SPORT INFLUENCERS: REACH INTERNET USERS
The arrival and development of social networks have had a significant impact on brand communication strategies. While athletes become major influencers, sponsors have every interest in multiplying digital operations with their ambassadors, and potentially reach more than one million Internet users.
What is influence marketing?
Recent digital developments have allowed individuals to control and develop their notoriety. Public figures — such as high-level athletes — now have the opportunity to speak to anyone at any time.
By regularly using social networks, these individuals have been able to develop meaningful fan communities and exceed the biggest brands in terms of subscribers.
This is called influence marketing! When a brand uses a person followed by a community of fans to promote its products and/or services. Today social networks represent a privileged playground for this form of marketing, hence the multiplication of forms of sponsored partnerships between influencers and brands.
Why choose sports?
High-level athletes have long been chosen by the brands to represent them. Their reputation and popularity make them natural choices for any company wishing to develop its visibility.
With the arrival of social networks, new opportunities have come. In addition to better controlling their communication, digital enables professional athletes to enhance their partnerships with brands.
Athletes are strategic influencers for brands for two main reasons: the size of their community and the quality of shared content. Indeed — aware of the importance of social networks — athletes maintain a regular online activity while paying attention to content they share online.
Various profiles of influencers
Among the professional sportsmen, many influencer profiles exist and answering the different needs of the brands in terms of audience.
Key criteria of differentiation is the number of subscribers of an athlete on social media networks. It makes it easy to identify the level of awareness of an influencer and to have a first idea of the potential benefits of a potential partnership with the latter.
Sports discipline will also influence the choice of brands. In the collective spirit, some sports have an accessible and popular image while others are perceived as high-end. Brands must, therefore, take into account this factor so as not to be mistaken.
The age of the athlete will be another determining factor in the choice of an influencer. Depending on the products or services they offer, advertisers should preferably rely on influencers that correspond to them. Thus a car brand will associate rather with a sportsman in his thirties while a brand of headphones(ie Dr, Dre) will turn to an athlete in his twenties.
Have a pro-active approach
Conscious of the influence of professional sportsmen on social networks, brands quickly took this aspect into account in their sponsorship strategies. The social profiles of the athletes allow them to justify the importance they can play in partnerships with sponsors.
New features — such as the mention of ‘ paid partnership with [brand name]’ on Instagram — make it easy to post sponsored posts. Athletes can thus more easily promote their sponsors. The latter — as for them — have the opportunity to better follow the fallout of their partnership with their ambassadors.
However, many brands collaborating with high-level athletes are limited to this type of sponsored content on social networks. While the majority of sports sponsors continue to invest a lot of resources in the traditional media — paper, television, poster — few of them offer creative online content in collaboration with sports influencers.
However, digital offers the possibility of sharing innovative content to as many people as possible. With an original and unique digital operation, brands multiply their chances of sharing viral content, engaging Internet users while reaching a wide audience. Sports-influencers have a vital role in creating and relaying these activations.
Successful digital activation.
In order to ensure the success of its digital activation, the following 3 aspects must be respected: interaction, quality, and coherence.
Commitment is the major performance indicator of a social network. Communication specialists consider that this parameter is even more important than the number of subscribers — because it reflects the behavior of Internet users in relation to specific content marketing.
The more engaging a digital operation is, the more successful it will be. For this, it is necessary to think about the role that fans will play in the activation.
On the web, it is possible to engage users in many ways. The most basic forms of interaction rely on the publication of a comment or message through a dedicated hashtag. The creation of a video or a challenge to realize represent more successful interactions.
What users will achieve during digital activation must be clearly defined upstream. In order to engage a maximum number of users, it is preferable that these interactions are not too complex and time consuming to put in place.
The content shared throughout the operation must be of high quality. If the audience is not likely to be interested in the proposed content, digital activation may go unnoticed.
A creative and quality operation will be more likely to be shared online. The implementation of quality content will also have spinoffs in the digital press and will improve its online visibility.
The digital activation involving the sponsor and the sportsman, a certain coherence is necessary between the two protagonists. As far as possible, the operation must convey the world of the brand and that of the sportsman.
A consistent activation will be more likely to succeed because the athlete’s fans will be more likely to interact with the proposed content while understanding which brand is causing the content. An operation putting forward only one or more athletes may make the mark forget. Conversely, an operation promoting only the brand and underutilizing its ambassadors may fail because the fans will not be interested in the content.
How to perform a digital activation?
