How do you send a message on your mobile phone?  We’re willing to bet it isn’t via text message.  Today’s answer is WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Line.  The list goes on.
Media agency UM’s Wave 9 social media tracker surveyed over 52,000 people in 78 countries.  It found that 85% of consumers globally use instant messaging to stay in touch with family and friends (compared with 69% in last year’s survey).  Statista expects there to be over 5 billion people using instant messaging apps by 2019.
These platforms present a new way to reach audiences, and bring with them new challenges in how to do so.  We think sports rights holders are in a perfect position to take advantage of this new space.

The nature of Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) feeds the younger generation’s appetite to be instant.  They are a quick way to connect, chat and share, away from the prying eyes of one’s wider social network.
IM offers quick, personal interactions, initiated by the user, allowing brands to create value by instantly sharing information and engaging content, building the personal connection between user and brand.
Not all of these platforms offer the same perks for rights holders and brands.  WhatsApp is a more closed-off space than most – it doesn’t have the commercial viability of other platforms as it is more difficult to engage with fans.  Platforms like WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Line are ideal platforms for connecting with and growing audiences through the technology and marketing options on offer.
Sports rights holders are in a prime position to feed their communities with what they’re already hungry for, cherry-picking and delivering the best moments to all of their fans.

Being human

It’s important to humanise your brand when setting up on these platforms.  The younger generations are purpose-driven, information-hungry and share-happy.  They buy whoyou are, not what you’re selling.  For sports rights holders, this should be music to the ears.  Sports offer clear values, communities and a wealth of personalities.  Delivering the best moments via Instant Messaging should be done with the feel of a friend-to-friend exchange.
Like on any platform, content to share by IM should be developed from insight gathered by audience research, matching the core values of your audience, and the type of content they engage with most.  Your content strategy should already be focused on offering value to your audience, and this can be easily implemented on IM platforms.

Use robots

Wait… be human by using a robot?  It may seem counter-intuitive, but artificial intelligence has allowed brands to effortlessly connect with their audience via Instant Messaging.
‘Chatbots’ are beginning to be used more on platforms like Facebook Messenger.  They are comprised of a series of structured AI algorithms that gives personalised responses based upon what the user asks the chatbot.  For big sports brands and Federations, this solves that nagging problem of trying to answer the constant stream of questions asked by their Facebook fans.
With some fine-tuning, chatbots can be tailored to your brand, effectively adopting your tone of voice and instantaneously sharing those moments you know are important to your fans.  The human element is achieved though carefully chosen language, imagery and video.
Recently, we trialled a chatbot for a client – the Association of Paddlesurf Professionals.  We used it to bring visitors closer to the 2017 World Tour.  Through the power of AI, users now have the APP World Tour at their fingertips, as it provides instant access to everything from the latest videos highlights to news and results.
Try it for yourself!
facebook messenger chatbot

Start now

Even if you’re not quite ready to dive into the world of AI, you should start to think about your presence on Instant Messaging platforms.  With their increasing popularity and impressive engagement rates, these platforms deserve attention now.
Sports rights holders are in the perfect position to capitalise on this trend.  By delivering the best moments with a personality that speaks to their audience, rights holders can quickly nurture a personal connection with their fans, something which is invaluable in today’s hyper-competitive digital space.  Combined with the right technology, sports can rapidly grow their audience through Instant Messaging.
Remember – be human, be instant, and be shareable.

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