Why is Social Media so important for sports?

To start off my free social media strategy for sports series, I thought what better way to introduce social media than to ask why would any club think it is important? There can be no doubt that social media is huge. The stats simply do not lie, if in doubt check out these from the Social Media Revolution video. Social Media has so many incredibly fascinating and creative uses and platforms that it has spawned into its own industry alongside TV, Newspaper & Video. Social Media has changed the way we communicate, the way we buy and sell, the way we learn and even the way we share our intimate details of life. So where does sport fit in?

Sport & Social Media

The last few decades of the 20th century saw the mass commercialisation of sport globally. At the same time, we saw sport – particularly football – become increasingly more political in a sense that the sheer amounts of revenue being generated by the game, made winning and losing ever so more important. Ask any die-hard fan – the last words you want to hear at the end of a crushing defeat is “it’s only a game”. As the importance of sport has grown, as has the audience. Arguably, the last time a spectator was so important and influential in any sport was the vicious crowds at the Roman Colosseum, delivering their verdict whether a gladiator should live or die. Whilst fans these days aren’t condemning men to death, they do have a huge say in every aspect of footballing life. Boards can be removed, managers can be sacked, players can be signed and even clubs can go under – all because of fans.

Social Media has arguably one of the most crucial developments in the past century for connecting the fan to the sport. In a world of smart phone internet access, one can read, listen and watch nearly any major sport worldwide. Within 140 characters a fan can rally thousands in agreement that “the manager must go”. Equally, in 140 characters, a player can seriously jeopardise the reputation of a multi-billion pound industry. Clubs, teams and athletes should recognise that the same rules apply to all social media strategies:

Your customers are always there and they are always talking about you. Social Media has just made this easier and faster.

Perhaps the most defining factor that makes it so important that sports recognises social media is the fact that the audience is fanatical to an almost dogmatic level. Yes, the apathetics may say “it’s only a game” – but it is one that can unite millions worldwide, it is one that creates huge revenues and it is one that is constantly full of controversy.

Why sport MUST get involved

Put simply, the way fans connect with their sport and club has changed hugely in the past 5 years. On one hand, clubs must protect the integrity and reputation of their commercial brand. That means, ensuring athletes understand the social media landscape and it also entails that clubs prepare for the worst. On the other hand, clubs must learn to interact and talk to their fans in a more personable and engaging manner. Social Media offers better relationships, better fan engagement, alternate revenue streams and increased brand awareness.

To not get involved is sheer stupidity.

Next steps

Now, that you understand social media and its importance, you must decide to what end you want to use it. There is no point adopting it for the sake of it. Good social media always requires a true purpose. In my next article, I will try break down potential ways to use social media (for both small clubs with no cash to leading multi-million pound teams).

Sean Walsh

Founder of Digital-Football.com and leading Football Social Media expert.

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