The Taoiseach shows he’s just your average lad in this classic photobomb at the All Ireland Final.

 

The largest untapped resource for brand recognition at any sporting event is the fans themselves. With millions of screaming and cheering fans, doused in team war-paint and regalia, celebrating game day with ferocity you are bound to see some pretty crazy and fantastic fan-generated images by the end of it.  Social media titans such as Facebook and Twitter stand as the hallmark platforms hosting these selfies, group photos, hilarious photobombs, and unique posts and tweets. But what if you could capture this fan-generated content before it went public, in real time, and get your logo on it, such as beside the prime minister hanging out with some new friends? Here is what you need to do.

Step 1: Think Global

Consider the Barclays Premier League, the fearless leader of the English football league system for men’s association football clubs. During the 2013-2014 season alone, the aggregate attendance for all matches hit 13.9 million in the stands and garnered nearly 1.2 billion fans and 4.2 billion (with a B!) viewers globally.

Just because a fan can’t fly to England, doesn’t mean they don’t support Manchester United or Liverpool.  Asia alone accounted for 974 million of those global viewers during the 2013 – 2014 season, proving to be the continent hosting the most Premier League fans. This was great news for Asian Sponsors such as Singha from Thailand, the official beer bearers for Manchester United, but could be great news for you too.

You can bet that international fans are as devoted as any, staying on top of the results throughout the game and fervently engaging with related team and fan content on social media, exponentially increasing the potential for a powerful image to go viral. This brings a great deal of opportunity for brands to engage with their existing audience in the stadium, but use this local audience to create content that appeals to the global fan-base.

So how do you harness the power of this audience and channel it into your marketing campaign?

Step 2: Give the fans what they want

It is well known by now that fan-generated content is the new secret weapon for brand amplification. The fan experience is changing as fans demand more event-related content and unique social content that fosters a community larger than themselves and larger than the stadium at their feet. Fans want a genuine, honest, real and raw understanding of the fan experience, and allowing real fans to narrate this for Sponsors is as genuine as it gets.

There are a number of ways to engage fans in a conversation that adds emotional merit to your brand, for example, posting photos of fans wearing or using your products, reaching out to those fans, and above all rewarding fans through gamification and photo contests.  Keep in mind that you must be clever when designing these fan-friendly campaigns to garner viral feedback – look to a few of Specsaver’s campaigns as one good brand example.

Step 3: Integrate

Getting your brand logo on fan-generated content is great; the emphasis is on identifying valuable fan-generated content that is aligned with your brand for its life on social channels. However, the most effective method of capturing the most positive sentiment to your brand is engaging at the height of the fan experience – capturing the content at the event, in real time, before you lose it to the black hole of social media streams.

To do this, you must be proactive and integrate into the experience to influence and impact fans directly. The best way to do this is to use the context of mobile to your advantage – multiple teams/events have already developed cutting-edge apps powered by Connected Stadium WiFi.

The most optimum opportunity lies in integrating within these apps so that the fans that are downloading the app, will be able to easily access your Rewards contests.

If you are looking to revolutionize your marketing strategy, keep these three steps in mind as you start to view your audience as your partner, instead of a target. Or, you could have Crowdsight do it all for you.