The Benefits of Digital Community Engagement for Your Ever-Growing Sports Club
- Andrew Coulson
- September 29, 2023
- 5 minute read
In today’s fast-paced world, digital community engagement has become a game-changer not just for government agencies looking for support with decision-making processes but for sports clubs looking to engage their members and wider sports communities beyond the game.
It is transforming the way they connect with paying fans and those who wish to become part of what is almost like a close-knit family around one single passion. Sports club members, after all, are often die-hard supporting mouthpieces with a high level of feedback that clubs could ultimately benefit from listening to and using their knowledge to shape the club’s future.
Recently in Australia, at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, almost two million fans attended the games (total) – up by more than 600,000 from the previous record. In the AFL (Australian Football League), this year’s paid membership figures show that most clubs broke the previous year’s records, with three clubs now tallying over 100,000 members. In the UK, the Premier League dominates, with Manchester United claiming to have a worldwide fan base of over one billion fans, while across the big pond in the NBA (National Basketball Association). The New York Knicks are said to have a TV market size of nearly 7.5 million people. That’s a lot of people you could engage and listen to.
Benefits of Digital Community Engagement for Sport Clubs
If you’re involved in sports club membership, community engagement or multicultural community liaison, here are five key areas highlighting the incredible benefits of using a digital community engagement platform for your sports club:
- Enhanced Member Experience
- Community Building
- Inclusive and Diverse Communities
- Data-Driven Decision-Making
1. Enhanced Member Experience
Being Part of their Club’s Decisions: Digital engagement platforms allow sports clubs to provide their direct members with relevant updates, invitations, and news to ultimately be able to participate in key decisions affecting their club. This personal touch enhances the overall member experience by being able to contribute to the club’s future.
Club Ownership: Members can participate in discussions, collaborate on club decisions and share opinions and ideas as the club moves forward. Being listened to in key areas will make members feel like they are a bigger part of the club. This can create more positive relationships between sporting clubs and their members, by building trust with its management and owners.
2. Community Building
Online Forums and Groups: Digital engagement fosters community building through the ability to create online forums and groups where members can interact, share experiences, and build lasting connections with fellow sports enthusiasts. The club itself can use this data to improve fan and member experience as well as reach potential members.
Gamification: Many sports clubs use digital engagement to introduce gamification elements, such as challenges, rewards, and leaderboards, which further motivate and engage members. Imagine running a challenge to design next year’s Home kit and the engagement that would achieve.
3. Inclusive and Diverse Communities
Broadening Membership: Digital engagement platforms enable sports clubs to reach a wider audience, including potential new members and fans, making it easier to attract individuals from diverse backgrounds, skill levels, and interests. The use of visual content tools or multilingual translation means those who would often find it hard to engage with the club can now access and take part in their own time.
Inclusivity Initiatives: Clubs can use digital channels to promote inclusivity by organising events, workshops, and resources that cater to a broad spectrum of members, fostering a sense of belonging for all. With digital tools, in-person events can be enhanced to provide a hybrid approach while those that can’t make it can still participate from the comfort of their own home and not miss out.
4. Data-Driven Decision-Making
Analytics Insights: Digital engagement platforms provide valuable data on member engagement, preferences, and participation rates. This data can inform club leaders about what works and what needs improvement, helping them make informed decisions.
Feedback Loops: Clubs can collect member feedback through multiple engagement tools online such as surveys and polls, enabling them to make adjustments to improve the overall fan experience. The ownership will increase when they see they are being listened to. A great example here is the Hume City Council engaging the community on a new swimming facility by using Social Pinpoint’s Fund-it tool to help shape pool equipment choices.
User-Generated Content: Digital platforms empower members to contribute content, such as photos, videos, and stories, allowing them to actively participate in shaping the club’s identity, history and culture collaboratively. Most professional clubs these days have an Instagramable mascot, why not ask younger fans to engage with the mascot online and get their feedback with someone they connect with on match-day. By having the mascot ask questions or for younger members to share, you will gain data and insights from a different demographic.
Geographic reach: Most sports clubs these days, whether small town amateur league to the multi-million dollar clubs of the AFL, NFL, and Premier League, have great geographic reach (remember Manchester United’s world stats, according to a survey conducted by Roy Morgan in 2019, Manchester United is the third most popular football club in Australia, with 1.12 million fans). With digital engagement it doesn’t matter where a member lives, they can still feel part of their club and interact with each other.
As a result, digital community engagement is a winning strategy for sports clubs. It’s about forging meaningful connections and building a thriving sports club community. It enhances the member experience, provides valuable insights, and opens up inclusive, member-driven, and collaborative environments that celebrate achievements and foster a sense of belonging.
If you are the champion of community engagement within sports clubs, harnessing the power of digital engagement will undoubtedly help you take your club’s sense of togetherness to new heights, ensuring it remains strong and vibrant for years to come.