How the Louisville Bats Grew their Snapchat Following over 800%

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The team turned to personalization and unique uses of the platform to engage users.

Snapchat provides ways to share unique content and give viewers an opportunity to build connections with brands in ways that other platforms cannot.

In a time where technology is one of the biggest drivers in sports business growth, it’s no secret that different teams and organizations are using it to their advantage in ways that will increase their attendance and fan base. The new trends and mountains of advice on how to use them constantly surround us.

Whether you’re live streaming on Facebook, building community conversation on Twitter, or capturing the best moments on Instagram, one thing we can all agree on is that Snapchat is one of most unique ways to get engagement and grow from it.

With no sophisticated method of targeting new followers on the platform itself or ability to use community-building tactics such as hashtags to find your newest fans, you have to get creative. The creative ideas can go far and above the norm, or be right in front of you.

One of the best things about the platform is being able to capture a wealth of unique moments and compile it into one story in real-time, which is something that’s more difficult to do on other platforms. Mix that with the ability to get creative and fun, and you have yourself a recipe to for success.

As a member of the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds AAA affiliate) social media team this season, I was able to see the benefits of this firsthand alongside my co-worker Franci Burton, Tony Brown (Director of Digital Marketing and Design), and Ryan Ritchey (Director of Media and Public Relations).

“When this season started, we knew right away that we needed to grow on Snapchat. The following was average, the use needed more consistency, and the engagement needed to grow so that we could build relationships with our fans.” — Tony Brown, Director of Digital Marketing and Design, Louisville Bats

In order to follow through on Brown’s vision, geofilters were made for every home game that either showcased the brand or reflected a promotion at the ballpark, while cross-promoting the platform on our other mediums.

Beyond the cross promotion, we saw the most follower growth from making sure snap to add codes were everywhere during the course of a game.

The entrance doors, information booth, team store, and even our big screen shining in left field all presented the opportunity for fans to scan the code and see what we’re about on the platform.

With fans adding us in consistent waves, we aimed to give them a reason to stay by building connections through contests, conversation, and invitations back for future games with others alongside them.

Our Snapchat revitalization started with the purchase of Spectacles. From putting them on players during pre-game activities and batting practice to letting fans wear them to show we’re out and about making sure they’re enjoying themselves, we made sure to capture key moments all over the ballpark for various events.

In conjunction with that, it was key to showcase the atmosphere and what we have to offer. Whether it was the clubhouse, food, players, performers, or anything critical to our game nights and fan experience, we were sharing it.

While we were capturing the bulk of our following from fans that were already at the ballpark, we knew that outside of season ticket holders, every seat wasn’t going to be filled by the same person every game. So, we mixed our strategy with showcasing the atmosphere for those who previously attended in hopes for them to want to come back and share with their network, but also give those that added us and were at the game a unique experience.

When the wave of followers would come in, so would their snaps. We responded to them and made it fun. They ranged from something as simple as sharing good ballpark shots with each other and rewarding them with a free hat, having contests such as baseball trivia, and even playing hide and seek with fans around the ballpark using snaps back and forth to one another with clues, all while emphasizing the ballpark and brand.

The result? An 800% increase in following.

We knew the word of mouth was working amongst our followers, because during weeks with no home games, we were getting new followers every day.

Fans were even coming back and snapping us to let us know they were at the ballpark again.

They sent us their selfies, ballpark shots, favorite ballpark foods, and countless other snaps that made the experience rewarding for all of us involved and the brand as a whole.

“Snapchat has provided us with a platform that allows us to engage with our fans in ways that we have not been able to do in the past. We plan to continue to utilizing it as a vital tool to share our story,” said Brown.

Snapchat remains to be a powerhouse in the social media sphere. It presents the opportunity to share your brand voice, be witty and fun, mix strategies together, and get creative. We credit the simple snap to add codes for much of this success, as it got the ball rolling on our most successful season in terms of social media.

The strategy was right in front of us and a simple way to build a foundation to grow our digital presence and create lifelong fans.

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

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