Fans are the most important part of the sports and esports industries. Stadium seats need to be filled, games need to be watched, and players need to be supported. That’s why esports teams try so hard to engage with their fans and foster positive connections between the brand and the supporters.
Esports is unique from traditional sports because, aside from some leagues and teams, there are no hometown cities. Unlike the New York Yankees, Manchester United F.C., and the Los Angeles Lakers, esports teams do not have a hometown to bring fans from.
This is a challenge because every single fan of an esports team is there because of the team’s brand, players, or influencers. In traditional sports, fans might still support their hometown team even if it has not won a championship in decades, such as the New York Mets.
Why does this matter for esports? Because it makes brand image and marketing so much more important. The most apparent way esports teams maintain their brand image is by utilising social media.
Organisations and teams such as Cloud9, G2 Esports, and Fnatic have all made massive pushes to make a notable social media presence. By interacting with fans, players, and other teams, these social media accounts keep their brand image on the timelines of everyone who follows them, increasing fan engagement.
Even short, silly tweets are a great way to maintain a consistent brand image. For example, G2’s Twitter account often interacts with its founder, Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez, and constantly promotes its players’ victories and laughs off their failures.
But engaging with fans does not start and end with Twitter. Marketing comes in dozens of forms and across several mediums. On Nov. 10, 2020, Cloud9 announced a “superfan” membership program, Stratus, for fans to pay a yearly fee and get access to exclusive merchandise, digital perks, and a private Discord server.
This is a great way to separate a brand from the rest of the litter. Giving dedicated fans a way to express their fanaticism not only increases the fanbase but makes fans actively engaged with a brand. It’s one thing to like an esports team’s tweet, it’s another thing to pay 500 USD a year to receive exclusive, team-specific benefits.