I am planning on building a football (soccer) related website that focuses on football culture, the website will target a non-English speaking audience, as part of my research and study I found several English websites that focus on the same sector, one of them is the football version of Bleacher Report, and I noticed that they get massive social media engagement and impressions on their accounts, and I am wondering what is their digital and social media strategy focuses on, it's obvious that they produce a high quality and creative content, but how do they promote it in a way that achieves such a result?
The Bleacher Report leverages social media to build strong engagement in the following ways:
1. Authentic Content:
- The Bleacher Report knows their audience and stays true to their demographic with engaging content. They leverage video heavily on Facebook & Instagram. Not all of the content is their own they often share from other platforms with a similar subject matter.
- Timeliness: The Bleacher Report shares breaking updates and has become the trusted source for sports news.
- Another way the Bleacher Report is able to drive engagement is by tagging and @mentioning sports figures and influencers in relevant content. This helps them to expand their audience beyond just Bleacher Report or sports news enthusiasts but can help them find a more specific demo.
- Moderation: The Bleacher Report engages with its followers, commenting back on replies or engaging with other accounts.
- Messaging: The Bleacher Report is "very responsive" on Facebook messenger and they leverage this as another social media tool.
- Groups: The Bleacher Report also fosters a NBA specific Facebook group that members can join and meet like minded individuals. This naturally brings enthusiasts together and builds a positive sentiment for their brand.
4. Mobile First
- The Bleacher Report leverages its app to drive engagement on their social media channels. The content they create is mobile friendly and this is how the majority of users engage with content.
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Bleacher Report has created an industry-leading game plan with its decision to focus on social media, going where the audience is to increase engagement.
Lee Walker, Global Managing Editor of Bleacher Report, discussed the idea of “giving audience the best experience”, through the creation of “hugely shareable content across social media at a rapid speed.”
Home pages are dead. Lee Walker notes that people stopped visiting the home pages of sites, and as the habit is lost, “all you have left is the brand.”
Go where the audience is. Bleacher Report wanted to grow as a brand and that’s why it decided that it should invest in social-first content. It invested in creative resources, going “all in on all platforms, to where the audience is.”
Lee Walker believes that “if you’re creating great content, people will share it” and that’s how Bleacher Report saw a growth to all the social platforms:
+213% growth in Facebook
+633% growth in Instagram
+351% growth in Twitter
+5585% growth in Vine
The success lies on “treating each platform on its own merits,” as “each platform has a different message.”
Their Facebook page for example is focusing on native clips and highly shareable content, while “there’s no need to fight the algorithm changes, work with them.”
Their Instagram feed has seen a huge engagement, with Lee Walker adding that they are “confident of telling interesting stories” with the audience appreciating it.
Change the narrative. Snapchat is another platform that Bleacher Report is working on, aiming to “put stories that transcend and change the narrative through the currency that young people are using.”
The rise of video content. Video content has skyrocketed lately and Bleacher Report has focused on native videos on Facebook and Instagram, creating content that people want to share.
Define your actual competition. According to Lee Walker, the actual competition is “time, attention, and eyeballs” and that’s what you should beat with your work.
Create consumable content. Bleacher Report noticed that there is a growing female audience on their Snapchat channel, which justified their strategy of not“producing content that is male-focused, only very consumable.”
Aim for fun, good, creative content. “Sport will always be great for sharing” but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be consistent with “fun, good, and creative content.” This is the best way to find the fans and the revenue to keep your brand going.
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