Creating habitual fan behaviors on your sports platform

Passionate fans are the lifeblood of sports organizations, whether they’re cheering from the stands, tuning in to live broadcasts, or interacting on digital platforms. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there is an innate psychology that drives people towards sports fandom, involving the need for a sense of connection, belonging, and achievement. 

These deep-seated psychological needs can contribute to the success of sports organizations, as fans stay loyal to the experiences they offer like continuing to attend games, connecting with other fans and spreading the word about their favorite teams. But what about fostering recurring, long-term digital engagement? How can clubs, leagues and teams leverage this fan psychology to cultivate repeat behaviors on their sports platforms? 

In 2024, companies are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds and lives and are increasingly finding that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they can create. 

Amassing millions of users is no longer good enough. Brands must first qualify these users by collecting data and securing opt-ins. Then, they need to craft high-quality platform experiences that users are eager to return to frequently and for longer periods, until logging on becomes a habit. Companies like Duolingo and Peloton are great examples of those using habit-forming models to do this successfully, incorporating gamification elements that contribute to the addictive nature of their experience and create habitual behaviors among users.

According to Nir Eyal’s Hooked, building habit-forming experiences requires four stages of focus: the Trigger, Action, Reward, and Investment. As a consumer progresses through each stage of what Eyal coined ‘The Hook Model’ on a digital platform, they form a habit, which increases the value of the experience to the consumer.

In this blog, we revisit the topic of fan psychology and examine the power of LiveLike widgets to target the intersection of psychology and engagement. We will be looking closely at how LiveLike enables brands to fulfill the Hook Model requirements on their platforms, offering habit-forming features to create habitual fan behaviors.

THE TRIGGER: Alerts

The first stage of the Hook Model is the ‘Trigger’, a feature that cues “behaviors into becoming part of consumers’ everyday routines.” Essentially, it is a moment or action that reminds users to start using the product or platform.

Serving as this first-stage Trigger, LiveLike Alerts play a crucial role in keeping fans informed and engaged with your platform. Alerts serve as timely reminders that prompt users to take action—whether it’s to tune in to a live game that’s about to begin, complete a Quest to earn points before it expires, or respond to a Poll before the results are tallied.

LiveLike Alerts can be manually sent as push notifications on a platform, or integrated with an existing push notifications provider to send our automated alerts to users from the platform. Alternatively, Alerts can be used for in-platform notifications, reminding users already using the platform to complete certain desired actions and spend more time interacting with your content.

When users receive Alerts that prompt behavior on a recurring basis, they form associations with internal triggers, like time of day, which attach to existing behaviors and emotions. In fact, a survey by Invesp shows that sending mobile push notifications can boost app engagement by up to 88%, with 65% of users returning to an app within 30 days when a brand enables notifications. 

Then, when users automatically cue their next behavior, the new habit of logging into an app becomes part of their routine. Over time, they start to associate the platform with their need to complete activities, stay updated or stay connected.

LiveLike Alerts act as a Trigger by allowing clients to easily broadcast text, media, or a combination of both on their platforms to keep users as up-to-date and informed as possible. They also have the option to attach relevant links to Alerts to feature sponsorship destinations or points of integration for other apps or websites.

THE ACTION: Interactive Widgets, Live Chats, Quest Tasks

Following the Trigger comes the Action: the behavior done in anticipation of a reward. This stage draws upon the user’s awareness and expectation of some kind of reward, which motivates them to take a desired action. When users know there is a tangible benefit or reward awaiting them, they are more likely to engage and complete the action. 

This stage also relies on the principle of simplicity and ease of use, ensuring that the desired action is straightforward and accessible for the user. The key is to lower the barriers to entry, making it as effortless as possible for users to complete the action. This involves designing intuitive interfaces, providing clear instructions, and minimizing any potential friction points that could deter user engagement. 

The success of this stage not only relies on understanding user motivations and crafting an experience that seamlessly guides them toward the intended behavior but also ensures a smooth and frictionless process for the user.

LiveLike’s suite of tools includes access to polls, quizzes, cheer meters, predictions, emoji sliders, and AMAs, public, private and influencer live chat capabilities, and quests tied to platform rewards, each designed to engage users and give them quick, easy ways to interact with platform content. Interacting with LiveLike widgets, live chats or quests is quick, easy and enjoyable, and typically results in a user’s accumulation of some kind of reward, such as virtual currency, badge status, or real rewards like gift cards or discount codes. 

