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How sports marketers can put fans at the heart of their strategies

With its 24/7 real-time global reach, social media has become the go-to platform for sports enthusiasts, old and new. The integration of social media with traditional viewing platforms creates an all-round multifaceted experience for the sporting fan base and encourages team support, interaction and engagement.

It’s not just consumers flocking online, there are also many athletes, brands, teams and pundits active online which can create a 360-degree sporting experience. The platform allows fans to follow their favourite athletes and get insight into their everyday lives, opinions and interests. How could it get even better for brands? Well, you could find a way to put fans at the heart of your marketing strategy.

If an athlete can engage with fans and create their own communities – for some, this has grown into creating their own NFTs too - what’s stopping sporting associations and teams from taking advantage of the tweet reach and rousing up some fan support… absolutely nothing! What’s the score for sports brands on social media?

Enter the ‘second screen’ strategy of the sporting world. The second screen refers to the action of multi-viewing, not only are audiences watching on their TV, but they’re also using their smartphone and tablet devices to join in the real-time conversation surrounding the sporting events. A recent report by Nielsen found that among the general population, multi-screen viewing activities such as checking email and online gaming has increased by 5%, but among Gen Z this doubles to 10%.

Fans are engaging outside of game time too, with the proliferation of content across platforms sparking an increased consumption of additional sports content – both related to and not related to live matches. Plus, just under 44% of younger sports fans, the 16–29 demographic, who watch non-live sport contents do so via digital platforms. So, how are brands tapping into this lucrative audience?

A great example of this comes from Valencia CF. They needed to direct English-speaking fans to their English Twitter feed, they used Audiense platform to build personalised campaigns to channel new followers of their global Twitter account to language/location specific channels. By doing this they were able to promote relevant content, events, and media appearances.


Likewise, the official Olympics account uses their significant presence to update their 6.5 million followers on upcoming events, retweets from athletes and behind the scenes preparation. This help build excitement, and most important viewers, for upcoming events and create a community of supporters around countries and athletes.


Sports marketers can also use audience intelligence to understand how fans perceive their brand or club and, and most importantly, how they’re engaging with them. Brands can also monitor hashtags associated with the sport, team, events and athletes to discover new users and engage in discussions with their target audience.

Understanding your audience can also spark creative ideas, especially when faced with challenges. When ESPN were faced with dwindling viewing figures for NBA basketball, they were forced to pivot away from their traditional promotional tactics to a campaign that would grab the attention of lapsed fans. Instead of running ads before the games and expecting busy millennials to show up on time, they switched to real-time engagement during live games using strategic social media and a range of short-form content.


Brands looking to ride the success of sponsorship need to ensure they are using social media to discover new users, engage in discussions and appeal to their target audiences in order to reap the full rewards that social media offers. Additionally, with more and more broadcasters such as BskyB, UEFA Champions League and the NFL sharing live video highlights on Twitter, there’s a range of rich media formats marketers can employ and see which resonate best with their fans.  

So, what’s up next? Here’s some quick tips for brands looking to put their audiences at the heart of their digital marketing strategy:

  • Uncover the true size of your audience using the right tools
  • Understand the different segments of your audience and adapt accordingly
  • Identify and capitalise on the key influencers in your industry
  • Personalise your communication to match the market

If you’re mad about sports-related content, you can also read our eBook on how sports marketers can use social data to drive new business and check out our piece on how NFTs are changing the game for sport brands and athletes.

Audiense is changing the way brands and agencies identify, understand and attract audiences with the help of social data. Sign up today to start tapping into your audience and building better campaigns.

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