No matter what level of athletics you’re involved in, you probably appreciate it when you are recognized as a fan. If you happen to work in athletics, it is important that you create rapport with your fans and establish a relationship. It is also important to remember that you can create fun game time experiences and engage with your fans even if you’re on a limited budget. Thanks to social media and some outside the box thinking, there are many ways to grow and involve your fan base to create excitement surrounding your team.
The most obvious place to start is with social media, it’s free and relatively easy to use. But, instead of just relying on posts and tracking ‘likes’ you can take things a step further. You can provide videos of practice sessions, skills day, training and school spirit events. Instead of waiting for game day to make a post, you can be more proactive and provide information that builds up to each game. You can also have someone do some live updates for the fans that are interested in following the scores and the action, but aren’t able to attend. If you have sponsors, this is another great way to offer sponsors some exposure to your fan base. The more fans you have that follow your social media, the greater the potential reach for your sponsors. This greater reach and involvement with fans can also have positive financial rewards in the forms of either more sponsors, or greater sponsor contributions.
The classic in game fan experiences are still fun; theme nights, give aways, competitions. Providing fans with a fun, high energy atmosphere will keep them coming back to your events. These don’t have to be large, either. Costume days are fun ways for students to get involved with their classmates on the team. Give aways during halftime, or at the entrance can be included in the game. Things like the towels or shirts that create uniformity can help create a visual impact of the fans (these also make great photos for your social media posts). Another added opportunity is that you might be able to find a sponsor willing to cover the cost of the item for some ad space like a logo. You still get to create the visual impact and your sponsor gets acknowledged, too, a win-win.
Before, during and after games is a great time to get to know your fans and develop a personal relationship with them. Athletic Directors can sit in different places during games and talk with fans in attendance. Many fans enjoy the opportunity to have a conversation with the AD, although, this is an opportunity to meet one another, not air grievances. An AD might find some interesting fan stories that can be turned in to more promotional material: long standing fans can share their favorite memories of the teams, parents and grandparents, students can be highlighted on fan pages, etc. Only by making the effort to meet and interact with the fans can stories be heard and shared and opportunities taken advantage of.
At different levels of play, there is higher competition for fans and sponsors, but even smaller programs and teams can take advantage of developing a fan base. Fans help create atmosphere for the athletes during the game and excitement before and afterwards. Engaging them as important parts of the team can help increase the number of fans, potentially bring in new sponsors or ticket/concessions sales and offer ways to create a greater visual impact, both at the game and online.
Taylor, S. (2016). Seven ways to engage fans and drive ticket sales. Athletic Business November/December 2016. http://www.athleticbusiness.com/marketing/seven-ways-to-engage-fans-and-drive-ticket-sales.html
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