Soccer tournament app-itis

Paul Smalera (@smalera) — formerly with the New York Times, now the Ideas Editor with Quartz — tweeted this out last year and it stuck with me.

In many ways, it reflects life on the ground with soccer tournament players and their families that supports the behavior patterns we have been seeing here at TourneyCentral.

As I stated in an earlier post, while you and your crew live and breathe your soccer tournament 24/7/365, teams and players don’t really care about your event except for the three games they’ll play — four or five if they get lucky and advance out of their group. They care about getting the schedule on time, finding food nearby and they really do care about getting the score correct. But not much else.

It’s a phenomenon we here refer to as the “90:00 minute attention span.”

They won’t download your app because they don’t want 5+ apps on their smartphones, one for each of the soccer tournaments they will be playing in this season, each with different features in different places, implemented differently. Instead, they will be using their own Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social apps to document their tournament experience.

Is it fair? Probably not. It would make your job easier if everyone was on your app. But they don’t care about your job; they care about their lives and your event is just a 90:00 minute sliver in that life.

Our Advice: Instead of imposing your app on your teams, find out how they want to receive your information. Is it through twitter? facebook? email? messaging? all of the above? Do that. While you are tuned into their needs, tune into their accounts (not in a creepy, stalking way; but a more connected way.) Notice they took a really cool photo and ask if you can share it through your channels. (Make sure you get parental permission first)

Do some special live broadcast with Periscope and ask them to hashtag their Instagram and twitter messages with your tournament hashtag. Show some love by liking and commenting.

Teams are also probably more likely to connect with your tournament from their own accounts they are comfortable with as they can control whether or not you can send them notifications. When they are playing in your event, they can turn notifications from you on by following. When they are done, they can unfollow (or keep following but turn notifications from you off.) They are in control and don’t have to trust you with their data or access.

If the goal of your app is to connect with your teams and squeeze one more minute of attention from them, ditch the app and focus on your teams’ networks. That is where they live.

Looking to get started with social media for your soccer tournament? We wrote the book.