The Role Of Social Media In Sport
Social media is now a crucial and integral part of world sport. All of its major stars, not least the ones that form part of Team Alvimedica, have so much more avenues in which to interact with fans than they used to just a few years ago.
These stars are major social media influencers – their star power causes their fans to Sports personnel also act as major social media influencers – their fans follow what they say religiously using their star power.
About ANCHOVY. Digital Agency
- International digital marketing agency.
- Over two million clicks generated for clients in past year.
- Unique understanding of sailing – Both ANCHOVY.’s co-founders are sailors themselves.
- Founded by brothers Zak and Benji Borg in 2012.
- Many international sailing and yachting clients on books, such as Moran Yacht & Ship, J/Boats Inc, Mersenne Yachts, MJM Yachts.
- Specialised, highly-talented, niche-skill team.
- Collaborative efforts with other teams for cross-industry learning.
- Headquartered in Malta, expanding into Dubai.
- Social media has a significant, quantifiable impact in the sailing world.
- The target audience in key markets was reached.
- International sporting events generate a huge amount of organic reach.
- Live interaction with fans is highly appreciated by the target audience.
- Video content was most impactful throughout.
- Project necessitated working in shifts in order to match Team Alvimedica’s mode of operation by changing shifts.
- Young Turkish company which develops heart implantology devices.
- Grew to become one of the largest operators of its kind in Europe.
- The company wished to raise brand awareness in key target markets such as the USA, China and Brazil, as well as globally.
- Felt that sailing was the perfect platform in order to achieve this aim following market research which indicated medical professionals tend to be sailing fans.
- Wished to target medical professionals in key market.
- Resultantly invested in Team Alvimedica, a Volvo Ocean Race sailing team.
The Volvo Ocean Race
- Team skippered by American Charlie Enright, who was looking for a backer in order to enter the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race.
- The Volvo Ocean Race is considered the toughest sailing event in the world.
- Takes nine months to complete.
- Over 38,000 nautical miles travelled.
- Crews experience temperature ranges of between -15 and 40°C.
- Severe sleep deprivation and no fresh food.
- Only one change of clothes on board for weight saving.
- Sailing was felt to be the perfect platform for appealing to the target audience.
- Alvimedica bought out Charlie Enright’s team to form Turkish American Team Alvimedica.
- Made sense to target medical professionals, such as doctors and physicians, via sailing, as market research indicated that they tend to be interested in the sport.
Our Role As An Agency
- Promote Team Alvimedica’s activities to raise brand awareness of Alvimedica mother company.
- Maximise effectiveness of digital marketing in key markets, especially because Team Alvimedica raced between locations within those key markets.
- Capitalise on opportunities to raise brand awareness as and when they presented themselves.
- Be on call 24/7 to cater to the team’s needs.
- Achieve all of the above while keeping Alvimedica’s established European markets firmly in mind.
- Optimise coverage during both Stopover and Racing period.
- Develop holistic baseline strategy taking into account all of the aforementioned.
- Incorporate multiple social media channels into baseline strategy, namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram together with blogging.
- Blogging on Team Alvimedica website.
- Use videos, images, written content and albums to maximise fan engagement.
- Further solidify engagement through the use of clever social media competitions.
- Handle social media channels and update on a day-to-day basis.
- Allocate an ANCHOVY. Account Executive to Team Alvimedica, on call 24 hours per day in order to handle the specific requirements of the team as and when they arise.
- Keep the creative as fresh as possible – innovate continuously to ensure fans engage and stay engaged throughout the race.
- Compare social media performance with other teams and send reports to Team Alvimedica periodically.
- Optimise campaigns weekly.
- Assist Team Alvimedica internal marketing staff with anything on the ground, such as supplying event itineraries for each stopover location.
The Digital Strategy Employed By ANCHOVY.
- Build awareness of the team (and the Alvimedica brand) using multiple social media platforms.
- Develop a range of engaging content (pictures, video, blogging, etc. skipper diary updates, etc.).
- Create specific campaigns and contests throughout the race.
- Allocate human resources to support daily race updates and sustain momentum on the team’s social media platforms.
- Continuously focus on refining social media posts to make them more engaging.
Headline Figures From The Campaign
- 4.28% engagement rate for Team Alvimedica Facebook page throughout the course of the VOR.
- Paid Facebook reach of 1,067,542 people.
- Organic Facebook reach of 1,575,876 people.
- Viral Facebook reach of 4,357,837 people.
- Over 16,000 new Facebook likes accumulated throughout the course of the race.
- Over 8,800 new Instagram followers.
- Over 7,000 new Twitter followers.
- Over 3,000 Tweets posted.
- Over 255,000 YouTube views.
The Data Race
- Data race with other teams was going on while they were also racing out at sea.
- Detailed competitor analysis conducted bi-monthly.
- Competitor social media data analysed weekly to compare Team Alvimedica performance with theirs.
- The above was conducted in light of the fact that many other teams were already firmly established in the race.
The Team’s Social Media Performance Comparison
For the selected period of comparison, namely 27th February through to 27th March 2015, it can be observed that the Team Alvimedica Facebook page experienced page like growth which was second only to Team MAPFRE, which had a much smaller Facebook page in terms of the number of likes (or fans) that it had on it.
In this time period, we managed to garner more page likes on behalf of the client than any other team, taking into account the fact that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was penalised by Facebook, as at the time the social media platform was removing vast numbers of page likes as a result of inactive accounts.
With regards to Twitter, the same period shows favourable results in comparison to the other teams, with a 7% increase in Follows being bested only the well-established Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, and the Dongfeng Race Team, which had the weight of a nation behind it.
