Man City Aftermath: The Value of Superfans in Sports Marketing

It was announced earlier this week that Manchester City sacked their media agency after a blunder with an influencer recruitment effort last week.

The job advert was for an influencer, aged 18-55 to “tell an authentic and genuine story of what it’s like to be at a game” in the Champions League.

However, it might have played out differently if they approached superfans to showcase how electric the game atmosphere is at Etihad; those who create unique content on match days, whatever league their team is playing in, for the love of the game versus someone who meets the desired demographic but has a large social media following.

Superfans vs Influencers

The difference between superfans and influencers is easy to identify.

Superfans are already fully engaged in the sport and are happy to create content for club fans to enjoy watching and, hopefully, interact and amplify. They are brand ambassadors and love the team for what it is, before any recognition, payment, or additional benefits are up for grabs. 

Just look at the case of the American Newcastle United fan, who ended up leaving her day-job to watch football.

Influencers are usually matched up with brands based on their demographic with a lot of followers. They tend to sprout up through a trendy brand like those in fast fashion such as In The Style.


Searching for Superfans

It could be best for the reputation of sports marketing brands to look at the viral content in their vertical across various digital channels. Looking at the scope of their following and engagement with their current material would be a good starting point.

Shortlisting superfans to reach out to with opportunities may be the best way to avoid another blunder like this. Cherry-picking potential brand ambassadors means weeding out those who just want the benefits in favour of die-hard fans of the team and sport.

Look on the channels that you would wish the superfan to share the content on.

See who has mentioned the brand on social media and the reactions they have had to it.

Search for genuine lovers of the sport, team, or brand. It will protect the genuine authoritativeness of content, and the relationship is likely to last longer.

Brand Guidelines

Remember to consider the attitude and behaviour of potential brand ambassadors. Think about the company values and ensure that those of the superfan align. Also, it is wise to consider the age groups of followers so that suitable language is used.

Engaged Followers

A target market which has an interest in the brand poses a more significant opportunity for success.

The more the superfans share fantastic content from the football matches, the more their followers may get an element of FOMO (fear of missing out) and decide they would like to be there in the moment, too.

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