Tuesday, November 1, 2011

# 155 - GUEST BLOG: How Social Media Teaches Teams to Connect with Fans

By DJ Irvine

            Professional sports are part of American culture as well as most cultures worldwide. However, many fans are actually quite disconnected from their favorite teams. With the rise of social media, however, teams have a unique opportunity to bring fans closer to them – for real.

Traditionally, teams have used their own websites to publish previews, provide scoring updates and recap games. Now, with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube being so user-friendly for organizations, any team can bring more value to the fan experience.  Teams today can upload exclusive video content on YouTube and then disseminate it via blogs, websites, links, photos and video via Facebook, Twitter and the rest. 

Huddle up, sports fans! 
            The effective use of social media by any professional sports team allows its fans to feel more connected, and provides an authentic chance to enhance two-way communication between managers, owners, players and fans.  Simply using hashtags to start conversation streams on Twitter, fans are already communicating with one another. Often, they don’t even know that the hashtags are created by social-savvy team officials and representatives.
              Streaming real conversations allows fans to connect with one another, while also promoting the interests of their favorite teams among their friends, fans and followers.

            YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts, pages and profiles are perfect for allowing fans to get real “behind the scenes” looks at their favorite players.  During games, teams that utilize social media well are designating staffers to update via a variety of social channels. This is valuable if you’re a fan looking for an injury report or other details.
Let the Games Begin! 
             Social media allows for a richer type of fan engagement.  Teams can post content including roster changes, practice updates and answers to specific fan questions.  Fans are on social media, so why not bring them what they want from their favorite teams? It can only pay off in higher sales and merchandising, and may go a long way toward boosting ticket sales over the longer term.
            On Oct 20 this year, the Colorado Avalanche (an NHL team) organized a charity event via Twitter.  While the team played live against the Chicago Blackhawks, fans were encouraged to use the Twitter hashtag #GoAvsGo to converse. Each time the hashtag was used during the game (over two and half hours), one dollar was donated to cancer research.  While total contributions have yet to be tallied time, thousands of users supported cancer research via this unique virtual event.

Endless possibilities
            As sports marketers learn more about how to use social media, the more fans are likely to benefit. Already, we see team franchises experimenting with the new mediums. The more they can connect with fans, offers and promotions, the better.

             Of course, only time will tell how social media will eventually shape the fan experience for professional sports.  Do you have an example of a sports-related social site, scene or event you’ve enjoyed or want to share? 

The comments section is still open. Please share!

       DJ Irvine is a senior Public Relations major in the Journalism & Mass Communications Department at Murray State University (a fully accredited university in the beautiful lakes region of West Kentucky). Irvine is passionate about sports and cutting edge communications technologies. He plans to graduate in December 2012 and pursue a career in professional sports public relations.  For more information, contact: david.irvine@murraystate.edu.

1 comment:

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