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Community Relations in Sports

Community engagement takes a leading role in effective marketing, and its vital for sports organizations to engage with their fans to ensure a lifelong following, filled with excitement and pride.

Sport Marketing

Sport marketing differs from standard marketing in a lot of ways. It is not based on a physical product that is guaranteed to deliver every time a consumer buys it; it is based on humans and their performance. Unlike traditional marketing, sport marketing strategies must respond to an unpredictable economic climate and the performance of the sports team or organization is at the core of its marketing.

Community Relations in SportsCustomers are loyal to goods, while fans are loyal to teams. The psychology behind sport marketing draws less on loyalty, which is the repeat purchasing of a product or service by a consumer. A loyal customer is sensitive to differences in brands and prefers a brand or set of brands over others. 

Sport marketing draws more on identification, an individual reacting to events that occur to the team or player as if the events happened to him or her. A highly identified fan will describe themselves as a team fan, perhaps to the point that the fan feels like s/he is a part of the team.

Conversely, while typically the manufacturer and/or retailer of goods and services pays for the placement and development of promotions and brand advertising, in contrast, sports teams, organizations, and individuals (players, drivers, and artists) receive financial support to advertise and promote themselves.

Community Relations

All marketing benefits from the strength of its community relations strategy.

Maintain a Strong Website
Don’t be afraid to invest money in a solid, navigationally exceptional website. Excellent navigation breeds more usage, so you can expect to see more fans and stakeholders using your website if it’s intuitively structured. Maintaining a quality website shows your fans that you’re serious about providing the community with professionally-curated information about your organization.

Become a Great Listener
While effective community relations hinge closely on your ability to communicate a message successfully, listening to your fan base is crucial. Social media opens numerous opportunities to sports organizations of all sizes, but in order to be successful, it must be used strategically. Listening is crucial in successfully using social media and is the first step to building a successful strategy. Understanding your current fans’ online behavior will not only help your organization when identifying opportunities to grow your fan base, but it will also help you to understand your fans and identify other opportunities to engage and drive sales.

Community is one of the most important aspects of social media. Using social media to create an online community is a great way to bring your fans together, and also reach potential new fans. Social media is about humanizing business and building relationships with both current and potential customers and fans. Creating great content is an indispensable step to building community, but it’s the engagement around this content that builds relationships.

Social Media: Today’s Leading Community Engagement Method
When you think of community engagement, social media should come to mind immediately. People spend a lot of time on social media. When discussing social media in sports, the majority of case studies and best practices come from high profile and established sports teams. We tend to focus on how these teams engage with their fan base through social media. But what if your team or organization doesn’t already have tens of thousands of fans? How can you utilize social media to grow your fan base?

Three key aspects of social media listening are:

  • Who: Who is currently talking about your team online? Could they be a potential influencer? Identifying your influencers – people whose recommendations and thoughts on a subject influence other people – is vital to social media engagement. If you can turn influencers into advocates of your team or club, then you create a great channel to reach current and new fans.
  • Where: Where do people talk about you online? What social networks and forums are they using? What blogs are read? Too many organizations jump into social media without really knowing where their audience is. They just assume the most popular platforms (like Twitter or Facebook) will work for them. This isn’t always the case.
  • What: What topics do people discuss? What are they sharing? Sentiment is also important to measure. If there’s a lot of negative messages about your team floating around this may turn potential fans off. Once any negatives have been identified, they can be discussed and they can often be turned into positives.

Understanding your fans’ online behavior will not only help your team when it comes to identifying opportunities to grow your fan base, but it will also help you to better understand your fans and identify other opportunities to engage and drive sales – after all social media is about business and has to make business sense.

Become Known for Great Content
Everyone has the ability to produce great content, whether you’re an amateur soccer team or an NBA franchise. Producing great content is about providing tools your fans find useful.

Take Things Offline
Taking online connections offline is a powerful strategy in that it can be done with online marketing and social media. It’s also crucial to building long lasting relationships.

Social media holds a world of opportunity for sports organizations to reach new people, but often it’s what happens offline that will turn them into fans – the atmosphere around your team, the experience, the community.

When planning your social media strategy, it’s important to think about how you can take your new online connections offline and bring them closer to your team.

Prepare yourself to excel as a sport marketing leader with an MBA from Anna Maria College Online; a private, not-for-profit, Catholic liberal arts institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Founded by the Sisters of Saint Anne in 1946, AMC's programs integrate liberal education and professional preparation that reflect the respect for liberal arts and sciences education grounded in the traditions of the Sisters of Saint Anne—educational innovation, service to others, and access to a quality education for all.