Sports teams and leagues have been using social media for years, but there’s been a huge rush recently to tap the massive audience brought in by emerging platforms like TikTok and features like Instagram Reels.
The numbers are astounding. In Conviva’s 2021 TikTok Benchmarks and Strategy Guide for Brands report, we found that 900 of the top media, news, sports, and entertainment brands had an average growth of well over a half-million new followers in the past year. And while this constant evolution of social platforms can be good for business, it presents unique challenges for organizations as they work to stay on top of what’s trending without falling prey to the pitfalls of hopping onboard each trending app.
During our Using Emerging Social Media Platforms to Accelerate Fan Engagement webinar, Nick Cicero, Vice President of Strategy at Conviva, spoke with Aaron Grossman, Director of Content at the Portland Trail Blazers, and Greg Mize, Senior Director of Marketing and Innovation at the Atlanta Braves, for tips on navigating the evolving social media landscape.
Offer more than the game.
What do you have access to that no one else does? Fans can get game highlights relatively easily from multiple sources, so when you’re developing content on newer platforms, think about what only you can provide.
For sports teams, it might be a video of a player’s reaction on the bench, two players bickering over who should have caught the pop-up, or, in the Trail Blazers’ case, center Jusuf Nurkić lifting up shooting guard CJ McCollum for a dunk in practice. They’re small moments audiences can digest in thirty-second clips, but they win big engagement from fans.
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“It’s a lot of the off-the-beaten-path stuff…Our fans are really trusting us to show them what it means to be behind the scenes and have that access to players that nobody else has. If you just scroll our TikTok feed, for example, you’ll notice the best-performing videos have nothing to do with putting the ball in the hoop.” — Aaron Grossman, Director of Content at the Portland Trail Blazers
Go all in—when the time is right.
Timing is everything, so how do you know when to invest your time in a new platform?
Back in 2016 when the Atlanta Braves went all in with a social app that ultimately flopped, they learned the hard way that you can’t always chase the shiny new toy. Instead of dedicating your resources to every new social media platform that comes around, keep an eye on new avenues while focusing on your core platforms. In the meantime, you can create your strategy and be ready to jump in if the new platform hits a critical mass that makes sense for your business.
Today when the Braves are considering whether to start using a new platform, their number one consideration is whether they have the resources to staff it appropriately. That’s because newer platforms require different content to be successful than the content that’s required on some of the pre-existing platforms. Be sure you have adequate resources in place for success before going all in.
“Sometimes you back into learnings based on just what you have at your disposal and what resources present themselves…Sometimes you actually have to go down that road and make the business case and show that the juice is worth the squeeze, and then use that to help—whether it’s allocating resources, or hopefully, at some point, bringing new ones on.” — Greg Mize, Senior Director of Marketing and Innovation at the Atlanta Braves
Play to the platform’s strengths.
Every social media platform provides distinct value and having a firm understanding of the platform and the audience that is unique to each can help you determine your content.
You won’t find most Gen Zers on Facebook, and you won’t see too many Boomers on Snapchat. Reach these different audiences by telling the same story, just differently. Think about how you want your story to manifest itself on Instagram versus TikTok, Facebook versus Twitter, and create tailored experiences specific to each audience. Continuing to build and engage your audiences on different platforms can help you achieve your goals for a particular campaign.Thinking about trying an emerging platform? Find those that can help you reach a new pocket of audience. When starting on a new channel, Grossman recommends reading user comments—as painful as it can be—to see how your audience is reacting to what you’re doing.
“The goal is to develop a bigger audience that ultimately we can potentially monetize and create sponsorship opportunities. After all, we’re a brand and we build these things as fan engagement tools, and ultimately, they offer opportunities for our business as well.” — Aaron Grossman, Director of Content at the Portland Trail Blazers
To learn more, watch our Using Emerging Social Media Platforms to Accelerate Fan Engagement webinar.