A virtual sports conference was hosted last Thursday and Friday (18-19 Feb) by Hashtag Sports. The #SportsConf was sponsored by Google and held online through Google+ Hangouts. It hosted over 80 speakers, it was viewed by over 13,000 people from 101 country all over the world, and generated over 15,6 million impressions on social networks. But, what are the most important pointers we decided to share with you?

One thing should be noted, and that is the fact that hamsters are replacing cats as the most popular images in social content, according to Valerie De La Rosa, Head of Social at StubmbleUpon. 

 We underlined 8 lessons from the sports conference that could be of use to all marketers. 

1. Follow trends, get Snapchat!

Snapchat is the hit in the USA now, and sports clubs started noticing it too. As it was noted at the conference, Snapchat is mostly used by millennials, and clubs brands will try to attract fans through that channel. Stanford University Athletics started following this trend, and all Stanford University athletes were advised to use Snapchat.

Screenshot 2015-02-26 16.02.19


The focus is on the ‘behind the scene’ content, such as photos from road trips, practices, weightroom, and all other places athletes aren’t usually seen publicly. This put Stanford University Athletics on the front page of every media, and drove other teams brands to start using Snapchat as well.

2. Communicate and engage fans

All clubs have the same goal – to interact with fans, but many don’t realize fans want the same thing. This is why teams need to involve fans when telling their stories! Thank them for their support, invite them to hang out or play a game with their favorite player and then share the content. Also, make sure to answer their questions and comments on social networks. All this means a lot to fans.  

Fans take photos and make videos with their friends at the game. Share that content on your club’s official social network accounts, and show fans YOU CARE!

Unfortunately, many clubs just worry about growing their fan base on social networks, and they are not actually interacting with fans. Hint: focus on your fans and you will have interaction; when you have interaction with fans, you will have more impressions which leads toward a ‘healthy’ growth of your brand on social networks.

3. Experiment and test

Liverpool FC is the first club that started multilingual communicating on social networks, and now most clubs are doing the same thing. This is a part of ‘experimenting and testing’ by this popular English club that brought them excellent results. Liverpool FC now publishes their content in 20 languages on over 40 different platforms with 40 million fans constantly involved in the interaction.

Aaron LeValley from AEG Sports pointed out that testing anything is easy on social networks, but it requires understanding from the club owners.

Representatives from many clubs in the USA indicated that before they put any product on the market, they test that same product for popularity among fans on social networks.

4. ‘Behind the scene’ content

Give your fans that unique ‘behind the scene’ content only you can provide. Give them clean, raw, uncensored content that will show athletes as humans; fans will do rest of the work for you by sharing and commenting that content with their friends.

This type of content triggers an avalanche of comments among your fans, and they will be more than happy to share this with friends on social networks. Brands can apply the same concept because very often they use celebrities whose activities would be interesting to their fans (for example, footage from a commercial shoot).

5. Everyone can create content

Content moves(is) everything today, and it can be created by everyone. It is very easy to share photos or videos from a stadium with your friends. This is how fans at sporting events create stories and share them with friends on social networks. Fans are your team’s best ambassadors! Because of everything stated, clubs need to make an effort to provide internet access at stadiums and gyms, and stimulate fans to create content.

6. Athletes must be online

It is very important for athletes to be active and communicate on social networks because they are sometimes more powerful as brands then the clubs they play for. Nowadays, athletes sign better contracts because of their activity on social networks. They also attract sponsors because any message they communicate for a brand is much more powerful when published on their personal (official) social network page. The most recent example of this is Zlatan Ibrahimović in his campaign for UN World Food Programme. Through his brand and social networks he sent a powerful message and brought attention to 805 million people fighting hunger all around the world.

7. Follow everything you can on social media

Scott Kegley, Director of Digital at San Francisco 49ers, shared an interesting story at #SportsConf. It is interesting because his club was inspired by the National Geographic Instagram profile.

They analyzed National Geographic’s Instagram profile, used that same approach in sports marketing, and they hit the ‘jackpot’. We must look everywhere for ideas because sometimes they come from places you least expect them.

8. Don’t  use all communication channels

You need to get your priorities straight and be real. It is better to do fewer things great, then a lot of things bad.

New York City FC digital team decided they wouldn’t waste resources on Pinterest because it will not help their ticket sales, which is the club’s priority. NYCFC director of digital marketing, Jayne Bussman-Wise opted for 4 channels ‘only’ – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

It is also important to point out a mistake many clubs make, and that is sharing same content on all social networks. Different platforms require different content, fans look for different content on different networks, and this is why you should, as an athlete or a club, decide to use fewer social networks.


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