Monday, August 6, 2012

Four ways Sports are cashing in on Social Media

Companies often think having a social media strategy means “let’s use Facebook and Twitter more and get more followers and likes”, but how is that helping you to reach your business objectives? You need to figure out how to use those channels to get measurable results, and use those metrics to justify your investment and to estimate the return you’re getting from those activities.

The Sports Business Journal mentioned 20 great uses of social media in sports, and I’ve grouped most of those uses, and added a couple more, into four categories that will give you bottom line ROI:

1. Driving TV viewership or engagement

Of course ratings bring ad dollars, and there are a few ways to get people to watch your event through social media. The most popular one is creating awareness about it, and MLB is very good at this. During the All Star Game on July, they promoted the hashtags #HRDerby and #ASG and got more than 800,000 comments about the game across social media platforms, according to Bluefin Labs. They also allowed players to tweet during the event, a tactic first used by the NFL on their last Pro Bowl in January. UFC is not only allowing, but actually rewarding their fighters with cash for tweeting. SPEED channel created the SPEED Social Tracker, where they had several on-air personalities answering fan's questions in real time and analyzing NASCAR's Sprint All-Star race in Facebook and Twitter. 
MLB has effectively accomplished business objectives
through social media (Photo Getty Images)

Snappy TV, a platform to record, edit and share short videos from live streaming and TV broadcasts, could also help to drive viewership. "The best ad for watching a game is the game itself", says its CEO Mike Folgner. The Tennis Channel used it for the 2012 French Open and got almost two million views.

2. Reaching the target segment

You should also try to get exposure in social media channels of people with influence over the segment you're after. Famous snowboarder Shaun White constantly tops Q Score ranks among athletes, appealing especially to young demographics, and companies have recognized that value. Oakley has given free sunglasses through White's Twitter and Facebook accounts, and Red Bull built him his own half pipe so they could -of course- get credit for it not only on his website and social media channels, but on all the media coverage about it as well.

Teams will also help you accomplish the same objective. Jet Blue has partnered with the L.A. Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Orlando Magic, among many other sports organizations, which the airline uses to give away special deals for their followers and fans on Facebook. 

Finally, let people bring more people. Cleveland Indians senior director of cummunications, Curtis Danburg, says they're "creating new brand ambassadors" by having the Indians Social Suite in their stadium, where they invite their Facebook fans to watch games. New Jersey Devils are also trying to use their fans as marketing vehicles with their Mission Control project.

3. Providing added value to the fans

Don't just tell people "like us on Facebook" or " follow us on twitter", give them a reason to do so. NASCAR developed Race Buddy to give fans alternate camera shots and chat rooms during races in their Facebook app. EA Sports has build a social media component to its FIFA video game where you can share your progress and accomplishments on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. SPEED Social Tracker (explained on item number 2) also adds value to their Facebook site.

NASCAR added value to their social media channels
with their sponsored app Race Buddy

How to monetize this added value? you could find sponsors for those extra-features (Race Buddy's alternate cameras are "brought to you by UPS, Goodyear and Coors Light", for example), or you could grow your users base to take advantage of the next and last item:

4. Selling the product

The most logic tactic here is offering tickets and merchandise through your social media channels, which is why it's so important that your followers/fans base is locally grown. A 'Like' on the Yankees' Facebook page is more valuable when it comes from somebody who lives in New York, as opposed to one who lives in London, for example, who can't attend to games and is also less likely to buy merchandise from the official site. Another idea that has proven to work is offering promotions and special deals on your social media channels, because fans feel they are receiving a benefit for being there, making them more likely to respond. This is no secret, as most professional teams are already doing it.

You could also get creative here, like the Philadelphia Wings did in the National Lacrosse League, being the first professional sports team to put twitter names instead of last names on players jerseys. That way they are able to sell additional merchandise, while driving engagement from fans at the same time.

The takeaway of the post is that if you're not getting a measurable return from your social media strategy, your'e not doing your job. So sit back and think about which of these four categories fit your business better, roll a couple of initiatives and, finally and most importantly, measure its performance so you can make better decisions in the future.

About the author
Carlos has worked in the sports industry for the last six years, first as a baseball journalist/columnist, and later as an entrepreneur in sports marketing. He's currently an advisor for 9 Stars Sports Management, and he's getting his Master's Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern. He's from Venezuela and lives in Chicago. You can follow or contact him at @CarlosDRunner.

No comments:

Post a Comment