CRM Evolution 2014 Day Three: As Social Engagement Strategies Mature, New Challenges Arise

are "diehard" supporters who can't get enough of their favorite teams, Mark DiMaurizio, president of Fan1 Marketing at the NHL, said during a keynote discussion on CRM in sports. While other companies have to be careful about how often they email or otherwise contact their customers, sports marketing is more lenient. "Customers aren't going to get annoyed as quickly as they would by other marketing content because they're so passionate about their favorite team," he added. But that doesn't mean sports marketing is always a walk in the park.

According to the sports panelists, marketers in the industry often feel nearly powerless because nothing shapes customers' opinions more than their favorite team's win/lose record. "A team could have the best marketing in the world, but if they lose all the time, it doesn't matter. The fans won't be happy," DiMaurizio said. Additionally, the sports industry faces other unique challenges, including off-season slow periods and downturns caused by a variety of factors, such as a player leaving the team. In these situations, the right social media strategy could make a major difference, the panelists agreed.

"Social is a great tool for filling in the gaps created by the off season," Andrew Sofer, manager of CRM development for the New York Mets, said. "Customers don't care about the emails we send them when their teams aren't playing, but we don't want to fall completely off the radar during this time," he explained. That's where social comes in; according to Sofer, sharing engaging social content that isn't directly linked to ticket sales is an effective way to ensure the brand stays top of mind without coming on too strong.

When a star player leaves a team, social media can also be used to keep up morale. Following Lebron James' exit from the Miami Heat basketball team, for example, the team is likely going to launch a vigorous social campaign. "You can bet they're going to be thinking about ways they can use social to reignite that spark that disappointed fans may have lost," DiMaurizio said.

Offering distinct benefits to different industries, social media has not yet reached its full potential with regard to customer engagement, today's presenters asserted. As individual platforms grow and introduce new features, companies should prepare to incorporate them effectively. "We're just at the cusp of leveraging social fully," Bob Dunfee, vice president and ONE evangelist at Thunderhead.com said. "There's a lot more to do," he added.

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