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Should teams look beyond Facebook & Twitter?

dullhunkWe’re now starting to see more and more teams getting involved with social media. This is great, but I think it’s time they start to look beyond only utilizing the major platforms (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) and really start to embrace more emerging and niche platforms (Ustream, Tumblr, Flickr).

Every platform offers something different and therefore appeals to different types of people. Facebook and Twitter are (currently) more popular than others and should demand more time and resources, but surely the fans that use these emerging platforms deserve some love too? And surely there is value in these platforms for teams?

One team that has had great success through getting involved in a niche network is Manchester City FC with their use of Flickr. They are the first team I have seen using this platform, if you have seen any others please let me know. They use Flickr as a way to embrace their fans creative side allowing them to use photography and design to express their feelings about the club.

Flickr gives Manchester City fans the chance to see all the latest images from the clubs official stream as well as inviting them to share their own images and get involved in discussion. Some of the images that have been posted in the Flickr group have even been taken on board by the club and helped inspire new PR and retail campaigns.

knicks tumblr pageAnother team who have started to get involved with an emerging platform is the New York Knicks on Tumblr. Personally I’m a big fan of Tumblr and feel it has huge potential because it offers a great way to find and share information.

It allows users to easily post a range of content with just a few clicks – everything from photos and video, to links and even short voice recordings making it the perfect way to keep fans up-to-date. Currently the Knicks mainly use Tumblr as a way to share videos, short blogs and promotions. I’d like to see them mix up posts a bit more and maybe include a few behind the scenes images, quotes and audio clips from the coaches and players.

It may be a while before Tumblr becomes main stream, but once it does I’m sure it will be a powerful tool for both teams and brands.


Obviously the major platforms shouldn’t be overlooked. Every team that isn’t involved with them is missing out on a big opportunity because they offer great value for both the teams and fans.

However, I feel that niche and emerging platforms allow teams to build up closer relationships with fans and also open up many new engagement and participation opportunities. Teams can choose to share images on Flickr, post short blogs on Tumblr or run live chats or showing live training sessions on Ustream – there’s plenty of potential and opportunity out there.

What do you think?  Is there value for fans and teams on niche and emerging platforms? Have you seen any examples of teams or athletes getting involved? What platforms do you feel offer potential?


Image by dullhunk

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13 Responses to Should teams look beyond Facebook & Twitter?

  1. argiope February 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    The Atlanta Falcons have been using Flickr since the 2008 season. It hasn’t been widely appreciated by fans, but every photo shot at games and events is uploaded and available in full resolution for fans to enjoy.

  2. Sean Callanan February 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    Good article Ash, it is about engaging fans on the platforms they play in.

  3. Ash Read February 26, 2010 at 2:46 am #

    @agrgiope: Thanks for the comment and thanks for sharing the Atlanta Falcons stream. Do the Falcons also have a group on Flickr? A group would alllow fans to share their own photos too and could lead to more appreciation and interaction.

    @Sean Thanks for the comment – much appreciated.

  4. Will Simpson February 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    I personally don’t see the need for anything other than facebook and twitter at the current time. These platforms offer all the resources necessary for 99.9% of sports fans. Until the time comes when the masses are looking elsewhere for their social media connections, it seems a waste of time for sports executives to be looking at other avenues. The public are fickle, as much as they like niche areas why would they go to a site with a smaller user base to provide them with social tools? They wouldn’t and until facebook begins to charge/downgrade or gets hacked/goes bust I can’t see things changing anytime soon.

    I’m not saying don’t keep an open eye, but wholesale changes are surely not yet necessary.

  5. Ash Read February 28, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Will, thanks for your comment. I can completely understand your perspective, Facebook and Twitter do have many of the features that other emerging/niche platforms offer. However, many people use niche platforms as well as mainstream ones – For example: whilst Facebook offers photo sharing features plenty of people prefer to use Filckr for this – it’s user base may be small compared to that of Facebook but it still offers plenty of engagement opportunities and can provide great value for both fans and teams.

