Since pro and amateur leagues suspended games, and closed grounds and facilities across the US last March, the fall out has been severe.
Many clubs, teams, recreation centers, and gyms for example, have struggled to keep their members and fans connected over the past 15 months.
Pro-sports have taken a size-able hit according to a Deloitte-produced COVID-19 Outlook for the US Sports Industry report.
An ESPN report meanwhile, estimates that up to 1.3 million jobs in the wider US sports and recreation sector are at risk. The industry could also lose $12.3 billion in earnings by June 2021.
Quite simply, players, fans, and club members are not rushing back to the courts, fields, stadiums, gyms, clubhouses, greens and fairways.
This slowly, slowly path back to normal could disrupt the wider sports and recreation ecosystem for some time. So, what are sports clubs and organizations to do? How can they keep players, members and fans engaged and enthused?
As seen in other industries, technology can bridge gaps until club members, players, and fans feel safe enough to enjoy the full “game day” experience again. Multi-channel engagement is a strategic recommendation from Deloitte and here are five tactical and practical tips that your club or league can adopt in 2021.
5 Ways to raise your engagement game
1. Publish fresh video content
Just because national, state, and local networks aren’t broadcasting much new sports content these days, doesn’t mean fans have forgotten about their favorite leagues, coaches, stadiums, players, club personalities, mascots and more.
Use this “break from normal transmission” to focus on unsung heroes – co-coaches, nutritionists, ground staff etc – who make things happen behind the scenes. You can also invite athletes to star in a variety of videos from at-home exercise classes, to healthy cooking lessons – fans love to see the human side of athletes. Inviting passionate fans or club members to star in a video is another good way to build viral buzz.
2. Get Interactive
While stadium attendance is pretty much a no-go right now, you can bring the “Friday Night Lights” atmosphere of live sport into the homes of fans and club members.
If your club has a team song or chant, create a challenge that encourages fans to sing it and post it to the club’s social media page along with a designated hashtag. Make it a game-day trend for fans to wear club colors. Give fans a reason to check into to your social media accounts and webpages by loading exciting new content every week. Keep it a surprise, though, to increase the likelihood that fans will return.
You can also boost engagement through bracket competitions. Missouri Baptist University, for instance, showcased major moments from each of their sports teams and asked students to vote on their favorites. The school used push notifications to announce new competitions and share the results of previous ones. Students also voted through the school’s app and found updates both on social media and in the app.
3. Engage In Community Outreach Programs
Unleash the power of philanthropy.
Many sports teams, clubs, and organizations are integral, loved members of local communities attracting large fan bases, memberships, and social media followers.
Put this following to good use by supporting local charities, or ask fans, and members to share important health and safety updates.
- Create content showing your athletes and coaches in charity events – community outreach doesn’t have to be that complicated
- Share important health guidelines, COVID updates and safety information. As this content is important to everyone, it’s highly shareable. Publishing it requires little to no time on your part but can help position your club as the go-to source for key pandemic-related information.
4. Communicate With Purpose
Boosting member and fan engagement boils down to communications. Right now, the best way to communicate with your sporting stakeholders is through social media, email and apps.
But it’s a noisy, crowded place and creating cut-through content is challenging. There are some basics however, to improve your chances of success.
- Identify your target audience/s and design content with these groups in mind. If you try to appeal to the masses, you will appeal to no one.
- Devise ways to engage year-round, and not just specific times of the year – building club spirit and camaraderie continually is important because club members and passionate fans are hungry for news and updates.
- Create unique experiences for club members and fans. You can also give them access to prize giving, guest speaker, and training events and behind the scenes activities. This gives them a personal connection with the players, coaches, managers, and relevant club officials.
- Reward loyalty by mentioning top players, club members, fans, publicly recognizing them when they participate in online conversations and challenges. They can also be rewarded with club merchandise, free training sessions with club pros or coaches, or invited to special dinners or fan and member gatherings.
5. Use relevant, benefit-rich notification channels
Finally, pay attention to your digital channels – there’s no point in creating the world’s greatest content if club members, fans, etc have trouble finding and opening it – here are some tech-guidelines and solutions to keep in mind.
- As some clubs, teams and competitions are now followed by fans all over the world, engage new auto-translation tools to communicate to them in their language of choice.
- Send out notifications in real-time and at the right time to ensure peak engagement. Create groups for ultra-personalization, such as “Top Fans,” “Most Likely To Participate” and “Students.”
- Use real-time metrics to measure engagement and to guide your future efforts.
- Finally, provide consistency by sending notifications through a single, spam-less platform that provides deep-linking capabilities.
These messaging benefits and more, are offered by NotifyMe and if you want to take your club, gym, league engagement game to the next level, sign up for a free trial today.