A new playing field

In a landscape where a few social media platforms dominate our attention, International Federations (IFs) are yet to establish their presence on one of the world’s most popular channels – WhatsApp. With its enormous user base, WhatsApp offers a direct line to over 2 billion potential fans across the globe. Research from the SportOnSocial League Table 2024, shows that despite WhatsApp’s large canvas, it remains largely untouched, with less than 5% of IFs tapping into its vast potential.

Global reach & accessibility: connect anywhere, anytime

WhatsApp’s user base is not just large in number, it’s globally diverse – embracing over 180 countries. This provides IFs with an unprecedented opportunity to connect with fans in every corner of the world, particularly in regions where other social media platforms might not be as popular. Able to reach fans of all ages, WhatsApp provides an incredible opportunity for IFs to engage audiences in a direct, personal, and accessible way.

Real-time updates & notifications: keep fans engaged 24/7

IFs can leverage the speed and immediacy of WhatsApp to send fans real-time updates about events, scores/results and breaking news. Such a direct method of keeping fans engaged is crucial during live events when timely updates can significantly enhance fan experience. It’s the equivalent of giving fans a court-side seat, where play unfolds in real-time, so they never miss a moment.

Building a community: cost-effectively

Launching a channel on WhatsApp is relatively low-cost. It can operate in a similar way to X/Twitter so doesn’t need much additional resource. IFs can foster enthusiastic fan communities akin to virtual fan clubs, promoting interaction and loyalty without the hefty price tag of expansive campaigns. This approach not only conserves resources but amplifies fan engagement, ensuring a greater return on investment and a closer-knit global fan base.

Interactive engagement features

Beyond simple text messaging, WhatsApp supports various media types including, images, videos, voice messages, and documents, all of which provide diverse resources for engaging content. Interactive features (e.g. polls/quizzes) can also be implemented via 3rd-party tools, further increasing engagement and providing valuable audience feedback and insights.

Seizing the opportunity in time for Paris 2024

As we look towards Paris 2024, WhatsApp stands out as a key player of untapped potential. It’s a platform where accessibility, real-time engagement and interactive features can revolutionise how IFs connect with fans. By integrating this powerful platform into their fan engagement strategies, IFs can build and harness a robust, connected fan community when interest peaks during the heightened excitement of the Games.

3 Key Takeaways for IFs

1. Launch a WhatsApp channel – IFs must pivot to where their fans are. 95% are not using the platform which means their strategies are not targeting an audience of over 2 billion active users.

2. Design a channel strategy – while operating in a similar way to X/Twitter, WhatsApp is a distinct channel and needs a unique strategy to encourage fan interaction. As with any channel, testing and learning what content resonates most with fans is crucial. Use different messaging/features to personalise the fan experience and convert passive followers into active participants as excitement for Paris 2024 escalates.

3. Explore how competitors use WhatsApp – inform channel strategy by researching how sports teams, rightsholders and other creators use WhatsApp to engage with their audiences. Take note of which content types generate the highest interaction, the frequency of messaging that keeps fans attentive (without overwhelming them), and any innovative use of the platform that can be adapted to align with your objectives.

Hear from International Federations and discover more insights in the SportOnSocial League Table 2024.