When it comes to digital and social strategy, you won’t find many differences in the goals of esports organizations compared to traditional sports organizations. Both are looking to grow and engage their fan bases. The difference comes from the execution. Dallas-based Envy Gaming have become a prime example of an esports organization executing at a high level in this area.
“Traditional sports have a fan base that is more plugged into the traditional forms of advertising and communication like email and linear television,” Shay Butler, Envy Gaming vice president of sales and marketing, told Front Office Sports. “Esports was built on the back of social media channels. Oftentimes we already have pretty good bases, but it’s more about how do we create that engaging, exciting content for fans to continue to keep them hooked on what we’re producing and grow it: engage new people, new gamers, and make them be esports fans.”
Formerly known as Team EnVyUs, the organization rebranded to Envy Gaming in 2017. The company currently fields teams in the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League, as well as competitive squads in Counter Strike, Smash Bros., Rocket League, Valorant, and Magic: The Gathering. Engaging with fans of such varied titles presents a unique challenge for the organization’s four-person digital team.
“We’re always striving to put out engaging content that is interesting and exciting for fans, first and foremost. Tied for first would be putting out content that brings our sponsors into conversations in ways that are meaningful and authentic. Whenever we can marry those two objectives together, it’s an ideal world.”
Butler believes that fans can look to the content the organization produced around the creation and launch of their Call of Duty League franchise, the Dallas Empire, for a great example of how they can engage their fans.
“When we decided to invest in the Call of Duty League and were tasked with creating a new brand for that team, we created the Dallas Empire with the fans in our mind the whole time,” Butler said. “We really wanted it to be a cool, iconic brand that they could get behind. From the players that we signed, to the apparel that we designed and how we sold it, we tried to make it a really fun and engaging and creative experience. I think we had tremendous success launching that brand back in November. Our merchandise sold out in less than 24 hours. Our social following skyrocketed. I’m very proud of our team for how we launched that brand.”
Envy has also recently entered into a partnership with Team Infographics to further their efforts in producing unique and engaging social content after seeing the content that the Dallas Stars produced using Team Infographics’ CMS.
“While the partnership is still new, they kind of check both of those boxes: they help us create content that is engaging for both fans and sponsors,” Butler said. “It’s one thing to have a match and then, put out a tweet with stats and the score. It’s a whole other asset when you can make things like custom GIFs on the fly that have the player stats or the score at halftime and include a sponsor logo. It’s the best of both worlds.”
When most live sports were canceled, many esports competitions were able to continue thanks to remote production and online competition. Envy Gaming and its teams continue to tell the story of their participation in these events through their social content.
“We’re trying to just make lemonade out of lemons and being able to go to a digital/online model is something I’m very grateful for,” Butler stated. “Overwatch League and Call of Duty League had live events planned that got canceled, but rather than having to cancel things all together, we were able to adjust and turn those into online tournaments instead of live in-person tournaments. We’re even experimenting with our own broadcasts and co-streaming now.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Butler and Envy are proud of how gaming and esports have been an outlet for people stuck at home.
“Coronavirus has created a lot of chaos obviously. I think a lot of people are turning to gaming right now to fill that void of not being able to do normal things. Through things like the Play Apart Together campaign, I think esports has done a good job of helping people understand proper safety protocols and whatnot while they’re inside playing video games.”