What makes sport and social media the perfect partners?
Sport is something loved all over the world by people of all ages. The introduction of social media has provided sport with a fresh platform in which it can branch out in so many different ways.
Sports teams use social media in a number of ways across a number of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and more. For example, Arsenal Football Club regularly post on all their platforms, most often with links back to their website which provides more in-depth content. This gives them a wider audience as the 4.95 million followers will all be provided with an instant link to view the content on their website; whereas before, the only readership would have been people who were regular visitors of the site. They also encourage fan interaction by asking questions and inviting the fans to have their say directly to the football club when otherwise this would not be possible. Social media has given fans a tool in which they can make their feelings known in a fast and accessible way to their beloved teams.
A great example of this is when Vauxhall ran a competition for England fans to send in good luck messages via Facebook and Twitter and they would be played in front of the team before a match. This opportunity provides fans with a real life chance to speak directly to their heroes and share their opinions with them. Chances like this were very rare before the emergence of social media, but now through the power of these digital platforms, something that wouldn't have been considered 5 or more years ago is now being put into practice.
In a survey I conducted, 75% of people who use social media for sporting purposes said they feel like high profile sporting accounts get fans involved enough. This emulates my previous point that through the changing digital landscape, those on the outside of the world of sport now feel they have a way into it through the connectivity of social media. This is reflected by the 95% who strongly agreed that sport and social media work well together.
The use of parody or comedy accounts which are now across all platforms are also a major talking point when it comes to sport in social media. The Sport Bible has over 5 million Facebook likes, just 1 million less than the BBC Sport page. These pages offer a whole host of content from articles speculating on the future of a player to playing homage to sporting legends from when they were in their prime. These accounts are created primarily for light hearted sports fans to keep up to do date not only with the latest sporting events, but to see content they might not see from regular news companies. While these social media accounts are focussed mainly on the content from their websites, they often publish content on their social media platforms first as it will have a more immediate reception. This is most apparent during live sport when an outstanding moment occurs and is published by the accounts instantly even though the majority of the people who will watch it have already seen it live. I believe the reason they do this is because sports fans have an immense amount of pride and emotion, and reliving the moment 5 minutes later on their phone feels just as glorious.
Facebook has 1.35 billion active users (October 2014) worldwide and 24 million in the UK (August 2014). Globally, the World Cup was the most discussed topic on Facebook in 2014, coming in 3rd in the UK. This demonstrates the clear infatuation that the whole world has with sport and this is reflected in both the global and the UK rankings. Sports teams regularly post on Facebook as it is the most commonly used social media platform. This means they are reaching the widest possible audience in a very minimalistic style which is both cost and time effective. In addition, Facebook can be used right down to grass-roots level to find out who is available for a Sunday league match through it’s instant messaging service. This makes Facebook a perfect sporting tool as it is multi-functional and instant.
All the major news organisations have a very active presence on social media and they have provided an instant news source. The sports desk has embraced this just as intimately and social media has become one of the most common ways in which sports fans get their breaking news. Like sports clubs they will often link back to their own website in order to view the full story.
In the UK, 8 of the 10 most Tweeted moments of 2014 were about football. This not only demonstrates how football crazed the country is, but how people feel the need to express how they feel about it and Twitter provides the perfect space for it do so because of it’s interactive nature and accessibility. I have created a map which shows different sporting events from around the world and some interesting facts to go with them which relate to how popular sport is on social media, especially Twitter. It is evident that sport is capable of causing a real stir on social media and more often than not, something sport related is trending on Twitter.
It’s clear that social media is the first stop for sports fans when they feel they have something to share. It provides the perfect service for an instant, interactive news source and it looks like it’s here to stay.