This month, the UK’s Saracens Rugby Club launched Wi-Fi throughout the entirety of Allianz Park. Reportedly the first sports club in Europe to attempt to encourage real-time user-generated content (UGC) that could add value to the match-day experience.
The club’s goal was to communicate that they now have a permanent home in London whilst also creating a fan based social media buzz around the game. Saracens promoted a selection of hash tags throughout the match day programme, across their own social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) and featured them on 2 display screens.
Saracens had recognized that one of the biggest requirements to improve the match day experience was daft, such as; player statistics, team statistics, etc. To try and combat this, the live game commentary was fed through twitter along with all major incidences and occasional sports stats. The real-time trial received tremendous positive feedback, the clubs twitter reach increased by 45%, in-game messaging increased by 20%, and picture based content soared to a staggering 67%.
Times are changing. As sport becomes more tightly integrated with technologies more pressure is put on clubs to find more innovative ways to engage fans and enhance live sporting experiences. Edward Griffiths, CEO of Saracens commented on the new initiative, “not every rugby supporter will appreciate ‘second screen’ activity, but we are pushing the boundaries… and our fans are having fun.” For Saracens this is only the beginning, they will be further looking to drive additional revenue to the bars and restaurants through effective community management.
With the future of social media in sport in mind, here are 5 digital sports public relations trends to watch out for:
Currently most clubs use social media to market the brand, for example products, merchandise and adverts. Similar to Saracens, most clubs will start focusing on game day experience – the statistics, the atmosphere, the music, the pre match rituals, etc. Instead of telling what the fans what they should aspire to want, marketers will start absorbing the emotions and stories fans experience throughout the game.
SOCIAL MEDIA HUBS
European clubs will start taking note of this brilliant invention on the other side of the pond. Social Media Hubs are allocated areas within the stadium on game day where pre-selected fans (social media savvy and influential in the digital space) can take control of the clubs social media presence. Who knows what the fans want better than the fans themselves?
American clubs recognise how powerful and influential their social fans can be and one way of rewarding them is a “Fan night” in which fans are invited to come to the stadium to meet their fellow tweeters and put faces to twitter handles. This is an excellent way to bring clubs most influential social media followers closer to the clubs.
FAN BASED CONTENT
Some Clubs have already started to include fans in their official content but we predict this to rise. Whether it is getting a fan to write a match report in the programme or create a YouTube interview with a player. Fan based content is more a whole lot more engaging.
Pinterest seems to have been neglected at current but it is an obvious tool for clubs to use to promote their online shops. But boards can also be used as a platform for fans to share their favourite moments, players, amongst others.