What sport can teach us about the power of content?

Ian Wright’s hit Saturday show, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Football’.In the increasingly social world of sports marketing we talk tirelessly about the need for ‘authentic content’ that will ‘gather a passionate fan base’ and ‘trigger dialogue.’  All in an effort to create a social media platform for brands.

The challenge with sport is looking for authentic and quality content to come from fans themselves. You only need to jump onto the next trending sports event to see an endless stream of tweet-from-the-hip comments that say next to nothing and are more motivated by a desire to be visible in the conversation than to drive debate.  While this fan-babble still delivers a big reach opportunity for a sponsor, it does little to build brand equity.

Where are the passionate, informed, opinionated and connected connoisseurs that sport claims to offer? How do we create campaigns that harness the qualities of decent fan debate without descending into mindless drivel?

The answer lies in how you detonate the dialogue and steer it in the right direction once the train has left the station. This is pure conversation craft, like being the Andrew Marr of the social media content world.  Campaigns must lead with a smack-between-the-eyes call to action, making it very clear how you want your audience to contribute.  This might be by answering a question, sharing their own particular experience or giving their opinion.  Conversations have a life of their own and great content curators know how to keep them on track.  Real time content-management is crucial, especially in the high-intensity world of live-event social media.

A cracking recent example of all this in action is Absolute Radio’s recent Live Blog campaign. This used Twitter to connect fans at 16 UK football stadia across with Ian Wright’s hit Saturday show, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Football’. Fans were invited to ‘#tellwrighty’ what they thought about a series of questions posted on the concourse screens, and they were able to view their tweets on the concourse and in-stadia screens during the game.

This was the first time that Twitter has been used to raise brand awareness and engage with fans as part of the matchday experience. Crucially, the technique allowed Absolute Radio to create quality content that they were able to steer through clear calls to action. While getting the fans onside, the campaign also had a hard brand benefit, bringing new listeners to the show and taking ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ football directly into the grounds on a Saturday.

Examples like this show that content in sport can be a powerful tool, when properly harnessed and steered in the right direction. Brands can derive huge benefit, but it need to be handled with skill and care.

Josh Robinson, director of creative & integration, Sports Revolution.