Industry Insights

Building A Youth Sports Brand

By LeagueApps
October 4, 2018
3 min

Sharing is caring. Especially when it comes to athletes and social media. Whether sharing highlights of a game, promoting the team, or even posting offseason workouts, social media greatly enhances the athletic experience. We continue to seek out the most enterprising and inventive leaders in the youth sports universe. Today we’ve enlisted the help of one of our top partners to discuss how to cultivate an impressive social media following.  

There’s a difference between being on social media and truly having a social media presence. Carlos Villicana and the rest of Team ESFACE (pronounced S-FAH-CHEE) have made a name for themselves on social media. The youth basketball academy uses social media in a big way to attract the eyeballs of current and potential athletes, as well as their parents. Team ESFACE came out of an old acronym, ESFACHI, empowering people through fashion, athletics, community and entertainment, and they host camps, clinics, training, leagues and AAU teams across the San Francisco Peninsula. In addition, they provide personalized training to players between the age of 5 and 18.

Villicana says Team ESFACE has always been a brand-centric program.

“Social media provides us with a way to be public and customer-facing,” said Villacana. “It’s also a great way to get content out quickly.”

And get content out quickly they have. With over 1,200 posts on Instagram and a very similar, if not higher amount on Facebook, Team ESFACE ensures that its posts are diverse in nature, hitting a variety of different parts of the basketball training and development process.

Villcana says that’s all part of the strategy surrounding Team ESFACE’s social media posting.

“Dele (Oladele Soobomehin, Team ESFACE CEO) has taken a stance on being deliberate (on social media) with the budget we have,” said Villcana.

The group has a social media arm they employ- someone who is focused on conversion videos, and another employee who builds ad campaigns to get the conversions they want. The coaches are involved as well, and Villcana says he gets different types of videos from different coaches.

Where Team ESFACE really shines is on Facebook, which coincidentally is where they spend most of their paid advertising targeting parents through a conversion funnel they’ve developed.

Villacana explained the conversion funnel through Facebook as follows:

The first part of the funnel is building brand awareness. We want to make sure people know we are out there. We’ll measure the engagement level of the ads, and give them more content from there. After two cycles of engagement, we  focus on conversion, and focus our attention on calls to action, with messages asking parents to sign their athlete up for clinics or go to evaluations which steers them directly toward sites. Depending on how the engagement is going with ads- they get slotted engagement content or call to action that is more personal to themselves.  The question we are trying to answer is how do you feel in these specific parental stages?Carlos Villacana

Their most successful campaigns on Facebook centered around ads that are engaged with the game of basketball. Villicana says that Team ESFACE ads that are filled with emotion (an athlete hitting a game winner)  got more reach than ads that were methodical and that the team thought were evoking emotion. In addition, ads that had a strong emotional attachment performed well on Facebook.

The team also uses Instagram, though Villacana says there is less strategy and planning surrounding the execution of posts on that particular site.

“There is a big opportunity to hit an audience that is more your player’s age,” Villacana said. “We try to make sure the culture reflects it in an accurate way, so we work to show youthful, appealing content on Instagram.”

Team ESFACE uses other social media sites in addition to Facebook and Instagram, though not as much. While the team isn’t on Snapchat, some coaches use it. They also use YouTube as more of a database for content, and they used to be on Yelp as well. Twitter, says Villacana, is just one big shouting match.

For those organizations looking to replicate Team ESFACE’s successful social model, Villacana offers four tips for social:

  • Understand your audience: If your league is full of college age players or younger, Instagram might be a better tool to promote it. If it’s a men’s over 35 league, Facebook may be a better use of your time.
  • There has to be some sort of reverberation when communicating with the audience- communication must go back and forth.
  • You won’t create the perfect ad the first time- test drive a lot of posts. Understand your group’s brand and mission and create ads that communicate that. Test with video and still pics.
  • Give people an opportunity to populate your content platform. The more that you allow the better your content will become.