    Also, I’m not trying recommend wholesale changes – teams should currently be focusing the majority of time on these major platforms as it’s where the largest audience is, I just feel there is huge potential to utilise niche and emerging platforms alongside Facebook and Twitter.

  6. Shane Harmon March 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    It really depends if the organisation really wants to engage. There are so many prosports out there who have built up large fan bases on twitter and facebook, yet treat these platforms as extensions of static websites and simply push content out. Many do not respond to resulting fan queries as they don’t have the time or resources. (I believe having a dedicated Community Manager is the single biggest success factor for a sports organisation in the social media space). In addition, for all its appeal as a platform with critcial mass, facebook is not the most engaging of platforms for fans. A thumbs up does not equal engaged fan. Jason Peck wrote an excellent article on looking beyond facebook (and its limitations) facebook is great for the “eyeballs” segment but I agree there are better platforms for conversing with fans further up the engagement ladder.
    Completely agree with you on flickr. It is a much richer experience than facebook photos. I see the IOC has recently lanuched a flickr photo group The beneifits of using flickr are enormous. For each major event it can provide a wonderful snapshot of history but from the fan perspective.

  7. Ash Read March 2, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    How involved teams can be in different platforms is always going to rely on how much time and resources they can put into social media. While it can be hard (near impossible if you have a large following) to reply to all fans – teams should make the effort to reply to as many as possible. I agree with you that Facebook isn’t the most engaging on a personal level, although it is a great tool to reach a mass audience and create buzz. Currently I feel Twitter is better for one on one engagement with fans via @replies and DM’s, and as I mention in the post I feel emerging an niche platforms open up many engagement opportunities too.

    I’ve read Jason’s article and can see his point, I think team owned communities have potential, however, I’m not sure I would keep up with a team owned community as often I as would a Facebook page or Twitter account etc. – of course that’s just my personal opinion.

    Thanks for sharing the Olympic Flickr account – there’s some great images in there. Hopefully there will be on set up for the World Cup this summer!

  8. Jason Peck March 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Shane- thanks for the shoutout on my article about looking beyond Facebook.

    The important thing to keep in mind is figuring out what your goals are and what time/resources you have. Once those are set, then it’s time to look at where you should be engaging based on where your audience is, based on what they want, and based on generating the results you want.

    Facebook, Twitter and some other services can be great. But at the end of the day, it’s about generating revenue for teams. Some things can be better accomplished on Facebook and sometimes they can be done better on a team’s main website or other places. So yes, I think they need to look beyond Facebook and Twitter. There is much more to social media than just those sites.

  9. Sam Neter March 4, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    As more and more social media platforms emerge I think it is going to become up to teams to pick and choose 2 or 3 of them to focus on and plough all their energies into. It is physically impossible to have a good social presence on every emerging platform out there.

    In terms of British basketball, to even have a Facebook page and a Twitter account is a HUGE start! Haha.

    Of those emerging platforms mentioned, Flickr I think has the most potential, and is very much underrated. There are so many bloggers/webmasters that use photos from there under the Creative Commons license giving attribution to the picture owner. It’s an awesome way for account holders to get backlinks and drive traffic back to their site.

    Ustream has potential, in terms of players doing Q & A’s with fans etc-ex NBA player Jalen Rose does a great job of this.

    Tumblr I’m not a huge fan of, but who knows what’s gonna happen in the future…

  10. Ash Read March 5, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    @Jason – Thanks for the comment, great points as always. Teams should be looking at what they want to achieve and then choosing the correct platform to achieve those goals.

    @Sam – If a British Basketball team even has a website it’s bonus! Cheers for stopping by and commenting.

  11. tweetadder review March 8, 2010 at 6:59 am #

    Starting new to twitter may be frustrating but when you truly utilize it as the compelling marketing tool it can be it will certainly pay off in the long run. I believe twitter is a great way to drive traffic to your site.

  12. JF March 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    No one does it better than the Canadian Football League Calgary Stampeders and this special social media website. The combine their own content alongside fan content on blogs, facebook, twitter, flickr and youtube.


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