Five things we learned from SportsPro The Brand Conference

The 2018 SportsPro Brand Conference took place at Lord’s Cricket Ground this week, and with some of the industry’s biggest names and most interesting brands in attendance it made for an interesting couple of days.

A symposium of industry voices spoke on a number of different topics, with panel discussions, presentations and case studies presented throughout the two days.

Here are some of the things we at Digital Sport are taking away from the event:

Twitter isn’t for ‘Look at Me’ content

Lee LeBorgne from Twitter gave a presentation on the second day of the conference. Attempting to illustrate what makes Twitter different from other social media platforms, LeBorgne noted that Instagram and Facebook are used by people to post what he terms ‘look at me’ content. That is, photos of themselves or their families. Twitter, he thinks, is a place for people to say ‘look at this’ instead – rather than a place to share news about themselves, it’s a place to share news, opinions, articles and other cool things you’ve seen on your travels.

England Netball know their audience

It’s been a hugely successful period for netball in the UK. The fastest-growing female sport has hit a purple patch in terms of coolness, with the England team doing well and new people starting to take an interest.

But instead of trying to engage with the mainstream sports media, Joanna Adams, Chief Executive of England Netball told the conference that she and her team were targeting lifestyle publications rather than sports publications in order to bring more women and girls into the sport.

When Meghan Markle played netball on a trip to Loughborough University recently the news made fashion magazine healdines around the world. It was a gift for the sport, but England Netball clearly know their audience – so much so that they aren’t even targeting traditional sports fans!

Purposeful Sponsorships are the key

Sport may not be the first thing you think of when you hear of the electronic appliances company Beko, but their sleeve sponsorship of FC Barcelona has seen them come into the sporting realm, and the company’s CMO presented at the start of the second day of the event.

‘Purposeful sponsorship’, said Zeynep Yalim Uzun, is what made her brand stand out recently when they launched the ‘Eat Like a Pro’ campaign. Far beyond simply being a chance for Beko to activate their sponsorship, they identified childhood obesity as a problem they could help to tackle. In doing so, they also managed to get Barcelona’s players on side and who turned out to be really invested in the project, sharing the campaign on social media off their own backs.

Having a purpose, we’re learning, is a powerful tool in this day and age.

Educating an Audience

As US sports come to these shores, and as UK and European sports travel in the opposite direction, interacting with an audience who haven’t grown up with your sport – and so don’t know the ins and outs – is the challenge.

Partnerships can be used to solve that problem – Just for Men’s NFL partnership ‘tackled the grey’ areas where UK fans of American football may not have been experts. In creating this campaign, the sponsor helped the NFL and was able to create something relevant and add value to the fans they’re getting in front of.

Engagement is key, but sentiment is vital

Sentiment measuring is a relatively new thing as analytics companies now use AI to analyse the language used in replies to social media posts in order gauge sentiment. As we move away from vanity metrics and understand that an engaged audience is a much more valuable tool than one that is simply large, we have to also remember that pure engagement can be misleading too – after all, a negative reaction is still an engagement!

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 716 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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