Social Media: a powerful tool for sports

During previous posts I have discussed some different marketing strategies that are being implemented in the sport industry; because social media is the most recent and important trend in the marketing world, I believe it is crucial to discuss about how it is being implemented in sports.

Social media has become an inseparable part of the marketing strategy implemented by most companies. Businesses now invest a great amount of resources on social media. This is because of the various benefits social media can generate for an organization. Through social media companies are able to build direct and stronger relationships with consumers, which help businesses generate loyalty. It is also an instrument to promote events and new products, to gather demographic and psychographic information and even to generate additional income through advertisement or sponsorship.

All these benefits can be captured even more in the sports industry because of the emotional attachment fans have towards sports, teams and athletes. Fans want to interact with other fans, share their experiences and reactions with friends, be recognized for their loyalty towards the team, they want to feel closer to their team and athletes and want to become part of a community who shares their same passion. For all of these reasons, it seems as if social media is a perfect tool in sports; it permits fans to get engaged with sports and permits organizations to enhance their fans’ experience, built stronger relationships and generate loyalty.

That is why social media is now widely being used in the sports industry. In the article, “20 Great Uses of Social Media in Sports,” the author discusses a variety of examples on how organizations are innovating through social media; I’ll mention a few of them:

  • Snappy TV: uses a technology to take live clips or online videos (approximately 1 minute long) and post them on Twitter and Facebook. This technology permits the distribution of real time content.
  • Red Sox: they went to Twitter and Facebook to conduct crowd-sourcing or ask fans about a game time change. This could be compared with the classical marketing research done by businesses to gather information regarding their target market’s desires provide a product or service that meets those desires. The Red Sox is building brand loyalty through social media because fans feel they are important for their team, their preferences matter and may also be more satisfied by attending a game according to their preferences.
  • Turner: this company uses social media as a companion to its broadcasts by providing alternative camera angels and chat rooms.
  • ESPN: they provide games through social media, which generate additional income to the company by providing upgrades.

It is important to mention that now there are awards, such as the “Shorty Awards,” that honor the best in social media. Projects such as the MLB Fan Cave and the HBO Boxing have been nominated for this award.

Nevertheless, similar to what I mentioned in my post regarding sponsorships, if social media is not done properly it can also generate negative effects. This is most commonly seen with athletes, who sometimes are found in trouble by writing misjudged, foolish and offensive tweets. Luke Brinley-Jones, in his article “Social Media and Sports: Winners and Loosers,” mentions some examples of athletes who have suffered negative consequences because of bad “tweets,”  for example, Mark Curban (Dallas Mavericks) was fined $25,000 by criticizing referees on Twitter.

Social media, as part of a marketing strategy, is with any doubt one key tool available for organizations. Social media builds stronger relationships with users and enables them to interact and feel connected with the organization. Consequentially, organizations can generate loyalty, acquire information and enhance their costumers’ experience. Social media benefits sports even more because fans naturally feel connected with such sport or sport organization. Therefore, social media should be implemented by every sport organization but being aware that, done improperly, could also generate negative reactions.

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