Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Social Media and Sports

Social Media is a marketing and promotional platform that has been severely under-utilized by North American sports.  According to Sports Business Journal, 7 of the top 10 teams in ‘followers’ (Facebook likes + Twitter followers) are overseas soccer teams.  The only North American sport teams to crack the top 10 were the Los Angeles Lakers (3rd), the Boston Celtics (9th), and the New York Yankees (10th).  The first major thought that pops into my head when I look at the top ten is that NBA is on to something.  The second major thought that pops into my head when l look at the top ten; where is everyone else in North America at? 

The NBA has been trying to expand its brand for a while now.  Their major growth, at least from what I can remember, started with Yao Ming in 2002.  The NBA brought Yao Ming to the United States and Yao Ming brought the NBA to China.  I believe that the NBA is the closest league to expand overseas, prime example being their global social media ‘following’.  The NBA has more social media followers than the NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS combined.  The league is reaching a wider audience showing their clear potential to expand overseas sometime in the not too distant future. 

Now to my second, where is the rest of North America at in the top 10?  The New York Yankees are a brand that is recognizable across the world.  Almost anywhere you go, you will see a New York Yankees hat.  So why does such a global brand not translate to an even bigger following?  Major League Baseball and the teams do not utilize social media to its fullest potential. 

News and information spread like wildfire in this age of social media.  The MLS trails even the PGA Tour in social media following!  I love the PGA Tour as much as the next golfer but the Tour is one of the worst marketing properties in the world of sports and is geared toward an older audience, but the Tour still leads the MLS.  For a league trying to gain a larger piece of the sports media revenue pie and expand their brand, social media is the most inexpensive and forgiving promotional tool.

Social media presents largely uncharted waters for sports properties and the rest of the business/marketing world however the possibilities are endless.  Social media is free and can be used for countless different business ideas.  Activation is a big one that comes to mind.  Free ways to activate sponsorship is money in the bank.  Leagues and teams have a greater opportunity than ever to connect to fans through social media and they need to take advantage of it. 
-Written by Kevin Rossi

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