EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Minnesota United FC on Connecting With Fans Through Content
What: We talked to Tyson Hill, Senior Director of Digital Media of the Minnesota United FC, about the league’s use of content to keep fans engaged throughout different platforms.
Why it matters: In mid-September Minnesota United FC joined forces with content curating platform Wakelet, becoming the first team of its division to do so.
The Minnesota United FC joined the MLS in 2017. Now, the team is looking to improve its connection with fans through a key partnership with Wakelet, a British content curating platform, which will allow followers to create and share online content, with the help of Wakelet’s tools.
We talked to Tyson Hill, Senior Director of Digital Media of the Minnesota United FC, about the importance of content and how the team will make use of it as a key strategy, without it appearing like propaganda, and the challenge of marketing soccer in the U.S. market.
Portada: Why do you believe content is key to connect with your fan base?
Tyson Hill: “The content we create allows fans the opportunity to connect with players and develop a relationship with the team outside of gameday. It’s organic –not transactional– and one of the purest forms of communication we have with our fans.”
Portada: Which marketing goals are you looking to reach through your partnership with Wakelet?
TH: "Minneapolis/Saint Paul is a crowded sports market – there are the Twins, Gophers, Vikings, Lynx, Timberwolves and Wild, all within 15 miles of one another. What Wakelet does, is help to amplify the earned media coverage the club gets in this marketplace by congregating all of the content created around the team in a given week."
Portada: Why was now the right moment to grow your content creation?
TH: "Creating more content about the team is a consistent goal for the club. What makes this time special is that we are moving from a borrowed stadium to a stadium that is unique to us: Allianz Field. We are the loudest we’ve ever been in this market and by creating and amplifying content around the team, we’re becoming more accessible to both existing and potential fans of the club."
We are the loudest we’ve ever been in this market.
Portada: Which are the most relevant platforms to share this content?
TH: "We’ve embedded Wakelet on our website and share the platform through our social media channels. It’s updated weekly to reflect any articles that have been written about the club globally and throughout the Twin Cities."
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Portada: Which fans will you target through content?
TH: "Fans of the club tend to be younger, ages 18-36. However, we create content relevant to all of our fans, regardless of demographics. Our 'target audience' is Minnesota sports fans and soccer fans."
Portada: Will you generate specific content for a multicultural and Hispanic audience?
TH: "One of the key values of Minnesota United is accessibility. So, we’ve created outlets for Spanish speakers to consume our content in their native language. We have a section of our website dedicated to our Spanish-speaking fanbase and social accounts that update those fans daily around key club events."
We’ve created outlets for Spanish speakers to consume our content in their native language.
Portada: What challenges are there when trying to connect with fans through content?
TH: "It is difficult to become a trusted source for news information without it appearing like propaganda. Because we represent the club we’re creating content around, there is an inherent bias to everything we create. We try to negate that as much as possible by removing ourselves and our narrative from the stories and videos we publish. We share behind-the-scenes footage of the players and let them narrate the story while we fill in the gaps."
It is difficult to become a trusted source for news information without it appearing like propaganda.
Portada: What have you found is the best marketing strategy to reach out to your fan base?
TH: "We use a non-traditional marketing strategy to reach our fans, with a lot of organic content creation and digital advertising."
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Portada: What about reaching and adding new fans?
TH: "Community content – that is, content created when the club volunteers in the community – resonates most with fans that are interacting with the brand for the first time. We have full-staff volunteer opportunities in the community and our players volunteer weekly at different events throughout the Twin Cities, which we amplify on our digital channels."
Portada: Which is still the most challenging part of marketing a soccer club in the US?
TH: "For the past five years, soccer has been among the fastest growing team sports in the United States, but U.S. professional soccer teams aren’t just competing with other sports in the United States."
Soccer has been among the fastest growing team sports in the United States.
"Major League Soccer is constantly compared to soccer leagues around the world and competing for broadcast viewers and sponsors. MLS has a geographic advantage over those other leagues in the United States because it is the only league where you can watch live competitive soccer matches without having to hop in a plane."