To keep your fans’ attention, you’ve got to meet them where they are, and they are definitely on Instagram. User-generated content is an important part of a robust social strategy that engages your fans and followers; it’s exciting for them to know that you’re paying attention to what they’re posting for a sports team that they love, and that they might even have a chance to be featured on an official account or win a prize from their activity.
Step 1: Follow the general #NFL hashtag on Instagram.
What kinds of content do you see? Click around on some of the photos, keeping an eye out for those that seem like they were posted (or at least taken, we’ll get to that in a minute) during a game. What do they have in common? You will want to pay attention to those that fall into two categories: Those posted from an off-site watch party such as their home, a bar, or a friend’s house, and those posted from the stadium itself.
If your aim is to boost engagement from fans who are in the stadium during games, pay attention to the captions on photos, as well as the other hashtags being used. Are they posting a photo taken in the stadium, but uploading it from a different location after the game, or even days later, because they couldn’t get service in the stadium? The hashtag #latergram is a big indicator here.
What other hashtags should you look for? That’s in the next step.
Step 2: Check out related hashtags used on those #NFL posts.
What other hashtags are people using? If you see a lot of #latergram, you know you need to do something like implement better wifi in your stadium so fans don’t have to rely on using their cellphone data or an overcrowded network that isn’t reliable. Pay attention to any other recurring hashtags from the fans you’re wanting to connect with. Is there an organic hashtag they’ve created around their favorite teams or players? Which ones are you seeing over and over? Make a note of them, because you’ll need them in the next step.
Step 3: Track and listen.
Using something like our Union Metrics for Instagram analytics, set up some monitoring around the hashtags that specifically target the fans you want to reach. Concentrate on any hashtags fans have created and spread to one another. These will give you unparalleled insight into how fans discuss teams, players, and their overall experience with being an NFL fan.
Step 4: Implement a plan to increase engagement where you want it
Now that you have an idea of what the existing conversation is like, you can make a plan for how to improve it. Would more fans post during games if you improved wifi or cell service in the stadium? Do fans seek an incentive, like contests or social-only deals that go out during a game? How else can you increase engagement from fans?
Figure out what it is, make a plan, and make it happen.
Step 5: Measure, rinse, repeat.
Once you have some benchmark numbers from your initial analysis, make sure you keep checking to see if your engagement levels are increasing with each new step that you implement, like upgrading service connections in the stadium, for example, or before, during, and after a contest. This will tell you what’s working and what’s not, to let you know what you should keep doing more of and give you new ideas for content and strategy moving forward.
This doesn’t just apply to the NFL either; these same steps can work for college football or any other sports you’re interested in.