Snapchat is no longer everyone’s little secret. We’re way past that by now. One hundred million active daily users and 7 billion daily video views speaks for itself. At the same time, sports teams and leagues are better positioned than ever before to take advantage of the connected world to grow their brands and reach new audiences. In today’s media landscape, there is no better tool to boost a sports brand’s global digital strategy than Snapchat.
So, what makes the video messaging app so important? And why does it matter to sports brands that are already producing tons of content and are active on dozens of communication platforms?
For starters, the goal of growing a brand beyond one’s core markets is to reach as many people as possible - to become relevant and later embedded in that sports landscape. European soccer teams for example are vying for the attention of the US sports consumer in the most competitive and saturated market in the world. The NBA and NFL meanwhile are trying to get market share in countries where one sport dominates above all and everything else is secondary.
In a wold where users are bombarded with content at every turn, on every screen and at every event, it is critical for sports brands to distinguish themselves. Snapchat offers brands the two most important elements of digital marketing: reach and engagement. Reach provides visibility and engagement the ability to stand out in the crowd. In the case of digital media, distinction is the mother of invention.
How that works also has a lot to do with what’s made Snapchat so successful to begin with.
More than Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter, Snapchat taps into the psychology of a tech-savvy, globally-minded generation. I won’t waste your time by listing the many great Snapchat features, that’s done much more effectively here. Essentially Snapchat’s simple functionality, ephemeral content and showcasing of live events in digestible formats makes it readymade for the modern consumer.
Voyeurism, spontaneity and an insatiable appetite to connect and learn makes up the DNA of Millennial ideology. Snapchat captures that and sports brands are best positioned to capitalize. The emotional bonds contained in sports culture combined with the marketability and peak interest around live sports events are ideal for Snapchat’s live stories and short personal video storytelling format.
Sports brands should also be careful not to corner themselves with the “Millennial target group”, because while Snapchat’s user base may be young, its appeal is universal. Already the company is setting out a strategy to target older crowds, and rightfully so. That is also the opportunity for sports brands marketing internationally as Snapchat evolves and grows beyond its audience of High School and College kids.
Snapchat is also ideal for sports teams’ content and marketing strategies because it most effectively extends the matchday experience beyond the stadiums. Content is completely democratizes and users become not just part of the story but are also able to tell it. The appeal of the platform’s global live stories, particularly those around live matches, is that very participatory nature. There is little or no distinction between content that comes from the team or from users themselves at the stadium.
When you’re trying to win over fans that may never get to experience the team at their actual stadium that kind of offering can go a long way. Case in point: FC Bayern Munich’s global live story for their game against Dortmund last year. Millions were able to experience the game on their phones in the US for 24 hours compared to just those who knew to look for it on FOX Sports 2.
What also shouldn’t be overlooked is that Snapchat is budget-friendly. It eliminates high production costs and offers great commercial opportunities. That matters. Especially for teams whose leap abroad is seen as a risky investment early on and pressure builds to recoup those expenses.
Finally, it offers sports teams the opportunity to be major players in the digital space and transcend being just teams. Snapchat effectively redefines the way content is produced. It urges creativity and new formats. It forces sports brands to experiment and by doing that challenge and create new content conventions and standards.
Snapchat’s quick growth has very much been fueled by the “FOMO” effect that so categorically defines the fast-moving digital landscape. You are either on Snapchat trying to tap into the holy Millennial grail or you’re on the outside looking in, simply not getting it.
But the unique features, audience and opportunities Snapchat offers necessitate more than just participation. That’s why it’s imperative that brands that do get on Snapchat don’t just join the fray but really understand how to use it or the opportunity disappears faster than that drunk blurred selfie you sent to your friend last night.