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Social Media Adds to Fan Experience

One topic I’ve noticed coming up a lot over the past few weeks, especially over here in the UK as our football teams are preparing for the new season, is how social media can add to fan experience and encourage more fans down to stadiums.

We’ve all read posts about how social media will benefit sports teams, and the benefits of constantly engaging with and having a dialogue with fans, so I don’t want to cover that in this post, I’d like to look into a few of emerging tools and explore ways in which they could improve fan experience and encourage fans down to the stadium.


Stickybits is a tool which allows you to attach photos, videos, PDF’s, text, or almost any digital content to any barcode, and when someone scans that barcode, they are able to see all attachments.

One way I think teams could use this tool is to attach videos and reviews to products in their club store. For example, they could attach a trailer/teaser video onto a DVD or a review onto a book which would open up interactivity within their shop and also allow users to gain feedback on products in store. While this doesn’t specifically add to match day experience it could be a great way to further engage your fans in the products within your store and you could also include the barcodes within brochures you send out to fans.

In terms of match day experience, you could utilize the bar codes on tickets and when fans enter the stadium and scan the code a welcome video could appear, maybe even from a player or coach. Or, if it’s their first visit to the stadium, a virtual tour could appear helping fans to find merchandise outlets, programme stands and food/drink vendors. This could be a good way to help drive sales at outlets around the ground and also alert fans to any deals or promotions.


This could be a great tool to attract more fans down to the stadium. We all love a good deal and Groupon allows teams and businesses to provide customers (or fans) with group discounts. The whole aim of Groupon is to drive people to a business whether it’s a bar, restaurant, spa or sports team.

The discount can be anything. For example, you could group match tickets with some food or a jersey. To make sure the deals are always viable for the businesses they can set a minimum uptake number meaning the deal will only go ahead if a certain number of people purchase.

I’ve seen a couple of sports teams using Groupon already (Chicago Fire & Chicago Cubs) and I think it offers great opportunity to put together some exciting promotions (maybe even involving other local businesses) and drive more fans into stadiums.


Geolocation is somewhat of a hot topic in social media at the moment, and a topic that is causing a lot of debate and discussion.

I have Foursquare installed on my phone, and have an account on Gowalla (just waiting for a Blackberry app) and I’ve “checked in” a grand total of 0 times on both apps.

Why? Because I forget or have no real reason to check in. Yet. Geolocation is still taking off and at the moment I see little value in using these services, unless I get something back or have the opportunity to get something back. In the US some businesses seem to be catching on and doing some great promotions, over here in the UK though it’s very much still finding its feet.

I’m not someone who wants to tell the world where I am 24/7 and I’m sure you don’t all want to know when I’m at the supermarket either. However, I do see potential in these apps and I’m not drawing lines in the sand as Gary Vaynerchuk would say.

Earlier in the year the New Jersey Nets partnered with Gowalla for a tickets promotion, which both parties have branded a success – if you haven’t read the New Jersey Nets / Gowalla case study yet, my advice is to do so. (Editor’s note: one of our featured authors Sam Taggart was behind the Nets / Gowalla project)

If teams and brands can offer fans value from “checking in” and make it part of the match day routine, then there is huge potential for these tools, and I feel the next year is going to be massive for geolocation with both Twitter and Facebook thinking about geolocation services.


I feel these tools could add value to fan experience in many different ways, and I’d love to hear your thoughts or any examples you’ve come across in the comments.


Image by davidberkowitz

Image by Blue Fountain Media

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2 Responses to Social Media Adds to Fan Experience

  1. Jackie Adkins June 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Interesting stuff, Ash! I've pondered a lot about Foursquare and Gowalla for sports teams, and really the main thing holding them back is a relatively small user base compared to most social platforms and, realistically, it will never take off quite as much as Twitter, much less Facebook. Nevertheless, it can be used successfully in some cases (like the Nets).

    Something I've talked about a bit before is using social media to bring the in-game experience to fans who aren't at the game, which will, hopefully, make them want to be a part of that experience and buy tickets. This sort of stuff can be used in whatever tools you're already using or some of the ones you've mentioned here.

    One way to do this would be internally, getting staff to produce content along these lines. Video is a great way to do this, as you can really capture the passion of the fans in the stands, so it would make a lot of sense to even just stick a marketing intern in the fan section to take video throughout the game. You can take some of this footage and use it across platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

    Another option is encouraging fans to produce content themselves and send it out to their individual networks. Not many will do this without an incentive, so it's up to you to maybe offer free tickets to the best contributor or a store discount to anyone who submits pics or video. Plenty of flexibility here, but you can't rely on them doing it on their own.

    So, those are just a few additional points on the topic for ya 🙂 Good stuff!

  2. AshRead June 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Hi Jackie, thanks for the comment. I like the idea of bringing in game experience to fans that aren't at the game. It would be great to have images/videos of fans celebrating goals etc. I think the Beastie Boys released a DVD a few years ago in which they gave 17 fans cameras to film the gig so the viewers got a fans perspective – this may prove a problem in sports with TV rights and also the language used by some fans!

    As for Foursquare and Gowalla there has to be value on both sides, fans will want something or the chance to win something for checking in, whilst teams need to see the value from having people check in.

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