(This is a guest post by Joseph Yi)
When sports teams first began using social media, they gained followers and fans primarily because of their brand. Fans wanted to be part of their favorite team’s community and sports teams were more than happy to have them. Still, many sports teams eventually faced the realization that their brand could only bring them so far. Teams that relied on their brand identity to generate interest soon discovered that after most ‘hardcore’ fans had discovered their teams Facebook or Twitter page, the numbers dropped off. To attract the casual fan, teams had to prove to them that they could bring value.
For teams, providing value to fans means winning games. Winning games fills seats and keeps fans happy. When it comes to creating value on social media platforms though, winning doesn’t necessarily translate into happy fans or engagement. Winning will get fans interested in a team, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get them to follow or like their fan page.
While there are exceptions to this such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Yankees, if you look at some of the sports teams on Twitter and Facebook, you will notice that the teams with the highest number of followers and fans accomplish this by leveraging their brand to create engaging content that creates value for their community of fans rather than relying on their brand to push them forward.
It wasn’t just sports teams that encountered this situation though. From large corporate brands to small family businesses, figuring out how to create value for individuals was complicated to say the least.
Sports teams in particular had a difficult time with this because of the traditional fan to team relationship that they had been accustomed to. Never before had teams been given a tool that allowed them to engage fans directly. While sports teams had experimented with MySpace, Facebook and Twitter broke down the corporate walls that separated fans and their favorite teams. To this day, protecting the brand while simultaneously leveraging it to gain influence is a difficult and tricky task.
While it’s definitely still work in progress, sports teams have come a long way since they got their first Twitter follower and Facebook Fan. Twitter updates and Facebook Walls posts are no longer being used as a just a news feed, but as a valuable fan relations tool. More importantly, communities are growing not only because of a sports teams brand name, but because of team generated content and their commitment to staying engaged with fans.
Joseph is the Social Media & Marketing Solutions Manger at GAGA Sports & Entertainment. He has 7 years of experience working in social media and the digital space and started his first business venture as freshman in college. Prior to joining GAGA Sports & Entertainment, Joseph specialized in brand management and developed social media marketing strategies for organizations and corporate brands. At GAGA, Joseph works with professional sports teams, including the Lakers, Clippers, and San Francisco 49ers, where he develops engaging content as well as social media and digital strategies to help teams better understand and engage their fans. Additionally, he is a guest speaker and panelist at universities and social media events and has mentored several sports industry professionals regarding their social media assets.
Great news about the growth of social media in sports today…plenty of new job opportunities are popping up everyday for multimedia and social media based jobs with in the sports industry.
Great stuff, man! Completely agree. Teams must use these new tools and platforms for fan engagement. Otherwise fans will desert teams (especially losing teams) over time for some other activity or form of entertainment where they can be a more direct participant in what they’re doing.
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