In Your Words 8: Fancred

For this week’s assignment, it was my mission to find an industry-related social media network. Naturally, my first thought was about sports. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of any existing social networks specifically devoted to sports fans.

But a simple Google search later, I came across Fancred, a social network for sports fanatics that is quickly gaining steam. Let’s take a closer look at this emerging industry-specific social network.

What Exactly is Fancred?

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Fancred is the solution for people who are tired of reading uneducated, hyperbolic statements about sports on Facebook. This sports-specific social network was founded in 2012 and just raised $3 million in financing back in August in addition to the $1.5 million it received during its inception.

Based out of Boston, Fancred features a mobile application that’s available for both the iPhone and Android. The platform is branded as a tool that allows fans to capture their favorite sports moments. It does this by combining the best aspects of popular social network apps in that users can check in at events, upload photos and share articles.

According to the Forbes article, Fancred CEO Kash Razzaghi said its user base is growing 50 percent month-over-month. However, he did not reveal any specific numbers regarding the actual user base. Razzaghi also said the target demographic is college students (right here!) and that “he is determined to build bustling college-based communities.”

Interestingly, Fancred has got some serious backers. Former Patriots star Lawyer Milloy joined the Fancred team. Teams like the Boston Red Sox, Mississippi State University and Liverpool Football Club have also joined the Fancred community, according to Forbes. The company does have Facebook and Twitter accounts, though the following is still relatively small.

How Does Fancred Work?

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This Fancred profile by David Zax does a great job delving into the ins and outs of this emerging social network. Considered “sports Facebook,” Fancred allows uers to tailor all the content they receive. Here’s a good description of just how the app works:

All activity on Fancred is grouped by teams. Fancred will further use its algorithmic magic to figure out which teams you’re most enthusiastic about within your set of preferred teams, and will deliver you more content related to that team. “We can go really deep building a profile for you, for each team you enjoy,” says Razzaghi.

And as far as future growth, there are some big plans in the future, Zax writes:

Monetization prospects are various, he adds. A central feature of Fancred is what the site calls the Fancred Score, something like an in-network Klout score that grows based on how active you are and how engaging your content is to others. Though the main function of the Fancred Score heretofore has been bragging rights, says Razzaghi, he is working with stadiums to have the score translate into real discounts.

So What Does this Mean for Sports Fans?

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Without a doubt, this is a great idea. But will it catch on? I think it’s too early to tell. The sports industry as a whole is insanely competitive, and the availability of sports information makes it difficult for a new venture to make a big dent into the stronghold of ESPN and Bleacher Report.

However, because of its social media integration, it definitely stands a chance.

One of the reasons I get annoyed with my personal Facebook feed is the amount of garbage posted from friends who support rival teams. By using Fancred, I would have the ability to tailor my news feed to only teams I want to read about or view. Additionally, the ability to share photos is a pretty unique and exciting way to build a content community.

The obvious competition for Fancred is Facebook, mostly due to its market capture, popularity and longevity. But because sport is such a global product, and because sports communities are so tight-knit, I definitely think Fancred has a chance to succeed. Few entities bring people together like sports, so a social network that’s only about sports definitely has an edge on more broad-based channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Incorporating Proximity Marketing

Proximity marketing could certainly be useful for a sports-based social network like Fancred. If fans sign up with the app and select a favorite team, perhaps content could be pushed to them about sports stores, sports bars or other related products in their area. Marketers could even work with ticket firms to promote family-night deals or similar specials on game tickets based on a user’s location.

Another opportunity could be location-based if fans attend a game. Once a fan is near a stadium or arena, deals could be promoted regarding drink or food specials nearby, or even merchandise.

The sheer amount of sport-related products and the fact that users will already be engaged in use of their mobile device makes for some interesting proximity marketing opportunities with the Fancred app.

IMC Approach

Though some may view Facebook as a competitor, I think it could also help Fancred succeed. Perhaps Facebook could even think about investing or inquiring the company to help provide structure, support and direction in order to develop this into a niche element of Facebook that’s directed at sports fans.

In addition, I think Instagram could work with Fancred since it does have a photo-sharing element. Again, this company has already succeeded in the realm that Fancred is trying to break into, but there’s no reason Fancred can’t self-promote through Instagram and pick up a decent following for its product.

Finally, I think working with major media companies to secure advertising would be immensely helpful. Bleacher Report’s Team Stream app is advertised heavily during NBA games on TNT. Of course, it helps when you have Turner’s backing.

It would make sense for Fancred to try and secure advertising space on major sports networks just for visibility. Perhaps that could lead to a partnership with one of these networks, though the strength of the ESPN app could preclude that. I guess a spot on the Today Show isn’t a bad start, though.

Overall, Fancred is definitely something worth keeping an eye on for diehard sports fans who want only sports 24-7. I’m excited to download it and try it out for myself. As a sport management major and diehard Boston fan, it seems right up my alley.

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