Social Media

Game On: How To Engage with Sports Fans on Twitter

Any ardent sports fan with a phone knows the pull of the second screen. Whether it's because of a stunning goal or a controversial ref decision, the instinct to pull out a smart phone or tablet to interact in real-time with fellow fans. Increasingly, match commentary is no longer confined to half-time, and now runs throughout the game for millions of online users.

In the past decade, Twitter has positioned itself as the social media platform where in the moment conversations happen. There is even a claim that Twitter has overtaken Facebook as the social platform of choice for fans, with one in two users describing themselves as passionate sports fans. Twitter has also highlighted how “spiky” sports trends can be, with enormous peaks during MatchDay. During Euro 2016, England’s defeat by Iceland generated 331,000 football-related tweets on the day. This was a significant increase against the daily average over the course of the tournament, and the same trend is visible in all major sporting competitions since.

It’s clear that during major tournaments, while sports fans all unite in their shared passion over the course of the whole competition, it is on the day itself when the majority engage in online discussion. How, therefore, can an advertiser make their promoted tweets stand out in the swirling tempest of tweets that occurs during major sport events?

From a media perspective, the opportunity is clear. We recently tested the effectiveness of promoting branded content for an FMCG client during the 6 Nations matches, and received glimpses of just how powerful real-time match commentary can be. With an elaborate set-up in place to produce reactive video tweets commenting on the events of the match, we targeted rugby fans and promoted tweets as quickly as they were produced.

We found that even with accelerated spend turned on, we were able to serve out impressions to rugby fans during the match at a rate that was only marginally more expensive than if we had run the campaigns over an entire day. This proved that the number of active users on the platform during the match was enormous, resulting in an ample inventory. In addition, we found that our cost per video view stayed low, and video view rates almost doubled in comparison to our pre and post-match video campaigns. Not only were rugby fans browsing Twitter while the game was still playing out, they were also clearly very engaged with all the rugby content they were seeing there.

The key takeaway was that in the world of sports, the game is all important. That’s when the audience is most engaged with their passion, and most eager to trade jokes and opinions while the narrative of the match is unfolding. Therefore, the two key takeaways for advertisers are:

  • Tap into this behaviour with a clear media strategy
  • Make your content contextually relevant to the events of the match

These learnings worked wonders on our campaign, as we saw the best results on tweets that specifically called out moments from the game and invited a reaction from the viewer. If a brand can genuinely engage in the events of the game, users will react as they would with a fellow fan.

With the world cup coming up, many advertisers are asking themselves how to be present in the excitement. Our advice: find out where the conversation is happening and make sure that you are able to authentically contribute. 

Get in touch with our Paid Social experts with any questions around how your brand can stand out from the crowd. 

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