Better content and increasing fan engagement are the holy grails of the social media world and when a local sporting body sees a surge into the thousands of likes and comments on their Facebook page, they must be doing something right.
For the past four months, Cricket SA (CSA) has been using the digital platform called Playing Surface which provides brands, broadcasters and organisations with the real-time marketing tools to effectively engage with their audience.
Since August, the sporting body has created over 1300 individual pieces of artwork that has radically increased fan engagement on Facebook and Twitter. Two recent posts about Quinton de Kock’s Man of the Match and AB de Villiers’ Man of the Series awards received over 58 000 and 79 000 likes respectively.
In the past, whether it’s the Proteas that are on the field or local teams going head to head in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, CSA have had their hands full ensuring that every century scored, player milestone or team victory is timeously uploaded on Facebook and Twitter in a visually appealing way that draws fans in.
“Studio designed material can often miss the in-game moments, so this tool has allowed us to up our game with content that is on-brand and has an immediacy to it,” says Cricket SA’s head of media and communications, Altaaf Kazi.
“Playing Surface has made creating graphics easy for our social media team; it takes two minutes and posts directly to either Facebook or Twitter. It has simplified the way that we communicate with fans and added a freshness to the way that we disseminate information,” he says.
CSA has at least one person from each of the provincial union’s marketing teams making use of the platform as well, meaning there are a minimum of six people using the platform to post content as needed.
“We have definitely seen a marked increase in fan engagement on both our Facebook and Twitter accounts. It has completely revolutionised the way we approach social media comms,” says Kazi.
In the fast-paced world of sports, fans want to be informed, entertained and engaged by relevant and timely content. The desire for data has never been greater but the challenge is it needs to be presented in a consumable way with maximum sponsor exposure and quantifiable results.
It’s a never ending quest for quality content that stands out from the crowd and allows the brand, broadcaster or organisation to innovate and integrate across their platforms with speed and accuracy.
Playing Surface is solely licensed in South Africa and Africa through Johannesburg-based sports fan engagement company Ideation Station.
"It is easy to use and offers immediacy, brand consistency and the ability for the whole team to create content," says Ideation Station’s chief ideas officer, Goodwill Moyo.
"It allows for unlimited posts with unlimited users and ensures that the pre-approved corporate identity always has the same look and feel. It also means that fans can follow the game on Facebook or their Twitter feed if they want to," he says.
"It starts with creating templates and a content generation plan and roll-out is very simple from there. Once established, users simply choose a template to suit their scenario, upload an image, add data and then publish to multiple platforms."
Besides CSA, Playing Surface is and has been used by many of the big names in the sporting and corporate world, brands like Vodacom, Johannesburg International Comedy Festival, Telkom Knockout, Sport24, SAA, as well as top international sporting outfits like Chelsea, Liverpool, Goal.com, to name a few.
The platform has wide-reaching applications and can be used outside the sporting model, whether it’s for informative daily indices and charts for a financial group or an airline’s exotic holiday destinations and up-to-the-minute flight prices.
"Any organisation needing to simply and effectively streamline their social media content and ensure that fans get the best sports experience available, would benefit from this platform," says Goodwill.
"It caters for today’s empowered sports fans who demand pioneering content, the sponsors who want exposure and results, and the team behind the scenes generating it all accurately, beautifully and on time.”