How local sports teams use social media to attract sponsorship

Have you ever shared a photo when attending a sports event?

Most of us follow sports, or have at least taken our kids to an event and shared some of the most exciting moments with family and friends on social media channels.

Sports teams are active in social media channels, too. They post new content daily to drive more fans to their websites and also engage their fans in sharing their experiences. Not only that, displaying social media feeds on a sports team website, and other digital services, helps to increase the time spent on site and drive revenues.

And social media isn't important just for the big clubs – with innovative platforms like La Centrale du Sport, local teams can now collaborate with sponsors, who get rewarded by promoting a campaign hashtag through their social media channels.

To help us learn more about the best practices and successful strategies in online sports marketing for local teams, we interviewed Benoît Moenne-Loccoz, Lead Growth at La Centrale du Sport, a price comparison and sporting goods distribution platform. We had a chat about the importance of a solid social media strategy to help local sports clubs and their sponsors reach their target audience online - and we also cover the key benefits of a social media wall in marketing campaigns.

Benoît, what's the role of social media in your business model?

La Centrale du Sports specialises in price comparison and the distribution of sports goods. Since 2016, we've provided a platform to help amateur sports teams reach their goals. To drive the growth of our platform, and as an essential part of our marketing, we use social media channels.

With our team "Grinta" (named after a fighting spirit), we've enabled 10.000 amateur sportsmen and women to be equipped like pros, and we've also enabled 300 amateur clubs to benefit from the support of a national sponsor through our platform (Unibet for football, BigMat for handball, and Land Rover for rugby).

By connecting sports clubs and sponsors, we've been able to support amateur sports and add more value to the whole ecosystem. Our e-commerce model places the club at the heart of the value chain, and clubs can benefit from their local influence by collaborating with a sponsor looking to reach new audiences.

One of our priorities is to help teams to raise awareness of the positive impact they generate locally - and share how they build and strengthen the communities around them. The more clubs can increase their social media reach, visibility, and engagement, then the more revenue-generating potential they will build over time.

Our ambition is clear: we want to become the first shopping destination for clubs and athletes by providing a platform that combines a marketplace of sports goods with a network for brands and local influencers to connect and collaborate.

In our model, social media isn't just simple communication and marketing channel: it's an integral part of our growth model.

Can you tell us more about the collaboration between brands and teams and how social media is integrated?

Let me give you an example with Unibet's #AuCoeurDuFootball campaign. Through our platform, Unibet has been sponsoring several sports clubs over the past couple of years, and both Unibet and the teams involved use social media to promote their partnership.

The clubs are highlighted on Unibet's social media accounts, which are followed by thousands of people. For instance, last year, the company launched the "best celebration" challenge among the sponsored clubs with a chance to win the filming of a professional video. The winner's video was then posted throughout Unibet's digital channels, raising awareness for the local club on a broader scale.

On the other hand, Unibet is promoted to a very targeted audience through posts from the football clubs. And through this sponsorship, Unibet is able to reach local audiences with a positive message that improves their brand image.

A local football football team with shirts sponsored by Unibet

What was the main reason for you to set up a social wall for Unibet's campaign?

We started the campaign without a social media wall, but decided to get started with Flockler for two main reasons:

Firstly, we wanted to automatically aggregate all the posts by the clubs in one place and monitor the campaign's progress.

Secondly, Flockler helps us to gather all the user-generated content and display it to a broader audience. Previously we had set up a Facebook Group, but that's only visible for the members and followers inside Facebook. Also, it's quite time-consuming to monitor and moderate the content of a Facebook Group.

How was the set up of a social media feed with Flockler?

We chose to create automated feeds to gather and display all posts that mentioned the partners' accounts, as well as the hashtag of the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The campaign hashtag is promoted across all of the campaign's activities and aligned with other marketing activities.

Besides, we help the clubs involved from the start with their social media strategy. We make sure they are aware of the best practices and encourage them to use the campaign hashtag to increase their reach and engagement.

What are the key benefits of creating a social wall for a marketing campaign?

As I mentioned before, with Flockler, we now automatically gather all the posts from the clubs and their sponsors in one place. This allows everyone to follow and share all the activities related to the campaign.

With a social wall, we've been able to increase the reach and engagement of posts. The social media wall drives traffic to social media channels and increases the number of followers and interactions. The social media wall also encourages clubs and, more importantly, individuals to mention the campaign hashtag which increases the reach of the campaign. Brands need to engage their audience of micro-influencers to create content to get more reach and awareness, because social media channels tend to prioritise the posts by our friends in news feeds.

Are there other brands besides Unibet creating similar campaigns?

Last year, we created a campaign with Land Rover Jaguar. They sponsored 72 amateur rugby clubs throughout France. Similar to Unibet's campaign, the target was to reach out to local audiences through micro-influencers (in this case amateur sports teams) in their community.

In this campaign, Land Rover wanted to set up a drive-to-store mechanism. The shirts were delivered to teams through their local dealerships. As a part of the campaign, local teams posted social media content at the time of picking-up their new jerseys at the local car dealer, and some of the teams also staged Land Rover vehicles on the fields during the match day.

A rugby player with a shirt sponsored by Land Rover

Also, we've had great success with BigMat and 100 sports clubs whom we've helped to equip with new jerseys and gears. We follow the same strategy of bringing together the brand, local influencers (amateur sports teams), and their community across all sponsored marketing campaigns.

Thanks Benoît for the great interview unveiling some of the best practices of using social media in sports marketing!

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