Digital and social strategy of the EHF and the Champions league winner Vive Tauron Kielce
Handball has always been a sport that brings a lot of emotions and excitement to its fans. In the past few years social networks brought a new dimension to this sport and made it even better for its fans. Let’s remind ourselves why we enjoyed the previous season in a short overview with insights from Vive Tauron Kielce and the European Handball Federation.
Previous season has been very interesting for Vive Tauron Kielce. They started the season off by selling 16,000 tickets and having a fantastic spectacle in Krakow and finished it with the Champions league trophy. Club also celebrated its 50th anniversary with retro clothes, publications and events.
Throughout the season club has been working on bonding with their fans through online communication, increasing season ticket sales and gaining new sponsors.
All of this brought them some amazing results and interesting stories.
Highlights of the season
Kielce’s campaign #endlessLIVE set their social accounts on fire, and this was one of the highlights of their season. Paweł Papaj, director of marketing at Vive Tauron Kielce, explained the entire idea to us:
,,By creating the foundations of the campaign #endlessLIVE, we wanted to formalize our social media channels, dress everything in one style, consistent graphics. On one hand we wanted to be as close to the team as possible and provide unique information, images, relationships. On the other hand, we did not want to overwhelm the user with the number of posts on our channels. So, we decided to create a media plan in which we defined what should be posted where. While all of it was available on our website, where we launched a “social-wall”. We also added short messages, the number of which was even higher. As a result, by going to our website, our fans could learn exactly what the team is doing on an ongoing basis. ”
This huge success was a result of a well planed strategy which motivated fans to do ”their part of the job”.
Kielce’s big success will also be remembered because of the slogan ”The heart of a Champion”. It’s interesting to find that it wasn’t something that came up in a moment.
,,The slogan “Heart of a Champion” and all the assumptions of the campaign were created even before the tournament and were fulfilled in reality. The fact that we were prepared for this success, we worked out appropriate relations with the media (national as well), is our victory,” said Pawel Papaj.
This is the proof that planning is very important in everything that you’re doing. If you dream big and put in time and effort, amazing things can happen.
The winner takes it all
As the old song says, winning brings ”icing on a cake”. Kielce didn’t only win the Champions league and did a great job on social networks, they also “conquered” the traditional media.
,,Cooperation with traditional media was also at a high level. Our television provided materials after Final Four for the major TV stations in Poland. Cooperation with the biggest radio stations and sending them materials gave a massive scale of promotion. In the largest radio station in the country, our team was the number one topic,” Pawel Papaj said.
Kielce’s fans have the opportunity to relive this season any time they want because their favorite club created a special album with a DVD called “Heart of a Champion”. All the great accomplishments of Kielce throughout the season resulted in a new sponsorship deal with Lexus.
Grzegorz Tkaczyk: Mam nadzieję, że nigdy nie będę musiał się stąd wyprowadzaćhttp://bit.ly/22IVKE4#gramyrazem #kielce #endlessLIVE #MłodyDziękujemy
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”Catch the train”
Althought it’s been said a thousand times, let’s be boring and mention it one more time: season never stops for clubs. Not even during summer breaks or big events such as European or World championships.
Kielce did a great job of using the ”handball fever” caused by the European handball championship in their homeland. The goal was to connect with the fans of the Polish national team.
As Pawel explained, “In January, during the European Championships in handball in Poland, our campaign “Pride, homeland, handball” was very successful. Our materials, including a video, went to all news programs in the country, the public association was created that a handball player is a patriot, a person dedicated to handball and national colors.”
Results of this campaign were great, so this can be valuable lesson to all of us. Sometimes we just have to be brave and ”jump” on board of a train to success.
,,This year, our team was able to lose with a difference of ten goals. You know what happened two days later? The biggest fans of the team came to the hall. They showed their support for the team. They succeeded.” – Pawel Papaj
Just results or….
Some may think that victories and titles are the only thing that will make your fans come to your games. But it is not simple as that.
So what sells out your gym/stadium? Emotions do! If you make your fans think that they should be with their club no matter what happens, they will look for extra tickets. It’s up to you to find a way for your fans to identify with the club.
Throughout this season Kielce has been building its Snapchat community. This fast growing application seemed like an excellent communication tool, especially in interaction with younger fans. Since fans can’t go without social media for too long, even during games, Snapchat turned out to be an excellent tool to combine these two passions.
Who brings the success?
Have you ever wondered which kind of content fans like the most? Let’s reveal this secret!
,,Materials from inside the team are of the greatest interest. That is everything that a fan cannot see with his own eyes.”
Moments like joy after the team’s victory are something that always makes the fans ”go crazy”. Credit for creating this kind of content goes to coach Talant Dujszebajew, who just followed the strategy and made the best of the situation.
”Wings” of these campaigns were also the players who used their social networks to promote them.
This shows us that clubs should educate their players and encourage them to use social media. The ”game” on social media never stops, so they should definitely be in ”shape” and play like a team online as well.
Sto lat!!! Dziś urodziny obchodzi nasz trener Talant Dujszebajew! Zdrowia, szczęścia i wszystkiego co najlepsze! Oby jak najwięcej takich momentów…#happyBirthday #stoLAT #gramyrazem #dawajDawaj
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A look ahead
,,Who stands in one place is moving backwards,” Pawel summed it up perfectly and announced their upcoming “battles”.
For this reason, Kielce’s marketing team is already passionately working on new and great ideas. The bar is raised high, so the goals for the upcoming season include improvement in many fileds such as the online presence, communication with sponsors and a souvenir shop.
