With the rise of technology and travel making our world more connected, football is becoming more accessible than ever. Now, fans don’t have to be locals — supporters of teams or leagues can come from all over the world and enjoy the game in their own homes. Below are some of the ways that football leagues are capitalizing on fans’ enthusiasm to improve engagement.
Social media has not just connected friends and family members throughout the world, but it has also connected sports teams and players with their fans. It’s a powerful tool with a massive audience. For instance, during the 2018 World Cup, 383 million Facebook users and 272 million Instagram users interacted with the tournament.
There are many ways in which clubs draw in and engage fans beyond just posting updates and videos on their social media pages. Before games begin, clubs can use Snapchat or Instagram to host giveaways, respond to fan questions, or give away freebies to fans who answer trivia questions. These are all ways of enhancing the fan experience beyond just following the game live or on television.
Social media also helps keep football relevant every day. Clubs can post highlights, interact with fans directly, or ask fans to respond in the comments on their social media pages.
Many sports leagues are now partaking in the trend of wagering too, since they have noticed that fans are engaging more with matches. The NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA are all on board, and the number of football leagues that are striking up partnerships are growing, too. Fans also have more competitions to choose from when online than offline, and more options means more engagement.
Sports betting makes the game that much more exciting for fans, since they now have more than just emotions at stake. Wagering brings fans together at betting parlors, bars, and sports books, creating an investment in each game and a sense of community. Now, fans aren’t just sitting by or chatting in the game — betting actually invites fans to participate, and the strategy that one chooses is a skill in and of itself.
Relevant and stylish merchandise is an effective way for football leagues to drive fan engagement. Wearing football merch is not simply a way to showcase loyalty and connect with other fans. Football fan apparel is a style of its own, too, and for fans who wear jerseys, the name is more than a statement — it’s an identity.
Selling merch like football jerseys is a powerful tool for clubs to increase engagement, and it helps fans to feel like they are truly part of the team and part of the game. During massive global events like the World Cup, fans scramble to buy jerseys of their favorite players and teams. Vintage jerseys help establish fans’ authenticity and commitment to a team. Clubs can ramp up fan engagement even more with other kinds of merch like sweatshirts, branded footballs, cleats, scarves, and memorabilia. Buying and wearing these help fans feel connected to their club or to the players they idolize.
A powerful way in which football leagues increase fan engagement is by hosting events that go beyond the games, both in-stadium and outside. During games, everyone loves joining in the fun of a themed day in which fans are encouraged to dress up or participate in games during halftime. Stadiums can arrange watch parties for clubs that are playing elsewhere, which bring together fans in a spirit of celebration and support even when the team isn’t there.
Football leagues can also host events in the community, such as charity drives or fan competitions, to help increase engagement. If fans perceive their clubs as being involved in the community, they are that much more likely to respond and want to get involved.
As football continues to grow its presence across the world, it’s critical for leagues to improve on ways to engage fans. Whether it’s through social media or wagering, fan engagement is the lifeblood of a team, and fans’ passion and energy will continue to sustain leagues that know how to capitalize on it.