How the Rajasthan Royals Won Off the Field With Content Fans Crave

The Rajasthan Royals have an athlete-driven content strategy to boost fan engagement, supported by Greenfly. Read more in their Engage by Hashtag Sports Q&A.

Rajasthan Royals cricket player and Engage by Hashtag Sports

The Rajasthan Royals’ digital head Stuart Cope recently sat down with Engage by Hashtag Sports for an extensive Q&A about their athlete-driven content strategy. This forward-thinking approach expanded the team’s global fan engagement during a dynamic 2020 IPL season, and drove social impact for their lucrative sponsor partnerships.

Here are some excerpts from that conversation:

Building social fan connections with players:

Cope: “The players are our influencers and they’re the heroes that our fans are interested in; we always try to put our players front and center of any social media or marketing campaign that we create. Having the ability to work with our players to create authentic content, that’s not just created by the Royals production team, but actually created by the athletes as content creators themselves is fundamental to the wider social media strategy set.”

The industry shift to player-centric content models:

Cope: “…We look at all of the key metrics across our content pillars in great detail and our player-led content outperforms any other content by some distance. This shouldn’t stop us from testing other content but our main focus has to be putting the players front and center. This helps grow the Royals brand and will cut through into the wider cricket audience who are not necessarily Royals fans but fans of the players we have in the squad.”

On Greenfly technology supporting their content goals:

Cope: “The third platform which has been our most successful tech product in the business is Greenfly. We are Greenfly’s first customer in India and the platform has been a game-changer for the Royals. Greenfly allows us to send content to our athletes, staff and media partners within a couple of clicks and they can then post it onto their social channels within a couple of clicks. The platform also works the other way where our athletes and media can send content back to the digital team to post across the Royals channels. This meant that during the IPL when our athletes were stuck in a COVID secure bubble they became content creators distributing a large volume of content to the digital team and we can pick and choose the best workouts, yoga sessions, coffee mornings, etc which ultimately tells the story of the team behind closed doors. This content really resonated with our audience. If any sports teams or people that work in digital are [reading] this interview, I really, really do say use Greenfly as a content distribution partner. Once you get the players on board, and they understand how to use it, then you can really create some magic.”

Athlete content performance versus brand content:

Cope: “At times athlete-led content completely outperforms anything we have planned and worked hard on creating. We could shoot what we feel is an insightful long-form feature about training that bombs, we then receive a 20-second video of Steve Smith playing the guitar or Ben Stokes playing Call of Duty which is our best performing post of the week.

It just depends on what the content is and making sure that if an athlete sends you a piece of content you can react quickly, put a creative spin on it and get it out before anyone else so that your channels get the reach and engagement.”

Listening to what the fans want:

Cope: “You only have to look at the recent success of sports documentaries such as All or nothing or MJ’s on Netflix, what fans get from these features is the camaraderie, team meetings, how the athletes train, and insight into what makes them tick as athletes. Fans want authentic stories and want to be let in, if you can get this access to your athletes and their journey and make the content social first your audience will engage and ultimately grow.”

Successful social impact activations to drive sponsor revenue:

Cope: “The Royals stand apart from the other franchises in terms of their commercial sponsors. We bring in partners that actually fit the brand and we look to make a social impact in our agreements. …We have launched an incredible initiative with NIINE sanitary napkins from India, and what we’ve done is for every run scored in the tournament NIINE offers 9 girls sanitary napkin support for three months. There’s still a real stigma attached to periods in India. A lot of hearsay and negativity around it. The brand campaign we launched with NIINE where our players were quizzed about their thoughts on periods and how it’s affected their lives and their partners, their wives, their sisters, etc. This is one thing I really love about the Royals, they sign partners to bring revenue into the business, but also have a social impact.”

Read the full article online at Engage by Hashtag Sports

Rajasthan Royals photo courtesy BCCI