All-Star Social Content Strategies for the On and Off-Season

After the banners have been hung and the uniforms tucked away, how do you keep fans excited about your team? Sports agencies have traditionally fostered enthusiasm during the season, but during the off-season, coverage would drop off. Today, we see a transformation happening. Advancements in social listening provide an organic way of engaging fans all year long. Our webinar “All-Star Social Content Strategies,” showed how the NBA, NFL Network, and NYRR deliver value for the fans all year. Here are some insights that stood out.


NBA | How the NBA Fired Up Their Fan Base in the Off-Season.

It all started when Lebron James was asked in an interview, “Who would be on your NBA Mount Rushmore?” At the ready, he responded with his picks. Immediately, an intense debate began on social, with fans sharing their selections. The NBA seized the opportunity to create a unique experience and add value to the conversation by allowing fans to build their own NBA Mt. Rushmore and share the custom graphic with their followers. By listening to their audience, the NBA was able to leverage UGC (user-generated content) to elevate their off-season engagement. Listen up: great ideas start from the conversations of your audience.


NYRR | Social Storytelling Supports Year-Long Engagement

The NYRR (New York Road Runners) is host to the world’s largest marathon, the New York City Marathon. While they had over 350,000 Tweets and Instagram posts last year, 80% of the UGC was generated within days of the marathon. This year they are taking a narrative approach to keep the conversation going all year long. NYRR's social content team developed a unique social storytelling experience, which arranges user-generated photos and videos from training to the finish line into a shareable recap video. Here’s how it works: runners use a branded hashtag. Then, on the NYRR micro-site, they can see, drag, and drop their content to create a shareable video. Today, they are 70% of the way to reaching their engagement goal with a few months left until the marathon. Since taking on an all-year long strategy, NYRR has seen an engagement increase of 150% on Twitter and 200% on Instagram.


NFL Network | Create Smart Social Experiences to Drive On-air Viewership

The NFL Network adds value for their viewers via unique social content on-air. They focus on creating engaging experiences like visual mosaics, social dashboards, and real-time analytics. This unique social content supports their on-air talent and engages their audience. Recently, the NFL Network made for their Saturday flagship show, “Total Access,” lead entirely by social content. Since then, they have seen an increase in viewership by 50,000 in the first week alone and 11% for the network so far this year.


Social media lit up When Johnny Manziel took the field for the first time as an NFL quarterback. His popularity online was clear by the spike in traffic on twitter. But, the NFL Network didn't want to just reflect what their audiences were seeing on Twitter. Instead, they found a new approach to telling his story. Social research revealed that Johnny had generated more Twitter mentions than all other quarterbacks combined. The NFL Network created a graphic to show, rather than tell, this finding. The custom graphic added value to the data and gave loyal fans even more reasons to tune in.


What We Learned From the All-Season Strategy

Sports agencies should build content based on audience insight and interest. When designing content ask, “Are we requesting something of our audience they wouldn’t already do?” If yes, then think again. Find a strategy that takes advantage of their established habits. Ask them to do something that comes naturally to them. Ask small.

If you take on a year-long approach, you need to prepare for anything that comes your way. The unexpected will happen and the pressure is on you to deliver content in real-time. Employ a comprehensive real-time strategy that accounts for when the social conversation shifts fast. Step back and ask yourself, “What’s the big-picture conversation? What are the people who care most saying? Are my followers saying something different from the influencers? And are competitive audiences engaged?" These are all worth considering when chiming in on real-time conversations.

And finally, set your team up to be able to report successes. Begin by outlining your goals for the year. Make sure to hold you and your team accountable when it doesn't go your way. But be willing to take some risks, all while knowing you can jump in there and tweak some content if needed. In other words, always be ready to call an audible.

Jared Kinsler's picture

Jared Kinsler

Jared Kinsler is our Creative Marketing Strategist, supporting new content creation for Spredfast. He focuses on making sure the things we share are worth your time. He is a writer by day, composer by night, and Floridian by birth. Follow his visual life @kinsljar on Instagram.