Digital Media Drives Brand Loyalty for Younger Sports Fans

Marketers for World Surf League and Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League discuss how they scale sports digital media with athletes to engage Gen Z fans.

20/21 Vision: The Workflow Innovation Summit by PhotoShelter logo and Greenfly logo for sports digital media panel.

Social media has become a powerful storytelling medium for sports brands to connect with younger fans. Even more potent: Tapping into your sports digital media troves and empowering your athletes to become your best social media storytellers. Direct athlete-fan connections give fans what they really want. And they drive true brand loyalty and business growth. 

Panelists Elise Crigar, Director of Social Media at World Surf League, and Will Sartin, Senior Vice President of Events at Position Sports, joined Greenfly CMO Tom Kuhr, who moderated the discussion. 

Listen to how forward-thinking leagues and agencies activate their athletes for sports digital media distribution in this panel at PhotoShelter’s 20/21 Vision: The Innovation Summit event. 

“The ability to provide athletes with content is the biggest thing. They’re media-hungry, they push out a lot, they’re constantly living in the visual age. We uploaded close to 10,000 photos, if not more, during the project we worked on with Greenfly and PhotoShelter. Most all were consumed and pushed out in some frame or the other.”

— Will Sartin, Senior Vice President of Events, Position Sports

Both World Surf League (WSL) and the organizations that Position Sports works with, including Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), aim to keep fan engagement high around their live events. They’ve found the shortest path to success is by giving athletes across their focus sports digital media to share with their robust social media communities. 

Sartin revealed that EYBL activated 3,000 teenage athletes on Greenfly during their spring season and championship. The players received media right after their games to post on their social profiles. They were able to share brand stories and their own authentic stories through their individual lens. 

Crigar’s team specializes in live content coverage of WSL championship tour events. She pointed out that branded media assets posted to social channels are key for her team. They use this content to keep audiences updated on live WSL event schedules and drive tune-in. WSL also treats brand-building content and live event media differently. The latter is real-time content, such as event day clips and behind-the-scenes athlete moments, that they share with athletes. This media is best digested immediately following a competition. 

They’ve both found their global athlete rosters are very eager to share sports digital media. And they have their own manner of speaking to their social communities when they do it. 

In addition, Crigar highlighted that her team leans into the user experience specific to each social channel. For example, they’ve seen younger generations flocking to TikTok of late. The team translates league happenings to TikTok users through WSL athlete and brand ambassador posts using content and language that are more personalized for the platform and meet audience needs there. 

Sartin and Crigar discussed how they’ve used Greenfly +Connect integrated with PhotoShelter. With this integration, they get personalized digital media to athletes for fast and easy posting to their social networks. Both executives noted that the process for onboarding these advocates was quite seamless. Gen Z athletes love technology and content. So, they were quick to adapt to this new way of collaborating with their organizations. 

The panelists agreed that working with athletes and providing them rich sports digital media assets is a great form of storytelling for their brands to reach younger fans. 

Watch the full panel discussion above.

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