If the above were a jeopardy answer, the question would be “What is the secret to deeper fan engagement for sports teams?”
I say ‘hit ‘em where they care – hit hard, hit often. It’s all wrapped in a velvet glove after all. People are responding to cause marketing like never before –according to eMarketer, a whopping 80% of fans are likely to switch brands based on a company’s affiliation with a cause. and giving them options to do good while supporting the home team cements that affinity for your organization. It also gives you a terrific opportunity to reach out to passionate audiences of a cause and potentially turn them into passionate fans of the team.
This is great news for sports teams who have always been tapped to lend their name, exposure and outreach to causes. The personnel and budget costs of creating cause-related events add stress and time pressures to an already often tapped out front office, but the viral and inexpensive nature of social media, coupled with the newfound mania for causes is releasing these pressures in a big way.
Below we’ve outlined a few examples which can realize outstanding win-wins for the team and the cause, all while engaging the team fans and partners……a very holy grail indeed.
Power Up Your Existing Cause Partnerships with Fundrazr
Fundrazr is a new Facebook app that combines the viral power of Facebook sharing with a PayPal donation button. The Fundrazr app provides an easy way to take a cause your organization, your athletes or one or more of your partners currently embrace and put it on steroids by giving the visitors to your Facebook page an immediate ‘action’. The simple app can contain a short video – great use of team athlete! – and is best followed up with a thank-you message from the team or an individual athlete which posts to the donors’ page. This kind of app puts rich content, immediate action and viral sharing into action all in one go. Its free to set up, and as this is a new app coming out of our backyard in Vancouver, we’re happy to give you a walk-through on getting up & running.
Really Tweet Seats
This is a combo ‘bums-in-seats promo for last-minute unused seat sales and a bonus option for good Samaritans. In addition to your last-minute seat blast (50% off at 4 pm on gameday?) give these fans the option of entering a seat “upgrade lottery” by making a donation at the gate to a featured cause. Fans are given a lottery ticket or better still, if the charity has a small token (wristband, pin or even paper badge). In the second quarter one lucky fan and their guest will be chosen for truly ‘tweet seats’ – either lower bowl or courtside/on the glass/on the rail. The latter “upgrade lottery” can be used independently of the Twitter seat sale, as well. The Chicago Blackhawks have had some good success with this – with nary a ripple from regular seat buyers (a packed house makes it more fun for everyone, no?) Take a page from their book by following their moves here.
Fill the Car (or Team Bus)
Great for engaging fans around the arena in advance of the game – or better still at your box-office on-sale event. Park an empty car (or better still several – one at each gate) or if you can, the team bus and push out a Twitter & Facebook campaign encouraging fans to ‘fill ‘er up’ with either canned goods, school supplies or other necessary items.
This particular promo is great for reaching out to fans
1) beyond your venue (either adjacent or in the community),
2) who may not have tickets or
3) when the team is on the road (or tanking in the standings).
Done well it can give you an extra news feed as well – which may be very handy if your team is in fact tanking in the standings.
Use a Gowalla or FourSquare-based Game to Engage New Audiences, Tie-In Partners’ Activation
Two ways to go at this one right off the top of my head: a Scavenger Hunt or an Amazing Race style event. I think Gowalla is the more compelling tool here as the colourful badges are cool and one person can “create the trip” for all to follow.
Tie the nature of the game to the theme of the cause, i.e. if it’s kids, use a number of playgrounds, schools & toy stores, cereal section of the supermarket (partner!) as the clue locations / pit stops. To enter, teams would make a donation to the cause (if you need there’s no reason not to cover your ‘event’ costs in that fee as well – just be transparent to your participants) — you can even use the Fundrazr app to collect these fees and enable sharing easily!
Hiding a few surprises along the way can go a long way to driving sign-up and buzz (autographed ball at stop 3, pair of tickets at stop 6, etc). Using radio partners to drive this one is key. In fact this is an easy one to engage a number of the team’s partners in – either via the prizing or better still at their business locations. The Seattle Sounders did a nice fan-friendly app with a pub crawl http://bit.ly/axR4BE but you can easily see how the routing and check-in can be adapted to any local location-based game. As a bonus to our NFL friends, Gowalla just released a set of badges for all NFL stadia last Friday.
Note – the first 3 of these can also be done via mobile,so if you have a strong mobile partner you should be chatting with them, but as adding in the social media element is fairly simple and reaches that much more audience there’s little excuse not to jump on these options.
If you’d like to learn more about how to power up your causes with social media, or even chat more about the examples given above, send us a note. We’re always keen to help you realize great promotions and deepen that connection with fans. Have a comment on this – post it! Good or bad, we’d love to hear from you.
And stay tuned for next week’s blog on pumping up fan passion with social media driven fan promos – no cause, just straight up ticket sales, sticky eyeballs for sponsors and keeping ‘em happy in your house.
*The original quote was used by Churchill in 1939 to describe Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in an enigma inside mystery”
** “Chill, Winston!” was a line from Guy Ritchie’s “Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels”. A movie rife with great lines. It’s also the name of a pretty cool restaurant & lounge in 5T’s Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver