Overtime team prepared for you TOP 6 trends in Sports and Social media for 2015. Vedran Vukušić, Bruno Blumenschein and I, have written two trends that we believe, will be ‘hot’ in this year.
VEDRAN VUKUŠIĆ – @vukusic11
1. Social media training for athletes/clubs
Clubs will pay a lot more attention to this in 2015. When we say this, we don’t think about social media guidelines in the locker room. We mean real live training by professionals. Some clubs (not as many as you would think) realized the potential of social networks early and are already reaping the benefits of it.
Club owners need to have professionals within the club educating their players about social media presence and behavior on social networks. If not, they should outsource. There are plenty of social media consultants out there just waiting to spread their knowledge on this inexhaustible topic.
Important note: make sure your consultants have an immense sport and social media knowledge, but also sports business background. This is imperative because sports business is very specific, as is the communication.
Summary: Club owners realize they need to expand their fan base, and the easiest, way to do so, is by educating and encouraging their players to embrace social networks actively. What are you waiting for? Get on that!
2. Digitalized athletes
A lot of professional athletes are to some extent active on social networks. And a lot more were going to be in 2015. For this to happen, social media consultants will need to explain to them short and long-term benefits of activity on social networks.
Athletes should use the internet and social networks to build up their image, to create a brand, and create a communication channel that will not be influenced by any other media. This way they can showcase their personality, which is important for attracting lucrative sponsorship deals while playing. On the other hand, this allows for them to pursue a career in other branches of sports business later on as sports commentators, coaches, etc. The most recent example is a football player Thierry Henry, who after retirement signed a 6-year £24 Million deal as a football analyst for Sky Sports.
Summary: Professional athletes are socially influential, and they need to take advantage of that. Fans need feedback from their favorite athlete and with the development of technology it is almost too easy to communicate with fans. This is the time to engage in all things digital and brand yourself.
MARIJAN PALIĆ – @marijanpalic
3. Personal approach to fans
Social media are a great opportunity to interact with dedicated fans that don’t stray even when the team isn’t winning. There are many things with which teams can surprise and delight fans through a personal touch:
-Retweet your fan on Twitter, reply to him on Facebook
-Give them a ticket, a gift or a stadium tour with their favorite player because you saw their tweet from the game
-Have a player write a note to a “super fan” and then tweet a picture of it to the fan
-Make something what the US National soccer team did and send people a ‘Thank You’ note:
Summary: In 2015, let your fans know you appreciate them through your online interactions. If you do, you’ll encourage them to spread your team’s love even more.
4. Facebook and interactive video
It’s time teams and leagues maximize their engaged audience on YouTube. Doing so can help increase engagement, subscribers and make fans take action.
An example of this comes from Nike: they used YouTube annotations for their LeBron video this year to drive consumers to a poster. You could read story about this on our website.
YouTube allows you to add annotations to videos for free. It’s time to take advantage of them.
Great example of interactive and informative Youtube channel has Bundesliga.
In 2015. Facebook has focused on video content, and many Sports marketing gurus, such as Richard Ayers, took advantage of it. For example, Valencia CF uses short videos on Facebook, and they have excellent reach and much better interaction with fans.
Summary: Facebook has increased video reach to 25%; they are trying to ‘beat’ Youtube… Because of this, it will be an exciting year, and the winner will be…video!
BRUNO BLUMENSCHEIN – @brunoblumen
5. Media relations 2.0 are here
Sports journalists can talk for quite some time about how difficult it is to reach certain athletes & coaches. Best ones usually play abroad, and you have to go through club’s press officer, very often national association’s press officer and get an affirmative answer from the athlete. On the other hand, athletes often look at their media obligations as chores. No one likes chores. Social media in 2015 can help both sides. For example, Google Hangout with the athlete can save time for him/her and at the same time be a valuable opportunity for journalists to get an interview.
Quotes are gathered (and that will only increase) through athletes’ social media accounts rather than through a direct phone call after the match.
Photo & video material created & published by the clubs/associations can’t be taken as media but embedded while giving the credit to the club/association. We will see more focus on that, especially with Olympics 2016 and football Euro 2016 getting closer.
Summary: Social media will increase its credibility and importance regarding media people gathering news and information from athletes and sports organizations.
6. Active sponsors will replace sponsorship activation
“I love this ACME brand of cookies!”, said athlete John Doe on ACME brand promotion in XY supermarket. Buy it now! – states John Doe’s post on his Facebook fan page.
Although we believe that is not a good way to communicate, many sponsors do such promotion through “their” athletes.
They will probably need to stop with that in 2015. Says who? Facebook (more info here)
Their target group also say “Give us something valuable! Don’t just state “We are the best!”. Show us at through compelling content.”
Sponsors will need to be more active in 2015. They will need to react promptly to “their” athletes’ results and incorporate them more in their campaigns and activations.
Summary: Sponsors will see an opportunity to cooperate with the athletes/rights holders they sponsor. Athletes/sports events are great communication channels to show sponsors’ values, not only core products/services. We will see more of that in 2015.