Social Media in the Sports Industry

Social Media & the Sports Industry-Twitter & Facebook

Social Media stand to impact nearly every industry in some state or fashion whether it ends up driving more business or just more attention to a product or service, the fact remains that social media is more and more being a mainstay in the sports industry.  Nearly every facet of the sports industry currently implements some sort of social media tool or service.  Athletes take to the twitter airways just as much as anyone and teams are using social media to drive ticket sales and merchandise sales.  Social media has provided outlets for expression and revenue growth for literally everyone from the fan/consumer to the athletes and owners.  One part of the Social Media implementation into the sports industry that is clear is that clubs and teams can take a number of different approaches to how they actually use these tools.

Social media has created an environment within the sports industry that allows for such business practices such as marketing, sales, event broadcasting, and branding to go to new heights.  Social media for an easier way to think about its implementation into the sports industry can be viewed in three different parts, the owners, the players, and the fans.  The owners in this scenario are either professional sports team owners and or the owners of sports brands.  These individuals use different social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to reach out and connect with the people buying tickets and merchandise from them.  Sometimes owners reach out in the event of controversy or two make a big announcement about a team or player.  Sometimes owners are looking to fans and consumers for advice or feedback on certain events and games.

One major phenomenon currently trending through the likes of Facebook and Twitter is the way athletes are getting involved.  Self branding is a major tool being used by athletes as a way to interact with fans and grow the potential market base for them.  Players are also using these social media outlets to voice opinions as well as break news to people.  Fans and consumers are using social media tools for a number of different reasons.  Some search social media sites for news and updates while others look for deals and specials offered on these sites.  Consumers in the sports industry can use certain deals on brands and teams Facebook pages in order to redeem coupons etc. for merchandise and sometimes tickets.

Social Media has also created a platform for teams to launch marketing and advertising campaigns with a distinct advantage of getting direct feedback.  With seemingly immediate responses from consumers teams can gauge success and catch failed marketing campaigns before too much damage is done.  Every sport and every sport company within the sports industry is looking into how it can tap into the social media business.  Social media reaches global which is the goal for most professional sports franchises and brands is to go international in order to gain the most brand recognition and market share.       

Examples of how Social Media is being used in the Sports Industry:

Building Event Awareness through Facebook:

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“For its midseason showcase, the Winter Classic, the league in January partnered with NBC to conduct a Watch-and-Win promotion on Facebook, blending social media with the traditional on-air broadcast. Fans were asked to register at the league’s Facebook page. During the game, names of selected winners would appear on the TV screen. Those fans would then receive phone calls from NHL staffers with questions related to the Winter Classic game. Prizes including a Honda CR-Z and a trip to the NHL All-Star Game were awarded for correct answers.” (Fisher, 2011)

Consumer Feedback through Twitter:    

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Construction of the master MLB schedule is a complex affair that involves months of work and endless compromise to balance many competing interests. But the Boston Red Sox this spring, during the playoff run of the neighboring Bruins, went to Twitter and Facebook to conduct real-time crowd sourcing about a game time change under consideration for June 4. The club quickly received more than 4,300 Facebook likes and 650 Twitter responses from fans overwhelmingly voting in favor of moving the game against Oakland from 7:10 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. The shift enabled fans to watch the Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final that night.”(Fisher, 2011)

Creating a Connection between Athlete and Fan with Twitter & Facebook:

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“The NBA is well-known for its strong social media position within the sports industry, with a combined Facebook and Twitter following of more than 23 million at the league level. The NBA conducts daily social media strategy sessions and is as aggressive as anybody in the space. But what truly fuels the league’s presence in these forums are the players. No other property has as many of its highest-profile superstars prolifically and skillfully tweeting and posting on Facebook as the NBA.” (Fisher, 2011)

Building a Brand and Following on Facebook:

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“Like many other sports entities, the UFC employs help from social media consultants, and the UFC itself works with Phoenix-based agency Digital Royalty. Specific social media-fueled initiatives for the mixed martial arts property include streaming live undercard matches on Facebook, and rewarding fighters a total of $240,000 in cash for creatively tweeting and building larger followings.”(Fisher, 2011)

Example and Photo Resources:

Fisher, E. (2011, August 1). 20 great uses of social media in sports. Retrieved from http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/08/01/In-Depth/Social-media.aspx

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