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Five reasons you need more visual content in your sports content strategy

By: Mike Morrison, Oliver Hopkins

Humans are fundamentally visual creatures. The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text and visual content continues to grow in popularity with social networks and much of the online world becoming increasingly image-centric. Whilst sport has always existed as a visual medium within the match experience itself, marketers and content creators have become increasingly focused on trying to use visual content to grab the attention of their target audience beyond the match footage.

But why does visual content play such an important role in this space? Here are five reasons to get you started.

1) Capture Short Attention Spans

Attention spans are short and competition for fans’ attention has never been higher. Add those two elements together and you will go someway to explaining a major factor in the rise of video content, gifs, infographics and most forms of visual content we’re all beocming more familiar with. A recent study from the Technical University of Denmark suggests our collective global attention span had dropped to just eight seconds in total, narrowing because of the abundance of information presented to us.

This gives you a very limited time, particularly within social media marketing, to grab a reader’s attention and makes bringing audience onto your platform or even simply building brand awareness, a tough task. Visuals are needed to capture their attention in the short window you’re given.

It doesn’t take long to understand where Ronaldo’s shots and goals come from:

Christiano Ronaldo Goals, xG and shots La Liga

2) An Infographic Tells A Thousand Words.

It takes the average reader just a tenth of a second to understand a visual scene compared to 60 seconds to consume 250 words of written content. By my maths, that makes a picture worth a lot more…

Our brains are hardwired to consume visuals (think of the rising popularity of memes and emojis) and that they help us improve understanding when accompanying text. Well-placed graphics can complement text in an important way by offer something sports fans can digest and understand easily.

Don’t just tell a reader about a mind-blowing stat, or about a change in a pattern or trend – show them. It’s one thing to say ‘Rúben Neves loves to shoot from range’, but it’s another thing to show his crazy shot map from last season:

Ruben Neves shot locations Premier League

3) Visual Storytelling Engages And Influences 

Adding visuals to written content makes your content far more engaging for readers. Infographics and video content can help to keep users onsite and engaged, whether that be short videos highlighting the performance of teams and players or snippets of match action. Facebook posts with images have 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Meanwhile, including images to Twitter updates resulted in 150% more retweets than plain text updates. Content simply performs better with visual content.

Implement visual content to ensure your customers are engaged for longer and you’ll be able to translate that engagement into revenue more effectively.

4) Visual Content Is Sharable.

Social media has created an intense desire and opportunity to share what we learn and discover. Visual content is far easier to share with audiences than words. So, ensuring you are creating unique and digestible content in visual form is critical in penetrating the market and connecting with your readers.

After seeing it, no one’s forgotten this graphic demonstrating the shot locations in the NBA. That feeling taps into the competitive nature of sports fans and their desire to share and ‘own’ the insight.

NBA Shot Locations 2001 02 Vs 2019 20

A comparison of NBA Shot Locations 2001 02 Vs 2019 20

5) Visual Content And Search

Humans like visual content, which means that Google likes visual content, as do most social media platforms.

All forms of search, whether that’s Google or on a social media platform, reward engagement, user experience and interaction as indicators of valuable content. We’ve established that visual content hits all three of these elements and will therefore have a positive impact on search engine rankings – so if it’s the algorithm you’re trying to win, imagery is key.

Closing off, posts with videos earn more than three times the number of backlinks, another important search ranking factor. Then there’s also the bonus of added eyeballs that fall on the content by way of shares, emails, and more.

Using visual content is integral to your marketing efforts or content strategy. They can be the difference between having your content seen or not, engaged with or not and effectively monetised or not.

Make sure you offer your audience, not just compelling content, but visually appealing content that is compelling and can withstand the challenges of different platforms. If you’re interested in finding out more about Stats Perform’s content creation tools for fan engagement, get in touch and we’ll be able to help.

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