For many of us growing up we had four ways to ‘consume’ sport. By watching it live, by reading about it, by listening to it (on the radio) and by watching sport on a screen.
Fast forward 30 years and now we don’t need to look for sport content on a TV or any of these other platforms any more, as our favourite sports content is now being pushed into our pockets via our mobile phones’ social media apps and the algorithms they run on.
It’s okay as our mobile phones know us better than we know ourselves and these algorithms save us a great deal time searching for the content itself.
We have compiled our ‘Set of Six’ top ways on how media is impacting supporters and sports brands…
- The Digital Age
The first and most obvious choice is that we now live in a new era, the digital age. Digital technology has excelled in recent years changing the way we the public consume our sports.
The digital age has given us, new and enhanced communications tools and platforms like: the internet, email, websites, mobile apps, virtual worlds, multimedia, gaming, human-computer interface and animation.
These examples of ‘new’ media are often a more efficient way of consuming our favourite past times but the impact on our sports brands means that unless they stay at the forefront of the digital game they might lose the interest of supporters and will struggle to capture the interest of the next generation.
- Advances in software
Initially it was websites that the sports industry embraced. It was a way in which the club could communicate directly to supporters, without them needing to be at the stadium. There was a drawback though; that sports brands needed to inform supporters to look at the website, which is where email then became handy, as we could push content directly into people’s email accounts which would link back to the websites and pull them back home.
The true breakthrough though came with advancements in mobile hardware (we’ll get to that in the next section) and the introduction of Mobile Apps and especially social media Apps.
This allowed sports organisations to create interesting content, place it on their social media page and as described in the introduction, it gets forced into your mobile phone ready for you to consume the second you unlock your phone and hit the app.
This has helped the industry engage beyond the physical stadia and allow daily interaction with its supporters and stake holders. When delivered well it creates incredible commercial opportunities for the brand.
- Advances in hardware
The modern era has also been a hindrance for those in the industry which depend upon bums on seats.
New technology has helped invite the unique stadia experience into our front rooms.
We can now watch our favourite teams play on affordable high definition (or even 3d) 50-inch flat screen television sets, with surround sound stereo speakers strategically placed around the room in the comfort of our own house.
Encouraged by a queue-less fridge holding all of the refreshments you need less than 5 steps away from your ‘best seats in the house’ plush settee.
So many of us are choosing not to go to the event itself but have a similar ‘in-stadia’ experience at home or in a bar.
As discussed in the previous section, mobile phone advancements mean we all walk around with a full media suite at hand in our pockets. We can stream games live, we can interact with supporters across the world via the internet and we can do it anywhere we can get a strong signal, all at an affordable price.
- Social Media changing communications
The sports stadia used to be the place where fans could get together every week and discuss the comings and goings of the team, now they can do it anywhere and at any time through social media.
In the UK there is over 33 million Facebook accounts which incredibly is over half the population.
Becoming a part of that ‘conversation’ is the challenge for sports brands, who should interact with their supporters constantly and capitalise on this interaction commercially.
For some though it too often becomes one-way dialogue which does very little in creating a relationship with their target (dare I say it) customers and this is where it falls down as it is all in the title of ‘SOCIAL’ media and to be social requires two-way engagement.
One great aspect of social media as a communication tool and its strongest attribute is it is cheap and as we know more and more people are using it, it will become even more important in the future.
- Social Media ‘celebrities’
During the process of achieving in sport, athletes can evolve into their own personal marketing departments. They no longer need a journalist to describe how a game went as they can do it themselves through social media and strengthen their position as celebrities.
This is a two-way dynamic also as supporters can now directly interact with their heroes.
This offers sports brands a great opportunity to have stars that seem a great deal more accessible.
This can unfortunately be a double-edged sword as there are many examples of players posting or having someone else post (normally a team mate) on their SM accounts inappropriate content for the family friendly values of the sport they play, landing them in ‘hot water’. This has led to contracts being torn up and lawsuits being filed.
So smart organisations will put in place a Social Media code of conduct that should be integrated into the players contract. Education should also play a part so players are aware of the pitfalls, especially younger ones.
Content Marketing offers sports brands a further tool to commercialise their offerings.
Sports clubs contract high profiled Athletes, Coaches, Managers and high-level executives whom are all very news worthy.
Building high quality content allows strong digital media traffic to flow through sports brands social media pages and straight into their website.
Smart organisations understand that social media is their shop window and the website is the shop floor where you can sell tickets, retail and sponsorship.
The key is to make content which grabs attention and then leads supporters from the social media ‘shop window’ through the door and ultimately to the till, kerching!
New Media is now considered a stable communications tool which is encroaching on the traditional media platforms vying for the attention of the big sports. On Friday the 13th of April Club 13 will directly ‘tackle’ the impact ‘new media’ is having on the major networks at The Landing, Mediacity UK. The event starts from 1pm.
To find out more please contact firstname.lastname@example.org