• Van Hawke Sports

The impact of social media on sports marketing

- By Alex Bidwell

Social media offers a unique interface for networking and sharing content between friends, family, influencers and now businesses and brands.

Since its inception there has been scope for sports marketing to be effectively executed through social media. With the increasing online presence of social media, upwards of 3.5 billion people, it is essential to have a well-established and efficient social media channel that adds value to your sports marketing strategy.

Sports fans often use social media to engage in the discussion on sports, and keep up to date with their favourite leagues, teams and athletes. As such, it is an excellent medium for brands and rights holders to actively connect with fans and build brand affinity and loyalty.

There is great potential on social media to create a community feel amongst your consumers, as your brand engages in, and adds value to, the conversation around their favourite sports league or team. This is a particularly effective strategy throughout the event, and in the aftermath, as for such, brands can leverage their close relationship with the rights holder to broadcast exclusive content about the event.

The Seattle Seahawks and Starbucks partnership successfully demonstrated this approach as Starbucks offered newly designed co-branded cup sleeves at participating stores in western Washington, which featured players and their autographs, whilst also explaining how to access exclusive content through the Seahawks Snapchat channel.

Brands can also use social media as a space to offer ticket specials and event promotions or giveaways, which results in an extended reach for the brand as their target market would, in most cases share the post with the chance of winning the competition.

Through social media, marketers are able to access information about where their consumers are, what their demographics are, and how fans/consumers interact and engage with their brand amongst other things. This data is cherished by brands as it allows them to refine their sales to their audience as they understand to a greater degree what their audience likes and how to reach them.

Consequently, both brands and rights holders can utilise the value of social media as 98% of sports marketers continue to choose social media as their number one source to fully leverage sponsorships. Rights holders also invest in social media, as Inter Milan’s new owners demonstrated. One of their cornerstone policies was to create an in-house media team, which creates short video clips and other content for social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok, all created with the intent to convince sponsors to pay higher sums to reach a global fan base.

The consumption of live sport has also shifted markedly away from traditional media outlets and more towards social media. Over the last few years numerous sports have begun broadcasting live sport through social media as they conceive it as the next frontier in the way live sports is consumed.

Facebook stream live college sports, and feature NFL game recaps and highlights through a deal with the NFL, while Twitter now broadcast college sports round the clock, as well as MLB games on a Friday night, and the first part of PGA tour coverage. Snapchat are preferred to traditional media outlets to broadcast Premier League highlights through Sky Sports’ channel on the app, further illustrating the increased shift within sports to utilise social media to the greatest extent. This shift by broadcasters proves the esteemed position social media has in the world of sports and the need for brands to actively engage with their target audience on social media to ensure their sports marketing strategy remains contemporary.

Van Hawke Sports is a leading sports marketing agency, specialising in sports sponsorship for brands. If you want to learn more about us and how we can assist you, contact us today.

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