How Watford FC engaged fans to create and share content for their FA Cup Hub
Premier League football club Watford FC made it through to the final round of this year’s FA Cup, battling it out against Manchester City in a historic match at Wembley Stadium on 18th May 2019.
To engage their fanbase around the game, one of their biggest in recent years, Watford’s marketing team was looking for a way to showcase the fan experience on their digital channels.
For football fans, going to a live game is a near-spiritual experience. No one can help but get swept up in the roar of the crowd and the drama of the game. It’s an IRL experience that remains sacred in our digitalised world, so the challenge for marketers is how to capture the energy and passion of live football and translate it for online consumption.
Watford FC could rely on its fans to be capturing their experiences, but it was searching for a way to bring all of this content together under one roof, in a digestible and engaging format.
The marketing team decided to capture the sights and sounds of Wembley through a mixture of branded, sponsored and user-generated content. Through Amondo’s managed service, the best content from each of these streams was curated into an ‘FA Cup Hub’ Imprint, which was embedded on the Watford FC website, as well as shared through social media channels. Watford fans could relive the experience by scrolling through a feed of highlights, and interact with tiles for a closer look.
By encouraging fans to participate in the campaign through social media channels, the Imprint allowed Watford’s marketing team to drive on-site engagement in the content surrounding their FA Cup run, and to encourage content creation and participation from the fans - all while embedding their brand partners directly within a live experience.
Despite losing heavily to Man City, fans displayed an unwavering, fierce pride in their team, refusing to let the defeat crush their spirits or those of the players. The Imprint was a tribute to this loyalty, capturing forever the support of Watford’s fans in one of the biggest matches in the club’s history.
The FA Cup Hub Imprint boosted session length and interaction rate on the Watford FC website. They saw a 3x increase in page session length, a 9% brand content interaction rate and an average 3.6 content clicks per view.
It’s a great example of how to marry digital content with live events. Football is an emotional sport that attracts diehard fans like nothing else, and it’s essential to maintain fan loyalty throughout the ups and downs of a team’s journey. Driving fan engagement online keeps stadiums full offline - and is the basis for attracting profitable sponsorship opportunities.
What can we learn from the FA Cup Hub campaign?
A few takeaways to apply to your own experiential marketing campaigns:
- When you’re showcasing an IRL event online, your content shouldn’t just show what happened. Try to capture the energy and atmosphere of the event, and you’ll connect with your audience on a deeper level.
- Whether on your website or social media, a mixture of static images, video, GIFs, animations and text will create a fully immersive experience that keeps fans engaged. You want your attendees to be able to relive the memories, and non-attendees to feel like they were there (and vow to be there next time!).
Consumers are more savvy and discerning than ever before, so don’t shove sponsored content down their throats! Woven into influencer and user-generated content, sponsored content feels much more natural and relevant.