How Do Sports Teams Utilize Social Media?

By: Kierstyn Yardley

In the age of followers and influencers, sports organizations are following suit and turning to social media to connect to their audience. Sports programs use social media as a way to bring in fans, and keep them entertained. Not only are teams trying to build loyalty with fans, they are attempting to increase attendance at events through various social media campaigns.

As social media starts to take over our society, the sports industry has been using it to bring in more ticket sales and fan base. According to Umbel, a survey they did says, “87% of 13-24 year old sports fans use social media to consume sports and 70% of sports fans who follow a brand are willing to share content, engage with content, or buy tickets and merchandise.” Social media for sports allows teams to draw in fans, and interact with them. Having fans at sporting events makes the atmosphere a different experience and that is why they use social media. Social media can be tricky, but the ones who have figured it out have reaped the benefits.

An example of a team that utilizes social media is the Florida Gators football team. Recently, the team started a campaign called “GatorAlways”, “integrating the fans into the campaign by having them share their own personal story about becoming a Gator via social media.” In response to this campaign, fans became involved by being able to show their passion about the team. Fans were posting videos, pictures and live tweeting during the games to support their interest.

The Carolina Panthers, an NFL team, has also begun utilizing social media to attract their fans in a fun and clever way. On Twitter, the Carolina Panthers put the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” lyrics in their tweets. The fans had a positive reaction when they found out about the hidden lyrics and went social media crazy about the cleverness of their secret.

Lastly, in 2016 the National League Championship “Chicago Cubs” launched a new social media campaign, “#FlyTheW aimed at increasing their fan base through social media fan participation. The flag has been flying over Wrigley field since the 1930’s. It is already an iconic symbol that resonates for the older fan base and by bringing in the new era of social video platforms of videos, and celebrity endorsements, which appeals to a younger fans they were able to increase their overall fan base.

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This Article Has 9 Comments
  1. Robert Emmett says:

    Kierstyn,

    I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to the importance and recent uprise of social media within the sports business industry. As an MBA student specializing in sports business, I have found that social media is the most utilized marketing medium implemented by professional and collegiate teams, leagues, and affiliated brands. Whether it’s the Carolina Panthers or brands like Nike and adidas, the use of social media has provided a direct link to a team’s fan base or a brand’s consumers. Just last week, while visiting with adidas executives in Portland, they mentioned how Generation Z consumers use different social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, to search for sports-related news and updates. Not only is social media a quicker and more accessible way to receive sports-related content, it also allows for a deeper, more personal connection among fans and consumers. Now, it’s up to the different sports properties and affiliated brands to find new and creative ways to use their social media platforms to better connect with their followers.

  2. Samuel Cochran says:

    Hi Kierstyn. Nice post. The Florida Gators example was very clever. I took a strategic marketing course last term that discussed this tactic of consumer involvement to target millennials. The course did not mention this exact example, but we did cover how important it is to millennials to feel involved with the brand. Brand involvement was one of a handful of bullet points mentioned as a high priority to this demographic with respect to social media. It was interesting to read that about the Gators. It was a smart move on their part.

  3. Erin Joo says:

    Thanks for sharing Kierstyn! I like the examples that you used in your post to solidify your analysis. Social media is an absolute must for sports teams and it is very obvious who does it well. The one thing that has always interested me is the fact that social media campaigns ran during games are ultimately taking fan’s attentions away from the on-field product. Fans are consumed by the social media “moments” rather than the game itself. Although this seems like a contradiction, consumers are demanding to be engaged beyond what’s on the court or field. As you pointed out, fans are consuming sports in a much more different and digital way. I’m interested to see how the role of social media in sports evolves with time.

  4. Destiny Alvarez says:

    Hi Kierstyn,

    Thank you for sharing! I think this is one of the most important shifts we’ve seen in the new digital age of media. As a consumer, I myself get the majority of my sports content and information via Twitter. I grew up in a very sports oriented household. I was a competitive cheerleader for 13 years and my brothers were all wrestlers and football players. I remember when the majority of all sports games were broadcast on standard television channels and then they moved to specialized cable networks. It was hard for my family to access sports programming because we couldn’t afford those networks. I think the movement of sports and social media has completely blown open the gates to sports content. I can access highlights of the game. Older members in my family are able to comment on players pages and posts about their favorite sports teams. My uncle tells me constantly that this “social sports stuff is cool.”

    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Lexi Naone says:

    Kierstyn,

    Nice post! I love the examples you bring up throughout your post. I think social media has completely changed how sports are viewed and their accessibility has changed and made it easier for fans to watch. The way social media is able to connect fans with their favorite teams and players is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Taylor Kissinger says:

    Hi Kierstyn,

    I agree that social media is the place to be for sports teams to engage with their audience and expand their reach. So many of my friends follow their favorite sports teams, particularly on Twitter. Fans can get scores and other information about their team instantaneously. Sports is all about community and enjoyment–fits into social media well.

  7. Carly Grossman says:

    Hi Kierstyn! I really enjoyed reading your article. I really enjoyed the examples you brought up. I’ve never been a huge sports fan, but it is really interesting to see how social media has made it easier for fans to watch games, connect to their favorite team and players, and more. I think the campaigns and different techniques they use to get their fans to come to a game and to support is super important when it comes to sports and how a team is playing. Fans really hype of teams, and it’s important to take advantage of social media and how it allows teams to connect to their fans.

  8. Jake Willard says:

    This post excites me because the ideal job for me would be social media work for a sports team. It has been a lot of fun to follow along with my favorite teams and see how they are utilizing social to their advantage. My favorite baseball team is the San Francisco Giants and they have done a phenomenal job of integrating social media into the ballpark gameday experience. They have a big hub in center field called the @Cafe. Its a coffee stand that serves as the “social” lounge where fans can engage with the team on social to win prizes, charge their phones and watch other games around the MLB. It’s just as important to engage your fans in attendance at a game on social as it is to engage those outside of the stadium watching.

  9. Joie Ryan says:

    Hi Kierstyn, I really enjoyed your post! The increasingly high popularity of social media has been a great tool for sports organizations and fans to take advantage of, and your examples provided within were great uses of this. Specifically, the easy accessibility and convience for fans to view scores or current news around teams are great ways to use social media within this industry. Thanks for sharing!

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