Gamified Social Network for Sports Fan: FanCru

Note: Are you a sport fan? do you want to get awarded by simply talking about your favorite team or going to a game? I know I do! FanCru is here to let you do all that and with some extra perks! Thanks Karsten for this great post, and look him up on twitter. 

 via Karsten Strauss KarstenStrauss, Forbes | Image Source: link

A Social Network for the Sports Fan: FanCru

The proliferation of social networking hubs in the past decade has spawned an industry in a constant state palpitating fragmentation and product integration. Whereas Myspace and subsequently Facebook promised a basic connection-station for people and organizations, other new companies have sought to provide a more focused approach to social: think about LinkedIn, BlackPlanet, Classmates, Pinterest, FourSquare, and others bringing a slightly more niche-oriented flavor to the social table. Upstart, FanCru, is seeking to make a dent in the world of sports, offering fans of major pro sports a place to connect, and teams and venues a potentially valuable marketing platform.

For the average fan, FanCru is a place where sports fans can talk to other sports fans about their teams, get listings of sports bars and restaurants in which to watch games and generally exchange info. According to John Wagner, who co-founded the company alongside former Xanboo founder and CEO Bill Diamond, the platform can offer franchises, sponsors and sports-oriented venues an avenue to engage fans.

Other social hubs, like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), offer people the option of “checking in” when they attend an event. Wagner said FanCru offers sports fans an incentive to check in when attending a sporting event or merely showing up to a sports bar to watch a game. “They can reward fans for going to the game,” he said.

Fans who bring in the most check-ins, or venues that bring in the most fans that check in on the site, can receive prizes like concession discounts, merchandise, event seating upgrades, or any other type of prize. This “gamification” of the fan experience can be customized by any venue, sports team or sponsoring brand that’s spearheading it, Wagner said. There is a supportive iPhone app available now with an android version in the works.

As far as monetization is concerned, fan access is free but certain “campaigns” that franchises or venues can use to engage local fans will require a fee from those businesses or franchises. Other aspects of creating profit have yet to be hashed out, Wagner said, but plans could include creating fan-engagement campaigns with sports teams or leagues. Finding a way to use unsold event tickets as fan reward is also on the table.

Is FanCru a standalone business, in the long run? That’s a tough question. If it becomes popular it’s difficult to see it standing up to similar offerings from television networks or larger telecom players with more money and strong relationships with sports leagues and franchises. It’s not difficult, however, to see one of those entities targeting the company as a bolt-on acquisition and integrating its product. There are other companies in the space that offer competition to FanCru’s, including SportStream, into which Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen invested $3.5 million, as well as OnSports, Wagner said.

I think one of the interesting things about FanCru, if it takes off, will be the amount of data it can yield about pockets of sports fans everywhere in the United States—data that could be used to better understand how to market to them. By giving real incentives to sports fans to drag their friends to game viewings, divulge information about themselves and take on the job of marketing events, teams and brands – while at the same time offering those franchises and brands a new way of engaging consumers – FanCru could tap into a bountiful source of advertising dollars. The question now is will sports fans lift a finger to help them do it?

What do you think? Comment and let us know if you feel sports fans and businesses would welcome a sports-centric social hub and respond to engagement incentives?

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