Sports and Social Media - Why Should Teams Care?

Today is the second in a series of posts (a new post each day) with thoughts from some pretty smart folks to try to answer the question of why people should care about the intersection of sports and social media. You can see yesterday's post (why fans should care) here. Even if you already know why this is important, I hope you enjoy getting a variety of perspectives on this subject. If you have bosses, colleagues or friends that still don't get it, maybe they'll find some value in this series if you share it with them.

Today's topic is teams. Teams have a ton of opportunities utilize social media and new platforms to increase fan loyalty, sell more tickets and merchandise, create new revenue streams for themselves and their sponsors, reach fans beyond the stadium and get a deeper understanding of what is important to fans. As traditional media often lack the resources to give many teams proper coverage, teams need to think like publishers to get their content in front of as many people as possible--in formats that fans want.

See below for a variety of thoughts from other smart folks about why teams should care about sports and social media.

Jackie Adkins - Your fans are talking about you in social media regardless of whether you’re active there or not, so you might as well listen to what is being said. Then, if you want to take it to the next level, you can give your fans a deeper into look and more access to your team than ever before, which will strengthen their emotional attachment to the team. Finally, you have the chance to build relationships with very influential supporters of your team in the form of bloggers, who have large and very faithful readerships.

Dennis Allen - Social media gives them an open forum to listen to the fans. To learn what is important to them. An opportunity to find out what is working and what is not. A way to factor real time input into their decision making process.

Steve Cobb - Different teams have different priorities. While the Wizards may be focused on selling tickets to fans in DC and attracting new sponsors, the Capitals may be focused on reaching fans outside of DC and activating existing sponsors. But no matter the goal, social media is a flexible tool that teams can leverage to achieve it. Beyond the obvious benefits of providing a voice for fans and distributing the latest news and highlights via Facebook and Twitter, teams now have the power to offer integrated real-world fan experiences through promotions using Foursquare and SCVNGR that creatively make use of assets and offer unique value to partners. In today’s sports world, just having a social presence is not enough and not having a social presence is inexcusable.

Anthony De Rosa - Because now they have real time feedback system to tap into what their fans are saying about their team. Much cheaper than focus groups and much quicker.

Lewis Howes - Teams should care for several reasons. Chance to brand the team, grow a fanbase or just increase fan loyalty. Teams can increase ticket sales for certain games or matches. They can use social media to create a buzz online that translates to press coverage. The list of benefits goes on.

Ash Read - Social media holds amazing opportunities for sports teams of all sizes. In my opinion one of the biggest benefits for sports teams is the ability to have constant communication with their fan base. In the past, many teams have faced club/fan disconnect, meaning fans would often visit un-official or fan run sites and not get their information from official sources but, social media has countered that in many cases. Social media also gives teams the opportunity to bring their fans closer and really make them feel a part of the team; this can be done through behind the scenes content, videos, images and conversation. Conversation is a key to social media, hence the word "social." However, this has often been overlooked, especially over here in the UK.

Brian Reich - Teams are competing for attention, and dollars, along with every other brand, organization and distraction that exists in people's lives. Thanks to social media, organizations are now receiving far more direct, focused, and constructive feedback from their most important customers. Those who listen and embrace that feedback, develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with their audience -- and that results in more attention, energy, and yes, money.

Russell Scibetti - Teams should care because fans care. Their most active, passionate and vocal advocates are participating in the social media landscape, regardless of whether the teams are there or not. So really, teams have two options: ignore the conversation and stick to old-fashioned, one-way marketing, or join the conversation and engage with their fans. I think the answer here is obvious.

Trevor Turnbull - In the world of professional sports, teams are focused on winning (of course). But, they are also driven by profitability. The lifeline of a sports franchise is their fan base. Social media provides opportunities for teams to enrich the fan experience while building loyalty and trust through the highs and the lows. The connection that can be built between teams and their fans through social media can have a significant impact on the financial success of the team via ticket and merchandise sales.

Brendan Wilhide -Your fans are already passionate about your team. Tap into that passion by engaging them via social media and share in the fan experience with them.

Joseph Yi - From a team perspective, social media is great because it's cost effective in regards to marketing dollars and also it allows teams to have a more "intimate" relationship with their fans. Teams are able to have a better understanding of what their fan base is saying about them and social media also provides teams with a chance to update fans instantly. When used effectively, social media can be a powerful tool that can bring fans together.

Now it's your turn - why do you think teams should care?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, which will examine why athletes should care about social media/sports.