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The Digital Kickoff: How Clubs Can Reinvigorate Themselves

First published in German here. Doomed to be old-fashioned and primitive? Not in the slightest. Thanks to digitalization, now even sports clubs have numerous new possibilities at their fingertips. A snappy website, a strong social media presence, or a digital club house where information is easy to find— the 90,000+ sports clubs in Germany now have many different ways of increasing their visibility and optimizing their administrative processes. Naomi Owusu, CEO and co-founder of Tickaroo, provides practical tips for how clubs can use digitalization to their advantage. Tip 1: Use Cross Media Channels to Reach Varied Audiences A modern homepage is a good start. Yet, clubs have meanwhile also recognized the crucial role social media plays in communicating with fans and supporters. These days, numerous organizations consider Facebook pages to be as important, if not even more important, than a club’s own website. These pages create strong emotional connections with club members and thereby facilitate an atmosphere that allows for comparatively high interaction on posts. With this in mind, your social media content should therefore invite interaction and be suited for sharing. However, since especially younger fans and members are continually seeking out different social media networks other than Facebook, it’s definitely worth it to create a cross medial presence over a variety of networks. The content posted on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and Co. should supplement one another and not simply be a duplication of the content found on the other platforms. While an album of the club’s last Christmas party can be uploaded to Facebook, Instagram can be used to give an athlete an opportunity to show fans a day in his or her life with its story function, like how FC Bayern Munich uses the feature on a regular basis. By using multiple networks to share varying content, it becomes more attractive for your audiences to not only to follow one page, but for them to have all channels on their radar. While the consistent curating and creation of content for varying channels does mean putting in more effort, volunteer-run clubs shouldn’t shy away from this potential. Because authenticity is key for your club’s social media presence, and because sports fans are generally known for their intense loyalty, highly engaged fans can often be as good a resource for running social media channels as club leadership or athletes. Tip 2: Excite Fans with Creative Content A club’s online presence should portray a strong, current, and self-confident image of itself. Every club is different and exists solely by the strength of its members—this simple fact should be made obvious in your public relations activities. As with social media, the same concept remains true in this instance: authenticity trumps perfection. Individual members can be featured along with their dedicated participation within the organization. Smaller stories associated with club life can be portrayed multi-medially. Anecdotes are definitely worth sharing with fans. Using sponsoring relationships to create campaigns like sweepstakes or challenges is a great way to help both parties. Additionally through this tight collaboration, members and fans can get to know the club’s financial supporters better. The Regensburg Buchbinder Legionäre are a great example of this best practice. On their homepage, the Bundesliga baseball team offers its fans a multimedia platform including livestream, player interviews, and podcasts. Fans can also not only learn more about the club and the stadium on their site, but also purchase online tickets for the next game. With the help of Eventbrite, a platform exists that allows sporting events, and the ticket sales that go alone with them, to be simply and digitally processed. Tip 3: Effective Club Organization Thanks to Apps Running a club requires a great deal of organization that often can only be accomplished with the dedication of volunteers. Bureaucracy is therefore usually a huge challenge. In the short run, restructuring within the club to create a comprehensive digital strategy can require a lot of effort. But in the long run, it can save quite a bit of work, time, and money. There are numerous tools and apps that digitalize club accounting or can help simplify standard processes such as field or gym reservations. For example, with their app DeinTeam, the soccer players Daniel Baier (FC Augsburg), Christian Gentner (VfB Stuttgart), Marcel Schäfer (u.a. VFL Wolfsburg) and Christian Träsch (FC Ingolstadt) have developed an app which digitalizes numerous club processes such as scheduling, giving of citations, recording of statistics, voting, etc. Also secure messenger services such as Wire optimize communication and help with the organization of carpooling to tournaments. At the same time, they offer the required data security required now in the age of the DSGVO when dealing with online processing of personal data. Through the use of these groups and chats a kind of digital club house emerges, which can help pump up and encourage team spirit outside of game and practice times. Accounting apps like Billomat make necessary bureaucracy easier and relieve some of the workload from your volunteer helpers and organizers. Tip 4: Digital Support on the Practice Field Coaches play a paramount role within any sports club. Not only do they have to make sure that their team meshes well emotionally, they are also responsible for solving conflicts. The central managers and contact people of the group, they also have their primary responsibility of fostering and providing athletic quality and improvement though their experience. It’s important, therefore, to see digital support not as something that questions our coaches’ competence and authority, but rather offers the potential for them to hold a more effective practice. With Coach’s Eye, game strategies and plays can be drawn up and evaluated. With apps like easy2coach or taktikr, potential cuts and counterattacks can be strategically planned before carrying them out on the soccer pitch. Not just for professionals, but for the amateur level as well, these apps allow various ranges of motion and bodily values to be tracked in order to give specialized improvement tips. This data also has the potential to be used for health research at universities. Conclusion: New Potentials for Visibility, Organization, and Practice Digitalizing club organizational processes helps complete necessary tasks more quickly and efficiently. Through simpler processes and better communication, club members can concentrate on the real reason why they joined the group in the first place: the love of the sport and the game. Fans also profit from these new digital possibilities. With exciting social media channels and a website where they can learn everything about their favorite club, fans’ love and devotion for their club will only be strengthened. Through these digital channels, the relationship between fans and club is intensified and thus the visibility for talented athletes, potential new members, and ambitious coaches increases. Especially at the regional level, this visibility and dedication are important factors for success.
Photo by Riley McCullough on Unsplash

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