As a growing share of the US population is engaging on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, brands are increasingly relying upon social media to market their products and engage with their clients – sports teams and clubs are no exceptions.
Social media acts as a powerhouse in the engagement and marketing aspects which was previously unavailable to the teams – changes the way teams and fans are exposed to content from their following teams. Social media also presents a multiverse of information and immense content that gives access to behind the scene actions, pre-game and post-game moments, social analytics, and one-to-one interaction with favorite sports persons.
Marketing: Branding and Advertisements
Brands have adapted to changes in advertising and this has led to an increase in their rate of conversions and achieving customer loyalty, connecting more people. Today there are more than three billion people who connect to social networks around the world, and about 42% of the world’s population use social media either as a source of information or entertainment. That is why companies undertake social media strategies to attract more customers.
For instance, Nike has major contracts with Sports stars like Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo. With major retail brands, social media plays an important role in marketing strategies and it allows the fans and customers to stay ahead with updated product and event information.
Puma has over 9 million Facebook fans and One Million Twitter followers, dedicating their social media posts to promoting new products
Adidas has over 14 million Facebook fans and one million Twitter followers, and delivers intrigue around new products through social media posts highlighting their relationship with athltetes they sponsor through hashtags. Their recent hashtag #ImpossibleisNothing and Nigerian Athlete Tobi Amusan’s, 100m hurdle win gives more insights on the recent updates concerning World Athletics Championship 2022
It is important to understand the user data and user base in social media, and so is understanding the dynamics of winning teams. Teams have effectively used social media as a tool through different strategies designed to create a community following with a personalized sports feed. Creating this following allows teams to grow their brand, and can energize existing fans and inform them of events.
By allowing fan-player interaction, teams can grow their followings and increase hype around their franchises—players can help produce exciting shareable content.
Engagement: Creating a sense of fan-belonging
With over a billion people engaging on social media, interacting with a brand is no longer an individual activity, but rather, a shared media experience that cultivates and connects communities not only with sports but all the communities together. Sports organizations use online mediums, to create a strong social presence that gets fans involved with brands.
By connecting with the sports stars, the sports fans develop a connection with the team that goes beyond the average viewer. A hardcore fan will hold on to their values and passion for sports despite wins and losses, because at the end of the season it’s not about the team, but about a sense of belonging to the fans.
Fans use social media to connect inside and outside the stadium. Customer reviews and referrals are critical for online sales of the brand which also gives fans the platform to connect. Fans that “like” a brand or follow the brand on Twitter are looking for more than updates. Dedicated fans look for a truly social experience.
Innovations in Broadcasting also brings fans a rich and lively experience in sports.
With Augmented Reality, The MLB continues to advance their battled ball and pitch-tracking capabilities, enabling popular launch angle and home-run tracking.
With Virtual Reality, The NHL creates new exclusive VR experience for fans debuting at the All-star games
Sports Fan Engagement Market
As per Research and Markets study, the sports fan engagement market is evaluated at US$17.188 billion for the year 2019 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.3% to reach a market size of US$58.946 billion by the year 2026.
Big brands in the sports industry respond by developing enticing fan engagement apps that successfully create value and provide meaningful interactions between fans and their favorite teams and clubs.
Strategizing Fan Engagements
Engagement in sports is a continuous process. Even when fans are not physically present in the stadium, fan engagement platforms need to keep fans engaged by providing:
- Real-time sports updates
- Enabling notifications to the fans about events
- Creating an immersion with live chat capabilities
- Personalize the fan experience with a sports feed
The bottom line
The experience of bringing together the sports fanatics, coaches, and teams with the same interests under a unified sports management system makes sports events exciting and interactive, allowing fans to experience a sense of belonging.
Social media is the key driving factor in the hyper-digitalization of fans by connecting them to their favorite clubs. With the integration of social media in a dedicated SaaS platform, clubs and teams are learning how to reach an increasingly global audience without the need for intermediaries.
Over the past few decades, the methods used by sports fans to engage with their favorite teams has changed. Fans use real-time data monitoring to track the performance of athletes and social media to engage with their favorite players and teams.
Social media benefits clubs, fans, and players and allows them to reach a wider audience by giving voice to the fans. For instance, the uproar that was created on social media when Cristiano Ronaldo and Pogba took a stand at a Euro 2020 press conference against the consumption of carbonated drinks and used ‘Drink Water’ in support.
Platforms driving Fan Engagement
Each sports club varies – in terms of size and audience engagement. In the United States, commonly used social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, whereas China deploys Wechat and Weibo. Essentially the clubs need to be adaptive to their local environment.
Facebook: Sports teams have a dedicated Facebook page to post their instant live updates. The American Rugby team owns a Facebook page under the name ‘This is American Rugby’. Here, they share updates of games and players as well as build anticipation around fans with the details of an upcoming event.
Instagram: Sports organizations have been successful in creating quality content on Instagram with fan followers. Liverpool FC has over 39.5mn followers, with snippets of games, players, and pictures of their stadiums. They have also used their players as individual highlights, for example, gym workout tutorials, dietary plans, and interviews with each player.
YouTube: YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform, with 2.6 billion users worldwide as of 2022 (Statista,2022). FC Barcelona (Barca) is one of the most popular football clubs like Manchester United. FC Barcelona is the most subscribed YouTube channel with 14 million subscribers. The best moments of Messi, highlights of the Champions League, exclusive interviews with players, and many more videos are updated on a regular basis.
