Sustaining the Hype: How to keep fan attention all season long

All Aboard The Hype Train!

With the football season in full swing now, it’s hard to miss the roar of fans across the globe. The transfer season in particular contributed to a lot of the ravenous hype. From Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona to the prodigal son, Cristiano, returning home to Old Trafford, this window had something to get every fan excited. While the transfer window has generated a lot of initial hype, clubs now face the challenge of sustaining said hype and engagement amongst their fanbase.

To that end, here are some thought-starters to keep the Hype Train on the rails for the rest of the season.

Stoke the Flames of Passion

Football is an emotional sport. It isn’t just about the current season or the current superstars. The history, the legends, the community, and the academy are what fans subscribe to. This inculcates a “ride or die” type of passion from fans and that can be seen in every interaction with them. The passion can also go against you if you don’t truly understand fans’ motivations. This was most evident when some owners decided to try and launch the Super League, and realized the power of the voice of fans.

Having said that, if done right, there is no asset more valuable than this passion, and providing fans with a platform to voice their opinions should be a core part of your fan marketing strategy. Make your fans feel heard by providing simple opportunities such as voting for the woman/man of the match, choosing the team of the week, and more. Show your fans you care about their opinion and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

Go Behind the Scenes

Now more than ever, fans want to feel more connected to their team. Thanks to digital campaigns during the pandemic and series like “All or Nothing”, fans are now hungry for a taste of the backstage drama. Find unique ways to provide value-driven content such as a day in the life of players, Q&As with coaching staff/players to provide deeper insights into how the team runs before they put in the shift on game day, and more. Having diverse touchpoints with fans will ultimately lead to more engagement.

Fueling Rivalries

Rivalries in football are iconic, whether it’s the Manchester Derby, the Derby Della Madonnina, or the El Clasico. While the battle on the field is heated, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so off-the-field. Collaborating with your rivals to run strategic activations can give your fans a jolt of energy and lead to some great data while you’re at it. It’s something we’ve seen work well in the AFL (read more about it here). It’s a tactic that allows your fans to display just how passionate they are and hopefully, put rival fans to shame.

Bridge Physical and Digital

The pandemic shifted how clubs interacted with their fans, with a larger focus on digital. While it’s great to see fans back in the stands, clubs would be wise to remember that digital is still a medium to pay a lot of attention to. Their digital channels led to sustained engagement with fans that might not have previously been able to attend games in person, thus building a more cohesive fanbase. The return of fans to the stands also provides a great opportunity for clubs to create seamless experiences that run real-time in-venue and online.

Experiences across physical and digital mediums also provide clubs with the opportunity to provide higher value to their sponsors. Sponsors now expect a ton more data and while “There were mobs of people at the physical activation” might have worked in the past, that statement is no longer going to cut it. Building out digital assets that fans can interact with helps check all the right boxes: global engagement, data capture, better reporting for sponsors. Win-win-win!

Power of Purpose

We have been living in an era where fans want to be aware and as involved as possible. When it comes to community-driven social purpose, fans want to align themselves with clubs that really care. They can smell inauthenticity from a mile away. Clubs can achieve this by partnering with sponsors that aim to make an impact or difference in the community. A great example is The Head Coaches initiative led by Liverpool FC in partnership with AXA life insurance. This campaign aimed to educate coaching staff on how to help children from 5 to 18 who suffer from mental health problems. Identifying purpose-driven sponsorship opportunities not only provide your fans with something to be proud of, it’s the right thing to do for society!

Fans today are more connected than ever, and thanks to the transfer window have been primed for more frenzy. Clubs that manage to channel this energy into a sustainable strategy that factors in authentic partnerships, year-long engagement, and data collection are the ones that will emerge successful in the long run. Hype like this doesn’t come around often and we’re excited to see how clubs capitalize on this opportunity.


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