Lincolnshire FA has seen the 'Engage Lincolnshire' project shortlisted in the Brand Engagement category in the County FA Recognition Awards 2023.
The Awards, which will be announced at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Thursday 23rd November 2023, recognise and endorse the best projects, products and services delivered by County FAs over the past season while sharing best practice and learnings from around the country.
So what exactly is the Engage Lincolnshire project? What did it involve? And what were the results of the project?
It was identified that while lots of positive and influential work goes on across the Lincolnshire football landscape, very little of it is shouted about – including the inspirational work that the volunteers in Lincolnshire do and certainly that of what is delivered by Lincolnshire FA (including County Cup competitions, CPD events, Facilities funding and development, inclusion campaigns, and both female & male pathway opportunities).
Lincolnshire has 30,000 players, and a further 10,000 coaches, volunteers, referees, and club officials, operating across 365 clubs and 1,989 teams. The way Lincolnshire FA communicated and engaged with these stakeholders, and the wider footballing community within Lincolnshire, needed a refresh and an upgrade. The majority of these stakeholders weren’t aware of what we do on a day-to-day basis, let alone what positive impact we have in supporting and developing the grassroots game in the County, with many only being aware of Lincolnshire FA when receiving fines or disciplinary action.
Despite the 40,000 strong army of individuals involved in grassroots football in Lincolnshire, the Lincolnshire FA media figures didn’t fairly reflect this. We had 2,882 Facebook followers, 9,000 Twitter followers, and 165 Instagram followers, with no online presence on LinkedIn or TikTok. Our email marketing database was around 2,500 and our website had 60,000 users across the year from July 2021 to July 2022.
It was decided that, with support from the University of Lincoln’s graduate support scheme, a Media & Marketing Intern would be appointed to drive the development and improvement of this side of the organisation to better serve our members and communities, and to engage the Lincolnshire football community in a way that the organisation hadn’t seen before.
Our Vision “One Lincolnshire Community, United and Inspired by the Power of Football”, underpinned by the mission “to provide our communities with the platform to engage, unite and thrive through a safe and inclusive football experience”, formed the basis behind the development of our brand engagement project.
Our goal was to engage more positively with our stakeholders who may not know what we do or perhaps don’t see us in a positive aspect. This would not only include interacting with them and showing them the opportunities we deliver, but also recognise the positive work being put into the grassroots football community in our County in a way that we never have before, changing the narrative of both the County FA and the wider football narrative and landscape.
The project was named ‘Engage Lincolnshire’.
We also wanted to utilise our data for the development of grassroots football in Lincolnshire, and identify trends within our stakeholders to ensure we retain those already engaged and understand those who perhaps don’t engage with us in a participation aspect but do elsewhere and how we can show them opportunities and benefits of becoming further engaged with the game.
With this, including the pre-outlined statistics, Lincolnshire FA set out to:
- Increase social media and website presence, engagement and following
- Appoint a Media & Marketing Intern
- Rebrand the organisation with a new, modern design
- Undertake a regenerative action plan around the use of data and developing email marketing strategies
- Increase engagement with events, campaigns, and competitions run by the County FA
- Recognise and promote positive stories to change the narrative
As part of ‘Engage Lincolnshire’, a full and comprehensive marketing strategy was formed, which outlined the areas in need of focus, and the methods and ideology that would be used to achieve our goal.
In 2022/23, ‘Engage Lincolnshire’ saw:
- A full rebrand of the organisation, designed to reflect the organisation’s mission and vision, including the complete regeneration of colour coding, brand shapes & design, typeface, and voice & tone, that was applied to social media, stationary, etc. New logos were created for each County Cup to develop the identity of the competitions.
- A full brand guidelines document was created to develop consistency and brand recognition across all communications.
- Our total social media following increased by 2,049 followers. The total increase during the 2018-2021 strategy was 2,749.
- The website had 65,305 users, an increase of 7.4%.
- The Facebook content had a reach of 306,540, an increase of 90.6%.
- The Instagram content had a reach of 12,368, an increase of 2.5K%.
- LinkedIn made 13,554 impressions.
- TikTok had 15,075 video views.
- Our Twitter content had a reach of 4.3M.
- Social media page visits reached a total of 223,455.
- Our email marketing database grew from 2,750 contacts to 36,000 contacts, with 2,500 opt-ins grow to 4,099 opt-ins.
- The most recent email campaign was distributed to 34,967 recipients with an open rate of 52.1% (16,420 unique opens) and a click rate of 2.8% (887 unique clicks).
- Our average email open rate was 44.4% (equivalent to 1,133 unique opens) which increased from an average of 42.6% (equivalent to 720 unique opens) from 2021/22.
- Our average click rate hit 3.3% (equivalent to 83 unique clicks), an increase from an average of 50 unique clicks from 2021/22.
- Across 13 County Cup Finals, 4,000 spectators attended.
- Each County Cup final received social media coverage, with Twitter reaching 1,457,037 impressions and 44,906 engagements.
Zack Leader, Media & Marketing Officer at Lincolnshire FA, said: "It's an immense honour to have had our 'Engage Lincolnshire' project recognised and shortlisted by The FA. The work we've done in this space is something I'm both incredibly proud of and privileged to be a part of. It's allowed a whole new way of communicating with the amazing grassroots football community of Lincolnshire, and recognising the people in that community for their inspirational work that make the game happen.
Stories like Horncastle Town U15 Girls' inspirational shorts colour-change initiative, teams raising money for the British Heart Foundation, Referee Ernie Broughton reaching 50 years, clubs achieving their LGBTQ+ accreditation, Crosby United raising awareness for testicular cancer, Bottesford Town opening their new facility, among so many others. All these stories are what make Lincolnshire football amazing and it's nice to be able to celebrate these stories with our community. This project has also meant we can present new opportunities for people in Lincolnshire to develop, and get involved in ways they won't have done before, such as getting into refereeing, coach development events, LGBTQ+ inclusive tournaments, 3v3 festivals, and Comets disability football sessions.
I'd like to thank Fiona Green of Winners FDD for her exemplary support in utilising our data and email communications.
This project has also allowed us to enhance the prestigious County Cup competitions; delivering live draws, branding every competition, and providing up to date coverage from every cup final which saw astronomical engagement and reach across our social media channels - well into the millions for impressions. Stuart Houlton has played a huge part in helping to deliver in this area."
For media and marketing enquiries, please contact Zack.Leader@lincolnshirefa.com.
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