Written by Adam Schaffer
At a time when consumer engagement is a necessity, sports organizations are using social media as a device for fan interaction.
Owned channels like facebook, twitter, and foursquare, to not only communicate with the fan base, but to offer them special deals and incentives for following or friending them.
In November of 2010, the Golden State Warriors ran their first Check-in deal program. Fans who checked-in at the game were given the opportunity to attend a post game Q & A with guard Monta Ellis. With an attendance of 19,808, the program yielded over 1,000 check-ins and over 700 fans staying for the event.
Following the success of the initial check-in event, Warriors Executive Director of Marketing Kyle Spencer saw the amazing potential with this decided to continue the check-in program for each home game for the remainder of the season.
Possibly the biggest integration of sports and social media is the introduction of live news being broadcast through these social network channels. Twitter has become a major way for sports fans to get up to the minute updates on teams, players, and other sports news. It is now commonplace for leagues drafts to be live-tweeted throughout the telecast, saving fans the time of having to wait in between picks.
Sports commentators and writers are also live-tweeting games. If you are at work or grocery shopping, you no longer have to worry about missing part of the game because you are away from your tv. Now, it is as simple as pulling out your phone and following a certain team or writer on twitter to get live updates on scores, and even the play-by-plays of the game.
There is no bigger example of fan engagement than fans having the opportunity to communicate one on one with their favorite athletes, or organizations. Social media now gives fans that opportunity. Athletes such as Tony Hawk, Lebron James, and thousands of other are constantly engaging fans either through conversations or through giveaways.
9% of fans check social media for sports updates in church
Technology is an ever-changing product, from vinyl records to MP3, cable tv to 3D, technology is changing, and the way people get their sports news is not immune. It was recently found that 81% of sports fans prefer the internet for their sports news. Of that population, 41% prefer Twitter or facebook, 40% national news websites (ESPN, Sports Illustrated), 13% T.V. 4% sports radio, and 2% prefer other sources.
Social media is no longer confined to your computer in your free time. In that same research, sports fans were asked where they check their social media for sports updates. The respondents answered with work (86%), at parties (74%), during a meal (69%), while using the bathroom (58%), while in a meeting (33%), during a movie (25%), at a concert (22%) and even while at church (9%).
Every industry is constantly looking for that next big idea, sports and social media are no different. A professional lacrosse team in Philadelphia has already taken that step. In most sports, teams either put their players last names on the backs of jerseys or leave them vacant altogether.
The Philadelphia Wings, of the NLL (National Lacrosse League) became the first team in professional sports history to showcase players’ twitter handles on the back of their jerseys rather than their last names. By doing so, they were able to make their players more accessible to fans, and were also able to gain followers of the team as well.
Putting a Twitter handle on items is a phenomenal idea, it allows for players and teams to gain accessibility, and it is a great way to induce fan interaction. Within the three major sports, there are some incredible opportunities for handle placements.
In basketball, shoe sales are generally a great way generate income for many NBA stars. Rather than placing initials or the players name on the shoe, these stars could place their twitter handle on them. Their shoes would literally become a walking billboard, where people can see the handle and go to that players twitter page.
For professional football, there is one piece of equipment that separates themselves from the other two, helmets. The NFL is missing out on a potentially massive opportunity by keeping either the teams or players twitter handles off of helmets. It does not have to be a massive sticker replacing the teams logo, but by placing it either on the back of the helmet or above the face mask, you could have the same potential that NBA stars would have with their shoes.
Baseball has the best product for placing twitter handles, the baseball itself. MLB.com stated that in an average pro game, between 60 and 70 balls are used. If teams started placing handles on the balls, each home-run, foul ball, or used ball tossed into the stands is free advertising. You could direct them to the teams page, or a specified page where they can receive prizes for catching that ball. It would be a fun interactive way to keep fans involved and it allows baseball to stay up to date with todays generation.
Find out how integrating a social media strategy within your team or league can drive up fan interaction and loyalty, hire us or call today for a session with our staff.