Digital Fan Engagement After COVID-19: Three Takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, least of all on sports fans and content providers. For many fans, watching sports is a way to unwind and get away from the stresses of everyday life. Unfortunately, most sports organizers were unequipped to deal with the obstacles presented by a pandemic, which led to cancellations and many fans being forced to find alternative ways to fulfill their desire for sports-related content. 

This was true not just of sports fans, but fans of all stripes. During the pandemic, most entertainment and media engagement transitioned from physical events to a more digital-oriented landscape. Although more sports events are finally happening again, the pandemic is far from over, and there is no doubt that it will take more time before consumers revert back from their digital habits after living through a year and a half of lockdown — if ever. For companies who want to increase fan engagement in 2021 and onwards, here are three vital considerations to top your checklist.

Prioritize Data Capture

If there was any lesson to be learned in the 21st century about fan engagement even before the pandemic, it was that data is king. However, the lifestyle changes forced by the pandemic have made data capture an even more vital component to any digital fan engagement strategy. As with any attempt to engage with people, advertisers have to know their audience. 

While physical advertisements can be placed in specific locations where visitors tend to have similar specific interests or otherwise have something in common, on the web, it is far more difficult to tune your advertisements towards an audience. Unless you concentrate on sophisticated data capture and analysis, this can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. However, companies like us here at Fanisko make this easy by providing advertising companies with the tools and analytical services required to efficiently capture and use consumer data.

Catch Trends Early

Another prime lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic was the significance of social media and digital connection in people’s lives, which became particularly apparent once physical social interaction became more difficult. Social media use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and platforms such as TikTok increased in users and online media presence at an astounding rate. 

Companies that caught on to this trend early on were able to capitalize extremely well on a platform with a huge user base, without having to compete with every other advertiser. Social media platforms that make it easier to engage with content and other people have taken new importance in the post-pandemic world, and sports companies should take care to stay informed on the newest trends in order to most effectively engage fans. 

Bridge the Digital Divide

One of the most critical issues that most sports and advertising companies had to face at the start of the pandemic was the lack of preparation and infrastructure to transition to a completely digital media platform. Not only did this result in lost engagement during the early days of the pandemic, but it also reveals an endemic issue in the sports industry at failing to keep up with modern advances. 

More people than ever are engaging with digital content, and different generations engage with different types of digital content. Understanding what your target audience is using and transitioning to a model of engagement that can easily reach people digitally is crucial for success in 2021 and beyond. To learn more about how we can help you build your brand, please contact us today.

How to Improve Fan Engagement During Sporting Event Micro-Moments

When a major sporting event occurs, major brands are looking for effective ways to capitalize on them. Unfortunately, there are far too many that are overlooking the potential of micro-moments. By taking advantage of these micro-moments, it is possible to enhance the fan experience and to monetize fan engagement. 

Keep reading to learn more about micro-moments and how you can use them to increase fan engagement during any sporting event. 

Micro-Moments and Fan Engagement

In sporting events, having a single screen is no longer enough. Most fans are turning to a second screen, which presents multiple micro-moments for brands throughout the course of any major sporting event. Today, the preferred second screen for fans is their smartphone. 

Most sports enthusiasts will turn to social media to share their thoughts or see what others have to say about the “big game.” This is an opportunity for big brands to engage in a new way

Marketing These Micro-Moments on a Fan’s Second Screen

While building fan engagement and improving the overall fan experience is essential to any effort made on a second screen, micro-moments also provide the opportunity to create a new sense of brand awareness. By taking advantage of this second screen, a company can engage all new consumers and fans with smart platforms that encourage those interested in speaking up or taking action. 

For example, consider the benefit of promoting your startup company to fans within a certain distance to the Super Bowl or World Series. Fans who are logging into their second screen and starting to engage with these events are already interested in what you offer and ready to jump into new brands that offer unique and exciting products. 

Unique Deals and Quality Pricing 

When you support micro-moments, it will provide stadiums, clubs, and sports brands with the opportunity to capitalize on an audience that is already primed to buy. This is done by offering special offers exclusive to the specific event or time and dynamic pricing offers. 

The Benefit of Second-Screen Marketing 

With second-screen marketing and taking advantage of micro-moments, you have a crucial bridge between stadiums, clubs, national teams, sports brands, and the fans supporting them. When it comes to football fans themselves, when they are at a fever pitch (like during the Super Bowl or competitive matchup), these micro-moments are going to show themselves and give your brand the chance to take advantage of this fan engagement. 

