How Social Media Impacts The Sport Industry

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Social media today is a living thing, it is present in our life in all aspects, personal, health, education, work, entertainment, everything. 

Compared with traditional media, Social Media nowadays costs less and affects more consistently and efficiently, and this is the perfect formula for its impact and success.

The sports organizations, as well as athletes and sports fans,  are embracing social media as the most important tools to promote, communicate and interact. Twitter , Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Tik tok are the most used and those that create the most impact on societies.

Today, the small market teams can compete with big market teams because what matters now is not population density but social media density. If a team’s social media accounts are big enough, it can overcome physical limitations imposed by geography or demography.

The Importance of Social Media

When professional sports teams started using social media, it was primarily as a marketing and communications platform for the retention of existing fans and to promote the marketing messages sent to the fan base. Since then, social media has become an essential tool for capturing new audiences and creating new opportunities for direct engagement between fans and their favourite clubs/players. 

Social media’s impact on sports continues to grow over the years and today’s athletes have taken to social networks to disassociate themselves from the voice of the clubs and be able to have their own voice, since they are bound by contracts that tie their hands and on more than one occasion they have had to ask for forgiveness or justify their actions not to hurt economic sensibilities or the prestige of their clubs or sponsors.

It happens that in some cases the total size of a single athlete’s fan base may exceed that of an entire team. They can also promote their own personal brand which most of the time is leveraged immediately in a variety of different ways by professional sports organizations.

This has caused sports teams to have the ability to attract large viewing audiences every time they play. Compared with the past when fans were loyal first and foremost to their home team, now they may be loyal first and foremost to their favorite athletes, each of them with their own social media brands. So if the favorite team is playing on Channel 1, but the favorite player is playing on Channel 2, which one to choose?


Athletes as Influencers

Social media has provided professional athletes a much bigger platform to influence more extensive debates that take place across society on any specific issue of the moment. Thanks to the extended reach of social media platforms, professional athletes can have a voice on just about any issue, like to be able to raise awareness about important health and social issues. 

Today any comment with a personal opinion of any sports star on social media can have a great impact on any event and have the power to inspire the fans and followers.

Only with a single tweet, a star athlete can weigh in on racial or sexist issues and influence how people view certain social, cultural or political issues. Thanks to the amplifying effect of social media, we’ve reached a point where an athlete like Colin Kaepernick that can be remembered better for his activism on civil rights more than for his achievements as an NFL player.

This is called now to be an influencer. And star athletes are even more using social media platforms to become social and culture influencers. 

Le Bron James, Neymar or Christiano Ronaldo, are just a few examples of popular sportsmen on Instagram. Only with a single image on Instagram, they can encourage hundreds of thousands of fans and followers to follow their lead. Many of their publications end up going viral.

But these sports figures do not only use social media, others choose blogs where they share their experiences and their passion, even though they are usually created by brands that use the experience of the athlete to transmit their brand value.

One example is LeBron James, who has become one of the most important wine influencers in the world. Only with a single Instagram post naming the wine he is drinking, he can influence which wines will be ordered at restaurants around the country. 

Follow With Moderation

But things don’t always go so well. There are also professional athletes who give opinions on issues of which they might have little or no real knowledge.

In the constant search for media publicity, some athletes take on causes that they might, or might not, really have any real knowledge about or they can give opinions or make a comment on a very susceptible subject and they might come into conflict with some groups.

On social media, it’s far too easy to like, share or comment on content in order to be trendy. A wrong or incorrect comment posted impulsively or without thinking, can provoke rivers of ink from the fans and followers, the haters will have fuel to work with and the prestige of the athlete can drop, sometimes even causing damage to his career.

Just remember, however, that just because an individual is great in the sport he/she is playing, it does not mean they need to be unquestioned or unchallenged. Just as athletes, they have the responsibility to make the world a better place, but fans also have the responsibility not to engage in blind hero worship. Social media should be about dialogue, not just about following.

Past, Present and Future

Social Media has also accelerated the pace of digital marketing innovation and concerning the sports industry this has changed. 

In the past the only place to watch sports was on traditional TV, but now it’s possible to watch a live stream on Twitter, Facebook or any other live platforms on tablets or smartphones and from wherever we are.

This is the present now, but going forward, it’s clear that social media will continue to have a huge impact on the world of sports, and technology surely will provide other news and exciting ways to enjoy sports.

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