Being a soccer fan in the United States has always been an odd existence. On the one hand I was just another fan of the world’s most popular sport. On the other, I was an outsider in the American sports landscape. U.S. soccer leagues came and went and recaps of local or international matches came only from the mouth of my club soccer coach. I remember watching my first World Cup game in 1986 — en espanol at my friend’s house with his Irish parents that owned a satellite dish.
Today, soccer in the U.S. still isn’t anywhere close to the big 3 of American sports in terms of mainstream media coverage, but sure has come a long way in terms of notoriety and popularity. Like everything else in our lives, the internet has been the ultimate game changer. Fans can find coverage of any team from most every league in the world on demand from any device. But one of the biggest shifts has come in the way we, as fans, engage with one another. Growing up, I had plenty of friends that played soccer. But only a couple that actually watched games or wanted to talk about it. Now fans of any team can connect not only with with one another, but with the players and front office wherever they are in the world on Twitter, Facebook, or any number of social media outlets.
Admittedly, that’s the case for fans of any sport. But soccer fans in the U.S. seem to be a more seasoned and savvy bunch when it comes to using the internet as their primary source of news and fan interaction. Given the dearth of coverage in traditional media, we turn to soccer-specific websites and blogs. Given the fact that relatively few of our real-life friends/co-workers care about the sport or our favorite teams, we use social media to learn, share, vent, and argue.
For teams like LA Galaxy, social media has become one of, if not the, primary means of engaging their fan base and building the brand. Having international stars and winning back-to-back MLS Cups has helped raise the team’s profile locally and around the world. But Los Angeles is a crowded media market and staying top-of-mind amongst casual sports fans, and even serious soccer fans, is an ongoing challenge. Converting them into ticket-buying customers is even tougher. The team relies heavily on its own social media marketing efforts to generate and promote content and keep the brand top of mind. They have also been forward-thinking in promoting and supporting the content generated by its fervent fan base by making players and staff available for interviews on a fan-generated podcast – Corner of the Galaxy, retweeting fan tweets, and promoting events on behalf of their supporter groups.
I recently interviewed Lisa Bregman who manages the social media marketing efforts for LA Galaxy to learn more about using social media to foster fan engagement, her perspective on emerging social media platforms, and their campaign success metrics. Read the full interview on Adotas and leave a comment to let us know what you think.