaction. We have even seen instances where the team will let the player “take over” the Facebook page for a few hours just to have one-on-one time with the fans. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 7
  8. 8. #6: SHOW OFF SOCIAL MESSAGES When expanding the reach of your team’s Facebook following, it helps to spread what the fans are saying in other places. Whether this means aggregating Facebook posts or comments on the team website, stadium scoreboard or even the local TV broadcast, it will make a fan feel like a celebrity and help drive more people to the team’s Facebook page. Although it is changing, it is more likely a fan will first go to the team’s website rather than the Facebook page. If they see a highly populated social media feed of hardcore fans, they are going to go where the conversation is. This means more likes for your page and more fans sharing content from your page. This can also include picking a fan of the day or Facebook post of the day and featuring it all over the team’s properties. You will be amazed at how much action this kind of feature will bring as fans love to be showcased on their team’s pages. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 8
  9. 9. #7: CONTESTS This is where brands and organizations have been using Facebook for years. Fun and engaging contests that give the fans a chance to win something they otherwise don’t have easy access to. This kind of Facebook marketing is very popular among sports teams. Sports fans love winning, especially if the prize gets them close to their favorite team. Teams can offer everything from free tickets to a lunch date with their favorite player. The Carolina Hurricanes from the NHL run a Facebook contest for every game where they ask the fans to pick who will score the first goal of the game. The winning guess wins an autographed puck and another random person from all entries will win a $500 gift card to the local mall. The form is embedded right into Facebook and is easy to fill out. The form also lists what player signed each puck and other rules and regulations. Not only do you engage the fan with a fun contest, but you also gather some vital data such as the fan’s name and email address. Whatever contest you can dream up, Facebook is the place to either host it or promote it. Keep in mind that Facebook does have policies for running contests and you should become familiar with those before you launch. https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 9
  10. 10. CONTESTS Another fan driven Facebook contest that your team could run would be getting fans to submit videos on why they are the team’s number one fan. Set the rules and how to enter and watch the super fans go crazy with creativity. Once you watch all the submissions, you can turn them around and let your Facebook fans vote for their favorite. Video contests like this work wonders because video is a huge part of the Internet culture and can go viral very easily. Videos of your fans doing funny things to represent the team on Facebook equals marketing success. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 10
  11. 11. #8: LEVERAGE OTHER SOCIAL CHANNELS Social media is more than just Facebook. Yes, it is the largest of all the social networks on the planet and yes, your mom and dad are on their, but you need to leverage other social channels. Easily grow your Facebook fan base just by letting fans on other social networks know about the team page. This includes Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr and of course Google +. Normally LinkedIn would be mentioned but sports organizations don’t really focus on that network for fan engagement. On top of cross-promoting the team Facebook page on these networks, you can also use them to funnel fans to your page. If you have an exclusive pre game chat with one of the players, advertise it over several networks. Photos work great to engage fans and draw them in. Post a photo on Instagram of the player who is doing the chat, sitting at a computer smiling. Send out tweets reminding fans that they can ask their favorite player a question on an exclusive Facebook chat starting at 1 pm. Most of the time, a hardcore fan will join every social network the team has, but that does not mean you can’t find new interest. Social media is a powerful medium that can have your content going viral across many platforms in a matter of minutes. Yes, we are focusing on Facebook in this guide, but by integrating and cross-promoting to other networks, you reach can do nothing by grow. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 11
  12. 12. #9: AUTOMATION Now, engaging fans and growing a loyal following is all about personalization. So how does marketing automation fit in? Well the simple answer is, it makes things easier to plan, manage and implement at the exact time needed. You no longer have to worry about staff sitting at the ready to interact with fans when it comes to more generic messages. With Facebook, automation software allows you to set up two types of Facebook messages. The first being typical posts that you can set in advance to help populate your wall. This is best for content you know is not going to change. Like reminders for other functions, game day start times, photos of players to celebrate birthdays and whatever you can think up. These posts can be all create in one batch and set up to automatically post. Your page won’t come across as robotic, assuming you mix it with a lot of “human” posts. The second type of automated post that is becoming more and more popular is a trigger-based post. A fan taking an action like signing up to an event or downloading the team’s app. Then a post will be added to that fan’s personal Facebook wall, saying what they just did and opening it up for their friends to do the same. Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 12
  13. 13. #10: BEST PRACTICES Best practices are what you should be doing for success in marketing. When it comes to Facebook, there are a lot of suggested ways to go in order to boost the likes on your page. But we are going to focus on the few that are musts if you want to pull in the hardcore sports fan. First, try to stay away from generic and blanket statements. Have a little edge to your words. After all you are representing a sports team, not a law firm. Talk with some confidence or bravado. Motivate fans to take a stand one way or the other. Leading up to a game, get fans fired up with content that says the win will be ours. An example is a simple fill in the blank post: Tonight, the Red Sox are going to ____ against the Cardinals. profile image in the first thing someone will see. For the most part it will be of the team logo but it is okay to be creative. If you are thinking of text in your profile image, remember it shows up on news feeds and mobile phones very small. If the words matter, nobody will be able to read it. The timeline photo is your first impression maker. Don’t skimp with a low resolution image. Make it pop. Use an image that represents your brand and don’t overdo it. Also avoid a lot of text or anything with a sales pitch. When in doubt, have fun with it. In the end, take your readers into consideration before doing anything with your Facebook page. Fans will think of the page as their home or community, so let them drive the conversation and what you add as content. Like mentioned earlier, if you have a posting strategy (and you should), you need to stick to it. Don’t all of a sudden post 25 times in an hour. You need to be a real person and make it personal when posting. Think about what posts stand out on your own Facebook page. Yep, you know what stands out and what looks a little to generic. You also have to do more than post. You need to respond to fans. If they leave comments or ask questions, you need to act. Don’t hide. Even if it is negative, you should respond in a way that shows you are hearing them and understand their pains. Posting photos has to be a part of your overall strategy. It is a proven fact that images shoot engagement rates through the roof. Then there is your profile and timeline photo. Your Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 13
  14. 14. DRIVE FAN ENGAGEMENT WITH FACEBOOK MARKETING As a sports organization with thousands of hardcore fans, you know if you give them a place to feel a part of an online community, they will flock to it. Facebook is the perfect place to build and foster this community because everyone (or mostly everyone) is already using the world’s largest social network. All you need to do is get them to like you and provide engaging content. Yes, that is simpler than it sounds but if you stick to the above tips, your franchise, league or brand will have a Facebook page that is full of opinions, likes, shares and highly engaged fans. www.simplycast.com | 1.866.323.6572 ext.1 twitter.com/simplycast facebook.com/simplycast Copyright 2014 SimplyCast 14

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