It’s fair to say that in recent years, social media has truly changed the way sports teams, athletes, and fans are interacting with each other. For fans, it’s no longer about simply spectating the game and then maybe reading a newspaper report on it the day after.
Today we live in a highly connected world where fans get news, insights, and commentary straight from the source. They can engage in conversations about team performances in real-time, with trash–talking live-tweets, meme-culture, and video reactions examples of just some of the popular ways social media is being used.
With such an emphasis on the digital world of sports, the role of the social media manager within sports teams has become increasingly valuable. And while it’s an extremely attractive job to many (especially sports fanatics), it’s by no means an easy feat. Social media managers have a lot of responsibility on their hands — from ensuring fans who aren’t able to get to a game have live commentary via Twitter, sharing real-time photos and video clips, being on top of team news, and not to mention the boatload of hate tweets they have to deal with when the team is on a losing streak.
And then on top of all their daily tasks, they have to keep up with the ever-changing trends that the world of social entails. If you’re working in sports marketing and could do with a little inspo — you’re in luck! In this blog, we’re going to highlight some of the current trends for social media in sports.
The importance of providing real-time updates to fans via social is stronger than ever. In fact, today’s fans expect it. This has been particularly heightened since the pandemic when many games were behind closed doors and so social media became the go-to platform for updates. Fans are also eager for an outlet in which to share their opinions and engage with the team — and team social channels offer just that.
It’s not just on match day that they expect regular updates either. Social media managers are expected to churn out continuous content to keep fans engaged and hyped throughout the week. This includes:
- Player news
- Play-by-play updates
- Stadium footage
- Goal announcements
- Player of the match polls, and more.
It’s a lot of pressure for social media managers to be under. If they miss updating on an important match moment, they risk facing the wrath of an angry bunch of fans. To make real-time updates much easier, many sports marketing professionals use Slate — a powerful content creation platform.
In just a few clicks, users can create branded graphics using ready-to-go templates. This means that social media managers can simply update the fans without having to fuss over making sure things look on-brand and professional. If you’re interested in learning more about why sports teams like the LA Lakers love Slate, check out this page here.
Behind the Scenes Content
Social media offers fans a glimpse into the window of what goes on behind the scenes of a sports team. Social media managers have heaps of opportunity to strengthen the connection between fans and athletes by showing them content around:
- Training sessions
- Pre and post-game excitement
- Travel to and from games
- Q&A’s with athletes
- Players off the field/ community involvement
So now we’ve discussed some of the ways brands can get great ROI from their sponsorship of sports teams via social media, let’s take a look at some real-world examples that really knock it out of the park!
Bye week mood pic.twitter.com/6suxwTWTW7
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) November 1, 2022
The popularity of recent fly-on-the-wall documentaries such as Netflix’s Last Chance U and Amazon’s All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur show the demand for this kind of content. It gives fans the real, exclusive ‘access’ that they so desperately desire. Gone are the days when supporters would just show up on the weekend to see their team. Sports stars are today just as much celebrities as they are sportsmen, and fans are eager to learn what happens behind closed doors. Which athletes get along the best? Who’s the prankster of the squad? Who are the backstage staff personalities? Social media platforms enable sports teams to share this type of content, but on a much smaller budget.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 26, 2022
Brand Personality and Meme Culture
Today, brand personalities have become much less ‘cold’. Consumers want to hear from brands who they can resonate with — and they’re drawn to those who they find relatable, trustworthy, and human. The same is said for sports teams!
Like so many business accounts we see today, social media marketers for sports teams are truly owning it when it comes to letting brand personalities shine through their content. Content that makes fans laugh tends to get strong engagement in terms of likes, shares, and comments. As a result, we’re seeing more accounts sharing funny tweets, posting relatable memes, and being generally playful with their content. And fans are loving it!
@chicagobulls Bulls fans just don’t dissapoint 😂 #memes #nba ♬ original sound – Chicago Bulls
TikTok Reels & Trends
2020 really saw TikTok take off to a new level of popularity amongst consumers. And since then, we’ve seen brands and sports teams around the globe getting in the mix and creating killer content. The same can be said for Instagram Reels, with the platform increasingly prioritizing video content over imagery.
2021 was a milestone year for TikTok across sectors, but especially for sports. As sports teams everywhere flocked to TikTok, some were able to grow their audience massively despite the flood of sports content on the platform. In fact, Tottenham Hotspurs, Champions League, and Manchester United were all able to increase their following by more than 10 million followers in 2021 as measured by Conviva’s 2022 TikTok Benchmark and Strategy Guide.
It seems that fans are really loving the unpolished sports content that is shared by teams. Some of the most successful TikToks and Reels are those that piggyback onto trending sounds and videos. This type of reactive content enables team’s to show their brand personality, enables fans to get closer to the athletes, and has strong virability.
Research from Morning Consult shows the importance of sports teams and organizations having a presence on the social media platform as well as the room they still have to grow in the space. Some stats include:
- 46% of self-identified TikTok users said they “often” or “sometimes” use social media to stay up to date with game highlight
- 42% said they use it for player highlights
- 43% of TikTokers said they use social media at least sometimes for sports news,
- And about 3 in 10 users watch behind-the-scenes content via social media
@ravens These buds put their taste buds to the test 🤣 #challenge ♬ Afrobeat – FASSounds
What can we expect from sports and social media in 2023?
Social media plays a massive role in the sports space, and it’s definitely not going anywhere. Whether you help run the account for a grassroots team or a professional club, you should be unlocking the power of social media and trending content to forge better connections with your fanbase. Don’t forget the importance of branding your social content either. Just like branded sports jerseys bring together the team community, so too should your content. If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool to help you get there, request a demo with Slate today.