Social Media and Sports Broadcasting
Sports fans are extremely passionate about their individual teams and sports which they support – this level of passion is rarely seen elsewhere. People will travel across the world to support their favourite side, but with the growing use of social media by sports teams fans can feel increasingly connected to their team even when they are not there in person. Social media is now providing a popular platform for these loyal fans to share their enthusiasm for their teams, with over 40% of all tweets being sent about sport, showing just how popular social media is for sports broadcasting.
The Olympics gave a real boost to the use of social media in sports. During the games Usain Bolt had 962,756 total mentions followed by Michael Phelps with a total of 828,081 mentions. The key reason for the growing use of Twitter and social media in sporting events is because now so many people own a smartphone and can therefore participate in real time, whether they are at home, at the pub or watching live at a stadium. Watching sport with a ‘second screen’ has now become more popular, as people connect with others while they watch.
One way in which social media is helping the sports industry is by increasing fan loyalty – it allows for connections with fans to be built, something that wasn’t possible years ago. Teams are able to engage with their fans through social media, when previously this was only possible if you were to attend the sports event in person. Through following a sports personality’s personal Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media websites it makes it possible to offer content to draw in the fans and increase the loyalty which they feel towards the player. For instance, by following athletes on Twitter you can get real-time updates on their latest news or injuries. If a fan hears about this kind of information through the sports star first, they will feel a greater loyalty towards them. For example, Twitter enabled the Texans running back Arian Foster to share an image of an MRI of his torn hamstring to his fans with the comment: “This is an MRI of my hamstring. The white stuff surrounding the muscle is known in the medical world as anti-awesomeness”.
Teams who offer “behind-the-scenes” content on social media networks, will benefit by having sustained followers who are loyal and will keep coming back for more content. Keeping fans informed of the day to day training, through images, tweets and posts is a valuable way of sustaining fan support. In addition, more exclusive behind the scenes content can also help to create a certain excitement and buzz around a team. For instance, when Liverpool FC launched their new kit in May 2012 they used social media alongside the usual pictures and press releases. A YouTube video of the new kit was created to showcase the new features of the kit and helped to create a wider discussion of the new developments for the team through the inclusion of the #LFCkit hashtag. This encouraged fans to talk about the new kit on Twitter and to engage with other fans too. The use of the Twitter hashtag #LFCkit is also a good way of making fans feel like they are involved in the workings of their club – it proved so popular on Twitter that it was trending worldwide just after midnight of the day of the launch. The club also sought to showcase the new kit on the highly visual platform Pinterest. This gave fans another point of access to see the new kit and to share their favourite images and this interest could be channelled into further ticket sales, memorabilia and other sales. This shows the potential power of social media sites to reach a large audience and create popular discussion topics instantly.
Although social media is beneficial for reaching a bigger audience it can damage the brand’s values to some extent. The use of social media can lead to a digital barrier between the fans and the club when previously the core fans would have had a greater physical engagement with the club. However, social media does mean that fans have greater control, are part of a two way conversation and can feel more integrated in the organization or team. It is therefore more about creating the correct balance between using social media and maintaining personal interaction with the fans.
What do you think?
Do you think social media is important for sport? Do you use it as a way to connect with sports stars and other fans?
Social Media and Sports Broadcasting Reviewed by Rowena Cormack on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Rating: