The Home and Away Game of Content Marketing
Over the past few months here on the Trapit Blog, one recurring theme that has really sparked my interest has been the evolving trend of businesses using content to market their brand image and more specifically, how this angle of industry is growing increasingly creative in using content to engage with targeted audiences. Sports franchises in particular have been an active participant in this field of marketing, always trying to establish a deeper connection with its fan base, players, and organization. As I sit down to write on this year’s NBA Media Day, it has me thinking about how much more sports teams can do to get the most out of their content, and how 2013 should be the season for brands to step their game up.
The Modern Fan Experience
I began thinking a lot about sports and brand image this past month as I watched my hometown franchise make a controversial business move that seemed to rub the city the wrong way. After holding strong for 18 years, the Portland Trail Blazers sold the naming rights of their spirited Rose Garden Arena to a health care conglomerate, giving the building a new bland moniker – the Moda Center. Microsoft co-founder, and multi-billionaire owner Paul Allen called the move a chance to “enhance virtually every aspect of the fan experience.” It had me thinking, what could possibly be accomplished that will truly have an impact on this so-called fan experience? It is already known that the organization plans to redesign the arena’s iconic water fountain, make improvements to traffic flow for public transit, and update concessions in the arena’s concourse with hip local food options, but I visualize a greater opportunity to hammer home an authentically improved fan experience. It all starts with content and the right way to deliver it to a fanbase.
Damming the Content Flow
The Trail Blazers need to begin visualizing “fan experience” as both a home and a road game. How do fans sustain that buzz shared between the players and the organization as they push through those post-game arena exits? Rather than focus on what unfolds inside the arena, the Trail Blazers need to realize where their weaknesses are most exposed–the fan experience established through brand-centric content engagement. I’m talking about enhancing the process of absorbing all of the brand’s content on the web and curating the best of the best, distributing it to one solitary landing page for fans to conveniently set up shop. Youtube highlight reels, the top fan blog posts and tweets, Instagram shots, Vine clips, team Pinterest boards, local columnist opinion pieces and beat writer inside analysis, the brand’s team store, press releases on charity events and arena announcements – the list goes on. It’s tiresome to chase all of this content around the web, never really knowing if we’ve found it all or consumed enough of it to feel satisfied.
Curation is King in a Tablet Takeover Era
Sure, it’s a fair assessment that the Trail Blazers already provide enough content on the fast-moving internet through a plethora of social media accounts and a web-based official site. They actually possess a firm grasp on social media strategies and understand what fans want out of their Trail Blazers content. However, there is a disconnect in understanding how fans are choosing to consume their content in today’s evolving digital age. When the night is winding down, the common fan wants to kick their feet up to digest content, and it’s an undeniable trend that fans are choosing to do so on a tablet or on smartphones, but less and less from a desktop computer. In fact, over a third of American adults (age 18+) now own a tablet – a number that nearly doubled from a year ago. This number rises even higher to 56% when surveying households earning at least $75,000 per year, perhaps a demographic with a little more pocket change to contribute fan allegiance with ticket stubs. The point is, fans today desire tablet-friendly content, yet the vast majority of sports brands, including the Trail Blazers, have not chosen to build apps that serve as a convenient one-stop-shop fan experience. Instead, the data remains spread all over the web and frankly it gets exhausting trying to keep up as a multitasking monster to get the most out of your team’s happenings. It is making our attention spans bounce off the walls, and giving high-quality content a shelf life far shorter than it deserves. We need a place to call home away from the arena – an idea of curated stomping grounds where we can drop by to become more knowledgeable and well-rounded as fans.
Expanding Universe of Data, a Good and a Bad Thing
Here at Trapit, we often hear the phrase “90% of the world’s content was created in the past two years.” It is a statistic that is difficult to wrap your brain around, but serves as a daunting truth for the direction the internet is heading. This increasing overflow of data–far too much of it being wasteful clutter–calls for brands to strive for better curation of the quality content that fans desire to sustain a close connection with their teams. With brands using tools like Trapit’s Content Curation Center, this process becomes vastly simplified. Its smart engine implements both RSS connectivity and sophisticated artificial intelligence that puts in the work to discover who or what else on the web–from fans, to bloggers, to columnists–is talking Trail Blazers basketball. It strips down the tediousness of search and SEO hierarchy, and provides more time and ease for the human element to focus on getting creative juices flowing. Perhaps what the CCC does best is give curators the ability to fine-tune this wildly growing internet and weed out the expanding volume of junk data that is making the hunt for quality content more and more infuriating for fans to navigate.
When the Trail Blazers take the court this fall season, certainly the fan experience will be improved. I’m sure the concourse will be modernized, the food will be tastier and perhaps the team will tally up a few more in the win column, however; the moment I head home I know there will still be a void in my fandom that will continue to be unfulfilled. I hope that one day, I will be able to open my iPad and click a button to enjoy anything and everything Trail Blazers content. It will be there, archived for when I am away, so I can come back and feel like I am still in control of the pace in which the internet moves. Until that happens, a well-rounded fan experience will continue falling short of what the modern fan expects out of its sports brand.