Driving attendance and foot traffic with athlete influencer marketing

Driving attendance and foot traffic with athlete influencers

I think Twitter’s great, but how is that going to get people out to my event?

There are A LOT of ways to “get butts in seats” or bring fans out to your event—traditional avenues like radio and print among them—but it’s time to run a different play to invite people to attend your next big thing: social media.

Now, it’s incredibly likely that you’re already planning to use your owned channels to make people aware that you’ve got something coming up—a game, a festival, a traveling exhibit. And you should absolutely do that, as you’ve worked hard to develop an audience on those channels that is vested in what you’re up to at all times. But one avenue you may not be taking full advantage of is enlisting the support of your key stakeholders or other relevant and influential people inside (and sometimes outside) of your network. We’re talking about athletes on social, of course.

Let’s say you’re a brand and you’re looking at potentially paying an athlete to get the word out on social about your upcoming event. How should you decide which athlete would be a good fit for this type of campaign? Start by thinking about the level of appeal for the event: will this draw a crowd locally, or will fans be flying in from around the country to join you? If your event has national appeal, you may want to consider going the “big name” route. All-Pros and All-Stars tend to have a fairly diverse geographic audience, and thus can spread your message far and wide.

NFL / 2018 Pro Bowl

PRO TIP: IF FANS NEED TO REGISTER OR PURCHASE A TICKET TO YOUR EVENT, GIVE THEM A LINK TO BE ABLE TO DO SO RIGHT IN THE POST.

Tapped / Beer Festival

Ilinois Athletics / Big Ten Opener

On the flip side are the more intimate gatherings, where the majority of attendees will come from within the radius of a quick drive. When evaluating potential spokeswomen and men, consider the organic following of the athlete that is from the immediate market. This comes into play a lot when an event is being held in or near a college town—find an alum of the local school (either high school or college) who has a high percentage of her following in the city where the event is being held. Consider expanding the criteria to include the entire state or other close-by metro areas, but for these types of events, you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck by focusing on athletes who have reach in the specific area.

Jewelry TV / Sparkle Tour

Cox / Nebraska Virtual Reality Experience

NWHL / Isobel Cup

Even if it’s simply a local event, that doesn’t mean you should forego the big names altogether. There are a couple of areas to explore in terms of the athlete you move forward with. If you’re in a pro team market, consider some of the team’s top players or athletes who play on other pro teams in the city, regardless of their reach in that particular market. Big names, especially those associated closely with the market, tend to generate “viral” reach, over and beyond just the number of followers they have on their social media channel.

Heineken / Player Appearance

Head & Shoulders / BJ’s Wholesale Appearance

The other mechanism to consider in this scenario: whitelisting the post and promoting it to the brand’s target audience. Brands can hyper-target the whitelisted post to the individuals they believe would be the most likely to act upon seeing the message, select their budget, and then drop the athlete’s post in the timelines they want, leading to an ultra-efficient backing to the original post. Even a small spend in paid advertising can lead to a huge bump in impressions and engagement on the campaign.

PRO TIP: IF YOU’RE HOSTING A FREE EVENT, ESPECIALLY IF IT’S IN A LARGE AREA, GIVE SPECIFIC DETAILS ON WHERE FANS NEED TO GO. THIS MIGHT INCLUDE THE ADDRESS ITSELF, OR A RECOGNIZABLE LANDMARK IN THE AREA, AND THE WINDOW OF TIME IN WHICH THE EVENT WILL BE TAKING PLACE.

Big Ten Network / BTN Tailgate

Cox Communications / Fan Zone

Getting people out of the house and to your event is not easy, by any stretch. But employing these methods in addition to your traditional tactics will absolutely increase the likelihood of seeing a few more friendly faces at your next gathering.

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