Social media use in sport
New media, which includes social platforms, the internet and blogs, have changed the way that consumers access content. Understanding how they consume content is important for engagement and marketing to increase brand awareness.
73% of internet users actively engage on social media with the vast majority of the younger demographic being active. A research review on social media use was published in Sport Management Review and they describe three impacts that social media has: brands use social media strategically to build relationships with customers, brands seek to cultivate and sustain relationships operationally and users co-create content.
When brands use social media strategically they are seeking to engage with fans, communicate and develop relationships in order to build the brand. Brands use social media to promote the sport, rather than market promotions. By engaging in conversations with fans, brands can generate more ‘likes’ and increase users. Twitter can be used as a tool to disseminate information and promote messages and different platforms have different values: twitter is used for real time information and facebook enriches the consumer experience. While the platforms may differ, the use is to create relationships with users.
Opportunities and challenges exist through strategic social media use. The opportunities are enhanced knowledge of consumers, advanced interaction, effective engagement, and efficient use of resources. The challenges include lack of control, concerns about credibility, concerns of effectiveness, difficulties identifying true consumers and allocating organizational resources. I have written previously that activity on social media is expected among users, but may not transfer into direct revenue.
Operational use of social media consists of how brands utilize differing platforms on a day to day basis. Athletes posting about their personal lives allow fans to connect with the person behind the player and leads to more engagement. Brands engage their fans by offering behind the scenes looks into the daily routine of the players and staff. Social media use allows for a personal connection between the brand and the fan.
Users of social media vary depending on the brand. NCAA users are predominantly male, educated, affluent and older. Younger fans of the NCAA used facebook and youtube to connect and that twitter is not heavily used by college sport fans. Fans use social media to gather information regarding their favorite teams, players and organizations. There are gender differences in fan consumption based on the sport with women more likely to pay more attention to informational, commercial and social functions of the team’s social media. Fans are also more likely to follow those teams and programs that are more successful.
This article leaves us with some increased knowledge regarding social media use and allow brands to use these platforms more effectively. Strategic use allows the brand to communicate with fans, build relationships and promote activities. Operational use of social media by brands shows that they use social platforms to interact daily with fans, share behind the scenes footage, share news and information and promote the brand. Users of social media tend to be younger, educated and more male than female. Information that they are interested tends to be gathering information, entertainment and connecting with other fans. These conclusions are useful when evaluating your social media presence and content development.
Filo, K., Lock, D & Karg, A. Sport and social media research: a review. Sport Management Review (18) 2015. 166-181
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