Leveraging social media for the sports industry
Sports organizations have grasped the importance of leveraging social media for the following reasons:
Connecting players and fans: Social media is the perfect platform for teams, athletes, and leagues to connect and engage seamlessly to diversify their fanbase at any given time.
Bernando Silva, an attacking midfielder, has hardly kicked a ball for Manchester City but still managed to develop a rapport with fans through social media by posting a string of amusing tweets and Instagram posts, trying to be cool and having fun with his team.
Boost fan engagement: social media helps to build excitement among fans at major sports events. Nowadays, events also create hashtags to encourage fan-generated content. A personalized social media feed collects all content tagged with the hashtag and displays it at the social media channels’ event so fans can see their posts.
For instance, With the UEFO Euro 2020, new soccer-related hashtags like #Euro2020 were trending all over social media.
Creating Interactive experiences: With social media perfectly well designed for large teams, other small cubs and teams also benefit. The usage of a live feed enhances community sense by letting people share their progress and show their support. Attendees from different parts of the world can also interact through a common platform.
The Dallas Mavericks (Dallas Mavs) is an American professional basketball team that is not just succeeding in sports but also with their digital fan experience.
Sponsored ads generate revenue: Sports teams and clubs can monetize their social media through sponsored advertisements. Sports organizations create a network that boosts fan engagement through an integrated SaaS platform and also collaborating with high-profile brands. To amplify fan engagement, special offers, and promotions are done in combination with sponsors or partners, which leads to a huge fan-follower base.
The bottom line
For instance, PepsiCo and its brand Pepsi is the largest sports sponsor, spending about $3 Billion on advertising annually. The company has a strategy of strongly sponsoring leagues and tournaments in addition to individual teams and athletes.
At present, social media is the best way to reach existing and new fans. Having a centralized hub in which users can see behind the scenes, interact with players and make game predictions is the next iteration in sports social media apps. With a dedicated SaaS platform integrating social media and bridging the gap between fans and athletes, the fan experiences can be enhanced significantly. Additionally, having a foundation to unlock new levels of user data makes this a lucrative solution for sports organizations and athletes.
Social media is an indispensable tool in creating awareness and building a loyal customer base. The sports industry relies on integrated sports software to create and distribute online tickets, encouraging collaboration from the sponsors and enhancing communication between sports personnel and teams.
The population of social media users has increased dramatically over the past years. According to a report by Research now, the latest figures show that there are expected to be about 3.96 billion social media users worldwide in 2022.
The rising use of social media by sports celebrities bridges the gap between the teams and fans, enabling better communication between players and fans. Sports athletes represent some of the most-followed accounts across social media. It is not about the sports organizations, but brands associated with the sports industry promote their products with purpose-led products. They are associating themselves with social causes to make a major breakthrough.
For instance, Adidas created a Women’s Campaign earlier this year to create new possibilities for women in Sports. Accelerated by the attitude of Impossible is Nothing, Adidas powered its mission to make a change for women in sport.
Sports and Social Media: A Good Match
Sports and social media go hand in hand while both have one thing in common – human attention. When sports and social media are paired together, it creates a synergy, a new and amplified experience for the viewers.
Social media integration is crucial for sports organizations to help grow powerful customer relationships, create brand identity, and also to diversify their audience. With sports software allowing social media integration, sports organizations can track activities and receive informational content about user activities to strategize better business decisions
In a recent YPulse Report, it is reported that 70% of sports fans with ages between 13 to 37 years don’t watch sports events live to keep up with their favorite teams and leagues, but follow them on social media.
Perks of Social Media integration on sports
Social Media integration helps with tracking where the club stands and can be used to improve brand identity. It can turn audience into fans, and it can also level up coaches as brand ambassadors. Social media integration can help sports clubs and teams in tasks associated with management as well. Here are some of perk of social media integration mentioned:
Improved On-Field Strategies
Be it the recent trends in augmented reality or the sports data analytics to assess player performance, new trends are changing the way in which athletes improve performance. Besides being able to assess on-field performance, it is also a powerful tool for sports marketing. The American football team, Dallas Cowboys, recently enabled an AR photo kiosk to engage their fans to take pictures with their favorite players.
Live updates on social media
Blending social media with sports makes it fun and interactive, where fans can react to sports events in real-time. For instance, live-tweeting has become a popular way for teams to keep the audience engaged on social media
Live-streaming of events
Platforms like YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are on the rise with sports organizations broadcasting real-time sports events on social media. They offer the audience what they want: the ability to watch conveniently. Online live video streaming has the ability to reach fans on any screen across the globe. Between the ticket costs to live events, parking, and food, many fans opt to stay home to watch NBA games, which is a key reason why the NBA’s online streaming has increased over the years.
Brand identity for your sports clubs
With the rise of sports popularity amongst consumers, businesses are sponsoring teams and events and endorsing popular sports athletes and teams to influence people around the world to tune in to their brands.
The influence of social media in sports marketing can be leveraged by utilizing social strategies in marketing efforts. With social media platforms constantly evolving and adding more features, the opportunities for brands, athletes, and sports teams are ever increasing.
The exceptional bandwidth and increased accessibility to view sports events through live streaming and a surge of popularity in mobile devices will certainly increase the likelihood of adopting an all-in-one Sports Management Software for innovative and customized experiences.