As you can see, there are more opportunities than you may think when it comes to engaging fans. With micro-moments, you can engage fans and find new opportunities to sell whatever it is your brand offers. Now is the time to try this and see how it can work for you. In the long run, this will provide you with the desired results and ensure you get the engagement you are looking for, regardless of what sport you are thinking about marketing. 

Why Gamification Works

While the term gamification wasn’t uttered before 2002, the concept has been around and in use for much longer. Rewards have been used to foster customer loyalty for over a hundred years. We now know that good marketing content is not just about looking; it’s about experiencing. Using gamification allows you to connect, communicate and engage with fans. Let’s learn about the history of gamification, why, and how it works to your advantage.

History of Gamification

EdTech Magazine posits that the concept was in use in 1896 when marketers sold stamps to retailers who used them to reward customer loyalty. Fast forward to 1980, when Thomas Malone published a work introducing the idea that computer games provided learners intrinsic motivation to increase their intelligence. Companies really began to utilize the concept of loyalty rewards in the 1980s, finding unprecedented results.

Nick Pelling, British computer programmer and inventor, coined the term gamification in 2002. It became a mainstream concept when added to Gartner’s “Hype Cycle” list in 2011. Now you can see examples of gamification being used to change behavior in a multitude of contexts such as education, crowdsourcing, employee satisfaction, healthcare, and most importantly, marketing.

What is Gamification?

Gamification expert and author of “Actionable Gamification,” Yu-Kai Chou, defines the term as “the craft of deriving all the fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities.” By making advertising fun, users are allowed to experience several of their natural human desires: learning, socializing, mastery, achievement, and status.

Why People Love Games

Dopamine is the neurochemical commonly associated with happiness, and it plays a vital role in human motivation. The chemical provides an addictive feel-good response that drives pursuance of more fun. Research has also indicated that dopamine response is increased when part of a game’s result is left up to chance. Dopamine also enhances memory encoding and recall, which is very useful when games are used in education and marketing.

How It Works For You

Interactive content is more successful than static content. More engagement means visitors are less likely to scroll past what they’re seeing. Gamification allows for interaction with the added benefit of motivation for the visitor to achieve status and rewards, which can be as simple as a sense of accomplishment. As visitors become motivated to complete tasks and achieve rewards, they become customers. The more time visitors spend interacting with your content, the more you learn about them, allowing for personalization.  Fanisko employs augmented reality, gamification, fan engagement analytics, and artificial intelligence to transform the way you connect with your fans. Know your audience, build connections, enhance your brand, drive sales and increase brand loyalty with Fanisko.

Popular myths associated with Digital Fan Engagement

2020 was surely a challenging as well as interesting year for the sports fraternity across the world. The Covid19 outbreak had posed a completely new challenge for the sports industry with multiple sports events being cancelled, being played behind closed doors without crowds or with limited crowds being allowed in the stadiums

2020 was surely a challenging as well as interesting year for the sports fraternity across the world. The Covid19 outbreak had posed a completely new challenge for the sports industry with multiple sports events being cancelled, being played behind closed doors without crowds or with limited crowds being allowed in the stadiums. 

This challenge posted a new series of questions that sports teams needed to find answers for. Two prominent questions were ‘How do we engage our fans and get them to cheer our team and players remotely’? ‘How would we engage sponsors if there is no in-stadia viewership’? In a nutshell, the answer to these 2 fundamental questions lie in the new buzz word that everyone is talking about – DIGITAL! 

Covid19 has accelerated the Digital Fan Engagement initiatives across the world when it comes to sports teams, leagues and even sponsors. Many teams had heard this term before and also contemplated doing something around it, however since it was never a compelling need. With business continuing as usual, it was always a ‘nice to have’ thing than a ‘must have’ as a part of the team strategy. Some of the teams were far-sighted and adopted to this new trend and strategy much earlier than others and are now reaping rewards for the same. However, even now, it’s not too late to ‘think digital’ and cater to the needs of the modern day fan in a way that they consume sports content. 

