Through working at a social media agency, I spend a great deal of time on networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Since they are real-time in nature, it's only natural that social networks and sporting events go hand in hand. Whether it's the football World Cup, the Super Bowl or the last day of the season with multiple sides facing relegation, social media is a great medium for sport commentary. Here are a few reasons why:
- More pre/post match banter and chatter - Pre match excitement usually isn't too hard to come across, but its extension into social media means that more fans from far and wide can get involved, rather than excitement being limited to the vicinity of the sporting event. Someone may be a fan in exile or on holiday for a game, but social media can help to keep people in the loop in such instances.
- Latest updates received much quicker - The real-time aspect of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook allows for the latest news or scores to be communicated from peer to peer far quicker than websites can be updated. Our world is no longer up to the minute; it is up to the second.
- All of the content is from the digital mouthpiece of the fans and not the media - Whilst on some occasions this may not seem a good thing, but the voice of the fans is often the most passionate, and as such it's much easier to start conversations. Fans will love talking with other fans about their own team, and will almost always have a preference or opinion on a specific topic.
- Direct interaction from sports stars/celebrities - Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have given sports stars and celebrities a voice in the online world too, enabling them to communicate their views to their fans. In turn, the fans can get involved with their sporting heroes, making them feel much closer to the sport and team/player they support.
There have been some great examples of social media amplifying the excitement and fervor around sports events. During the Football World Cup in 2010, Twitter added novelty hashtag symbols to its network, and again during the Super Bowl back in February - this only served to make fans use a certain hashtag more and more, generating more conversations across the network.
Personally, I find that Twitter is essential when I'm engaged in a sporting event, whether it's a football match for my favourite team, or an entire tournament like the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. Either way, I'd predict that we'll be seeing more social media integration with sports in the future, particularly now that digital PR teams for such events know of the benefits it can bring in terms of publicity and engagement.