Howzat! Why New Zealand sports teams need to work on brand engagement

By HGB , Feb 7 2018
HGB’s production manager, Venessa Govender has swapped sandals for jandals, braais for barbeques, but one thing she hasn’t traded is her love of sport.

But her background in sports marketing and fan engagement has given her an insight into the culture of New Zealand’s sports fans, and the teams’ lack of brand engagement.

It was a balmy summer’s evening and, thanks to the encouragement of my workmates, I found myself sitting on the grassy banks of Seddon Park – Hamilton’s home of cricket. The New Zealand Black Caps were taking on Pakistan in a one-day match, the fourth ODI in the summer series.

Having arrived in New Zealand from my home country of South Africa less than a year ago, this was my first experience of a New Zealand sporting match – and New Zealand sports fans!

Like all New Zealanders, sport is part of my South African culture so I felt at home amongst the crowd – it was just the absence of the braais that reminded me we weren’t in South Africa.

That, and I was able to attend a sports game for enjoyment, not as part of my job.

Brand engagement at the game

Back home in South Africa, my role in sports marketing meant whenever a game took place, I was behind the scenes. It was my responsibility to ensure a team’s Facebook page and Twitter account had the latest scores, every status update throughout the match met brand guidelines, and every fan comment was responded to.

So it was with some surprise when, during the game as I popped out to the food court and logged onto Facebook and Instagram, that I came across live updates and imagery with no visible branding.

One could argue that score updates are enough. But the Black Caps have over 1.6million followers on their Facebook page alone. Herein lies an opportunity to get in front of the right audience at the right time… if you brand your posts right.

So why a branded post?

Simple… brand equity is a brand’s power

The power behind a brand is derived from the positive attitude and name recognition it has earned over time. In the sports industry, this translates into higher ticket sales and game attendance, as well as an increased number of supporters not to mention fan engagement.

So why should you post a branded post on social media?

  • Social media helps you to interact faster and more effectively with your audience
  • Branded posts add commercial value
  • They increase sponsor visibility and put a sponsor in front of your audience
  • It boosts your social audience
  • It builds your brand equity.

And the numbers speak for themselves:

As of January 2017,* around 81% of Kiwis use YouTube in any given month. Facebook is the second most popular form of social media for New Zealanders, with 79% of Kiwis using it in any given month. Around 46% percent of Kiwis use Instagram in a month.

The power of digital platforms

Digital platforms help to grow your audience. The more people experience your brand the more valuable it becomes.

Good graphics that engage with your fans also give you greater control of your digital space, not to mention putting your sponsors in front of your audience more regularly.

Brands need to find innovative ways to keep their audience engaged. Whether it’s social media posting, sharing or tagging, the 21st century consumer doesn’t want to be sold to, they want to be engaged with.

New Zealand has some incredible sports teams and athletes who are at the top of their game; now it’s time for their marketing activity to follow suit and the best way to start is with branded posts.

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