Whether it’s goals, touchdowns, baskets, or holes-in-one, the object of all sporting matches is to win. At Brand Innovators Austin, Sports Marketing on March 13, Scott Reitzel from Purple Strategies and Kevin Lau, Marketing Manager at NetBase, will explain how social media listening can help athletes and sports organizations win over social audiences during their presentation: “Building Championship Engagement.”

Using social listening to gain yardage

Coaches and quarterbacks may be in charge on the football field (and extend that analogy to any sport you wish), but on social media it’s a different story. There, consumers are in charge, and winning means playing by their rules. This isn’t a new concept, actually, but the way we gather consumer insights has changed drastically in recent years. Focus groups and other traditional marketing techniques can’t compete with the real-time information consumers are sharing constantly.

Mining this real-time data can produce a wealth of actionable insights – and ignoring it can be to your detriment – whether you’re a single player or the entire league. Every member of the opposing team bearing down on you as the clock runs out is nothing next to a social complaint gone viral. Applying social listening keeps you informed so you can give fans exactly what they want – off the field, anyway.

Part of the team

And what do they want, exactly? Consumers – or fans, as the case may be – want to be seen as people, not prospects. Going at them with a bunch of marketing spin is the wrong approach. Instead, brands need to sift through social conversations to learn what consumers are passionate about – whether positive or negative – and become a natural, authentic part of those conversations. And it takes exploration across varied social channels to get a dimensional picture – as well as looking at passion beyond what they feel for your sport or team.

For example, you could start by looking at Facebook Topic Data to see what’s trending among certain self-described demographic groups on Facebook. Next, you can apply other tools, like Audience 3D™, to see if this data correlates on Twitter.

And then you can zoom in closer to find micro-segments of consumers with common interests, and craft individualized messaging for those micro-segments. Doing this allows you to find consumers who fall outside demographic parameters, but are part of your target audience all the same. And you’d never find them otherwise.

Most importantly, keeping an eye on what consumers are discussing in real-time clues you in to issues at the earliest stages – when you can still solve the problem.

Don’t get sent to the penalty box

Because sadly it only takes one tweet from an unsatisfied consumer to go viral and become a huge issue. So even if your mentions are high, and you have a lot of likes or retweets, there could be trouble brewing at a deeper level. Social listening helps you identify this trouble by accounting even for emojis and slanguage to clarify whether net sentiment is positive or negative. Then you can nip problems in the bud before they turn into something huge.

It’s not just about solving problems, though, or even keeping consumers happy – it’s about building relationships. Love of sports, and even specific teams, is something passed down through generations. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at keeping fans on your side.

Sports fans, probably more than any other consumer, have a very personal stake in your brand – so you have to make it personal for them. If they don’t see you as human, they can easily walk away when your team is down – taking potential endorsement opportunities with them. No company wants an unpopular player as the face of their brand.

Nothing but net

There are lots more social listening tips – and sports references – to be had at Brand Innovators Austin, Sports Marketing, so we hope you’ll join us. And we’ll be either speaking at, or attending, a number of other events during SXSW, so be sure to follow us on Twitter so you won’t miss a moment.

Or get in touch for more about how NetBase’s social listening tools can keep your brand in the winners’ circle.

Image from Mike Mozart

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