Dortmund 1 Million Followers
Mike KoeshartantoCody Kuiper

10 Ways a Sports Team Can Grow their Instagram Following

Social media is an important platform through which teams can directly connect with their fans (and maybe their haters, too). The social currency of followers, engagements, views, and more help to create a picture of effectiveness, both in content created and in overall popularity of an account.

If you’re a sports team, one thing you can rely on is your most hardcore of fans. They likely make up a large bulk of your following; however, the biggest question is how do you reach people beyond that core? How do you attract casual sports fans and maybe even non-sports fans? The answer lies in your content. We’ve found that Americans tend to engage at higher rates when content is tied to American sports or pop culture.

For example, @LFCUSA’s most-engaged with tweets of all-time nearly always include references NBA players like LeBron James or Tacko Fall or big Hollywood names like Emilia Clarke and John Oliver. If high-profile names like your team or your brand, capitalize!

Using bold design in order to cut through the monotony of an Instagram feed is another smart strategy. Often we find our feeds cluttered with the same info or regurgitated designs that all blend together. Don’t be afraid to be brave and create eye-catching visuals that tell a story.

One recent example that enforces the efficacy of this strategy is when Christian Pulisic was nominated for the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season. On Instagram, @PLinUSA highlighted his historic season with a captivating and unique design, allowing the account to turn what would normally be a copy and number-heavy post into one of the most engaged-with images of the season.

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In soccer we’re presented with the luxury of team rosters filled with players from different parts of the world; our scope goes well beyond just traditional American players. Some of @PLinUSA’s strongest-performing content is the result of featured players from other parts of the Americas.

Posts featuring Mexico star Raul Jimenez of Wolves (Post #1, Post #2), or Newcastle’s former MLS All-Star Miguel Almiron, often over-index. These two posts featuring Jimenez garnered nearly a million impressions combined, for instance. A focus solely on the U.S. would be leaving hugely marketable players on the table.

10 ways a sports team can grow their Instagram following

A good example of great strategy leading to effective results comes to us from Germany where, in the past 10 months, Borussia Dortmund’s English-language Instagram account, @BlackYellow, has gained over 1 million followers… from scratch.

The 19th most-popular club team in the U.S. according to our recent report has enjoyed success on the field over the past decade, but how did their social team grow the account so quickly?

Here are ten strategies worth considering:

1. Create culturally relevant content that goes beyond soccer

2. Use targeted paid media campaigns in geographies that make the most sense

3. Design visually captivating graphic designs that break the clutter and stand out

4. Use quick/bold decision-making when addressing trending topics; be first to the scene

5. Utilize engagement-driven giveaway campaigns that give back to fans

6. Create content relevant to interests of club’s players for re-sharing to large audience

7. Capitalize on Instagram’s newest features (Reels, IG Shopping, etc.)

8. Partner with local and global influencers to target new and existing demographics

9. Geographically target content catering to different religions, ethnicities, cultures

10. Cover beyond just the American market to cater to the larger international audience

And there you have it – ten approaches to follow when trying to grow your social media presence.


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