Company: FOX SPORTS Australia
Contact: Shae Marlow (Manager, Customer Experience & Community)
Community: The Crowd
Lithy category: Marketing Champion
FOX SPORTS is Australia’s leading producer of sports television coverage and is home to Australia's favourite subscription television sports channels as well as Australia's number one general sports website. FOX SPORTS operates the website www.foxsports.com.au which contains a wide range of video content and articles, including a citizen journalism community called, The Crowd. FOX SPORTS broadcasts over 10,000 hours of LIVE sports programming per year into 2.5 million homes around Australia.
Our unique promotion and the goal
In 2014, FOX SPORTS Australia launched The Crowd – a community forum created to be the home of sports conversations.
Two years in, The Crowd has provided us with a strong foundation to expand our Community Strategy and launch a unique marketing content strategy, Citizen Journalism. In short, Citizen Journalism is the ultimate community engagement opportunity whereby community members submit articles to FOX SPORTS to be published on The Crowd. It has been marketed as ‘the training ground for aspiring journalists’.
The initiative has allowed us to grow our community and promote our members, particularly superusers.
The goal has been to innovate the current marketing strategy for the community whilst supporting FOX SPORTS digital strategy, including:
Our strategy and tactics for community
We identified the lack of opportunities for aspiring sports journalists and so developed our Citizen Journalism initiative, a place for journalists to sharpen their skills while gaining real life experience.
We introduced an integrated content marketing approach in three key phases.
PHASE ONE: TEST
The first phase was to test the initiative in a controlled environment, engaging just two universities and inviting their journalism students to participate as ‘Crowd Correspondents’.
Students utilised The Crowd forum, where articles were submitted for approval and moderation then published to a public board. The FOX SPORTS Editorial team would then review each article and select the best for publication on foxsports.com.au. Published Crowd Correspondent articles featured all the hallmarks of a professional journalist’s piece – including their very own byline plus a link back to their Crowd profile. Lastly, two of the contributing students were selected and offered a two week paid internship with the FOX SPORTS editorial team.
PHASE TWO: LEVERAGE & INTEGRATE
Our second phase involved formalising a program that built the credentials and profiles of our Crowd Correspondents. We updated their Profile Pages, creating a portfolio of each student’s contributions to FOX SPORTS. We then discovered they were adding their Crowd profile credentials to their LinkedIn pages and CVs. This established their profiles as writers within the community and also established their Crowd experience as a worthy qualification externally.
PHASE THREE: SCALE
The final stage was to scale and extend the program to 20+ universities across Australia. In order to market to these students, we interviewed our original Crowd Correspondent intern and created a promotional video, where we highlighted the benefits to other aspiring journalism students in becoming Crowd Correspondents themselves.
As the program matured, we ramped up promotion by integrating Crowd Correspondent articles into the FOX Sports App and established The Crowd’s Twitter account.
Within four months, phase one of The Crowd Correspondent marketing initiative nearly tripled its trial KPIs, with 14 Crowd Correspondents signing up (KPI was 5).
Now, in just over 7 months, the initiative has continued to exceed expectations, both from a business and community point of view, including:
The Crowd began as a small idea with big aspirations and it has since grown into a viable content engine. It’s surpassed all KPIs set yet most importantly, it has given university students a chance to experience the thrill of sports journalism and in doing so, give fans a unique perspective of sport through the lens of a younger pundit.
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