Instagram did not fare particularly well relative to rival accounts in the period under review, however Team Alvimedica ended up with an Instagram account having the largest following of any of the teams by the end of the race.
It currently has over 12,700 followers.
Similarly, the YouTube channel was comparable to growth levels experienced by the other teams on this platform, however it was not a standout figure as obtained for both Facebook and Twitter.
We used a single month as a pull-out for the sake of clarity, however better growth levels were experienced in other months.
A Fully Optimised Digital Marketing Strategy
As stated already, our advertising strategy was 100% digital from day one, so of course, I can’t talk about the success of Briiz without going through the work we did online:
Fan-Base Geographical Split
Content received from boat on a daily basis and uploaded in native video format to Team Alvimedica Facebook page.
Daily updates on race progress.
Furthest reaching content types from highest to lowest were observed to be videos, photo albums and a daily blog entry as supplied by the on-board reporter.
16,000 new likes garnered in six months.
Same content was used as on Facebook, however with modifications.
Images sizes altered.
Post text shortened in order to adhere to 140-character rule.
Quotes from team members also posted.
Grew Team Alvimedica’s Twitter following from 1,500 fans to over 8,000 fans in six months.
Platform used as showcase for Team Alvimedica’s very best photographic content.
Fantastic following built up in just a few months.
Corporate social responsibility initiatives also undertaken on Team Alvimedica Instagram.
Example: #NoFilter initiative for Waves for Water.
Less than 2,500 followers at start of race, more 8,000 in six months. Currently stands at approximately 12,000 followers.
From a mere 140 subscribers to over 2,600 in just six months.
Beginning and end of races were streamed live while also facilitating a live chat among the fans.
Videos were viewed a combined 229,575 times.
Social listening conducted – taking heed of what the fans were saying in order to generate new content going forward.
Aim of entire Volvo Ocean Race initiative was to target medical professionals.
Resultantly, presence on LinkedIn for Team Alvimedica was crucial.
Showcase page opened and maintained.
Small but dedicated following of 250 professionals.
Not the main focus of the campaign, however presence was necessary.
Our Design Standards For Alvimedica
- Use Alvimedica corporate colours throughout namely orange, black and white.
- Ensure that everything was presented with high aesthetic appeal, however also ensuring that everything being depicted was clear enough to be understood.
- Brand guidelines engineered to be in line with Alvimedica mother company while appealing to the target audience.
- Use heart symbol throughout campaign with respect to mother company, Alvimedica.
- Constant provision of creative ideas and new angles of interest in our role as a creative agency.
- Example of creative idea: Celebrate reaching 10,000 Facebook fans by getting all Team Alvimedica crew members together, attaching them to heart monitors and making their collective heart rates reach 10,000 beats per minute, then capturing it for social media.
- A further creative example of our work for Team Alvimedica is the #alviyoungatheart competition.
The Creative Approach To Alvimedica
Social Media Channels Artwork
#AlviYoungAtHeart Facebook Competition
- Aimed to consolidate sporting and medical elements.
- Asked fans to submit pictures of what makes them feel young at heart.
- Best entries won Team Alvimedica-branded gear.
Jump Seat Auctions
- In-port racing activity.
- Consisted of auctioning off a seat aboard Team Alvimedica yacht to the highest bidder during in-port races.
- Auction funds used to support heart health – proceeds donated to various charities.
- Competition run through Team Alvimedica website.
- It was ANCHOVY.’s duty to drive traffic to website.
Twitter Interaction with World-Renowned International Brand
- Interaction with Maersk Line via Twitter
- Excellent accompanying image
- Boost exposure of Team Alvimedica amongst a different audience.
Garnered Media Coverage
Lessons And Limitations Learned From This Partnership
- Limited human resources, both on the client side and internally.
- Onboard reporter could have been trained in Search Engine Optimisation techniques.
- Time to filter through content.
- Client-agency relationship necessitates one contact point at each end rather than multiple people.
- Limited budget allocation on client’s behalf.
Advice For Future Campaigns
Any entry in the VOR is a massive effort – the potential is huge and what can be done is limitless, but with limited time and resources, not everything is possible.
The following are some of the suggestions for future campaigns:
- Must be on top of the masses of content that are generated.
- Create a mini-series of the crew.
- The implemention of more fun ideas and competitions.
- Crew access to as fast an internet connection as possible due to time limitations.
- Conduct live interactions between crew and fans when possible.
- Give more insight into the crew’s lives both on and off the boat.
We feel that we revelled in the challenge of working with Team Alvimedica and can be very proud of the results we garnered.
We learned that all published content needed to be kept as fresh as possible, requiring constant updating and rethinking to remain at the cutting edge and keep the fans engaged while attracting new ones to all of Team Alvimedica’s social media channels.
We believe that we achieved the aim of raising brand awareness in key target markets, as well as in Volvo Ocean Race stopover countries and the international sailing community at large as a result of our efforts.
Real-time interaction between team and fans proved to have an enormous impact, serving to solidify the bond between Team Alvimedica and its dedicated fans. In our opinion, this part of the campaign was the most successful.
Further to the above, the situation could have been helped by Team Alvimedica’s onboard reporter having some basic training in search engine optimisation before the race commencing. This would have allowed him to write blogs which by their very nature would help the Team Alvimedica website to rank higher in search engine listings once it was published.
Last but not least, we believe that we managed to show the humanity of each racing team member, in turn, giving in-depth insight into the blood, sweat and tears it takes to achieve good results in top-level sport. We also showed that, just as sport connects people, social media does too.