Industry News – The Role Social Media Plays in Sports World

The Role Social Media Plays in Sports World
Written by Angela Taylor

As we await training camps in the NFL to get underway after a labor deal is finalized and hope that the NBA labor talks can meet a similar conclusion resulting in no games being lost, a hot topic on the sports scene has been the state of social media and sports.

Shaq announced his retirement on Twitter, Deron Williams confirmed his commitment to playing in Turkey by tweeting his signed contract page, and Abby Wambach became a sports hero as the Twitter community erupted during her incredible late game heroics during the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Shaq capitalized on being one of the first athletes to take to Twitter years ago & is one of the most powerful influencers on Twitter with nearly 2 million followers.  On the eve of the World Cup Final, Wambach joined the Twitterverse and captured over 11,000 followers in just over 3 hours.  Certainly a smart move that could pay immediate dividends for her brand in the near future.

Many have been “late adopters” of social media, but the fact is that social media is here to stay.  Whether you’re an individual trying to build your brand or an organization trying to promote products/services, the various applications on web 2.0 offer you the ability to control your own message while contacting with consumers (and fans) on a global basis.

Here is a pretty dynamic YouTube video about the role social media is playing around the globe from Socialnomics ( Watch video here

The importance of social media in today’s sports world is undeniable.  If you are an organization or someone with a brand you are trying to nurture, it is pertinent that you implement & execute a social media strategy.

Recently, in honor of Twitter’s 5th Anniversary, Sports Illustrated Online ( published their list of the “Twitter 100″, a list of sport’s movers & shakers on Twitter.   The list is comprised of members of the sports media who have loyal followers, athletes (such as Shaq and Ochocinco) who have used Twitter for financial gain, sports executives who are building their brand in the industry, and eccentric team owners (i.e. Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts) whose timeline is…well, let’s say interesting. had their own list that honored Twitter’s 140 characters by naming the “140 Must Follow Sports Personalities.”

What we have found in recent weeks is that social media (namely Twitter) is the ideal platform for connecting during live events and there are no better live events that capture the emotion of consumers more than sports.  The challenge moving forward will be for leagues, teams, sponsors, and networks to figure out unique ways to leverage these resources.  Interestingly enough, social media platforms allow small businesses to connect with fans just as easily as those with million dollar marketing budgets.  It is the great equalizer and has forced all of us to figure out how to maximize it as a tool.

In the last 10 days, Facebook and Google have launched new features for their online platforms hoping to garner customer loyalty and monopolize social communications.  The increase in the variety of these social media platforms has caused some of us to develop what I like to call “adult onset ADD”.  There are so many options.  From Google+ to blogs to Twitter to Facebook….

The list goes on and on, but the journey is just beginning.  We have only just begun to figure out how to utilize some of these platforms.  We have no idea what’s next, but what we do know is that if you’re in the sports industry and you aren’t using social media to connect to your fanbase or your audience, you ARE being left behind.

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NetWorks Sports Poll of the Week – To Tweet or Not to Tweet In Season

As we draw closeer to a labor agreement in the National Football League, the start of NFL training camps, and the start of Fall sports in college athletics, we want your opinion on how management should handle their social media policies for in-season communication. Over the last few months, we have learned that in the wrong hands, Twitter can have devastating consequences.  What say you?

[polldaddy poll=5081760]

Poll of the Day: Will Women’s Pro Soccer see a boost in support?

Millions of Americans tuned to ESPN this morning to catch semifinal action in the Women’s World Cup from Germany.  Inspired from an improbable U.S. comeback victory in the previous quarterfinal round game versus Brazil, men & women went to Twitter to provide their personal commentary on the game’s wall to wall action.

Immediately following the game, Women’s World Cup and Abby Wambach (albeit a misspelled “Wombach”) became Worldwide trending topics on Twitter.

Athletes and celebrities like LeBron James and Gabrielle Union tuned in, took to Twitter (click on their names to check out their tweets), and offered their support of the team.  More nationwide support will continue to build as everyone awaits the Championship game on Sunday.

Read more about the game in an ESPN article here.

In the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta, women’s team sports thrived and used the momentum they received to start professional leagues here in the United States.  After winning the gold medal in women’s basketball, two leagues were formed.  The ABL, which folded in December 1999 and the WNBA, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this summer.

Soccer also saw a league formed when the WUSA became a reality.  Unfortunately, with no big brother league to fund its start-up, the league eventually folded in the Fall of 2003 as well.  Only to see a similar league, Women’s Pro Soccer – WPS, revitalized in recent years as it started in March of 2009.

The percentages of young girls who would go on to participate in basketball & soccer soared in the subsequent years and will, undoubtedly, do the same as a result of the exciting & inspiring performance from sheroes like Abby Wambach & Hope Solo.

As we wait for the U.S. team to challenge for its 1st World Cup Championship in 12 years on Sunday against the winner of the Japan vs Sweden semifinal, NetWorks Sports wants to get your opinion on the impact the U.S. Women’s National Team’s performance in Germany will have on the future of WPS.

Tell us what you think by voting in our NetWorks Sports Poll of the Day:

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Thanks for taking the NetWorks Sports Poll of the Day!