by Kirk Wakefield – August 2013
Brands highly prioritize social media engagement when partnering with sports properties. But who are these social media fans? Who are we reaching with the team’s social media?
Earlier this year we sampled registered users from a professional franchise (N = 469). The chart below displays the results of a cluster analysis grouping fans based on similar characteristics within the group, but significantly different between groups. These groups are not significantly different from each other in terms of ethnicity, household size or income.
Group 1: Passionately engaged
About a quarter (23%) of those studied frequently(66% of the team’s games) used social media (including texting, Facebook, Twitter) to send or receive information related to the team and games. This extremely passionate group (Passion Score = 95) is relatively young (M = 40) compared to other registered users of this team (M = 49). That the database skews older reflects typical season ticket holders, but may also indicate the need for teams to attract younger fans or at least get them to sign-up.
Looking at the chart, what else do you see? This group is more likely to follow on the team’s website, watch games on TV, and listen to games on the radio.
Since most of the sample are males (69.5%), the results show this group (64% male) is more likely to include females than the other three groups. They’re more likely to be single (61%) than the other groups. And, they’re relatively likely to have some form of season ticket plan (35%) and live within the metro area (e.g., within 20 miles).
Social Media Fan Groups
*Percentage of all games in a season
|Social Media Usage*
|Passion for the team (100 max)||95||90||90||63|
|Games reported attended*||23%||8%||21%||11%|
|Team Website: Visit the team website before, during, or after the game.*||73%||68%||47%||22%|
|Radio: Listen to games on the radio or internet.*||54%||29%||25%||13%|
|TV: Watch games on screen (TV, Internet, DVR).*||65%||49%||51%||24%|
|News: Follow the results in the newspaper or internet.*||78%||89%||85%||23%|
|Distance from venue (miles)||20||113||19||25|
|Males (Overall: 69.5% male)||64%||81%||72%||68%|
|Married (Overall: 52.5% married)||39%||66%||64%||47%|
|Fan base (% of fans surveyed)||23%||10%||32%||34%|
|Season plan member (partial or full)||35%||13%||45%||29%|
Group 2: Distant Lovers
Although not a large segment (10%), this passionate (Passion Score = 90) fan group travels in from outside of town (average distance of 113 miles) a few times a season to attend a game or two. These somewhat older (M = 46) fans sometimes use social media (36%) to find or share information about the game, but they’re most likely to follow the team news through the newspaper or online (89%).
This group is less likely to tune in to TV (49%) or the radio (25%), which may be more a function of availability in their distant markets than interest. Consequently, the team’s website (68%) is a good way to reach this crowd, in addition to the relatively frequent social media use compared to the next two groups of fans.
Group 3: Passionately Disengaged
Although this group is as passionate as the second group (PS = 90) and attend about as many games as the first group, they rarely engage via social media (10% of games). This older group (M = 49) really don’t pay much attention to games on the radio (25%) even though they live in-market (~19 miles). Nor are they particularly avid viewers of TV broadcasts (51%). They do faithfully follow the team through the news, either print or online (85%).
This group is most likely to have some form of season ticket package (45%), particularly full-season.
Fans in this segment need to be energized as team partners to engage with the team. One suggestion is to partner with your local Apple store to offer fan workshops, perhaps specializing in the use of team apps. My 85 year old mother is on Facebook all the time, but would benefit from knowing what else to do with her iPad. The size and age of this segment suggest efforts like these could be worthwhile, because they also have higher discretionary income that would otherwise be spent on their grandchildren.
The Houston Astros target this older season ticket base by providing a headquarters for STHs, equipped with multiple iPads and other devices. And, as you can see from the cover photo, it’s sponsored.
Group 4: Dispassionately Disengaged
This relatively young (M = 40) are not particularly passionate fans (PS =63) and they show it by not following the team through virtually any media. They attend games (M = 9)a bit more than the out-of-towners in group two and live a little further out (M = 25 miles) than the two most frequently attending groups (1 and 3).
This group is the most likely to have mini-plans among the four groups, which suggests they get packages to occasionally go to the game–perhaps to entertain clients or go with friends–but they aren’t big fans.
One of the best ways to enhance fan passion is to provide direct contact between players and fans. Targeting this group with relevant events may be a way to move them into one of the other passionate groups, which in turn leads to more media usage and better fans for your partners.