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Ann WilkinsonApr 16, 2020 4:27:26 PM3 min read

How the sports industry is building momentum for a big return.

The arrival of COVID-19 has hit the events industry hard. But in these unprecedented times, sports teams and events across the world are finding ways to connect with their audience – not only by keeping their current fan base engaged, but also by growing their reach – enabling them to come back bigger and better. With uncertainty surrounding the start of the next sports season, we take a look at what teams and events are doing to combat these long postponements without losing fans?

Taking it up a notch: keeping the link between what can be done behind closed doors at home and making it relevant to the club.

With social media influence, many sporting clubs are using their online presence to not only keep a regular dialogue with fans but to also make their activities relevant to the lockdown situation.

Take our partner Man City, they have launched their own #citizensathome game plan with motivational videos on keeping active centred around football, thus promoting healthy activity in isolation and maintaining a constant thread of engagement with fans, tuning in for new content such as workout videos or interviews with their favourite footballers.

Any bit of news is good news: New players and big announcements are important in bringing fans into the fold.

There has been a high volume of tweets and retweets of big sporting news stories on social media by fans, which hypes the excitement for the new season ahead. You only have to look at the Superbowl 2020 winners, Kansas City Chiefs, for retweet inspiration with hash tags, #Runitback #ChiefsKingdom celebrating their latest new player acquisitions. With the NFL draft in the not so distant future, posting signing updates and videos of future players is great tactic to maintain fan engagement and build up anticipation for watching the performance of the newest members of the team in the upcoming season.

Challenge, Set, Match: “Can you watch all 11 hours and 5 minutes of Isner vs Mahut in one go?” A heavy challenge issued by Wimbledon’s twitter feed.  Competitions on social media is another game plan driving fan engagement by motivating audiences not only to participate with a chance to win but also to relieve their favourite iconic sporting moments of previous matches. The fun and entertainment linked with making the sport relevant is successful approach to maintaining momentum amongst fans and building up excitement for the next event.

A virtual change of scenery: The sports industry is continuing the innovative trend of keeping fans upbeat, enticed and ready for the return of live sports by offering free stadium and arena pictures as backgrounds for video calling. Dodgers Stadium, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, New England Patriots are a few that have made pictures of their iconic arenas available for free. This is an excellent idea to always remain in fans’ lives – even during lockdown.

E-sports revolution: Letting the inner football manager run riot and fans having their say on how their club is run, is the 21st Century way of increasing football fandom.

Bringing rivalries back to life and firing up competitivity is a tool the clubs are harnessing with the power of e-sports. Whilst real-life football games are being suspended, FIFA has launched worldwide tournaments #stayandplay , ensuring that fans don’t feel as if they are missing the action and cleverly keeping the next season’s fixtures at the forefront of their minds. This has also been creatively linked to current the worldwide message of “stay at home” helping people feel by playing e-sports they are contributing positively to keeping people safe.

Relevance and entertainment paired with regular social media activity is the key to keeping fans loyal during the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to keep fans engaged, sports clubs need to maintain a strong online presence and entertain fans by keeping them up to date on club news or by offering activities that can be done in lockdown.

This is the time for sports teams, venues and events to harness their brand strength to increase momentum and fan engagement to ensure that even more fans are returning to their stadiums when doors open.