Sports offer a great way to build traffic and sell advertising. You get to tie into pre-made communities and to tie into people who want constant news and updates.
However, as the market has developed, we see more or less three types of sports sites: 1) a news-oriented site, like ESPN.com, which gives readers an AP feed and some featured content, both written and multimedia, 2) official sites, which generally feature press releases and occasionally some audio/video, and 3) fan sites or blogs, which feature more aggressive commentary.
All three have issues. A site like ESPN can deliver large audiences but has no desire to be edgy. Fan sites can easily be far too edgy and you’ll occasionally find outrageous, obscene or illegal content posted by authors or fans who use forums to vent. And official sites are, unfortunately, usually just boring.
Official sites were started by some clown who realized that someone would pay you to build a fancy wrapper for press releases which he apparently regarded as free content. You can finish with a site like that in about five minutes. There’s just nothing to keep you there.
It is free, but only because no one would pay for it.
Fan sites are better, but they have issues too. On the one hand, the quality of writing is erratic. Some sites are competent; others are barely literate. You might find rantings on forums or worse. At one point one early college board, invaded by racists and unable to control the posts, simply shut down.
At best it’s a delicate balance and people have to be willing to be civil even when the subjects are very passionately debated.
Some sites have done things differently. Duke basketball is a brand that is widely disliked despite (or because of) great success. Realizing that, the program took control of its message as much as possible, but rather than simply posting press releases, Duke made the members of the team the media stars of the site.
Some players really take to it. Former guard Nolan Smith became a beloved figure. A thorough extrovert, Smith loved being center stage and when he had the interview mike, he brought his teammates along for the ride.
As a freshman, now-senior Marshall Plumlee was similarly engaging. He had all the energy of a 17-year-old and really had an appeal.
Duke is smart enough to cross-post these videos on YouTube, which creates more traffic.
The overall goal is to put a more intimate face on the program, which it does very well. It also provides a lot of video, photo shoots and behind-the-scenes type reports to keep people coming back over and over again.
In short, you can build around any of the three approaches, but even the latter has limitations as it is a one-way mirror. Generally speaking the best option is to engage people as much as possible and allow them an authentic voice as well.
Develop a sense of civil community and your site will thrive, no matter what the overall approach is.
If you need assistance with sports content or building traffic to build an audience and/or sell advertising contact us today.
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