A Lesson in Audience Engagement from the Green Bay Packers #smlondon

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For me, the sports industry is an exciting place to be right now. A lot of UK clubs are adopting live streaming and social networks, moving away from the traditional means and methods.

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” – Seth Godin

The world of sports is emotive (to say the least) – while some support may ebb and flow with how a team performs, there will also be a core tribe of supports – the true brand advocates. While in the UK we see crowds of 50,000-plus in the Premier League, and ever increasing crowds to other sports, we’re still in the shadow of the United States and their ‘super stadiums’ attracting crowds of over 100,000 to University level American Football games (the largest being the Michigan Stadium, that holds 107,601 and is home to the University of Michigan ‘Wolverines’).

Also anyone who has seen a Superbowl knows that America likes to go BIG, and they don’t need much of an invitation to do so. I’ve been fortunate this past season to work with Bradford City in League One on their Twitter strategy, as well as producing/filming their first Periscope broadcast – and as this industry begins to adopt more and more social media channels into their ‘marketing mix’, what lessons can we learn from our friends in America?

Packers Everywhere:

The Green Bay Packers are synonymous with the NFL – their legendary coach Vince Lombardi‘s name is etched onto the Super Bowl trophy – and iconic quarterbacks such as Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers add to the franchises value, history and legacy.

However history can only play a part of the franchises marketing efforts, and their current online efforts are among the best in the sport and keep the brand at the forefront.

The Packers’ official fan site is the go to destination for all Green Bay fans and reads like a social profile, with fan-generated, real content at the heart of the offering. Fans are encouraged to log-in using their Facebook profiles and share their game-day photos, holiday photos and anything remotely Packers related.

By creating an environment full of user generated content, they are able to keep the conversation ‘in house’ and subtly promote brand messages. Regardless of whether or not their games are broadcast on TV, fans have a place to go to discuss the game and the team.

As the Green Bay Packers discovered, there are fans – and then there are fanatics. Trying to achieve maximum reach is often the goal of a marketing campaign or piece of content, and while this is something I encourage – it’s also important to market to your core responders – your fanatics – the people who ALWAYS respond, like, share and comment on everything. Green Bay are able to ‘own’ a space and utilise their fanatics to create a natural, fan content and fan interaction site.

Human interaction:

Fan interaction is also important and, from the outside looking in, it could be assumed that this would be the ideal industry for brand loyalty, because all teams have fans and fans will always support and engage with their favourite team, right? Wrong.

Even sports brands have to respond to fans on a human level, even if the fan makes a general comment or tweets a photo of them in the stadium, awaiting the game. A lot of brands also make this mistake and choose to ignore passing comments and focus on direct queries and complaints instead.

The Packers Everywhere site is a dream come true, in a world where peer reviews have more and more influence, what can be more influential than a fan posting photos of the new season’s jersey bearing the name of the latest draft pick? This authentic experience cannot be created artificially, it can only be cultivated through creating a space and letting it grow naturally.

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Dan Taylor

Account Manager at SALT.agency
Dan is a Technical SEO Consultant & Account Manager @ SALT.agency in Leeds. He enjoys all things digital, Hull City and gin.
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Dan Taylor

Dan is a Technical SEO Consultant & Account Manager @ SALT.agency in Leeds. He enjoys all things digital, Hull City and gin.