Marketing Lessons from Football – Lesson #1: No league is the same, no social network is, either.

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When you’re struggling with refining your marketing strategy, developing and publishing content, measuring analytics and calculating your Return on Investment (ROI) or any other marketing conundrum, turn to football – you’ll get your answer. Okay, maybe that’s a bit excessive, but bear with me and welcome to my new blog, Marketing Lessons from Football.

In this first article, I will be looking at how football teams adapt to different leagues and how this can help you to develop an effective social media marketing strategy. Honestly. Read on.
Marketing Lessons from Football

Football leagues differ considerably and teams have to adapt accordingly

This is the same for social media.

Utilising social media can be incredibly rewarding for companies, but it is difficult, challenging and must be carefully planned-out. Successful social media marketing is certainly not an easy ride.

The first key to any successful social media marketing strategy is to understand your networks.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when embarking on their social media journey is to not sit down, think and then act. That’s obvious, right? Well, in the majority of cases the company will often turn to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, dismissing other networks and overlooking some important considerations.


Yeah, fair enough – but what’s this got to do with football?

Good question. And you’re right to ask.

If we look at the examples of how football adapts to the different leagues, we can put forward these similarities:

Teams – Audience
Players – Content
Tactics – Strategy
Social Media
Social Media
Social Media


Teams – Audience

When you look at the different football leagues it is apparent that there are significant differences. Firstly, the number of teams is not always the same, some leagues have 20 teams, some have 24 and some even have as little as 12. Secondly, the locations and styles of the teams also vary.

There are similarities here. The different social media networks also vary considerably according to their audience. Some have more users. Some have more males than females. Some attract the younger generation. Some attract professionals. Some are more popular in certain countries. Some prefer visual. Some prefer text.

In terms of the gender differential, here are some interesting statistics:

  • 74% of Reddit users are male
  • 66% of Spotify users are male
  • 72% of Pinterest users are female
  • 62% of Twitter users are female


As you can probably tell now there are some big differences and perhaps, some surprising ones too.

Before you set up your company on any social media account you must first ask yourself: Where is my target market? What networks are they on?

You don’t want to get to the point where you are spending hours and hours creating excellent content, only to be sending it to the completely wrong target market. Now that’s where social media can become a waste of time, money and resources.


Players – Content

“Manchester City sign Adebayo Akinfenwa” – Picture it now. Amazing.

But let’s face it; some players are just not suited to the Premier League and, in fact, some Premier League players aren’t suited to League Two, either. The demands are distinct and there are some subtle, yet key differences.

And as with a football team’s players, different social media network users demand different sources of content, too.

What works on one platform may not work on another. What fails on one platform may excel on another. It depends. What do your audience want to see and consume? What do they best respond to – articles, podcasts, videos, infographic.

Looking back to the gender differentials between social networks, we can come to an interesting conclusion: in terms of your overall content marketing strategy, the statistics indicate that female users tend to prefer visual aids (Instagram, Pinterest & Snapchat) over written and audio. This should have a big impact on your marketing strategy if your core target market is female.

In fact, visual aids are usually a good bet across all networks. Statistics show that by using visual aids you are likely to increase engagement by 100% – not bad, eh?


Tactics – Strategy

Linking in with the need for a different style of player, different football leagues demand different tactics, different playing styles and different strategies. The lower the division, the more likely it is to be physically demanding, for example. Could you imagine Arsenal playing week in week out in League Two? No, me neither.

But Arsenal do sometimes play League Two teams, in cup competitions. Do their tactics stay the same? Do the oppositions? No. They adapt. They may look for different avenues to score – set pieces, down the flanks, through the middle, on the counter attack – there are numerous different strategies a team can employ and the context of the match (or in our case, the network) is crucial.

Applying this to social media, how may your strategy change? Ask yourself these questions:

  • When is the best time to post?
  • How often should I post?
  • What should my Call to Action (CTA) be?

There are no right answers to these questions and not only do they vary according to the social network, but also to your industry and to your audience.

In fact, the same content can have big differences in performance depending on its title. Does it make the reader want to click through? Does it grab the attention? The well-known way to test this is through A/B testing – post the same piece of content with two different headings (at different times) and see if there’s a difference in performance. You may be surprised. Some users react better to ‘how to’ headlines, some better to action-leading headlines ‘download this now’ and some react better to statistically information ‘100% of people will enjoy this post’.

It is also beneficial to experiment on your social media strategy. Try and find out what works for your company; after all, that’s what matters – not what works for everyone else.

Post on different days. Post at different times. Measure your analytics e.g. how many likes/retweets did your post get? What was your Click-Through-Rate (CTR)? Did you achieve your CTA? Form a conclusion and follow what’s working.

Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, have excellent quick and easy to use analytics which show your CTR and engagement levels.

This may take more time, but it will be worth it.

Marketing Lesson No. 1


Post-match comments

The most important things I would say you should take away from this article are:

  • Research where your target market is before choosing your social networks.
  • Don’t use the same content across your different networks. Networks usually have different users, with different preferences. What works on one, may not work on another.
  • Find out what works for your company. Experiment with your posts in terms of timings, frequency, content and headings and you will benefit in the long term.


What’s next?

Lesson #2: It’s a team game – integrate your communications for success

Lesson #3: How to set realistic objectives that can get you results

Please feel free to drop me a comment and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Mark Stefanyszyn

Mark Stefanyszyn

Hey! As you might be able to tell, I am a big football and marketing fan. I am a Marketing Assistant at Hawsons Chartered Accountants. and recent University of Sheffield BA Business Management graduate. I am a Wolves fan and all-round sports enthusiast. Please let me know what you think of my article and connect with me on LinkedIn!

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