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Social Engagement Isn’t One Size Fits All

Sports social media has two main ways of communication strategy with end users – score updates or direct commercial asks. While this mantra may appear as the best routes for engagement, that leads to the question of what that really encompasses. Engagement can be manipulated into various forms, especially in the marriage of sports and social media. One of those methods can be the use of indirect selling to create word-of-mouth advertising or customer awareness of a product’s added value to a prospective customer. In the end, the goal should be to display what each prospect can achieve by investing in the product, even if they haven’t invest in it prior.

Take this example from a Carolina Panther’s promo tweet:

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This may seem as if the messaging is directly specifically at those constituents already attending Carolina Panthers games who also own smart phones. But this messaging can also serve as indirect advertising to those constituents who have never attended a Panthers’ game. The message: Look what the Panthers can offer me at the stadium if my smart phone battery is about to die – obviously, this is targeted to iO7 users.

This tweet can serve as a way to sell added value features of the Panthers’ product even if the customer service rep on the phone with prospective customer may not consider it worth mentioning. All 10,000 of the Carolina Panthers’ promo twitter followers or those who see it in their twitter feed by one of the original followers retweeting it, have now been sold on an informational image of what they can each achieve in terms of added value, by investing in the Panthers’ game tickets. This goes beyond mere engagement, into the realm of word-of-mouth selling of the brand and what it can do for those who invest in it.

But there shouldn’t the thought that social platforms cannot be used to create an interaction between teams and fans on enhancing the overall fan experience. Take this example from the Erie Seawolves:

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First, notice that the two replies are not about receiving free tickets. They are about things that they would be willing to pay for in order to achieve. Both fans want to increase the added value of their ticket buy, which would increase the Seawolves’ revenue streams. It may not be that the team will do any or all of the suggestions that are sent to them by their twitter followers, but the fact that the fans feel that the team is listening to their needs.

I do like how the overall fan experience concept is being pushed by what the fans are asking for. Sometimes in sports, franchise staff thinks way too insular instead of asking those actually buying the tickets what they wish to achieve by coming to the games. I especially liked @Justin_platz tweet, which would be less overhead for the Seawolves to implement, and may be easier to create if gameday operations staff prepares ahead of time.

But how much information should a franchise or an athletic department be sharing on their social platform? While some may want to restrict information, or not find it relevant, the actual end-users may feel differently. Take this tweet shared by the Arizona State Sun Devils:

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This information is more back-end concept cultivated. Usually, it would be of interest to folks on #sportsbiz twitter chats or even the sportstao website. And yet, the Arizona Sun Devils decided to share it to their 26,500 twitter followers. And a simple tweet with a link went out, and helped convey the messaging that the Sun Devils were attempting to innovate in the collegiate revenue market with their ticketing model.

That may be important to the fan base farther more than an athletic department wishes to believe, since ASU typically gets ignored compared to their rivals down in Tucson. Sometimes, engagement reaffirms a belief or helps boost the brand, and it may be the small messages which have the most impact.

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