Written By: Adam Robles, Principal Consultant at Reach Agency; Head of Marketing of Raptors Republic | 5 minute read
As the Head of Marketing of Raptors Republic, I’ve had the opportunity to lead digital strategy for the past year from pertaining to social media, content, and community engagement. (For those that are unfamiliar with Raptors Republic, it is the largest independent fan blog of the Toronto Raptors.) In one season and on a shoestring budget, we grew the Instagram following by 959% and reached 70m+ accounts.
So how did we achieve these numbers and how can you use these strategies for yourself?
1. Don’t be selfish and give the people what they want
We analyzed the market and determined what was missing. Besides game highlights, people really craved interviews, short clips and anything that reflected the pride of the Raptors fan base. What’s more, they wanted this content in a timely fashion. Relevance, in this sense, is crucial.
Read the room. What does your audience want?
2. Learn the game
In order to succeed on social media, you need to learn the game. Each platform has its own idiosyncrasies and algorithms that can change on the fly. With Instagram, we understand that the platform right now prioritizes content (video and photos) that keeps users glued to the app, so our strategy revolved around posting content that would be shared, saved, and consumed over and over.
By posting content that we knew would engage with our specific audience and abided by the algorithm of Instagram, we understood that our content would be prioritized over others and contribute to our growth.
3. Form Partnerships
By prioritizing the growth and engagement of our community, we made Raptors Republic appealing to partners. Earlier in the season, we partnered with Yahoo Sports Canada on a Post-Game Podcast that featured two of our writers, Vivek Jacob and William Lou, who recently joined the Yahoo Sports Canada staff. (Congrats, guys!)
During the NBA Conference Finals, we partnered with Rethink Canada on Ka’Wine and Dine, a campaign that empowered Raptors fans to show their love and support for the Raptors and Kawhi. Read more about it here.
Partnerships are a great way for you to tap into audiences outside of yours and further your growth within the community.
4. Contribute to the Community
Along with Ka’Wine and Dine, we also completed a series of smaller activations throughout the year. Whether they were giveaways online or watch parties throughout the NBA Playoffs, we found ways to give back to our community and serve as a hub for Raptors fans to connect and come together, whether that was in person or digitally.
Obviously, it helps that the Raptors made a historic run throughout the NBA playoffs, but even if the Raptors hadn’t won the title, we still would have achieved our goals for the year. By focusing on Digital Branding and taking a holistic approach to social media, content development, and community growth, we set up Raptors Republic to have a successful year and gave ourselves the opportunity to dictate the narrative around the Raptors throughout the 2018-19 NBA season.
Random Tidbit: Much of the ethos practiced by Raptors Republic reflect Omar Raja, Founder of House of Highlights (HoH). Omar started HoH 4 years ago from his university dorm room and within that time, has amassed a following of 13.6m+ followers on Instagram, surpassing the likes of large sports conglomerates like ESPN. He is the epitome of “Ballin’ on a Budget”. Click here to read his story.