“Many companies diligently establish their presence on Social Networking Services (SNSs) as they recognize Social Media Marketing (SMM) will be the next “holy grail of marketing”. However, yet the true value of SMM remains unclear because marketing based on social networkingstill defines its best practices and metrics.” (Podobnik, 2013, p. 131)
This post, as illustrated by the above-mentioned citation, offers some insight into the importance of social media in the sports industry while recognizing that there are still many things to be learned about this ‘relative’ new phenomenon. Today, social media is now a decisive and imperative fragment of any fruitful marketing plan. The business of sports is not immune to that trend either! Social media give sports entities a podium to intermingle with current and potential stakeholders and thus can repeatedly feed sports entities with feedback and innovative mindsets.
At the same time, social media is a VERY cost effective marketing solution, i.e. it is easy for sports entities to integrate their websites with Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media. The attractiveness of media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has impacted the sports industry intensively (Newman et al., 2013) to reach and engage stakeholders and it is a great tool or supplement to traditional marketing in order to enhance stakeholder interactions, to establish brand awareness or to activate brand messages. Website integration with social media offers a good strategy as the majority of Facebook users check his/her profile on a daily basis (often more than once per day). Tendencies investigating the intersection between sports entities and use of social media portray a positive correlation between enjoyment for a sport entity’s Facebook usage and thus the willingness to visit the sports entity’s website as well as loyalty to the sports entity’s Facebook page. At the same time, this also links positively with factors like team identification and consumption patterns (Moyer, 2012). This speaks for itself in terms of indicating that social media should be a MUST for sports entities trying to generate a transfer between positive brand building while focusing on enhancement of revenue streams. Though, when working with social media it is essential that a sports entity promotes these media platforms through other media outlets and hence communicates constantly to underscore the fact that there exists a positive correlation between this action and traffic generation on the sports entity’s social media platforms. From a critical perspective, it should be noticed that social media in some cases are best suited to cater to younger generations of fans (Clavio, 2011; Alonso & O’Shea, 2012).
So why is this important? One simply answer may be that team identification is positively interconnected with the regularity of merchandise sales and game attendance, i.e. MONEY IN THE BANK for any sports entity. Moreover, the sports entity should apply this information in its segmentation and targeting and thus to market specifically to these fans, e.g. what communication channels are most effective in producing traffic on the sports entity’s social media platforms and how does the sports entity make use of this knowledge when ‘framing’ specific marketing messages? Whenever sports fans visit a sports entity’s social media pages, that is a chance to cater and sell the sports entity’s brand via ‘value-adding’ content and engagement. As sports fans are craving all aspects of information about their favorite sports brands, it would make a lot of sense if sports entities in their business partnerships integrated their sponsors more in terms of facilitating information for sponsors to add to their social media campaigns. That would add even more value to sports sponsorships and the use of social media as a way for sports entities to differentiate themselves from other suppliers of marketing solutions.
There tends to be a high focus on B2C activities aiming to reach and connect with sports fans but there are also fine opportunities to be found in relation to B2B solutions, e.g. in the brand transfer between the sports entity and the activation of its sponsor network. In Denmark, we have seen that the ice hockey team Aalborg Pirates have found itself in a couple of negative scenarios where ticket holders could not gain access to the game due to improper management. Social media platforms may help in such situations so that the team and its stakeholders avoid finding themselves in a negative media storm. The latter may prevent future business opportunities from being exploited. To add to this, co-branding and collaboration between clubs or between the club and its stakeholders may lead to better promotion of the sport in general and thus to a situation with more interest for the sports product.
As you can see via the info graphics listed below, Facebook leads the way in terms of social media platforms. Though, Twitter and other platforms should bot be ignored. Twitter is a very applicable platform, which is easy to use and effective in driving awareness and conversations about a sports entity’s current activities. Though, YouTube and LinkedIn are also vital sources of energy, business and network for sports entities for what reason these platforms should also be integrated in a sports entity’s marketing activities. Google+ depicts good growth potential and its integration with YouTube is also key for any sports entity.
Photo: Infographic portraying 2013 social media trends (source: Twist Forum).
In general, the number of fans, i.e. brand reach, is a very good indicator of success for sports entities due to the fact that ‘the number of fans’ is positively associated with other KPIs like brand growth and engagement and therefore with revenue streams.
Alonso, A. D., & O’Shea, M. (2012). ” You Are Invisible”: Marketing Professional Sports in the Technology Era. Journal of Sports Media, 7(2), 1-21.
Clavio, G. (2011). Social media and the college football audience. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 4, 309-325.
Moyer, C. (2012). Relationship of Facebook Usage to Team Identification.
Newman, T., Peck, J.F., Harris, C., & Wilhide, B. (2013). Social media in sport marketing. Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway.
Podobnik, V. (2013, June). An analysis of facebook social media marketing key performance indicators: The case of premier league brands. In Telecommunications (ConTEL), 2013 12th International Conference on (pp. 131-138). IEEE.