Above: Red Bull-sponsored rider Josh Sheehan performing a double flip in Pretoria (Image by Samo Vidic – Red Bull Content Pool)
Did you get a rad pair of skis, a new GoPro camera, tickets to see your favorite NFL team or another sporting-related gift this year? Do you need an excuse to cruise social channels and get jazzed for the Super Bowl or the Winter X Games? Well, you’re not alone, because sports and social media pair perfectly. Image-heavy social networks, world-class athletes, loyal fans and clever digital marketing can create powerful brand awareness for sports-oriented brands. Let’s take a look at what several top brands have to offer.
GoPro: Active User Base, Epic Videos
GoPro is arguably the reigning lord of epic videos, and their social marketing team has the opposite problem of many companies. While many companies might struggle to obtain great user-generated content, not so with GoPro. Instead, they have access to a wealth of content, great footage that their active user base creates by using GoPro’s versatile and sturdy cameras.
Not only does GoPro have a wide base of loyal customers; they also have a roster of impressive sponsored athletes who are very active across multiple social channels. A few favorite GoPro winter athletes who are active on Instagram include Jamie Anderson, Tom Wallisch and Torstein Horgmo. In general, GoPro is one of the top interactive accounts on Instagram.
Even though most of their sponsored athletes focus on winter sports, the GoPro channel also features water sports, skateboarding, surfing, wild animals, biking and more. The following shot is from The Highest Road in the World, the fourth video in GoPro’s HERO3+ Adventure Series, featuring Alex Chacon and GoPro production artists James Kirkham and Zak Shelhamer.
While you’re cruising through the GoPro channel, watch this year’s video of the day for Christmas:
Red Bull: Giving Fans Wings
Red Bull is not only known for their energy drinks; they also happen to have an action-packed sports channel. If you visit the Red Bull website, note that they don’t mention their actual energy drink. Instead, you’ll see the tagline “Red Bull Gives You Wings” and an array of high-octane sports content. For example, the Adventure page features an opening shot of base jumping (base jumping: when regular skydiving isn’t good enough). Click the base jumping photo to dive into the story, and then to take the adventure level up a notch, click the Red Bull logo to watch the video.
To ensure a continuous flow of highly engaging, on-brand content across a variety of media, Red Bull has their own media house. Video content includes biking, motorsports, surfing, skating, music and more. It’s interesting to note where the marketing strategies for GoPro and Red Bull converge and diverge. As with GoPro, Red Bull encourages audience participation and focuses on their audience’s interests and experiences. However, the two brands’ strategies are different in that with GoPro, the obvious and convenient marketing push is to sell the cameras that are used to produce all of the great content. With Red Bull, however, there usually is no mention of their sports drink. Instead, Red Bull focuses entirely on their audience rather than on the product they are selling. Their main concern? What does the audience want to see, feel and watch? In this respect, Red Bull masterfully follows through on a key tenet of content marketing: Give your audience what they want to see and make it about them.
If base jumping videos aren’t exciting enough, there is always space jumping:
NFL: Reaching out to a Loyal Fanbase
For obvious reasons, it always helps a brand to have a loyal fanbase. Clearly, the NFL has one. It’s important to note that the NFL sees itself as not just a football league, but as a content owner and producer. To that end, the NFL has created the live Draft Tracker app, an effective way for the league and for individual teams to reach out to fans.
According to Blogging the Boys (a Dallas Cowboys fan community), the top three NFL teams in terms of social media reach are the Cowboys, the Steelers and the Packers (the rankings are based on an aggregate of Facebook likes, Twitter followers and traffic rankings). One effective social strategy used by the Seattle Seahawks is the 12th Man tagboard, which displays Instagram photos that have the tag #TGBIF, the official hashtag of Seahawks Blue Friday. The NFL also actively cross-promotes with brands such as Under Armour and Gatorade.
Whatever the brand, great digital content provides numerous ways to put fans in the mood for consuming when it comes to sports. This winter promises more amazing content, with the upcoming Super Bowl, a vast array of acrobatic winter sports and March Madness. With all the footage generated by professional athletes and amateur sports enthusiasts, and legions of loyal fans, there really is no excuse for major sports-oriented brands not to feature top-notch digital content.