Have you ever wondered what it is exactly that turns everyday sports enthusiasts into super-star sports superfans?

According to psychology professor, Daniel Wann, from Murray State University it all boils down to this: identifying and feeling a part of something. Through researching the dynamics and psychology behind diehard “sports fans”, professor Wann found that people turn into sports fans for reasons that directly affect their personality and stability.


The eight main motivators are:

  1. eustress (positive stress)
  2. escape
  3. entertainment
  4. economic
  5. aesthetic
  6. group affiliation
  7. self-esteem
  8. family needs


Whether it’s for the positive stress rush or entertainment, or simply the feeling of belonging or wanting to fulfill a family tradition, being a sports fan is a very personal thing. When we turn the corner from enthusiast to fan we want to know everything about our team or athlete. 24/7 social media and user generated content helps us achieve this.

Facebook and Twitter have escalated the personal aspect of being a sports fan by opening a window directly into our favorite athletes’ lives. Their families and day-to-day activities become a part of our routine. We know spouses by name, when children celebrate a birthday, where they ate dinner last night and what their favorite Starbuck’s blend is.

Leveraging curated content as an official communication channel

Alberto Guerrero knows this first hand. As the Digital Strategist for FC Barcelona’s central defense, Gerard Piqué, one of his many jobs is to know exactly who Gerard’s super fans are.

Dip into a fan operated social stream on any platform and within a matter of seconds you have the latest news on Gerard, his partner Shakira and their family, what Gerard is up to privately and professionally.  As Alberto puts it, “Gerard’s fans know him better than anyone. They’re gathering and share information and articles that are being published around the world, daily, in every language at any minute of the day.”

So when it came to setting up official communication channels for the brand Gerard Piqué, there was no doubt who would could tell the story best — Gerard’s fans.

As a trendsetter and veteran online marketer, Alberto recognized a great opportunity to tell Gerard’s story through content created and shared by his fans and chose Paper.li as one of his communication channels to do so. You can view the official Gerard Piqué Paper.li here.

In working with Alberto to better understand his needs and requirements as a communications professional, we saw that regardless if you are managing communication around a celebrity athlete, niche topic, product or service, the need for honesty in tone of voice and transparency remains the same.

Our discussions with Alberto led to the co-collaboration on a fantastic new feature aimed at giving communication professionals absolute control over aspect of their publishing and a lot of “getting to know one another”. I asked him to share some of his thoughts on communications and PR today.

How important is the community (fans) in this new PR/ Communications strategy? (what role does it play?)

There is a “professional” PR strategy very close to FC Barcelona, Spanish National Team and Sponsors that is more “traditional” and coordinated with those partners. Fans of Gerard  communicate with Gerard directly through Social Media and Internet and they are the focus of the main digital strategy and the new channel we are creating.

How different is it to manage an athlete’s channel from other celebrities?

The main difference is that professional sport means competition and you can not always win. When results are not good it is difficult to keep communicating with fans. There are really bad moments for athletes and fans. Also football is special, the good moments are very good and bad moments very bad.

What is your biggest challenge when handling Gerard’s digital channels?

There is one thing that turns everything complicated: bad results in the field.

Football fans are passionate about their team and world class footballers are very, very competitive. So, when results are not good it is difficult to communicate things and fans are not happy, it makes for an explosive mix!

When and Why did you decide to use Paper.li for Gerard’s PR strategy?

I was trying to find a simple way to aggregate online information about Gerard that is important to his followers but nothing he would personally need to handle. By creating a “Gerard’s News” paper with Paper.li, we can achieve that as it “generates” personalized content for their fans almost automatically.

What are some of Paper.li’s features that you find the most useful?

The ability to aggregate on real time from different sources and the option to moderate those contents. The look and feel is also a plus.

How will creating new editions with Content Draft making your job, and the job of other celebrity digital strategists, easier?

In our strategy we do not want to simply aggregate automatically publications at a certain time. We want to choose the best content for our audience and publish when think suitable.

Celebrities have a lot of content generated about them but it’s unpredictable, some weeks there can be dozens of publications but more often there are hundreds of articles coming from the newsfeeds. Content Draft allows us to handle big amounts of information, work carefully with it by making a draft before the publish date and choose dynamically what items we are going to publish.


What role are your fans and community playing in your communication strategy? Which tools are you using to share their story? Comment below and share your thoughts and tips. 


Magda Alexandra Torres
Magda is a Social Media and Communications professional. Her main interests include corporate communications and social networking. She also enjoys traveling, blogging and learning. You can reach her on: Google+ and @MagdaATQ.

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