To start an online operation as we have previously described it cannot be improvised. There are three distinct stages in any digital activation: ideation, execution, and reporting.
The process of ideation is certainly the most difficult because the goal is to create content that is innovative, original and unprecedented. However, it is possible to make this journey of reflection easier by dividing it into several parts.
Part 1: Defining your objectives
There are two main types of objectives behind a digital operation:
- Enhance your existing partnership with a sports ambassador
- Communicate around the launch of a new product or service
Whatever the objectives of operation, it will be necessary to define which performance indicators will be relevant to follow. During a digital activation, we find mainly the following metrics
- Number of views and completion rate (for video content)
To measure the future success of its operation, one or more of these indicators should be followed. In addition, for each indicator chosen, it is recommended to define numerical objectives. This will make it possible to judge a posteriori the performance of the activation conducted.
Part 2: Brainstorming
Since it is not easy to find original ideas from scratch, it is strongly recommended to conduct a brainstorming session. During this, it will be necessary to answer relatively broad questions related to both the brand, the product proposed, the customers and the sport concerned.
For example, imagine an operation between a luxury watch brand and a tennis player. Here are 3 examples of questions to answer:
What are the criteria for buying a luxury watch?
Why does a person follow a tennis player on social media?
How do you “consume” tennis in 2018?
By finding the maximum number of answers to these types of questions, it will be possible to better identify the expectations of the public with regard to a brand and an athlete. It also allows finding connections between brand and ambassador, in order to bring more consistency in the future operation.
Part 3: Finding Ideas
After this brainstorming session, it will be necessary to find ideas for digital operations. The answers to the previous questions will help stimulate your imagination to find original activations.
We must not forget — for each idea — to consider 3 essential elements for the success of a digital operation: interaction, quality, and consistency.
For this, put on paper the most possible ideas. It is important to include all types of proposals — from the most hyped or miscellaneous to those that seem less attractive. After having gathered an acceptable number of ideas, it is advisable to list them in a table by specifying for each one of them their characteristics: support, interactions with the fans, the role of the sportsman, potential repercussions.
By doing this brainstorming and categorization, it will be possible to easily identify the most relevant and successful digital business ideas.
After having carried out this phase of ideation — which will have made it possible to identify the most relevant operations to put in place — it will be necessary to launch into the execution phase.
It will be necessary for beginning to create the contents of the operation. Depending on the financial and operational resources of the brand, previously imagined content must be created with the influencer (s) athlete (s). With digital, content can take many forms: video, website, mobile application, QR code …
Once the content is created, simply put it online. The timing and platforms chosen will be crucial in order to generate maximum interaction with Internet users. Social networks of sports influencers will increase the visibility of digital activation.
Do not forget to keep abreast of different media to increase the chances of success of the online transaction. Exclusively web-based media are the most likely to share digital activation led by a brand.
The reporting phase must be prepared before the execution phase. Performance indicators should be defined as early as the ideation stage and monitoring tools should be put in place during the implementation phase.
It is also recommended that you create your own upstream performance tracking tables so that you do not miss the first impact of the operation. While it is easy to track certain benefits such as the number of visits to a web page or the number of impressions of a publication on Instagram, it is more difficult to track all the mentions and interactions generated. For this, it will be necessary to use certain pay platforms such as Radarly or Mention.
Tracking the benefits as soon as the digital transaction is online is relevant in order to identify what adjustments need to be made. Indeed, if the activation does not “take”, it is possible to boost its visibility by approaching the media or by using paid advertising.
But the reporting will be particularly interesting several days — even several weeks — after the launch of the digital activation. It will be possible to analyze the actual impact of the operation and to compare it with the objectives previously set. This will be the moment to judge the success of the digital operation and to see what impact it has had on its brand.
Practices applicable to sports clubs
Brands are not alone in being able to conduct digital transactions online. Sports organizations such as clubs, tournaments or federations also have an opportunity to seize with these activations. Indeed, they all have sports influencers that can make them gain visibility.
Athletes are already at the center of the digital communication of sports clubs. But by conducting unprecedented digital operations, clubs have the opportunity to stand out from others and improve their online presence.
In addition, these operations are an opportunity to strengthen their partnerships with their sponsors. Indeed, it is possible to put forward a particular sponsor during an operation. Liverpool did this by including their partner Joie in their video starring Mo Salah surprising young fans of the club. With an operation of this magnitude (more than 12 million views on YouTube), the sponsor will be more inclined to multiply its partnerships with the club.
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