Even though Digital is the ‘in-thing’ in today’s sports environment, there are many myths associated with it. Here are some of the popular myths concerned with digital fan engagement in the modern day sports ecosystem:

  1. Digital means social media and content – Social media is just a medium for reaching out to fans, it’s the means to the end but not the end. Social media should be used to engage and funnel your fans into your own platform like a team or league’s own mobile app which has exclusive content that can be monetized with sponsorship elements.  At the end of the day, social media platforms are rented properties that have publicly available content. While it can engage fans at some level, it does not serve the team’s bigger purpose to identify, engage, retain and eventually monetize their fan-base. Having your own digital platform allows your access to fan-data and gives bigger ROI and viewership metrics to sponsors with a proper call to action. 
  1. Fans can only be engaged during game/tournament days – A fan is a fan 24×7 and 365 days a year. By limiting their engagement strategy to tournament or game days only, teams and leagues are missing out on maximizing the opportunity that only digital initiatives can provide. Digital is a platform that allows for gamifying experiences & interactions for fans and also creating unique and immersive experiences through Augmented and Virtual reality platforms. Fans don’t need to wait for game days or tournaments to begin to feel engaged or connected with their favourite teams/leagues/athletes. 
  1. Sponsors would only come if we have enough digital fans – This is a classic case of the ‘Chicken & egg’ story. What comes first, digital sponsors or digital fans? Teams have to think big and futuristic when it comes to digital fan-engagement. Both fans and sponsors would come on-board only if teams innovate and think futuristic with ‘never-seen-before’ kind of experiences. Gone are the days of the traditional sponsorship models of ‘logo slapping’ on the ground, billboards and jerseys. Today’s sponsors demand newer and cooler experiences where they can showcase their brands and also get instant feedback on fan-behaviour and engagement which only digital can offer. 
  1. Digital Fan Engagement would make a team or league rich overnight – Like any other new initiative, digital fan engagement is a structured process. None of the teams which are having digital revenues were able to achieve this overnight or within one season. Fans have to be incrementally introduced to new initiatives and experiences through consistent marketing and touch points that are meaningful to them. There would still be a section of fans who would want to see sports in a stadium environment, the question for the teams would be ‘how can we balance traditional and digital platforms to make the entire game viewing experience more enriching for the fans’? Digital can be used effectively to provide stadium fans much more than what they used to get before. For e.g. Digital ticketing, facial recognition/touchless entry, ordering of snacks through the team’s app with special discounts and offers, augmented reality and other immersive experiences both in-stadium and on the digital platform. 

To conclude, it makes sense to say that ‘Digital fan engagement’ is not a fad of the day, but is here to stay. 
To know more about how we can help teams & leagues digitally engage and monetize their fans, write to us at info@fanisko.com

Is AI “Creepy?”

Look, some people just don’t like the idea of artificial intelligence.

To them, it’s the kind of thing that spooky science fiction is made of. They don’t want to hear about the ever-increasing capabilities of computers and robots. They like to believe that people will always be in the driver’s seat, and that robotics is just a fad.

Seriously – in our view, you don’t have to be afraid of artificial intelligence. It’s just a set of capabilities, backed by digital technology. There’s no sinister face behind it.

AI and Big Brother

First, the idea that artificial intelligence is the same as centralized surveillance is kind of a myth.

If a computer is trying to figure out what you like with algorithms, that’s not the same as big brother spying on you. It’s guesswork based on technicality. It doesn’t compromise your identity or make you less of a person, or something like that.

Instead, AI brings efficiencies that help us to do more. That’s really what all of this is about. When we talk about augmented reality and gamification, we’re talking about helping your brand to succeed in a fan environment. Gamification requires some kinds of input. It’s not done to oppress somebody. It’s done to help them to have fun or get matched up with services that they want.

Sports is an excellent example of how technology can help us instead of making us feel funny. Yes, some sports fans are kind of reactive to cutting-edge technology. That’s fine, but there are really positive things to be gained from learning a little more about the tech world. Other sports fans are really into the kinds of tools that their apps offer them.

To that end, to know more about how all of this works, you can download our Digital Sponsorship Activity in Sports white paper to get a lot of information about what we have found to be effective in the sports advertising world. You can read case studies that show you in detail how some companies have made all of the stuff their own, and why it doesn’t constitute creepy activity, but is just a regular part of business, albeit one with a lot of positive potential.

Computers are not going to become our overlords – at least, not anytime soon. It’s okay to relax a little bit about technology. It’s okay to learn a little bit more and put that to work to enhance what you do as a human person.

For more on modern advertising, talk to us at Fanisko. We speak this language!