Nothing is more passionate – and louder than a true fan. That’s a great thing when they’re at your live event and creates a real competitive advantage. But when they’re not able to make the game… that can lead to a cringe-worthy experience if you’re managing the digital experience. They’re just a click away from telling the world about their disappointment, and you’re going to hear it. Ignoring it is not an option. The expectations are high for your brand for both alumni and recruitment. A first-class athletic program is expected to have a first-rate digital experience that consists of, at a minimum, these five components.
Without a doubt, a mobile responsive website should be the hub of your digital fan experience. It’s the first place most fans turn when they’re looking for information. It’s where your social platforms point to and the university directs visitors looking for athletics updates and information. It has to look the part of a winner and it has to reflect your brand. Plus, it has to do it on any device. Additionally, the digital experience must be consistent across your various programs to create a seamless and engaging avenue for fans. Your true and most loyal fans are going to peer into every crevice of your website looking for news, schedules, bios, and statistics (more on this later) to stay up to date and establish bragging rights.
The fact is that your fans expect to watch live sporting events on any device, wherever they are. And that applies to more than just big-time national programs -- it is simply an expectation for every sport. Fans don’t expect you to cover their favorite programs, and they know it’s possible. That’s what serious programs do. Low-cost and free options like Facebook and Youtube provide basic services, but it’s not that big of a stretch to move to a dedicated streaming service with a branded and professional experience. Whatever route, streaming isn’t a nice to have any more, it’s a must-have in your program strategy. This means that the production quality must be engaging and share details like scoreboards, player stats, and replays.
3. On the Go
The way the next generation of sports fan interacts with their teams is dramatically different than in years past. They make some appointment viewing, but rarely spend all day parked on the couch. They catch up on scores and highlights as they go, wherever they are, sharing favorite insights instantaneously from their mobile devices. If a competition is peaking to a dramatic conclusion, they want to know so that they can catch it live. Instead of sending your fans to newspapers and online sources, mobile apps enable a controlled experience of everything going on within your program in one easy to find place, exactly what the most dedicated fan wants.
More than scores and schedules, true fans want to dig into the details of their favorite teams. They want statistics on current players, new players, their favorite all-time players and they want to compare them to competitors. Stats are collected any number of ways by programs, finding a way to get them onto your site and into your mobile app is imperative for the first class program and demanding fans.
While your website is your hub, many fans will start on their favorite social platforms. Your social media presence needs to be authentic, visually rich and engaging, but it’s just a taste to bring them to your website. In other words, what fans expect on Facebook is not what they want on Instagram, even if they are the same person. Create a defined strategy for each platform that you plan to engage with, and like everything else, monitor the audience to meet them where they are.
Creating a Digital Powerhouse Athletic Program seems like a daunting task. But the reality is that it’s getting easier every day. With modern user-friendly programs, it doesn’t take an army of in-house developers to have a knockout presence. With that technology and capability built-in, the price is so affordable that there really isn’t an excuse to not have an experience your program deserves and your fans expect.
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