How cricket clubs made sure their summer of social media was a big-hitting one
Cricket is not the most accessible sport. Games can last for days, take place when many people are at work, and its rules can be overwhelming.
But, one tactic that can break all of that down? Social media. And cricket Clubs in the UK alongside the ECB raised the mark for the 2017 season. This summer was one of the busiest ever in the cricket calendar. With an ICC Champions Trophy, Women’s World Cup, 7 Test matches, 13 ODIs, 4 T20Is, County Championship, One-Day Cup, the Women’s Super League and T20 Blast all made for a memorable season, and gave the ECB and Counties an opportunity to engage with an existing audience, as well as attract a new one.
Many counties introduced live streaming for the 2017 season, making the otherwise difficult to consume County Championship easier to track. Whilst the cameras offered for the streams were fixed at either end of the ground, and therefore not as a dynamic viewing experience as Spidercam, or roaming cameras, counties such as Somerset enhanced their feed with integration into their website and ‘match centre’. In addition to the live scores being overlaid onto the stream, fans could enjoy real-time statistics and live text commentary providing a hub of information and a platform for in-depth engagement.
With sports teams sharing more content than ever before, it has never been more important to maintain consistency and strength in branding. Developing professionalism and trust as a cricket Club, alongside reflecting the values of you, your fans and Members is a challenge, but a necessity.
Derbyshire County Cricket Club’s consistency in branding enhanced their social offering and gave them a unique identity, allowing them to stand out from other counties and express their ‘personality’ across all of their content.
TEAM: Harry Podmore make his Derbyshire debut while Imran Tahir returns to face Durham in @CountyChamp.
— Derbyshire CCC (@DerbyshireCCC) August 28, 2017
Real-Time Clips on Social Media
With access to every single ball of every single domestic fixture, provided by the ECB to each county, the use of real-time video clips shared to social media was maximised.
As the action happened at the crease, fans were kept up to date with immediate distribution of short, digestible clips of the main moments. Bite-sized in-game content appealed to both new and cultured fans, and partnered with engaging copy – as in the case of Lancashire County Cricket Club – video becomes shareable.
— Lancashire CCC (@LancsCCC) May 16, 2017
Yorkshire County Cricket Club are one of the most successful teams in domestic cricketing history, and boast some of the finest players in the UK: Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid. The club also have exceptional talent off the field, and share some of the most engaging content of the 18 First Class Counties.
Appealing to fans aside from standard ‘on-field’ cricket content, Yorkshire set themselves apart from other counties with their unique and creative content.
Making Deadline Day in the Premier League relevant to a cricket county is not easy, but Yorkshire released a series of videos throughout the day that were topical to them (the sale of cricket tickets), humorous and engaging.
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) January 31, 2017
The Club also identified that day five of their test match taking place on a Tuesday was not the most appealing to their fanbase, so increased awareness of availability of fixtures, and then lured fans in with shareable content.
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) August 29, 2017
Something as simple as a team photo can set a club aside from the 17 other first-class counties. Yorkshire did this with ease when they involved their players in a relaxed squad photo, rather than a traditional, rigid, portrait. This oozes the personality of Yorkshire, and allows their players to have some fun with the content, too.
ICYMI: Vote for your Yorkshire CCC Player of the Year for 2017 ahead of the annual end of season dinner.
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) September 11, 2017
The driving force behind the improvements and acceleration of social media in the 2017 season has come from the ECB. By setting high standards of output across their channels, as well as assisting in the creation of content, Counties have been keen to produce quality on social media.
One of the fundamental elements of increasing cricket as a sport in the modern era is to bridge the divide between lifestyle and sport. The NBA and NFL have done this excellently to help with the globalisation of their sport into the European market, and such marketing is prevalent across football. Cricket is now finding a way to be relevant aside from its traditions.
Producing different forms of video content – from behind-the-scenes feature documentaries with players, to real-time platform-specific in-game clips, to shareable milestone clips, to archive footage – the ECB have delved into the mindset of a fan in their distribution strategy.
.@MoeenAli on the harrowing moment he was run over.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 23, 2017
Marketing to cricket fans as nothing more than cricket fans is the biggest mistake a club, or the ECB, could make. The ECB have recognised this, and ensured their content resonated with their fans beyond the traditional values of the sport.
Whilst there is still a long way to go until cricket fans can see the same level of investment in digital output from cricket counties and governing bodies as in other sports such as football, NFL, NBA and more recently F1, the desire from counties to entertain their fans is clear.
2018 might not be as big of a summer of cricket as 2017, but you can guarantee the success of social media by counties will keep on growing.
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