Engaging Sports Fans Is Great for Business

Fall isn’t just about leaves and pumpkins; it’s about sports. Baseball ends. Football, hockey, and basketball begin. And fantasy leagues distract hardcore fans in offices across the country. Why not get your small business in on the action by using sports tie-ins in your advertising?

According to the consulting company Catalyst, which published a fan-engagement study in September, sports fans were up to 30 percent more engaged with brands on social media on game days in 2013 than in 2012. What’s more, 73 percent of fans use Facebook to follow and discuss sports; 54 percent use YouTube; and 37 percent use Twitter. Only 18 percent use Instagram, but the photo-sharing network had the largest year-over-year growth rate of any social channel.

Businesses that make an effort to connect their brands with sports fans through social media are likely to see a much higher degree of engagement. The Catalyst study shows that 39 percent of fans surveyed said that they talked with family and friends about a brand’s tie-in to their favorite teams, 33 percent shared the brand’s content, and 32 percent made a purchase.

The study also finds that the best way to get sports fans engaged as customers is to go after them before the game. That’s because 72 percent responded to pre-game social-media hype, 68 percent liked historic photos and videos, 66 percent liked bloopers, and 63 percent enjoyed a good, healthy debate/smack-talk session.

How Sports Tie-Ins Can Help Your Business

You don’t have to be the small-business equivalent of Nike to get involved in the sports craze. Social media is all about engaging your customers by developing relationships. If you operate a restaurant, for example, offering a coupon or discount on game day may increase business. According to the Catalyst report, 61 percent of respondents followed brands that offered a coupon.

Cheering for specific teams is big, too: 57 percent responded to brands that showed support for teams on social media. If you are a community business, supporting local teams online — from youth athletics to the pros — takes little time and shows sports fans that your interests align with theirs. If you have the resources (and space in your office or store), you could even host a party on game day or a community tailgate and promote the event via social media.

How about running a contest? If a local team wins by a certain amount of points, everybody gets 20 percent off a minimum purchase the next day! According to the Catalyst study, contests resonate with 53 percent of sports fans.

You could also support a charitable cause that appeals to sports fans. For example, October is breast-cancer awareness month, during which NFL referees, players, and coaches wear pink in support of the cause. You and your employees could do the same – and offer ribbons to customers. Or simply add a ribbon to your social media avatars. Becoming part of a cause like this resonates with 46 percent of sports fans.

Instead of remaining on the sidelines, make your small business part relevant to sports fans. Statistics show that catering to everyone from armchair athletes to diehard face-painting, tailgating fans can be good for your bottom line.

About Tim Parker

Tim Parker is the owner of ECS, LLC, a company specializing in financial and small business content. His writing has appeared in many of the top financial blogs including Investopedia, Yahoo! Finance, Benzinga, Business Insider, and Forbes. Find him on Twitter @expositioncreat and Breaking Finance News.com
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