- 16/17 has been yet another bumper year for GB Park and Pipe, with our athletes continuing their inexorable journey to the top of world snowboarding ahead of Korea.
It also saw #ProjectPY2018, our dedicated social media and content marketing project, also step up to the next level. How? Here’s a quick reminder of the underpinning concept first (below)
- Stage 1
From the beginning, our plan for #ProjectPY2018 has been in three stages. Firstly, as we did in year 1 (14/15), create the plan and initial films, get athlete buy in and start to introduce our audience to our team and content plan
- Stage 2
Stage 2 is ongoing and is simple - grow the audience, which we have continued to do in fine style. The interesting thing about the success of the GB Park & Pipe content project has been that it has been achieved largely without spending any money on internet or Facebook advertising. Instead, our audience has grown purely by the achievements of our athletes, documented by consistency of our films and social media output. Let's properly dig into the numbers....
Instagram (above) has seen our most spectacular growth, with a whopping audience growth of 280% between October 2016 and April 2017. Our average monthly likes rounded out at 5536, while our monthly comment tally of 77 means we enjoy an engagement rate of 8.4%.
- Why has our page been so successful without any advertising? Again it has been down to careful positioning and the quality of the content. Our main initiative was to send renowned photographer Matt Georges to Australia to work with the team over a three week period and produce a series of images we could use as an organic ad campaign similar to those utilised by professional ‘brand’ teams. For a national team, this was a revolutionary approach and one that saw our images picked up by core snowboard media across Europe who chose to share the images on their own channels.
- This was a real coup for GB Park & Pipe - it proved the validity of the concept and the credibility of the team in the crucial core snowboard media (a notoriously troublesome area), increased athlete buy-in, and gave us more tools in our armoury for attracting outside sponsorship.
Facebook continues to be our bread and butter, and the channel by which we share our main #ProjectPY2018 content. With over 80,000 engagements throughout the year and an 11% fan increase (up from 13688 to 15051) it’s been another stellar year.
- How have we managed this growth? Again, through the smartness of our content, and in this area two new initiatives stand out.
- Firstly, we partnered with UK Sport and GB Gymnastics to create a film starring Olympic medal-winning gymnast Nile Wilson and some of our athletes such as Billy Morgan. These films were then shared across all platforms and saw us enjoy and incredible reach - over 80,000 views for these films alone. Again, it enabled us to really strengthen the reach of the whole GB Park & Pipe project across different disciplines and media.
- The second tactic we used was, as ever, identifying key stories among our athletes and then targeting specific media partnerships to tell this story. A great example of this approach was our film about the Performance Pathway programme which we gave to the Telegraph first to build an article around and then launch first, before posting on our channels. This was timed to be released ahead of the British Ski and Snowboarding Championships to generate even greater buzz.
- To add a further layer of interest, we filmed this in Laax, Switzerland, our long-time resort partners who enjoyed an increased level of media attention in the UK as a result and have already indicated they would like to continue their association with GB Park & Pipe next year. Which brings us nicely to….
- Stage 3
This third stage was always planned to kick in during the 16/17 season, and so it proved. This was to use the size of our own native audience, and the amazing social reach of our audience, to attract outside investment from sponsors.
- Laax, as mentioned, are one of our longest standing partners. But we were also able to bring in new third party sponsorships with an entirely different audience and financial clout. Of these, the most successful collaboration was undoubtedly our series of films with Hertz. The car-hire giants signed on to help with team car hire costs across a number of trips, saving the team vital cash in the process which we were able to use to directly fund athlete development.
- Hertz also used our films across their own social networks, thus further increasing our reach and visibility in new areas. As with Laax, they have also indicated that they are very keen to work further with the team in 17/18.