In my opinion, sports and social media are a perfect marriage. Sports fans love to talk about sports. We spend hours of every day watching, reading, and talking about the teams and players that matter to us. Sports fans also love to show and demonstrate our pride. We want to show the world our allegiances. And most importantly, there are plenty of instances where sports and social media have succeeded!
I spoke to my boss and great friend AJ Vaynerchuk about it. He brought up a valid question: “is there really a problem there that needs to be fixed?”
I’m not sure of the answer, but I’m going to talk it through right now:
Sports and Social Media Work.
Sports and social media can mix. I’ve seen it first-hand. In a year and change, the New York Jets’ (disclaimer: VaynerMedia client) have developed a community of over 241,000 passionate fans. Fans post thoughts, photos, and videos to the wall hundreds of times per day and comment/like thousands of times in the same time period. There is a real community there. There are real relationships, between the Jets and their fans, and between the fans themselves. The page is a social network at the micro level.
There are many other teams and leagues with impressive Facebook communities as well. The NBA & NHL (VaynerMedia Client) both have vibrant fanbases on Facebook, and so do teams like the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. The point is that sports and social media have proven to mix.
Don’t Forget About Forums, Message Boards, and Chats…
For example, take a look at the conversation around last week’s Eagles-Falcons game on ESPN.com. Over the course of a week, primarily, there were over 1,000 comments left in a thread about one specific football game.
What about the Something Awful Forums or the message boards on CBSSports.com? There are many online sports communities based around forums and message boards. Members create profiles and talk in the same threads, establishing names and identities for themselves. They come back on a daily basis and create relationships with other visitors.
Is There a Need?
Maybe these existing places are enough. Maybe I’m trying to solve a problem that does not exist. Through Facebook, we have the ability to connect with fans of teams we like, as well as with the teams themselves. Through forums and message boards, we can argue freely and trash talk about issues we care about. What else could a sports social network provide that doesn’t exist already? What could intrigue me enough to create one more account to log in to, one more online identity to maintain?
When you look at niche communities that are successful, they exist because they provide locations for enthusiasts of specific genres to interact, when these places do not otherwise exist. Take Flixster, for example. Flixster is an online community for movie fans. Flixster can exist because there are few other prominent places online for fans to go and create identities for themselves. But sports fans have a variety of existing places and communities we can go. Why create one more?
We’re all sports fans here. I would love to hear what you have to say about why there are no great sports social networks. Which features would you look for in a sports social network? Would you even be interested in joining one? Do you think it’s possible that fantasy sports have taken the place of a sports social network?