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Social Media & Sports – 2012 Predictions (Part 1)

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a great break from it all and are feeling psyched for what promises to be another seismic year for social media and sports. Especially with the London Olympics, European Championships, Paralympics and much much more to come!

To kick the year off in style I have been asking some of the top people in the industry to give us their insights into what to look out for in 2012.  It is always a hard thing to do as you are putting your neck on the block with some educated guesses in an industry that hurtles forward at breakneck speed.

Thankfully there have been a few brave men who are happy to put themselves forward and offer us these glimpses into the future.  If you have any you would like to add yourself then please do so in the comments, it is always great to hear varied opinions and we’ll always miss something!

For this first part of the 2012 Predictions we have blessed with the opinions of 3 of the best from the US and Spain.  I’m proud to be able to turn to the likes of Adam Bader from super-club Real Madrid, Brian Gainor from the awesome ‘Partnership Activation’ and Pat Coyle from the fantastic ‘Sports Marketing 2.0′ and find out their thoughts.  Part 2 will have more of a UK flavour to it and will be on its way shortly (exciting!).

Without further ado, here are their predictions for the year ahead in social media and sports:

Adam Bader is a football journalist, reporter and Head of Social Media at Spanish mega club Real Madrid.  He manages the social media profiles of the club and helps plan online and social media strategy as well as working on RealMadridTV where he can be seen as guest on the channels show ‘Extra Time’.

“What is certain is that football clubs and players know the power and importance of social media by now. It has become a must for everyone to be on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube…etc In 2012, I think everyone will get involved and continue to put more resources into social media but also try to leverage their audiences to enter into other areas such as mobile gaming. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo used his large number of followers on Twitter, Facebook and TenCent to promote his popular iPhone game “Heads Up with Cristiano” which is climbing up the ranks in the App store.

I expect everyone else, especially players, to enter into mobile gaming and apps in general.  Another area I see football clubs going into is live streaming of press conferences, training sessions, friendly matches and events. Only a few clubs have done this so far, on a limited scale, but I think 2012 is the year for streaming. Last but not least, after Real Madrid’s announcement of optimizing the Santiago Bernabeu for social media, I’m very sure that other clubs will do the same.”


Brian Gainor is a Sports Marketer with GMR Marketing, the world’s largest engagement marketing agency. Brian also serves as the Founder of Partnership Activation, a leading sports business resource that shares sports marketing and sponsorship ideas and best practices.

“The sports marketplace will be driven by mobile marketing, social TV, industry consolidation, and globalization in 2012.

Mobile marketing will continue to shape the sports industry as properties and brands look to optimize their mobile offerings, develop robust applications, and deliver content in new ways. Organizations will look to augmented reality, social gaming, and geo-location based services to serve as new means to engage fans. In turn, fans will continue to embrace the TV Everywhere experience and access live, streaming and On Demand content via their mobile phones, tablets, and other devices on the go.

Brands and properties will continue to invest in the social media space as fans gravitate to the notion of social TV creating a communal viewing experience that delivers real-time engagement, insights, and unique vantage points. Properties will sharpen their social media focus in 2012 by developing smarter, more holistic strategies, hiring dedicated personnel, and creating their own monetization models by integrating corporate partners.

The sports marketplace will also be impacted by the effects of industry consolidation, aggressive rights acquisition strategies, and globalization. Networks will continue to form partnerships in an effort to build robust platforms to host premiere events (e.g. Olympics, World Cup, etc.) while teams will dedicate time and resources to build out video content distribution strategies that reach fans across the world.

The London 2012 Olympic Games will be touted as the sports story of the year while the Barclays Premier League, UFC, and college athletics will continue to grow their businesses significantly in new markets worldwide.“


Pat Coyle is President of Coyle Media and the Founder of Sports Marketing 2.0. As President of Coyle Media, Pat provides strategic consulting and digital, sponsorship-activation services to sports teams, sponsors, agencies, and software and digital media clients.  Pat will also be running an event here in London on 27th May (keep an eye out here for more details soon).

“It’s impossible for me to say what will happen in sports / social media in 2012 since there are so many variables in the mix. Hardware keeps changing, software keeps changing and user behaviors keep changing. Will rapid pace of change ever slow? Or are we going to live in a constant state of flux for the rest of our natural lives? Who knows?

That said, there are a few things that have my attention in the coming year. First, big data will likely make itself known in the sports industry around both the sponsorship and ticket sales. When you think about the wealth of user information now in the coffers at Google and Facebook, it’s mind boggling. These guys can target users in so many different ways it’s scary.  In 2012 I expect to see a lot more targeted and personalized forms of advertising, not just from these giants, and not just for advertising either.

Ticketmaster is building a data business that is being fueled by transactions as well as social data. And dynamic pricing companies like QCue and secondary sellers like StubHub are building up purchase pattern data and getting smarter all the time. We might just see the efficiency and effectiveness of digital ticket marketing improve dramatically in 2012 as fans share their transaction data (and their friend connections) with ticket sellers.

Along these lines, I expect we’ll see more and more fans trading their personal information in exchange for perks from the sponsors, teams and athletes they love. I’m not sure there will be widespread changes on the interactive front at stadiums since most still lack sufficient wireless coverage and WiFi bandwidth to really change the game for everyone in the coming year; But one place we will see these data for perks trades play out is the living room, or more specifically, the TV room.

Social TV is an emerging trend that seems too important to ignore. I’m particularly intrigued at the potential for smartphones to interact with televisions, both actively and passively. Watch companies like MISO and Shazam on this front; but also watch out for Microsoft and Nokia. When you consider the number of Xbox’s in the world, and you realize that new Windows based smartphones from Nokia will integrate with those boxes; and you recognize the size of Microsoft’s online advertising business and games business…and Nokia’s global distribution…it seems to me the Social TV experience will improve for the fans and for sponsors alike.”

Anything you think we have missed or would like to make a point on?  We look forward to reading your comments as always.  More predictions to come very soon.

Join The Conversation

  • ehefetz's picture
    Jan 5 Posted 5 years ago ehefetz

    Great post Dan !
    We at Pic2go are a true believers of the huge potential integrating sports events with social media. We believe that 2012 will show new initiatives aiming to connect sports events to social media - which will be a huge progress both for fans/participants as well as for marketers.
    I can personally share the example of our technology - helping running race participants to share their experience with their Facebook friends (almost) in real time. This is going to be an exciting year !

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