When it comes to strategy, fans are in the center of their attention. They make their fans’ opinion count because the game is played for them, and they are what keeps this club together, and keeps pushing it forward.
EUROPEAN HANDBALL FEDERATION
Social media surely made this sport more interesting than it was before. European Handball Federation took advantage of them and raised the bar in the field of communication and innovations in the world of sport. JJ Rowland, Head of Media and Communications at EHF, lets us know what’s the key of their success.
Change that matters
One of the best things about social media is that it gives you a chance to communicate with fans. Finding a way to do it can be challenging, but once you manage to do so, the results are great. JJ Rowland explained how EHF did it in detail:
,,Over the last few years, our strategy has been focused on how best to engage handball fans, creating good-quality content and distributing this across a range of channels, while at the same time looking at how we can reach new audiences and markets. Of course we shouldn’t forget that as communications professionals our overriding aim is to tell the story of the season and our various competitions and activities via our own websites and external channels using a range of different media formats including text, photographs, audio, video etc. Crucial to our strategy has been to our aim to create a ‘conversation’ with fans, a two-way communication rather than simply pushing out content. To do this we needed to think hard about the voice we use – tough for a federation – but I think we have been successful in hitting the right tone in our communications and the content we produce – very different to the ‘corporate’ approach we used just a few years ago.”
Number of fans, followers and interactions shows that European Handball Federation found a right way to reach the audience.
Live is more fun
One of the main reasons why handball is so popular is its dynamics. Everything happens very fast, so it’s very important to give fans that ”live effect”.
,,Key to the growth of our social media channels this season has also been the further development and strengthening of our mobile reporter project. We have now created a network of multi-media journalists across Europe – reporters with video and social media skills, who work only with their mobile phone and a range of apps to provide live and behind the scenes reporting for our social media channels. We had a team of eight mobile reporters in Poland and have now extended the project to the Champions League – covering one match per round of the competition – making use of new channels like Snapchat but also services such as Facebook Live, a new feature which has been very successful for us.”
For that reason, EHF introduced a Twitter account @EHFlive, so mobile reporters can share more live content from Champions league matches. That brought a new dimension of Final 4 tour and made fans enjoy it even more.
What do fans like?
If you follow EHF’s social media, you probably noticed a diversity of content. Videos, photographs, graphics, articles…
But according to EHF’s Head of Media and Communications, here’s what fans like the most:
,, Over the past season we have been looking increasingly at how we can create content specifically for social media, short clips e.g. top five goals or a match highlight as well as and articles e.g. power rankings of the top teams in each competition, which can be better promoted and consumed through social media channels. The most popular format is undoubtedly video with more than 16 million minutes of video watched across our YouTube channels alone in the past season.’
Except video content, it seems that fans like the feeling that someone cares about their needs and wants.
,,We know that fans want to express their opinions on key issues or match situations – this is an important aspect of social media channels and we actively encourage dialogue with and between. We know from our experience over the last few years where we might have issues but have also learned how best to deal with these situations. When we have a particular issue we try our best to actively engage fans, answering their questions and try to be as transparent as possible,” JJ said.
This approach teaches us a valuable lesson: listening to your fans’ preferences and needs is the safe way to success.
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EHF has been buliding its Snapchat communitiy since the beginning of the season. This network provided exclusive, behind the scene and fun video content, which was especiallly liked by younger audience. Mobile reporters did the crucial part of the job and made this channel grow.
As mr. Rowland pointed out, “from next season we will be looking at expanding our coverage for example with a new mid-week visit to some of the top teams in the EHF Champions League with exclusive behind-the-scenes content.”
It seems like something really worth following.
Cooperation is everything
As we already said, all members of the team should give their best to win the game.
For that reason, EHF appreciates clubs’ efforts and everything they do to make fans interested and engaged.
,,Many of the top handball clubs have now realised the importance of social media in their marketing and communications mix and are investing more and more time and resources into their online communication. All four of the teams at this year’s VELUX EHF FINAL4 were active across social media and provided their fans with a huge amount of content from the event. If we look at KS Vive Tauron Kielce for example, they used the event to launch their #endlesslive project, linking their social media to their website and producing a lot of content for their fans both in Cologne and back at home in Poland.”
JJ Rowland noted the importance of players’ presence on social media because they are often the reason that fans watch handball with even more interest and passion.
,,We have a huge advantage in handball because of the professional and open attitude of the top players in their approach to the media and also their own social media. We regularly have players assisting us with our own social media activities e.g. guest appearances in our Google Hangouts and we also target these influencers with our own content e.g. special clips to celebrate a top player’s birthday because we know that we can reach many more people if the personalities within the sport are liking and sharing our content.”
Plans for the future
Innovations and new technologies are something that all of handball fans can look forward in the near future. Announced development of digital knowledge in combination with experience give us something to look forward to in the upcoming season.
,,Social media has enabled us to develop a new tone of voice and speak to fans directly. We go where the fans are, distributing our content across our many social media channels but at the same time we are keen to drive traffic to our own channels e.g. we post short clips on the YouTube.com/ehfTV and the encourage people to watch features, magazine shows and full-length matches on ehfTV.com, the EHF’s own streaming platform.” – JJ Rowland, EHF
CONCLUSION – Inovation, emotion and communication
If you read this article carefully, you probably came accross some phrases very often. It’s because the basic recepe to success contains the same ingredients: innovation, emotion and communication. If we use these things, everything we add will just make the whole thing better. It’s just up to us to mix it all and serve it to our fans.
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