This ease of use and known benefit causes users to feel productive, incentivized, and engaged when interacting with widgets, without taking up too much of their time or effort. The understanding of a reward and the ease of performing the action—whether it’s clicking to answer a poll, responding to a chat group, or completing a quest—satisfies the trigger, making users more likely to continue engaging with the platform.

THE REWARD: Points, Badges, Leaderboards

Creating a craving through unpredictable feedback loops is a powerful tool that companies use to hook users, and brings us to our third stage: Variable Rewards.

Needless to say, the anticipation of any reward, whether recurring or variable, is an incentive for users to continue logging on to a platform. In fact, a report by the Pew Research Center found that 49% of users returned to apps more frequently when they knew they would be rewarded for their actions. 

However, unlike typical feedback loops, which become predictable and thus, unexciting over time, the Hook Model thrives on variability to create desire and engagement. According to Eyal, when the outcome is uncertain, our brains release more dopamine, increasing focus, excitement and motivation.

LiveLike’s loyalty rewards system harnesses the power of rewards and variability to incentivize user actions and build a strong sense of loyalty among sports fans. By offering a wide range of reward options for clients to incorporate—such as badges, leaderboard status, role privileges, virtual currencies, and more—our tools create an additional layer of behavior reinforcement. Users are not only motivated by the certainty of immediate rewards and progress tracking but also by the anticipation of future varied rewards, which keeps them coming back over time.

By integrating these variable rewards into our solution, LiveLike ensures users remain engaged and motivated, driving higher interaction rates, fostering lasting loyalty, and ensuring we land at our fourth and final stage of the Hook Model.

THE INVESTMENT: Quests, Streaks & Status Tiers

The fourth and final stage of Eyal’s ‘Hook Model’ is the Investment stage. This involves the investment that consumers make—in time, data, effort, or social capital—that improves the experience they subsequently receive. 

In other words, the more users put into your platform, the more willing or invested they will feel to remain loyal to the experience and return more frequently. Inviting friends, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all examples of investments users make to enhance their experience that results in the feeling of loyalty or commitment.

The longer and more frequently users interact with LiveLike widgets, the more achievements they collect that they may fear losing progress or stamina on, such as rankings on a leaderboard, status levels or badges, points earned, and quests progress. These achievements create a fear of losing progress or status, where this loss aversion, known as the “sunk cost fallacy,” keeps users returning to maintain what they’ve worked towards. 

Following this approach, LiveLike Quests enables you to motivate users toward completing certain actions that contribute to this sense of investment. Quests are sets of tasks that users must complete in order to achieve certain rewards or status levels. By introducing Quests with tasks that encourage users to explore new app features or pages, invite friends to the platform, or earn certain badges, you indirectly motivate them to invest more time or dedication to your experience. 

This is similar to LiveLike Streaks, which tracks the number of days in a row that users complete certain actions, such as interacting with widgets or logging onto the app. Each day that users complete the action, they extend their streak and receive exclusive badges, privileges, or rewards in return. 

The same fear of losing their streak and “wasting” the time or effort a user has spent to build their streak so far is what motivates them to return to the app and complete the assigned action. 

Similarly, Quests can contain any amount or type of tasks, meaning it is up to you how much time and effort your users are required to put in to reap the Quest rewards. The more time and effort users put into progressing towards Quest completion, the more incentivized they will be to continue it in hopes of not losing their progress or wasting that time.

Users are triggered by the release alert of a new quest, encouraged to act by completing the quest tasks through easy-to-use, engaging widgets that come with variable rewards, and then incentivized by the amount of time they put into the tasks, motivated to continue so as not to waste the time they have already invested; and the cycle continues.

With the LiveLike audience engagement suite, our clients have the unique ability to incorporate all of these habit-forming stages directly onto their platforms, creating interactive user hubs that foster these repeat fan behaviors. In other words, we provide everything you need to keep your users hooked! By incorporating each of these four stages with Alerts, Interactive Widgets, Loyalty Tools, Quests or Streaks, you can drive your users to develop habits that keep them returning to your platform. 

In conclusion, the key to unlocking the full potential of fan engagement lies in understanding the psychology behind fan behavior. By leveraging features like quests, alerts, and rewards, sports platforms can create interactive, habit-forming experiences that resonate deeply with fans, fostering long-term connections and driving sustained engagement. As we continue to explore the intersection of psychology and technology, the possibilities for driving habitual fan behaviors are limitless. 

Contact us to learn more about how LiveLike tools can enhance your user experience and create recurring, habitual fan behaviors on your platform.

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