Wednesday 21 March 2018

Managing In-Game Fan Engagement through Social Media

Sports and social media have been a natural fit from the start, with teams, players, leagues, bloggers, media outlets and fans all diving in to engage with one another.

With the overwhelming amount of content available throughout a given season, the challenge for those managing social media for teams, media outlets and blogs is not a lack of content to populate those channels, but rather how to prioritize and manage the content in order to add value for the community.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a priority for every organization, as there continues to be an abundance of play-by-play updates spamming peoples’ feeds on any given game day.

Teams, media and bloggers should keep a couple things in mind when deciding how to manage in-game content.

First, a significant number of followers are already watching the game in-venue or on TV, so to add value to their second (and third and fourth) screen experience, it should include information beyond what they know from watching the game. Second, the key to effective engagement is delivering the right content through the right platform to the right people at the right time. That means creating a multi-platform strategy that allows some people to follow every play while others get fewer updates but that include more meaningful content.

Here are some tactful ways to manage in-game fan engagement through social media without spamming feeds with content that lacks value:

Host an In-Game Live Blog

Teams, media outlets and blogs that use their blogging platform to create an in-game thread for each game have the opportunity to post updates, photos, video, stats and pre-and-postgame quotes in real-time on a platform that exists away from fans’ feeds. Their social media channels can promote the live blog in a timely fashion so those who want to be exposed to that level of content and interaction during the game can do so, and those who don’t are only seeing a handful of updates versus a non-stop stream of play-by-play. The blog can also be archived and promoted after the game for those who missed it and want to access the content after-the-fact.

Host an In-Game Live Chat

Similar to the in-game blog, the in-game live chat provides the opportunity for like-minded fans who want a high volume of content and interaction around the game to engage in that conversation on platforms, such as Cover it Live, that exist away from their social media feeds. Just like the in-game blog, the in-game live chat can be promoted through all channels in order to drive awareness for those fans that choose to opt-in to such an experience. Also similar to the in-game blog, teams like the Los Angeles Clippers are archiving the chats and promoting them after the game for fans who want to relive the action.

Create a Dedicated Twitter Feed

If organizations believe their followers are intent on getting a steady stream of live in-game updates via Twitter, it’s beneficial to create and promote a dedicated channel specific to that effort, so the fans that opt-in to follow that channel know exactly what they’re getting and are open to their feed being dominated during the games. Kansas Athletics created @KUGameday to give fans live updates during games and it promotes the channel periodically through its other platforms.

Develop a Gameday Mobile App

Many outlets and teams, such as the San Francisco 49ers, have developed mobile apps specifically designed to enhance the gameday experience. Users have the ability to follow along through play-by-play, stats, video, photos, conversations and more. The mobile app is another platform that can be promoted through other channels in order to reach those who want to opt-in to such an experience.

Use Twitter and Facebook Very Strategically

The beauty of the platforms listed above is they are truly opt-in experiences where users want to follow the game in real-time and there’s nothing else competing for their attention. That’s what makes in-game updates via Twitter and Facebook tricky… sure, the user has opted to follow the team, media outlet or blog’s updates, but doesn’t necessarily want those entities to clog his or her feed with hundreds of in-game updates during the game.

On Facebook, there’s a reasonable expectation to get some pregame content, a halftime update and the final score plus all the relevant postgame links and information, but that’s about it. Unless something extremely newsworthy happens during the game, Facebook content should be pretty limited.

On Twitter, it seems reasonable to provide a few updates per quarter or half updating the score and some key stats and notes that provide context and add value even for those who are watching the game. One team that does a great job of that is the Portland Trail Blazers through their @TrailBlazersPR account. In-game updates always include relevant notes, stats or breaking news such as injury updates. The fans following that feed, even if they’re at the game, are getting added value from it.

Thousands of fans are following their favorite teams every game day through social media and content from teams, media outlets and blogs. In an age where competition for attention is at an all-time high, it’s critical for those organizations to create targeted, multi-platform strategies in order to reach the right people with the right content and manage the in-game social media experience tactfully.

Image credit: clydeorama

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