Sports Marketing & Digital Media in Football

We are all living in the digital era where we are online almost 24/7. Going digital has revolutionized the way sports brands and teams interact with fans. Fans are getting more personal touch, they feel closer to the teams/players and overall part of a team’s success. 

On the other hand, the sports brands and clubs have the opportunity to reach more people, further their fan base and engage with them better.

Today, the majority of fans are using various social media platforms to find out the latest buzz about their favorite team, athlete or an event they are following. They stay online to check up live scores, updates and in-game analysis.

To provide such an experience to sports fans, there are industry professionals who understand fan behaviour, the sport, media and digital marketing in sports.

Today we have Mr. Ayan Chatterjee to talk about the role of Digital Media & Marketing in Sports and specifically football. 

A brief introduction about Mr Ayan Chatterjee

I have accrued 6 years of professional experience in Indian Football. I started off working with Northeast United FC in the second season of the Indian Super League.

Post that, a conversation with Mr. John Abraham and the then CEO of NorthEast United FC saw me move to the Guwahati based Club for two years as their Social Media Executive. In my time there, I cemented the organic marketing that the club banks on, and dealt with all the elite sponsors that the club was attracting.

After NEUFC, I joined Fateh Hyderabad AFC in the I-League II as its Media & Marketing Manager for two years where I contributed to building and increasing the club’s social media presence and its vision of becoming a community-driven club.

Presently I am working with Odisha FC (formerly known as Delhi Dynamos FC) as the Digital Media Manager for the club where I am responsible for looking after the following: things

1. Responsible for creating content and managing the club’s social media handles & YouTube.

2. Devising different marketing strategies to generate ticket sales and audience engagement on multiple platforms.

3. Creating multiple digital avenues to help the club engage with the local community and fan base in the state.

4. Responsible for out-stadia branding & designs.

5. Working closely with the Sales Head to deliver digital commitments to club sponsors & partners.

In my six years, I have worked on social media marketing, designs, sponsor integration, and deliverables also hands-on with Club operations. 

Q1. Could you tell us about your experience and learnings while managing digital media for ISL clubs?

The Indian Super League has been in existence for 7 years now and it has grown in leaps and bounds when it comes to digital media while brushing shoulders with the heavy weight leagues around the world in terms of fan engagement and TV Viewership. Every club has the responsibility to develop their fan bases which in turn helps them on a global level.

Social Media is a very powerful tool when it comes to influencing. A football club is connected to the fans via two mediums: 1. Social Media, 2. Live Broadcast. It’s very important for us to deliver good content to our fans on a daily basis through which we want to develop a strong bond with our fan clubs as well as the state we are based out of.

For me transparency is very important when it comes down to the relationship between a club and its fans. That is what I like to portray when I am working for a club.

Indian Football has been on the back burner for quite a while now which has happened due to lack of resources in marketing, social media and alot of other reasons. Through the ISL we have managed to put Indian Football on the map and that will further develop into meaningful relationships with European powerhouses and Indian Football.

Sports Marketing
Right; Mr. Ayan Chatterjee

Q2. How important is it for clubs to engage with their fans on social media? What role does digital media play in the overall growth of the club?

It is very important as a club to engage fans on social media as it translates to other aspects of the club as well. Ticket Sales is an integral part of revenue generation for the club and for that you need to have a very good marketing strategy that will get you the sales expected from the management.

Social Media Growth also contributes to overall brand development which attracts sponsors to invest in the club. So in the off-season we work on different avenues and develop various strategies to execute on social media which helps us as we build up to the season and talk to possible sponsors.

Q3. What factors are considered while planning the digital plan for a sports team? Also, could you tell us about the different approaches clubs have to take for planning their content during both on and off-season?

A lot of factors come into play when we structure our social media platforms accordingly. It depends on what kind of audience we are targeting, the city that we are based out of, how much of an influence the sport has on that particular city and a lot more. 

As we get closer to the season we have our signings to announce in the best possible way we can to get all our fans excited for the season, announcing our sponsors for the season, kit launch etc. During the season it is totally a different ball game as we have to work tirelessly to keep things running on point starting from matchdays, match previews, fan speaks, match reports, match stats, live twitter commentary and alot more.

Off-season we take time to analyse and review how our season went and what more we could have done and we start building from scratch again.

Digital Marketing in Sports

Q4.  What are some of the top skills required to do well as a Sports Marketing &  Media Manager?

You need to understand that it is a very competitive field to work in and there’s a lot of pressure of delivering your best work season in & season out. There is a demand for people who are well versed with all the latest social media trends and digital marketing campaigns that will help the club generate revenue as well.

The biggest thing that I believe is people who can add value will always be preferred. You can’t just post content on social media and get away with it. It demands your skills as a digital marketing professional and how you can execute campaigns while being in a football club.

Also read: Career in Sports Team Management

Q5. How does the entire team coordinate during the live-match to put out real-time scores and images on social media?

Every team has a different setup. Some clubs have agencies and some clubs have an in house dedicated team that looks after the club’s digital presence. There will always be a Digital Media Manager like myself who will oversee the entire project throughout the season. 

Q6. How has the coronavirus affected the way fans engage with their favorite clubs/teams on social media?

Obviously the pandemic has set us back. Football without fans is always a hollow experience, but this is where social media steps in and makes an impact. There will be a huge surge on digital media from all the clubs and the league as well to cope up for the fact that we will be playing behind closed doors. Our true skills as a digital marketing professional will come into play now as we will be targeting the highest levels of engagement this season with the fans.

Q7. Any advice you would like to give to young aspirants who are looking to make a career in Sports Marketing & Media?

I would like to put this out that you don’t need a degree to do what you are good at. If you’re good at something, then pursue it and make sure that you’re indispensable to an organization that hires you. Developing multiple skill sets in this field is very important because that will take you a long way.

Nothing falls on your lap, the biggest asset that you can develop is networking. LinkedIn is the platform I would recommend that people should use to connect with industry experts.

We highly appreciate Ayan Chatterjee to share his thoughts and experience in sports marketing and digital media. Hope you enjoyed reading the article.

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