By: Casey Sudzina, @CaseySudzina
Social media has undoubtedly been on the rise in the past decade. It has been an interesting journey, starting with AIM chat instant messages, to MySpace pages, and finally evolving to mediums such as Twitter and Snapchat. Our society never stops moving – we like instant gratification, and social media gives us just that. Social media allows for supporters to receive instant information about their favorite organizations, similar to a way you would receive a text from a friend with an update on their life. This allows for organizations to create a more intimate bond with their supporters.
In my experience managing social media platforms for a sports organization (I interned with Columbus Crew SC in their Business and Player Development department), people respond most to posts that are personal. Whether personal means it is about a game they attended, a contest they can enter, or something personal about their favorite players. People respond to posts that make them feel important; social media allows for interaction between different individuals with common interests and allows individuals to be a part of something exclusive. One of my most successful posts for our player development system was during a camp we were holding for younger children. One of the kids looked eerily similar to Wil Trapp, one of the players for the MLS team. I did a side-by-side post of the two and mentioned/tagged Wil. Wil proceeded by retweeting and liking the posts. The next day, the kids did a meet and greet with the team and the child was able to speak with Wil about the post. It was a really cool moment for the child, and everyone got a laugh about our “little Wil Trapp." Scenarios like this are why social media has taken off the way it has.
In the sports world, we are seeing an abundance of positions created strictly for monitoring and updating social and digital media for sports teams. Social media is the entire buzz, whether it is Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, or YouTube; it is the news platform of upcoming generations. For instance, during this year’s NBA Finals, the hashtag #NBAFinals was used. A hashtag is used on Twitter when talking about something that is currently relevant. It is like a keyword. The hashtag averaged about 2500 tweets per minute about the game. The NBA strategically created a hashtag battle between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State using #AllinCLE and #CLE to oppose #DubNation and #GSW. The 2016 NBA Finals had a 198% increase of total conversation volume on social media compared to the 2015 NBA Finals.
Just recently, we saw the NFL partner with Snapchat to create an NFL snapchat story channel for fans. This allows for fans to have an inside look at all the games, as well as see what other fans are posting with their geotags at the games live. It simply gives fans a hands on experience that no form of print media ever could.
In the near future, we may see social media be our main, if not only source of news for sports fans, eliminating print media completely.
Why? What is so appealing about social media rather than print media? Social media is instant. It allows for supporters to interact with other supporters, as well as the organization. Supporters can share ideas or opinions about the night’s game via comments immediately on a post. The conversation between supporters on different posts brings a variety of people together and uniting them, even if they may not know one another. The sharing of ideas in such a rapid manner fosters a new way to spread news and strengthen fan bases. Print media does not offer interaction or foster new relationships between supporters.
Social media is convenient, yet exciting – a fine recipe. Something like Twitter allows you to see various details of the game you may have had to miss for a family birthday party with the scroll of a finger. It allows for you to get play-by-play updates on your favorite team via your ESPN app or organization’s Twitter page. Social media can allow you to be retweeted or followed by your favorite player. Talk about interacting with someone you may not have if not for new media!
Social media provides fans with an experience nothing else can; it allows for fans to be a part of the organization first hand. Almost every college team or professional team has a social media page. Fans thrive off of feelings like they are a part of something bigger with their organization of choice. With so many digital and social media positions being created, teams have been able to have an employee focus solely on giving an inside experience to fans. Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram can give live videos and images of the happenings at each facility with the players. College football training camp has been gearing up, and social media has allowed teams to keep their fans updated.
Oregon updating their fans on their new helmets for training camp via Twitter
Fans love having an inside look at their favorite teams, whether it is apparel, news, rankings, scores, or even personal interaction with players. Ohio State tends to post inside looks at their practices and meetings, focusing specifically on showcasing their players’ personalities. Below is a look at some players (Joshua Norwood and Damon Arnette) doing some impressions of coaches during a team meeting via Twitter.
People love to see their favorite players and coaches in a real time setting. Referring to the Ohio State video, a fan can feel like they are actually there in the team meeting room, laughing along with the guys. Creating a bond where fans feel as if they are getting a behind the scenes look at their team creates deep rooted loyalty and bigger fandom. Bigger fandom means more money spent on jerseys, tickets, and products. It is a great way to expand your fan base and strengthen your already established fan base. Social media is becoming an unstoppable train that everyone is hopping on, and it seems that it is only going faster from here.