Zubeida Goolam, co-founder and Creative Partner, BrandTruth//DGTL, states that sports storytellers are playing a game that moves as quickly as the matches, meaning that fans have a huge demand for content. They expect real-time, high-quality content, commentary and updates of a game on social media, and they also have an interest in learning more about their favourite teams.
They expect content from score updates and event highlights during the game, to player training sessions and behind-the-scenes content about the players. This demand for content has put a lot of pressure on sports writers to come up with innovative ways of giving the fans what they want and also engaging with them. If people can’t remember what you said, they won’t take action or feel compelled to support your team. This is where the power of storytelling comes into play.
These are the keys to success for creating, repurposing, and maximising content in sports marketing:
1. Use feelings instead of facts
Stories activate the part of the brain responsible for experiences, while information activates the part of the brain which processes language and understanding. Humans retain 70% of information obtained through stories and only 10% from data and statistics. By using feelings and emotions you elevate your brand’s messaging by humanising it to connect with people. As a result, you build brand love, loyalty, trust, and inspire supporters to want to join the fan club and give them affirmations that they are supporting the right team. Hence you find fans becoming self-appointed ambassadors of their teams.
Storytelling also goes hand in hand with cognitive psychology. In Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius, she mentions that in order to receive a positive emotional response and the desired decision making from the audience, storytellers must use the core principles of human perception, thinking and memory in their narratives.
2. Make fans the heroes
To master the art of storytelling, marketers need to know the core elements of a message for it to become a story. Fiction writers have been using this formula for centuries, and brands like Nike, Adidas, Brand South Africa, Vodacom, Investec, Consol and Virgin Media have adopted it in recent campaigns. The formula is threefold: set-up, narrative arc, and resolution. How do marketers use it for brand storytelling?
A hero (your target customer) leaves home on a journey to solve a problem, overcomes hardships and challenges, and comes back with a reward (your product/service). Given that 92% of consumers trust media and word-of-mouth to inform their buying decisions, it is important to always make the fans the heroes in sports storytelling. In doing so, you build a bond between them and the brand, so they would want to keep supporting the team.
That’s why Nike’s 2018 ‘When you’re born to do it—just do it’ advert with Caster Semenya was so well received by the public. The heartwarming campaign takes us on a reverse time lapse of a young runner’s journey from childhood, to becoming one of the greatest of all time, amidst adversity. This is a powerful narrative that speaks to being resilient in your pursuit of what you want; something that all South Africans can relate to.
BrandTruth//DGTL’s formula for a compelling hero’s journey:
● Turn people into the protagonists of your story.
● Include opinion leaders or public figures to tell your story.
● Make your story hard to forget and impossible to ignore.
3. Share content on social media in real time
The advancement of technology has empowered creative teams to keep up with fans’ compulsive ‘fear of missing out’ and the growing demand for fast content delivery. American baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, adopted a lightning speed photo workflow to transfer photos from camera, to social media. #27 Trevor Story swings and hits it out of the park. He rounds the bases, circles home and high fives his teammates. Minutes later, fans in the stands and those watching at home have photos of every one of those moments in the palm of their hands sharing and reposting it with their followers. But how?
Photographers link up to a wireless network or an ethernet connection and transmit photos from their cameras straight to their editors. This eliminates an immense amount of pressure for photographers on the field who can shoot freely without worrying about rushing to a laptop or workroom to send off images. This technology is critical in sports storytelling because, in a time when brands are sharing massive amounts of content, it’s crucial that your team shares the best content as quickly as possible.
A lot more professional sports teams are adopting real-time social media workflows. They will continue to pick up the pace in an effort to engage their fans while their stories are still hot on the trends. And most importantly, they will use cutting-edge technology to strike a balance between speed and quality. Although the workflow has changed dramatically, one thing will never change in sports storytelling: a good story is a good story.