How to engage your community club through digital

Start engaging your audience with these top 5 tips.

If you're not out there shouting about your club, no one is going to hear about the great service your club provides. It seems obvious, but in addition to the off-line tactics, there are a number of online platforms you need to harness to effectively identify and market your club.

Here are 5 tips to effectively engage your audience through digital channels.

1. Having a website

Without a club website, you're depriving your club of the chance to hoover up some new members who see or hear about your club and are not being able to follow on their initial interest.

As well as simply displaying information, you can also use your website to sell merchandise, tickets and memberships directly to your community.

It’s important to ensure you have a plan in place to keep your website updated throughout the season to encourage your community to get keep checking back for the latest club news and events.

Don’t let setting up a website daunt you, you can get one started for next to nothing with limited technical expertise required – it’ll make a big difference to how you can engage your community.

2. Have a regular email newsletter

Half the world’s population are daily email users! So it’s safe to say, newsletters are the easiest way to communicate with your community directly, through a channel you own.

With a strong newsletter strategy put in place, you can relay important club updates, such as match day highlights, player highlights, ticket sales, merchandise sales, behind the scenes, club testimonials and industry updates. Ultimately, you can drive traffic to your website, and build an engaged community around your club.

To make your newsletter as successful and effective as possible, it’s important you carefully consider the subject line, the times you send it out, the content itself, the design and template, and the call to actions you use to make sure you actually get the result you want from the response. A lot of these tactics have no right answer, its about trial and error and experimenting with what works for your subscribers and gets the best engagement.

3. Having a social media presence

Facebook has 2.45 billion active users a month. Twitter - 330 million. Instagram hits over 1 billion. They're online platforms that shape our culture and form the basis of our communication, and your club needs to get in the mix.

Marketing is about hanging out where your users like to hang. For almost a decade, the primary place for that has been on social media platforms. Useful for driving traffic back to your club website or posting images from your team's latest game, social media can both engage current members and spread your story to a new audience (if that particular story is a shareable one).

There's plenty of choice out there on social media. Rather than spread yourself too thinly, pick a couple (probably Facebook, Twitter and perhaps Instagram) and dedicate enough resources to them to do it well.

Building your number of followers on social, especially for accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is the easiest way to get people to not only make people aware of your social accounts, but also enable free regular comms with your prime audience which in turn will drive better traffic to your website, app or newsletter.

Here are some tips on how to build your followers:

  • ‘Follow’ local organisations such as schools and local businesses – they may ‘follow’ you back!

  • Retweet and Comment and ‘Follow’ competitions are a useful way of growing your reach. Consider offering low-cost prizes such as rugby balls to incentivise participation. Be sure to also include an important club message in your copy for maximum effect.

  • Keep your social pages active to keep your followers interested

  • Always engage with those who engage with your content. This will encourage more people to follow their lead.

  • If you have any players, parents, ex-players or friends of the club etc who have large numbers of social followers, ask them to RT, share or re-post some of your messages. This will increase the reach of your posts.

  • Share your news in local community groups – this will open your content to a whole new audience.

  • Use pictures or videos in your posts. Research has shown that 44% more interactions occur on posts with attached visuals.

  • Promote your website, app and other channels in the copy, the bio, as well as using simple watermarks on your pictures.

  • Try new things and be innovative. After all, posting is free!

4. Have a content strategy in place

Set your goals: Without concentrating on a business goal, you could end up publishing content just for the sake of it. You can have more than one goal behind your content, and you may have different sections of the website, app or socials that do different things. E.g. Ticket sales, volunteer recruitment, general club awareness.

Determine your target audience: You need to know what they’re interested in. What are they more likely to engage with? Your audience may vary depending on the goal, e.g. volunteer recruitment you’d likely want to reach the parents of the players, but general club awareness you’d want to reach a much broader audience. You may want to use different tactics and platforms for different audiences. Speak to your community and ask them for yourselves on the type of content they’d like to see!

SEO is important: You need to carefully research the keywords relevant to your audience and the type of content you’ll be publishing. Many tools can help with keyword research, including Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner. You can create content around these keywords that drives traffic and increases SEO rankings for your website.

Look at the competition: Look at what your competitors are doing, but more importantly, look at what they’re not doing. If you find areas where your competitors have content that’s lacking, you can fill in the gaps and provide better value to your community and target audience.

Develop an editorial calendar: This will help you track your content and ensure you’re publishing consistently. You can also map out the types of areas you want to align to. E.g. Key match fixtures, season launch, fundraising events, school holidays, and seasonal articles.

Be consistent: When your content quality, quantity or schedule isn’t consistent, it can confuse your community. Keeping with a regular strategy not only helps create a better club experience but it also helps build credibility, reputation and brand trust. You can start to categorize your content e.g. ‘highlights of the week’, ‘ticket giveaway’, ‘news and updates’.

5. Make it easy for customers to advocate

When it comes to advocacy marketing, you can often split your community customer into two groups: those that are so thrilled by their experiences with your club they’ll do whatever it takes to share them, and those who love your club and brand but will only share their experiences if it’s easy — or incentivized.

Neither group is better than the other. In order to capture both, however, it’s best to make it as easy as possible for your advocates to share information and experiences about your club. What do we mean by “easy”?

Here are some ideas:

  • Create a branded hashtag that your community base can include in captions and comments when posting about your club.

  • Offer some pre-written content that customers can copy and paste on social media. Clicktotweet is a helpful tool for this.

  • Incorporate social sharing links on every website page.

  • Provide “Instagram-worthy” photo or video opportunities of your club players and volunteers that they can easily reshare / repost on their own channels.

Want more help and support? Speak to our expert V-Hub Business Advisers, who offer tailored guidance and support on a range of topics.

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