How to Give Sports Fans the Ultimate Mobile Experience

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Professional sports teams, from the 49ers to The Golden State Warriors, are releasing mobile apps for sports fans. Basic apps include player stats, game schedules and promotional offers. But, to build real fan loyalty, the apps need much more. What’s the secret to driving fan loyalty from a mobile app, the so-called second screen?

Fan loyalty means building a community around the team, to make the fans feel like stakeholders. If they’re given a voice, that platform to make a connection, then that’s where their loyalty lays. The formula for fandom in a mobile world is creating a social layer, connecting fan to fan, fan to team, and team to fan. To really drive fan loyalty, mobile apps need to be social.

At TIBCO, we just released the Golden State Warriors app. From a fan loyalty “give to get” perspective, it gives fans the usual news updates, player stats, a calendar of events, tweets and promotional offers. But, we’re adding the social layer as well. For example, fans can access a fan page with interactive polls where they can vote for the best player of the night. In return for “likes” and “dislikes,” the Warriors receive feedback and data from their fans to improve their experience.

But, the innovation doesn’t have to stop there.

What makes a traditional diehard fan continue to support the team, year after year, even after a long losing streak? The psychological principles driving fans to continue to follow a team include deep-rooted community-based rituals, fan bonding with the team and players, group affiliation or bonding with friends over the game, as well as the pure entertainment value.

With these principles in mind, let’s look at where we are now and where we could be in the future. Take Brian for example:

Today, Brian uses the Warriors mobile app for everything Warriors, including getting ticket discounts and voting for his favorite teammates. But, in the future, he’s following a team page where he can connect with the athletes and respond to their posts (fan bonding), a private fan page where fans are coordinating cheers and even posting instructional videos for an upcoming flash mob (community-based rituals/traditions), and, because the app integrates with Facebook and Twitter, he’s sharing messages about the game with his friends (group affiliation).

At the game, not only can Brian check-in from his mobile app, but he can view an augmented reality of the stadium with location-based subjects. For example, he clicks on a subject for a hot dog stand, answers a question about the game, and wins a free soda. Plus, when he’s not at a game or anywhere near a television, Brian’s still receiving push notifications on his mobile device for the latest plays and scores during the game.

With TIBCO technology, we’re only beginning to imagine the potential in giving fans a more authentic, mirror-game experience. The formula for fandom has always been there. We’re simply turning on the right technology to prove it.