How you can connect with sports fans to build your brand in 2021

Sports are back. So a Facebook Insights Live webinar explored how brands can stay connected with fans in the COVID-era and implement a practical framework to maximise sports sponsorship.

How you can connect with sports fans to build your brand in 2021

“The question facing brands is how do you still connect with fans when they’re not there at the event,” said Andy Childs, a connection planner, during a recent Facebook Insights Live webinar. “How do you enhance the experience at home through digital?”

The good news is that the very nature of sports – its unpredictability, the impossible physical feats and triumphant highs – renders it an opportunity too good for marketers to ignore in 2021. 

It’s not breaking news to say that sport is huge. We know that. In fact, 3.2 billion people watched the Rio Olympics in 2016 across TV and digital devices. And next year, it’s predicted that 10% of all global advertising spend will be on sport. 

So how do marketers keep pace?

Understanding the changing landscape
“Sports broadcasting, much like the entertainment industry, is going through mass disruption,” said Childs. 

Indeed, sport is now multichannel and no longer just a linear experience. So much so that according to the Global Web Index, 40 percent of sports fans watch sports coverage or highlights online.

Fans no longer rely on just legacy broadcasters to bring their favourite sporting moments to life. For instance, Amazon enjoyed a 35 percent increase in its Prime video subscribers in Q4 2019 when it live streamed the English Premier League for the first time.

Athletes are media (content creators) and so are fans. To cut through the 24/7 sport content noise, marketers need to develop deep, meaningful connections with fans to drive sales and brand loyalty. 

Valuing the unpredictability
So why is sport so important to people? “Sport is a legitimate way to express emotion in a relatively unrestricted way,” explained Childs. “Facebook is where the sports conversation happens.” 

Technology has indeed transformed the fan experience. The 2016 Rio Olympics perfectly captured this. Facebook drew 1.5 billion interactions and Instagram had 916 million interactions during the 2016 summer games alone.

Playing off fans’ deep affinity to their favourite teams, athletes and leagues is a key ingredient to the marketing playbook. Childs added, “People want to share excitement about big sport events.”

Addressing the information gap
According to a Kantar study, 44 percent of marketers said sport sponsorship is the least understood media channel in terms of ROI. This means an information gap exists amongst marketers. 

But the gap should be closing. Building measurement in sponsorship can now be achieved on both Facebook and Instagram.

“What we do see with many of the most advanced brands is they are doing consistent multi-sale testing. Not just a one off. They are doing it all the time with all their campaigns. This is a great way to quantify the sponsorship value.” 

Growing with sport
Here are three steps you can take, to grow with sport and ultimately maximise sponsorship:

1. There’s a 30 percent uplift in ROI when fans are aware of the link between an advertiser and event, so focus on amplifying brand association by using snackable and sustained video to tell your authentic story.

2. Enhance the fan experience in credible ways. Consider gamifying the experience, co-create with athletes or use geo targeting to capture the fanbase you want. There is a 71% Uplift of ROI when fans believe there is a benefit to themselves  

3. Get products/services into heads and hands at relevant moments Identify key moments to trigger consumption opportunities using dynamic ads, collaborative ads ad and carousel ads. Generating a commercial return is the most important overall objective for sponsors.

Facebook Insights Live webinars take place on the last Wednesday of every month and provide clear and actionable insights to help brands and businesses adjust to the new normal.

See here to catch up on this webinar and here to sign up for future episodes.

Upcoming episodes include:

Episode 6: 2021 with special guest Benedict Evans – Wednesday 25th November 2020, 2:00pm - 2:30pm

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