As someone who’s spent more than half his life as an athlete and a referee and closely worked with the management of a lot of clubs later on in my career, I am fairly familiar with how sports organisations work. It doesn’t matter if the club in question is small or large, whether it leads the national league or holds the last position. The managers of handball clubs in Poland share the same pain as the heads of American football club: getting sponsorship, creating a good team, attracting new talent, running finances, and keeping a loyal audience.

When I researched the topic of media monitoring in sports, I was surprised to see that there weren’t that many results on how media monitoring can really help alleviate a part of the business pain of sports clubs around the world. In my experience from working with teams that use our tool, a good media monitoring system can turn a lot of conversations about budgeting and strategy from worried and fearful to productive, insightful and positive.

Just imagine the following situation. The whole week before the most important game for your club was devoted to rehearsing the tactics for tomorrow’s game with the biggest rival. After the morning training session, the coach finds out that the rival defense player is injured and won’t compete. The whole team has been practicing corner shots and free kicks under the assumption that he was the most dangerous one, when he’s been injured for the past two days. The information did not arrive in time.

player injury

The same thing applies to business as it does to sport. The right information at the right time helps you adjust your strategy and quickly adapt to new circumstances.

But media monitoring can help you with more than just tracking where your club is mentioned. It can help turn your club into a brand, your audience into engaged fans, your players and coaches into brand ambassadors, young member into your greatest value.

In a series of blogs that will follow, I will show you how to use media monitoring to:

  • find companies that sponsor clubs, tournaments, organisations
  • find a successful company in your area that you can turn into a sponsor
  • grow your club into a brand
  • grow your fanbase
  • improve your on-field tactics
  • attract fresh talent
  • save money on equipment

In this blog, we’ll deal with the first step of the process: using media monitoring to assess where you currently stand.

A thousand “if we do this, then this will improve” is the daily scenario of every sport organisation. Sometimes it seems like a vicious circle: in order to attract sponsors your players have to prove good results. Talent on the other hand is drawn by the conditions you offer: training facilities, equipment, pay, a good coach, a loyal audience to cheer them on… Which leads you right back to seeking sponsors who will help improve your financial standing and to building a loyal fan base who will visit your events and buy your merchandise.

This is where online media monitoring can help:

  1. As a powerful tool to asses your current situation.
  2. As a collection of valuable data to present to sponsors.

iceland topsAs Dennis Bergkamp would say, behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought. This is why the first step in your online strategy should be to determine where your club’s position is today.

  1. Track mentions of your club in real-time on websites and social networks
    If there is anything you absolutely have to track using media monitoring, it is for mentions of your club and your players.

    Media monitoring will help you immediately discover when a website or a journalist on social media are mentioning your club. You can see if what they are saying about you is positive or negative.
    This data is important both for your PR team and your sponsors. The former can get a clear picture about their brand online, while you can gather data about your mentions and show your sponsors the publicity they could get if they endorse your club.
  1. Engage with fans on social media
    One of the most essential tasks of each sports organization is to keep its fans happy, and what better way than engaging with their online content. Fans today often engage with Facebook fan pages, forums, and specialized blogs about your club. They comment on news articles and post pictures from sports events they attended. Media monitoring enables you to see what they are writing, and communicate.

    For example: if there is a match and someone on Twitter is asking for the fastest way to get to the stadium, your community managers will be able to help. If someone is asking for ticket prices on a blog or forum, you can answer immediately.
  1. Compare your mentions with your competitors
    Goes without saying. You will be able to immediately know any new information about their club, like getting a new sponsor or having an injured player. You’ll also be able to compare how many fans and journalists are talking about them vs. how many are mentioning your club.
  1. Discover which team members are the most popular
    If you monitor for names of all your players, you’ll get immediate and real-time insight into what your fans and the journalists are writing about them. By looking into data about reach and sentiment, you can get many interesting conclusions. For example,. if they are highly popular, you can choose them as brand ambassadors. If the public thinks negatively of them, you might want to work with them on their communication skils and PR.
  1. Monitor your players’ social media channels
    A lot of players can accidentally state something that goes against your club’s principles. Unused to attention, they can forget that their social media channels are not private and that the media is likely to monitor and report on everything they say.

    This is why organisations such as The University of New Mexico’s basketball team sometimes ban their athletes from posting on social media during the season. However, this is a show of mistrust which can, and most likely will, produce dissatisfaction from the players. Monitoring your athletes’ social media is the next best thing. You can see immediately what they are posting and react if there is something out of order. I suggest you create a social media policy which can help you avoid bad situations.
  1. Determine the popularity of your sport in comparison to other sports
    Wouldn’t it be a great argument if you could say to potential sponsors that, right now, your sport is ten times more discussed among fans on social media than others? Just set a couple of different sports as separate queries in Mediatoolkit in your local language and you’ll immediately see results. Type “basketball” and “baseball” to compare. Or compare the names of the three most popular clubs from different sports. You could do a similar research with Google, but Google will not give you detailed mentions from Twitter and Facebook, which is where the majority of the conversation is happening.

Once you’ve taken these initial steps to determine where your sport brand stands in the online arena, you can turn these insights into action. My next blog will deal with ways on how to do that, so subscribe to our newsletter if you are interested.