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Transformation: The Future of Sports + Social Media

evolutionOr since transformation can be negative, let’s say intelligent growth or evolving.

People in the sports world do it all the time when they add another dimension to their game, or when they improve upon a certain facet of their skill set. Joe Mauer adding more power to his arsenal, LeBron improving his defense and free-throw shooting in the off-season, a pitcher developing a new pitch; these are all examples of athletes transforming themselves for the better.

But what about this online world that we live in?

Lewis’ personal (and professional) brand has been undergoing positive transformation since he stepped on the scene, and this re-launch of Sports Networker is a perfect example of thinking long-term and continuing to evolve. It’s what I’m doing by coming along on this ride, (and I’m very grateful that Lewis elected to keep me on his starting roster.)
I’d like to think that Sports Networker, and all the brilliant writers that I’m humbled to be sharing this spotlight with, is going to continue help ushering in positive transformation at the intersection of new media and sports.
But how? Sports are notoriously late adopters and there are few (relatively speaking) athletes and franchises that “get it.”

First of all, it doesn’t mean setting up a Facebook page, Twitter account and blog for every athlete and/or franchise.

It takes a lot of effort to execute even one of these mediums successfully. Learn to do one of them really well first, and then if that platform is resonating with you fans (or your clients’ fans) and you’re capable of doing another, and more importantly, it makes sense strategically to operate somewhere else, then and only then should you take that leap.

It’s important to have a clear-defined strategy and know why you’re using social media, and the specific tools affiliated with it prior to launching anywhere.

And let’s not forget all the snake oil salesman that will try and convince you that they can help you build your brand via social media just because they’ve used these platforms as a hobby.

There’s a big difference between using social media, and understanding how to strategically interweave it into an overall marketing approach conducive to humanizing a brand, connecting with fans, and driving ROI.

Knowing what not do is half the battle, but it’s still essential for the sports world (e.g. athletes, franchises, agencies, sponsors, bloggers, etc.) to understand where new media is trending.

I fully intend to keep you abreast of these trends (among other things) in the next two months here at Sports Networker, but in the interim here are 3 things you should be doing right now to stay ahead of the curve:

1.)   Locate examples of athletes, teams, agencies, bloggers, etc. using social media tools effectively as a component of their overall marketing strategies. Analyze what makes them effective and share them with others so that we can all learn together.

2.) Understand that in part because of new FTC regulations there is going to be a chasm among sports bloggers. There will be those that abide carefully by these rules, amend their own community’s rules to ensure they’re a more credible source, etc. and then there will be those that don’t care about anything other than ad clicks and continue to post more pictures of scantily clad women than insightful sports commentary. Some will manage to marry the two. They will be few and far between.

3.)   Come to terms with the fact that organizations will get over all the hype and the buzz words and insist on some real metrics that prove ROI where it counts, in the piggybank. (As an aside, monetary ROI has to be a factor, but we must also not underestimate ROI as it relates to a brand’s image and the equity that can potentially generate.)

What about you? What are you (or your organization) doing to positively transform yourself, to stay ahead of the curve?

*Photo Credit: PracticalOwl

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3 Responses to Transformation: The Future of Sports + Social Media

  1. David Spinks July 29, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    There are so many opportunities for athletes and teams to embrace social media. For the most part, they already have recognition, a loyal fanbase, and a community. I think a very important aspect that you touch on is the importance of humanizing the brand. The most successful teams and athletes that are using social media, are doing it well because they’re out there interacting, and making their fans feel like they actually know them. Something that seemed so far and unreachable is now within reach. It’s an empowering feeling and when you empower your fans, they’ll make you happy you did.

    Nice article Ryan…I look forward to coming back here often.


  2. Chris Denker July 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Great post here Ryan, I’ll be back to check out more in the future.



  3. Todd E. Jones July 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    Athletes are blogging at the Yardbarker Network. That is nice to see them connecting with fans in a new way. I work with semi pro football teams, and they are not even seeing the need to network and use social media for the most part. A few individual players will have a Myspace profile, but that is pretty much it. There is a women’s football team that does a nice job of embracing social media.

    The minor league football teams can do such things as tweeting scores which I have seen being done by others. It is all about making the game fan-friendly, and that is what social media does.

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