Social Media is gaining momentum in the past couple years, especially in sports. We are beginning to see a change in the way our society communicates, as more and more people are beginning to use these social media outlets as a means to communicate with one another. Sports which generally generates consistent revenue such as the NBA, MLB, and NFL need to begin realizing these changes as a way to earn the highest potential profit for their respected organizations. The potential market that can be reached through social media has sky rocketed the past couple years. Take Facebook for example: There are currently 400 million users who use their services, which means if Facebook were to be a nation, it would be the fourth largest in the world behind China, India, and the United States. That is a very big market that can be reached solely through the internet. According to Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, it took the Radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, 13 years for the T.V, four years for the internet, three years for the Ipod, but it only took nine months for Facebook to reach 100 million people. League officials need to begin to start adapting to these changes, which will further ensure the success of their teams in the coming years. Some teams have already begun to make these changes.
The Boston Celtics have already begun to implement a plan through social media. They have gotten into the social media ring. It has launched “3 Point Play,” an interactive stat tracker during the games, so their fans can follow the game wherever they are. It has also gone on YouTube, giving fans a behind the scenes look at the games. They also opened up a Twitter account, which received approximately 21,000 followers. According to the 2009 Penton Business Media during the 2009 Game Six NBA finals against the Chicago Bulls, GameTime Live, one of their social media outlets received over 50,000 unique visitors. They also are second in the NBA with 445,000 fans on Facebook (2009 Business Media). What this means for the organization is accessing more fans beyond just the capacity of the stadium, by allowing them to follow during the game, and also an increase in sponsorships demands as more fans and supporters visit the teams websites. The new media outlet also opens up new strategies for sales, as the Celtics can now open up sales and promotions through email, tweets, and mobile phones. Not only does it benefit an organization, but also the player itself.
Take Shaquille O’Neal for example. He gives up to date news on what was going on in his life. He one time wrote on his Twitter account, The_Real_Shaq, “I’m at the fashion sq mall, any1 touches me gets 2 tickets, tag me and say yur twit u have 20 min (Twitter, February 24, 2009).” Things like that make him more personable to the fans, which create more popularity for him. He currently has over two million followers. Kathleen Hessert President of Sports Media Challenge based in Charlotte North Carolina, and who coached Shaq in Public Relations, said this of Sport Media, “For today’s athlete, coach, or sports executive, winning isn’t enough. The stakes have risen considerably, and so has the scrutiny on every aspect of their lives. Those who excel as communicators distinguish themselves from the rest (SportsMediaChallenge).”
The potential market cannot be ignored. The way sports teams can communicate with their fans is revolutionary. Teams need to begin taking advantage of this newly acquired market. As Ms.Hessert put it “, It took 50 years for TV to build the audience social media has in five” The growth rate of social media will only rise with time, and teams do not want to be on the back end of this market. My advice to leagues and organizations would be to act now. It works like stocks, the earlier growth will bring in the largest dividends, while if you buy in later, you will still make profit, just not as much.
Liss, Seth. “Sports franchises should be leading the way in social media innovation.” Sun Sentinel 1st, February, 2010 : 1. Web. 27 Feb 2010.
Qualman, Erik. Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. 1st. new Jersey : John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2009. Print.