Fanatic Live debates fandom and social media

Record labels, premiership football clubs and fashion brands were among a select audience at Fanatic Live, the first in a series of events from marketing specialist Ear to the Ground.

Fanatic Live debates fandom and social media
Fanatic Live debates fandom and social media

The series will examine the mindset of fans and how brands can tailor activations to deepen fan engagement.

Last week's event, held at The Hospital in Covent Garden on Wednesday (18 May), included a discussion hosted by Ear to the Ground CEO Steve Smith.

Panellists included Steve Sayer, commercial director of The O2, Catherine Hawkins, owner at Think Sponsorship, fan academic Geoff Pearson, Jeff Nathenson, former head of football at YouTube and senior vice president, content and distribution at The Whistle Sports Network and Owen Laverty, senior brand strategist - sport & music at Ear to the Ground. 

The discussion focused on whether it was ever appropriate to use the word 'consumer' or whether it was important to operate in a different mindset when communicating to fans.

The panel debated a number of issues, including whether the nature of fandom is changing with the rise of social media and a widening global reach. It discussed how brands should not be scared to 'insert themselves in the conversation' on social media, because it's always better to have a voice where fans congregate and engage using banter, rather than avoiding it.

The panel also considered whether and how brands can tap into rivalry among fans to deepen engagement. 

Whistle Sports' Nathansen highlighted the challenge of how many brands that engage in sponsorship at major music and sporting events do not have a concrete activation strategy in place.

"As a sponsor, you have an opportunity to communication creatively [with fans], the problem faced is 98% of industry will not think creatively," he said. 

Sayer explained that its purpose was to elevate the fan experience and 'intensify at every opportunity'.

While Hawkins felt that rights holders and their partners needed to work on longer term plans to build relationships with fan bases to earn their respect. 

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