We take a look at how LaLiga used social media to garner engagement and stay relevant in the lives of Indian football fans through 2020.
Over the last three years, LaLiga has garnered millions of followers in India and worked through various marketing strategies to set a benchmark. To be more accessible to fans, LaLiga's approach shifted from a traditional channel to more of a direct channel, which is, social media.
Social Media Play
In 2020, as the world was going through a pandemic and people were quarantined at home; professional football took a setback and action was missing on the field. During the lockdown, LaLiga launched programming initiatives on Facebook Watch like 'LaLiga StayAtHome', 'LaLiga Nations', and LaLiga clubs for football fans in India to keep them closer to the game.
LaLiga StayAtHome featured famous sports personalities engaging in conversation with fans about how they are living through the lockdown. LaLiga Nations showcased the importance of present and past football players of different nationalities and the impact that they have had on LaLiga and Spanish football as a whole. The LaLiga Clubs programme discussed the history of Spanish clubs within their cities and outlined the significance of each club.
After the lockdown, LaLiga was one of the first leagues in the world to resume live football. As it was not possible for Indian fans to go and watch the matches live, LaLiga brought the match to them by broadcasting them live on Facebook Watch, as they have been doing since 2018.
According to an official brand statement, due to the live-streaming of matches on Facebook, LaLiga witnessed a 72% increase in viewership in India. Impressions per post increased by 461% whereas the engagement per post took a leap of 117%. The trend is similar at a global level but the increase in India was way above average.
Leveraging Brand Ambassador
Before the lockdown began at home, Rohit Sharma, LaLiga's brand ambassador in India, had visited Spain to catch the watch the marquee clash between the traditional arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. Footage from the visit was shared on social media to promote the league.
Around the same time, LaLiga had also launched its first audio-visual campaign in India, where Sharma took fans through the ethos of LaLiga. More recently, in September, Sharma had shared a short clip to announce the league's revival.
With football presenter Joe Morrison, Sharma had also engaged with fans of LaLiga in a virtual conversation on Facebook to talk about fitness, lifestyle, and more. He spoke about his lifestyle and how he kept himself busy during the lockdown. The conversation focussed on fitness and family, where other topics such as dressing room anecdotes were mentioned.
Bollywood actor Esha Gupta had, in an interview with team LaLiga, had revealed her love for the league and football. Complete with anecdotes from childhood, the candid chat was one that helped the league further extend their narrative on social media.
On several occasions, Gupta has shared posts on Instagram, participating in conversations around the league, various teams and the sport.
In 2020, LaLiga also launched the 'LaLiga eSpace app’ for Indian and Bangladeshi viewers ahead of the marquee clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The app was launched so that the fans can have easy access to the history and the rich heritage of ElClassico along with interesting trivia.
While leveraging social media in its marketing strategy has been working for LaLiga, it did give a touch of a traditional marketing approach. The league rolled out a Red Carpet at seven different iconic locations around the world including the Red Fort at New Delhi to promote the ElClasico fixture.
Reflecting on 2020 and putting forth his expectations from LaLiga's journey in 2021, Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, LaLiga India said, "2020 has been a tough year. Both businesses and societies have suffered at large. The fact that professional sports action was back, it gave an important message to the society as we overcame a huge challenge."
"There is a massive fan following for football in India and I believe this year to be a better one so that we can continue to engage and dole out exciting content to our fans in order to bring the societies closer," he added.