Social media is transforming sports marketing as we know it. The share of fans who consumed sports content on social media worldwide in 2019 increased in every age cohort. Those aged 28 to 35 increased consumption by 68%, and those between 18 and 27 increased consumption by 67%.
In a December 2019 survey conducted by Capgemini, 67% of respondents between the ages of 18 to 27 said they watched sports content via social media such as YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. An average of 69% of sports fans worldwide said emerging technologies have enhanced their overall viewing experience.
Why Are Sports and Social Media the Perfect Marriage?
People enjoy the combination of sports and social media because they share a common purpose: both build human connection. When the two are paired together, it creates a new, amplified and cumulative experience for the viewer:
- Social media offers story-telling platforms; sports offers real-life, compelling stories.
- Social media offers rewarding ways to engage with teams and players; fans want to feel a connection with their favorite athletes.
- Fans' passions for teams and players gives sports organizations greater consumer visibility.
As the manager of a sports operation, such as a recreational league or facility, you can use social media to deepen constituent engagement. Consider using the following:
Livestreaming: For years, cable TV dominated sports broadcasting. Now broadband internet enables livestreaming, and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even Amazon Prime are partnering with sports organizations to offer real-time content. Given the popularity of smartphones, the leagues have every incentive to push their product on platforms that offer subscribers the ability to watch on any device.
Fan engagement during sports events: Sports marketers can be more creative than ever in their utilization of social media platforms. The Boston Red Sox engages its fans on Twitter, asking for song selections during rain delays. This keeps people tuned in and watching commercials, rather than turning the TV off and waiting for the rain to stop. Motorsports make it possible for fans to hear communications between pit teams and drivers. ESPN and NFL Network broadcast both fan and athlete tweets during news segments to amplify excitement (or controversy).
Augmented and virtual reality: Social media platforms may soon enable customization. For example, fans may tune in to broadcasts that show the elements they most want to see. Say you're a 49ers fan who enjoys the matchups between receivers and the defensive backfield. While TV broadcasting may soon be considered old school, new, virtual technologies can enable viewers to customize their engagement. With this specific focus (shifted on demand), you will see the game within the game.
Sponsors can use this, too. A financial services firm had endorser Venus Williams provide tennis tips. Fans then put that knowledge into action by using virtual tennis balls and a 3D-printed racquet controller.
For golf players in an amateur league, consumers can use augmented reality to record their swings and improve their game through computer simulations.
eSports: This is a now a billion-dollar industry. For a generation raised on video games, including the ubiquitous Madden NFL series, eSports offers the opportunity for fans to compete, showcase their skills and even establish a following. Streaming services, including social media platforms, have capitalized on this trend, helping create a fresh genre that redefines the word "athlete."
As sports marketing rolls on, gathering backers and momentum, the sports marketing industry is most rewarding for those with the creativity and cutting-edge education to make an impact.