Esports, or competitions based around video game titles, have rapidly taken over streaming services like Twitch and YouTube. With more and more esports players leveraging their fan bases into their status as influential people, brands are looking to partner with the gamers leading the esports industry into a new age. In order to reach broader audiences, esports must dive into influencer marketing.
What are Esports?
As mentioned before, esports are competitive video games where teams of players compete against others. While a majority of esports takes place over streaming platforms, some esports competitions are also held in public arenas. As the name suggests, esports are very similar to regular sports in the sense that skilled players are asked to join teams that specialize in certain titles–the difference is that where sports have football and baseball, esports have Fortnite and Overwatch.
The comparisons also continue into the ways that the sports are marketed. Regular sports stars are famous in their own right, and have amassed large followings invested in the character of the player. These players can leverage their followings with brands to secure partnerships for sponsoring products, services and items–which is the basis of influencer marketing. The same is said of esports players–turning esports players into the influencers of their own genre.
For brands and advertisers looking to get into the esports industry, finding the right players is key to creating an effective influencer marketing strategy that will connect with the esports audience. Although regular sports are thoroughly established, the esports industry only continues to grow with the development of more streaming networks to showcase players and content. For that reason and more, brands looking to innovate their strategies should dive into the world of esports–and find the right players to partner with. Alternatively, esports can learn a lot from the influencer marketing industry and the way it uses player potential to create new opportunities.
Here are four ways that esports can use influencers to reach a broader audience:
Focus on similar values and interests.
Influencer marketing is in an age of authenticity. This means that brands and advertisers put more emphasis on the people that they partner with, and seek out creative relationships that last longer, are more meaningful, and provide better returns to the influencer and their consumers. By finding influencers (or players) that align with your mission, brands are able to create authentic, transparent relationships with those influencers that translate as organic, genuine connections to their audiences. In esports, the right influencers will be the ones that share the values of your brand, making the interactions between the two come off as seamless to both of your audiences.
Discover new talent in new areas.
One of the major benefits of influencers is the audiences that they reach. With so many different types of influencers in the world, there are countless numbers of niches that brands and advertisers can tap into with the right influencer. For brands looking to expand into new areas or uncharted territories, influencers are a great way to connect with people in the surrounding areas to tap into unidentified talent.
For esports brands looking to discover new potential players for team recruitment, partnering with specific influencers can provide the opportunity to explore the rest of the player pool in that area until they find the right fit for their brand. This also presents an opportunity to raise brand awareness in new areas. By finding influencers that know the area well and the locale, esports brands are able to spread their message through influencer player channels to increase brand recognition in the new area.
Create promotional giveaways and contests.
Because influencers appeal to large audiences, they are utilized in giveaways, contests and other forms of promotions. For brands, this presents the opportunity to convert fans of the influencer into fans of your brand. By partnering with influencers and creating promotions specifically through those influencers, brands and advertisers can spread their name recognition to a much wider audience than they could prior to the partnership.
Promotions like this also create codes that users can follow to get discounts on products, items and services–that can be tracked by your brand. This allows you to see exactly which influencers are driving direct sales, and therefore delivering a direct KPI that your team can use to determine the success of your influencer campaign. By using influencers, esports brands can leverage promotional contests and codes as a way to spread brand awareness, but also as a way to drive more people to purchase their items, while measuring the ROI of your influencer partnerships at the same time.
Organize ambassador programs.
Esports brands can also use influencers to interact with their audiences or fans of the brand. As the word “influencer” gets thrown around more and more, people are trying to redefine exactly what it is that influencers do. At this stage in the history of the influencer marketing industry, it’s important to shift the definition of influencer from “someone with a large following” to “anyone that interacts with your brand.” By expanding the opportunities of your brand to find potential partners, you expand the opportunities your brand has to engage with people that genuinely care about your brand.
Through ambassador programs, your brand can engage with each person that’s a fan of your brand and establish a network of those fans across the world. For esports brands, this opens up more audiences to your brand name while creating more meaningful interactions between your brand and your audience. Ambassador programs allow brands to put more eyes and ears at the ground level, and find talent that might have been overlooked by other programs.