How FloSports Has Been Able to Drive Social Engagement in an Era of Algorithm Changes

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FloSports has been able to leverage its communities to see its social content perform better than some of the biggest brands in the country. (Photo via FloSports)

Outside of the big four sports (or five depending on how you look at it), the coverage for other sports like wrestling and track normally falls on local affiliates and stations. But, in 2006, FloSports set out to change that.

Now, 12 years later, FloSports employs more than 200 people and has a network of over 20 different sites covering everything from MMA to gymnastics.  

Nick Schenck, SVP of Customer Acquisition & Marketing for the company, credits the growth to the inch-wide, mile-deep approach they have taken when it comes to growing communities of sports fans.

“We cover a lot of sports that typically have not received mainstream media attention. Streaming as many events as we do, we have access to these unscripted moments that these communities of sports fans absolutely love. They’ve never had access to these moments before, and so that’s the stuff that performs really well.”

It’s these communities that have allowed FloSports to see success both for their events and through their social channels, including Facebook, where Schenck has seen quality metrics across the board.

“Our goal around social media is to give people really good content and not ask for anything in return. So the vast majority of our posts on Facebook, for instance, don’t have a link back to our site. We just want people to engage on the platform. So we are able to really weather things like the algorithm change because we aren’t using social channels just to get traffic and click-throughs. And social platforms reward brands with more reach for keeping people on their platforms longer.”

Unlike most marketing and social media professionals, Schenck takes a more holistic look at whether FloSports’ social strategy is working by looking at results and data outside of the social channels.

“One way we look at our social media strategy to see if it is working is by looking at traffic from direct and organic sources. You have to ask yourself when people type in the url or search for your brand, how did they get to that point? So we’re seeing increases in traffic from organic and direct sources, which tells us more people are hearing about our brand.”

Combining a video-first strategy with their inch-wide and mile-deep approach has allowed FloSports to see metrics that outperform brands with much larger social followings, something that Schenck credits to the relationship they have built with their fans.

“Video has always been a huge part of our business, and we’re doubling down. On FloWrestling, for instance, we drove 18.9 million Instagram video views in April. This is more than any single NFL, MLB, or NHL team, as well as all but two NBA teams (Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors), CBS Sports, and FOX Sports. Often times, when we post the same content as other media companies, leagues, conferences, or brands, we get more engagement because the content means more coming from us.”

“The only way for these sports to really grow is by giving them the same level of coverage that is afforded to the big four.” – Nick Schenck, SVP of Customer Acquisition & Marketing

As for why FloSports will win when it comes to stacking up against other DTC and OTT platforms, Schenck points to their coverage and their investment in making content that supports the event and is just not about the event.

“We don’t dumb down our coverage. We talk up to our fans, not down to the fans. We try to be as authentic and credible as possible, and we think that elevates the sport. The only way for these sports that we cover to really grow is by giving them the same level of coverage that is afforded to the big four sports. We think context really matters, which is why we invest so much in our content, our production, and our marketing.”

While others may see the sports that FloSports covers as niche, Schenck sees them as anything but that, saying, “We don’t necessarily look at our sports as niche. We have subscribers across our network in more than 100 countries around the world. We feel there’s no reason why track, wrestling, and gymnastics can’t be as big as the NBA or the NFL. How big would the NBA or NFL be if they didn’t get 24/7, 365 coverage? This is why comprehensive coverage matters.”

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At the end of the day, not only do FloSports’ social channels help drive conversation around the brand, they serve as the top of the subscriber funnel.

“Our content distribution strategy ties in nicely to our customer acquisition strategy because it’s really about lead generation,” said Schenck. “Everyone who follows us on social media and engages with our posts contributes to the growth of our subscription funnel.”

In a race for subscriber dollars when it comes to DTC and OTT platforms, FloSports is doubling down on the communities they have built.