What do digital-native sports fans crave today? 90 minutes of strategy-driven football on the international stage?… Ok, boomer.
Attention spans are decreasing, ads are increasingly perceived as disruptive, content in bite-size portions is preferred. All of this has been talked about. My colleague Ron recently wrote about the challenges of marketing sports to Gen Z audiences, and I have nothing to add.
Fans today crave direct interaction with their stars. They have become accustomed to following their idols on YouTube and Twitch. The level of interaction happening on these platforms can only be topped by one paradigm: co-creation.
Co-creation is not just about having a Super Chat message read by your favorite streamer. It’s about getting in touch, having a say in what kind of content is produced, and even working together on real-life projects. Seems like a stretch? Well, buckle up.
Building your own Fan Platform
If your challenge is to tell and co-create the story of sports in a way and format that resonates with digital-first audiences and to find new ways to create a sustainable business based around this, you need the right tools to address it. We set out to build them.
LT Fan Platform, thus, allows you to build a fully customized hub for your fans with ease. Its capabilities range from publishing and premium content monetization to novel ways of interacting with your fans in the digital realm, for example, using the Ideation Hub to start a joint brainstorming session.
In contrast to social media platforms, LT Fan Platform is a toolkit to build your own platform. As platform ownership will determine who can compete successfully in the digital economy, we think that empowering the world of sports to have more ownership and be less reliant on the big social media companies fulfills a critical mission.
Quick Module Overview
First, let me give you a quick overview of the various modules that our platform provides. As we build the entire platform in a modular fashion, it is, of course, possible to select which modules you want to use.
With our content tools, you can publish text, video, image, and audio content on your platform. The content will be delivered directly to your fans’ feed. You can publish content in several ways and decide, for each piece of content, who can access it:
- Publicly available content. It is particularly useful to convert fans from social media.
- Content that is only accessible for registered users. It drives sign-ups, and you get a better understanding of your audience.
- Content that sits behind a “token wall”, i.e., users have to use their tokens to unlock it.
- Content that is exclusively for your subscribers. This allows you to build your own direct-to-consumer media platform and subscription business. This is, for instance, great to create a digital membership model.
Thanks to our publishing tools, you can build a wide range of content-based services, ranging from free content in a state-of-the-art user experience to your own premium content platform.
The Ideation Hub
With this module, you can publish what we call ideation missions. They are the space to brainstorm and co-create with your fanbase. Leverage the wisdom of your crowd, ask questions, collect ideas, or find solutions to real challenges you are facing.
Ideation missions can either be playful (Who do you think was the best goalie we ever had?), practical (We’re rethinking concessions in our Arena. What food should we add to the menu? What should we drop?) or serious (We want to do something good for our local community! Which social projects are especially important to you and how can we support them as a community?).
This module is the digital mouthpiece for your fans. Listen, collect inspiration, and learn more about your fans’ needs. Fans can submit proposals, and during so-called proposal periods, the community can vote and comment on all the proposals. Meanwhile, you, as the operator, commit to giving consideration and feedback to the top proposals at the end of every period. And, of course, you might end up putting some proposals into practice, giving a badge of honor to your engaged and contributing fans.
With votings, you can give your fans more of a say. Allow your community to influence your decision-making and use our innovative token-based votings to introduce more granularity into preference expression.
Voting modes range from tokenless votings that give every user a single vote to variable token votings, where every token represents a vote, and users can decide how many tokens they want to use. By using more or fewer tokens to vote, fans can signal how strong their preference for a given option is. And no worries: we build various tools to ensure that no fan can accumulate too much voting power.
Tying it all Together: The All-Time Starting Eleven Example
Each of the features does have its use in isolation. But once you let them interplay in creative ways, they show their real value. Let me show you how I think about these building blocks for digital interaction by giving an example of true fan co-creation.
Let’s say you are a football club and, together with your fans, you want to elect the all-time starting eleven of your club’s history. Here’s how you can do it.
1. Brainstorm for the Best Goalie
I described the Ideation Hub as the brainstorming tool for you and your crowd. Let’s use it playfully and start an ideation mission where you ask your fanbase who they think the best goalkeeper in the club’s history was.
Fans will start commenting with their favorite(s). They can discuss the candidates in the comments and upvote their favorites using the boost feature.
At the end of the ideation mission, you are left with a pretty good idea of who the crowd’s favorites are.
2. Create an in-depth Analysis of the Favorites
Now that you have the input from your fans, you can get creative. Whether you want to do a video analysis including snippets from each goalie’s greatest saves or a written stats-based article — the options are manifold. While you’re at it, why not include some quotes from your fans’ discussion in the ideation hub?
You can even record a podcast episode, maybe including one of the scouts out there looking for talent day in and day out, and let them share their insights on how they personally spot a great keeper. All these types of content can live within your fan platform.
Now that you have done your homework, you can hand over the final decision to your fans: Who was the best?
3. Let your Fans Decide
Using the voting feature, you let your community decide who should get the goalie starting spot in your all-time starting eleven. Pretty straightforward, right?
4. Follow up with an Action
Your fans have chosen the best goalkeeper you ever had. Now it’s time to show them that the effort is not going to waste by following up with action.
One option would be to have a user, maybe one selected based on his activity in the ideation mission, hand over a trophy to the winner. Invite the fan to meet his GOAT Goalkeeper and create a memorable experience for both. And of course, you have a great opportunity to create exclusive content with the winner — be it a podcast or even a mini-documentary if you want to think big.
You have only picked the first out of the starting eleven. So proceed by filling the remaining positions on the imaginary MVP squad. You can run the selection for several positions simultaneously or fill each of them one by one.
A Token-Powered Community Economy
Under its hood, LT Fan Platform uses blockchain-based tokens to create an engaging and playful experience for your fanbase.
The tokens live in your platform where users can utilize them to various ends:
- boost content as a way to show appreciation to the creator
- boost ideas and proposals from other users to upvote them and increase their visibility
- participate in token-based votings
- unlock premium content
Inside your community, tokens create an economy of sorts. Thanks to various mechanics and algorithms — which we will explain in-depth in a follow-up article soon — tokens gravitate towards those users who are the most active contributors to your community. This way, your platform automatically rewards constructive and engaging user behavior.
Depending on how you position your fan platform, you can think of tokens in several ways:
- Digital Content Credit: If premium content is your platform’s value proposition, the token can be considered digital credit to access said content primarily.
- Social Reputation: If your platform is based around fan co-creation and community building, the token serves as a social reputation mechanism — the more you contribute to the community, the more tokens you will accrue.
- Loyalty Points: If your main goal is to increase your fans’ engagement thinking about the token as a loyalty point is the most accurate analogy.
In practice, your token’s function will share traits with each of the use cases outlined. Still, it helps to keep in mind the different “dimensions” the token can have.
And last but not least, a word on how tokens get into your community. Again, you have multiple options:
- sell them to your fans, either in individual packages or as part of a membership/subscription
- create exciting digital partner activations that reward your fans with free tokens presented by your sponsors
- give them away for certain activities in the app — such as completing your profile — or in real life — such as visiting the arena.
You can combine all methods or focus on one.
Interested in trying LT Fan Platform Yourself?
If the above seems interesting to you, I have good news: We recently launched our Early Adopter Club. With it, you can join our first clients — Borussia Dortmund, NBA star Dennis Schröder, and Basketball Löwen Braunschweig — and start building your own fan platform.
The club is open to professional sports entities and athletes (and anyone else who has fans for that matter) who want to establish their own platform with our solution — and help us to make LT Fan Platform even better going forward. Early Adopter Club members benefit from various attractive advantages.