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Fans Are Talking Online: Can You Hear Them Now?

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This is a guest post by Ryan Stephens

The last post I did for Sports Networker was a very applicable, step-by-step approach to utilizing social media with respect to sports. It is a formula I will typically use when Lewis gives me the opportunity to share with you all.  However, this week I want to deviate a little bit and provide a call to action.  Call it a mini-manifesto if you want.

Despite Marc Meyer’s recent examples of sites elevating how we use social media with sports, it is no secret that sports in general have been slow to adopt social media.  Fans, now more than ever, are having conversations online with or without your sports brands.  The amount of fans and consumers adopting social media to create fan-generated media continues to increase at exponential rates.

Some sports franchises are even getting it right.  There are even a handful of athletes that “get it,” and in doing so they are elevating their personal brand.  If you are not a mega-superstar chances are you have time to give your fans access.  And what if you are?  Well, when Shaq sends a 140-character tweet empowering a young a fan because he rocked out in a local concert; that resonates with people.

So, why then have sports been so slow to adopt?  Maybe they just do not get it.  I could argue that professional sports have it all wrong these days.  I toured the Orlando Magic’s offices this summer and got to see their plans for their new stadium.  You know what their administration talked about the entire time?  Their luxury suites, that’s what.  We got to walk through them, and I assure you they are amazing, but only a select few people ever get to experience a game that way.

I’m not ignorant.  I get how much revenue those luxury boxes generate, but I also know what it is like to be regular fan that is thankful to get to attend a few games each year. How many people, especially during these current economic conditions fall into that category as opposed to the luxury suite fan?

Chances are those are the fans that are scattered all over the Internet, passionately talking about your sports brand.  It’s expensive to attend professional sporting events (and I don’t want to limit this discussion only to professional teams – there’s a broad spectrum that is guilty as charged).  Is it so wrong for these fans to want these sports brands to interact with them where they are already having conversations?  Where they can afford to be every night, chatting with friends and reading box scores?

So, how then do these entities strengthen their brand affiliation?

* Make their athletes more accessible

* Foster online fan communities

* Sponsor promotions, contests, etc. in their fans’ space

I am purposely leaving this list short because I want you to use the comments section to continue the discussion surrounding this issue and to offer your own suggestions.  Right now, there’s a huge opportunity for sports companies to leverage the power of social media and to learn valuable information from fans through their behaviors, preferences, etc.

As a word of caution do not just jump in without first learning and understanding the social media stratosphere, but start having important conversations.  Start right now talking to other people passionate about the intersection of sports and social media and have the discussion, “How is sports different and why does it matter?”

What questions do you have? Feel free to leave questions for me in the comments section.  I cannot promise I can and/or will answer them all, but I will try to answer as many as I can, and other may spark future post ideas so please don’t hesitate to contribute.

As always if you have any questions, by all means, I would love to help you anyway I can with respect to Twitter, social media or the intersection of sports and social media/web 2.0.


You can read more about Ryan’s bio and contact information here.

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10 Responses to Fans Are Talking Online: Can You Hear Them Now?

  1. Marc Meyer December 12, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    This a great point Ryan, lets not forget that it makes better sense for sports teams, professional and amateur to utilize social media, if not for the simple reason that they already have built in fan bases. And within these lies a passion. With passion comes the need to share, enagage, interact and celebrate with all tools that might be at their disposal.

  2. Miami Marketing Company April 13, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    social media really is the treasure that everyone should pay enough attention, its not mainly for business but its for all kinds of uses like sports and other internet based activities..

  3. Web Design April 28, 2009 at 1:20 am #

    social media is just taking over everything. You look for blogs forums you find everything being discussed, and sports is one of the major aspect people wana talk about

  4. Miami SEO May 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    social media is a big help for professional businessman's through the web that's why many social media sites are enhancing more their features to get more clients

  5. chiropractic coaching May 25, 2009 at 5:06 am #

    i must admit social media is on the top this days, many people are using it and many people are studying about how it really works

  6. Synthesio May 25, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    Both sports professionals and sports sponsors can monitor social media for reputational purposes; professionals can keep track of their personal brands while sponsors can measure their ROIs.
    Sports is a topic that naturally evokes so many emotions in fans that communities arise organically at the same time that communities can be created to encompass conversations.
    Good topic, Ryan, we look forward to reading more from you.

    Monitoring and Analysis for Online Reputation Management

  7. Michael Senno August 2, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    Key is using each social media tool for a different purpose, since they have unique attributes. Teams must act strategically with social media, a poor entry strategy can destroy the authenticity of their presence.


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