A conference session at the upcoming Soccerex London Forum is titled “Fans – Interacting with footballs’ number one stakeholder.” Since this topic hits directly in the market Brand Thunder serves with it Booms (branded browsers), I thought we should offer our take. Also, Brand Thunder will have a representative, Boyd Butler, at the Forum. If you’re attending, please contact us to arrange a time to continue this discussion in person.

The description of the session is: “In the modern era, developments in marketing and technology have dramatically increased the number of ways for football clubs and their fans to interact. However, does this increased interaction truly benefit the fans?”

Yes, and in a more meaningful way than one might expect. At its core, the purpose of an interactive marketing tool is to build the team/fan relationship and a healthy relationship is beneficial to all parties.

Interactive tools, like a Brand Thunder Boom or other web apps, are communication devices. Sure, many offer branding capabilities that play to social identification factors – a nice bonus. To create a deep and ongoing relationship, however, you’ve got to have communication. And for communication, style matters.

Consider this:

    1. There are steps an organization can take to create a healthy relationship with their fans
    2. There are strategies to move that relationship toward increased fan identification
    3. Strong identification with a specific sports team provides a buffer from feelings of depression and alienation

Wow. Pretty powerful, right? (See. That time watching football really is therapeutic.) That’s why the increased interaction is a benefit to the fans as well as the organization. When you consider how a tool like a Boom elevates the awareness of that communication and increases the frequency of engagement, its value beyond just looking really cool becomes apparent.

The following gets into the data that backs it up the claims above and practical uses for a Boom. The sources, all listed, are interesting as well because so much of the information is applicable across relationships (personal, professional and social).

First, Jim Mastrich has a nice summary on his site. It states:
The four primary qualities that ensure a positive and constructive relationship are:

  • Creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance.
  • Honest and direct communication.
  • Accepting responsibility for one’s actions.
  • Staying intellectually and emotionally engaged with the other.

These are elements of positive interactions that have proven vital in personal (Gottman) and professional (Frederickson, Losada) relationships. (Gottman really has groundbreaking research.)

By using the real-time communication capabilities in the browser, teams are respecting their fans, providing direct communication and engaging them on an intellectual level. These are positive exchanges between team and fan. A team honors the fan by getting them news as soon, if not before, the media receives it. Then add the emotional engagement driven by the visual capabilities within the Boom, and it’s even more powerful.

When looking at what content to leverage and how to use it, explore options using the four strategies suggested for increasing fan identification proposed by researchers from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

  • Increase team/player accessibility
  • Increase community involvement
  • Reinforce the team’s history and tradition
  • Create opportunities for group affiliation and participation

If applying this results in a more successful business and a less depressed world, then we’ve done our jobs.

Here are some of the studies and articles referenced above:

    What Predicts Divorce? The Relationship Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes

    John Mordechai Gottman

    Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing
    Barbara Fredrickson, Marcial Losada

    Creating and Fostering Fan Identification in Professional Sports
    William A. Sutton, Mark A. McDonald, George R. Milne, John Cimperman
    The Positive Social and Self Concept Consequences of Sports Team Identification
    Nyla R. Branscombe, Daniel L. Wann
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