No industry needs to leverage real-time marketing quite like sports, an industry where unpredictable events can happen at a moment’s notice. Their fans are always connected and engaged, whether they are sharing their reactions to key game moments on social media or checking on their fantasy team ranking.
Since excitement peaks in the moment, sports marketers cannot delay brand activations looking to engage fans after a big play. With the recent conclusion of the 2017 NBA finals, other industries need to look back at the brands' activation strategies leveraged during the game series and use it to inform their own social strategy.
Understand and reach your target audience at the right moment
Last year, Nike on Twitter appeared mere minutes after Cleveland beat the Warriors to claim the NBA Championship. The 52-year championship drought in Cleveland was finally over and Nike understood what their target audience wanted to see in that moment. Nowhere in the ad did Nike try to sell anything. They instead showed the emotional journey of the Cavaliers fans watching the NBA Finals that led to the end of their losing streak. Nike appeals to their audience by empathizing with how they feel. This is key for further developing the relationship between the brand and consumer.
Consumers need to feel like brands understand them and what better time to demonstrate that than at peak emotional moments. Brands should look to create a bond with their target audience by connecting with them on social media around things they care about rather than sending them “buy this” messaging. This type of marketing will still help bottom lines; Nielsen found that ads generating above-average brainwave activity were associated with a 23% lift in sales volume, demonstrating the true power of emotional advertising.
Engage your target audience with interactive contests
This year, FanDuel, Tissot, Ruffles and Dr. Scholl’s all ran fan sweepstakes during the NBA playoffs offering the chance to attend the Finals. Additionally, Autotrader sponsored a “Drive to the Finals” sweepstakes with a $35,000 grand prize voucher toward a new car on Autotrader.com.
Social contests were created a few years ago as a creative way to build and engage fan bases on Facebook but with the rise of hashtags and the launch of new social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, social contests are now much more dynamic giving brands now more options at their disposal. These sweepstakes are a great way to engage your audience as contests tend to excite fans and motivate them to share information. Running a social contest allow brands to both deepen relationships with fans and catch the attention of others.
Influencers are key
In the digital world, influencer marketing becomes just as important as, if not more important than, recommendations from friends and family. This is no exception for sports. Athletes are becoming more like celebrities with many of them sharing their training regimen, pre-game rituals, details around their private lives as well as the products they use and endorse. This year’s influencers include the State Warrior MVP Steph Curry and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal. The audiences of professional athletes on social are huge, making them the most influential entities in sports media. Athletes as influencers provide brands and
The audiences of professional athletes on social are huge, making them the most influential entities in sports media. Athletes as influencers provide brands and sponsors the most effective way to reach sports fans on social media. A recent study conducted by Twitter and Annalect found that nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer. Meaning this is something that other influencers should try to emulate to convert more sales.
Sports marketers, specifically those working with the NBA, are excelling in social media marketing by creatively engaging fans in real-time. Other industries should learn from the strategies being implemented by these brands to accelerate the growth and engagement of their consumer base.