Sports events and social media go hand in hand. What’s more, the gargantuan volumes of traffic generated through social networks gives brands an opportunity to engage with a wider audience. As managing director of Manchester United, Richard Arnold puts it, sports on social media “is akin to religion.”
Sports fans use social sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to religiously follow their favourite teams. And with a wealth of players interacting with fans before and after games, the social phenomena has exploded.
Reports confirm that 67% of sports fans are more likely to use Twitter to keep track of their favourite players and enhance their overall sporting experience. Scroll down a Twitter feed and the number of followers commenting on a game, player transfers and the aftermath of a match is phenomenal.
Furthermore, fans are making engagement fun. The culture of adding gifs, memes and vines to chats with friends has projected onto discussion threads within the socials sports scene.
Therefore, brands that get involved with social media and utilise the platform to engage with fans and encourage them to visit your online store, increase the potential to improve search engine rank and revenues. According to a report published in Forbes, 37% of consumers are more likely to purchase merchandise from a brand they follow.
Social engagement in sports
Social media already has a significant impact on sports and 93.3% of global sports leaders believe social engagement will continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. With 61% of viewers already following sports online, brands have a prime opportunity to attract customers thorough social channels.
Statistics suggest that 80% of sports fans watching live matches on TV monitor social networks during the game to either comment or get the reaction of other followers. And fans are not only watching games on TV, they’re turning to online channels and mobile devices.
As a result, brands have to find solutions to engage customers across more channels and publish content that is suitable for a variety of different sized screens. The most promising and popular media for sports fans is video. Even mainstream media have added video to their sports pages and video is helping to leverage second tier publications such as Bleacher Report, Whistle Sports, Barstool Sports and The Wildcard.
Sports videos and social media
Broadcasters and sports teams recognise the power of social media and are finding the best way to engage fans is through video. When Manchester United signed Paul Pogba for a British record of £89m last year, Adidas teamed up with hip-hop artist and United fan Stomrzy to promote his arrival. The video attracted almost 3 million views thanks to the social sharing culture on networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
It’s not only the major sports brands that are taking advantage of digital platforms to leverage fan engagement. Volcano City helped PokerStars attract over 3 million views by streaming live broadcasts of their flagship PSC all over the world in 10 different languages on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
NBC Sports has also announced the channel will livestream the 2018 Winter Olympics from South Korea and plan to use social networks to create the hype. Broadcasters recognise there is a paradigm shift in the reckoning. Rick Cordella, the digital Media EVP for NBC Sports says:
“In this day and age, all content should be available to consumers across the board. The media landscape is shifting, and people are comfortable consuming on all these different devices — we’re now going to be on connected TV devices, whereas in the past we were not.”
Sports brands can’t afford to ignore the power social media platforms have to attract a wider audience and engage fans. But simply jumping on social networks without a content strategy or plan of engagement will be a waste time.
The trend of watching sports videos on social media started gathering pace in 2016. A report published by Cisco predicts that video will account for 81% of internet traffic and the amount of videos that will be shared through social networks would take 5 million years to watch. That’s a lot of videos and even more sharing.