Sports has been a cultural mainstay across the world for centuries. It’s one of those universal languages — no matter where you come from, you can connect on some level. It gives individuals a sense of pride, it creates a sense of family to a group of teammates, and it builds camaraderie amongst even the fiercest competitors.
In comparison, social media is fairly new but has been spreading like wildfire, becoming more fabricated into our daily lives. So that begs the question:
How does social media actually affect sports fans?
We all use social media in different ways, and the same can be said about how fans engage with social media when it comes to their beloved sports. Mashable recently shared one view on this idea via Catalyst PR’s interesting study. Let’s take a look at what it all means.
What Social Media Channels Are Used to Discuss Sports?
The infographic below shows a staggering discrepancy, but when you stop and think about it for a second, it makes perfect sense.
- Instagram’s main focus is pictures, and while it may be cool to see pictures of your team on your picture feed, trying to start a very text heavy sports discussion on pictures wouldn’t flow right.
- Twitter can be used for some great sports talk, but its 140-character limit per tweet hinders the amount of actual discussion that can take place. Imagine trying to limit Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless to 140 characters for example (good luck with that one).
- With YouTube, users can post sports-related videos and allow users to discuss in the comments section. The problem with YouTube is that it is a bit more difficult to watch a YouTube video during work hours when you should be, you know, working (but we are all guilty of sneaking in the occasional YouTube during work, and you know it too. Don’t deny it).
- Facebook proves to be the champion of sports discussions for two reasons. First, Facebook allows for more creative content to get fans talking and engaging. Second is the actual amount of interaction users can engage in on Facebook. Not only can you comment on a post, but you can comment on someone’s individual comment instead of posting in the bigger thread.
- Google+ can pretty much do what Facebook can when it comes to following and discussing sports. So why isn’t it more prominent amongst sports fans? It could be that sports media outlets do not promote interaction on Google+ as much as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, as a religious ESPN-watcher, I can’t remember a single time ESPN has mentioned Google+; it’s always Facebook and Twitter.
While I was working for UC Riverside Athletics, Facebook was by far the social media site that got the most fan interaction. Facebook posts galvanized the fans of UC Riverside, causing them to show their school spirit just by commenting and liking the different posts. While posting as the school mascot (Scotty the Bear), it got fans interacting with Scotty on Facebook as if he was an actual person.
Game Day: It’s Happened to All of Us.
You’re all amped and ready to hit happy hour at the bar after work because the Monday Night Football matchup has your favorite team is playing; sadly, you get stuck with a deadline and you are forced to do overtime. Or you’re psyched for Game 7 of the World Series, but you unfortunately are stuck in physics class, learning about the speed and trajectory of moving objects such as a baseball being hit off the baseball bat of Buster Posey. When these tragic incidents happen, we turn to social media.
We sports fans want to know things instantly as if we’re getting updates sent straight to our brains via telepathy. While Twitter may not be able to talk to you like Professor X, Twitter does provide up-to-the-second news, thanks to the many sports influencers out there in Twitterland.
So if Aaron Rodgers goes down with a season-ending injury (god forbid, knock on wood), Twitter will be able to tell you right away. Then you can go and pick up his backup on Fantasy Football.
It’s no surprise that Twitter shoots to the top when it comes to game day.
Twitter vs. Facebook
The advantage Twitter has over Facebook is that Twitter will show ALL Tweets from the people you follow. Facebook has their one-of-a-kind algorithm that will intelligently select certain posts to show on your Facebook timeline, which means you may miss the up-to-the-millisecond sports updates.
I’ve seen the power of Twitter on game day while working with StreakWise Sports. Game day is when we would get the most fan engagement. We would tweet key stats, matchup graphs, injuries and updates constantly. Using a combination of hashtags and @-mentioning key influencers, we got people retweeting and favoriting throughout game day.
Social Media Satisfies the Insatiable Sports Consumer
Social media has done a magnificent job enhancing our insatiable need to consume sports news and information. It enables the sports industry to not only build team spirit, but also to create more mediums for advertising revenue, as well as expand its fan base even more. When it comes to sports talk, the conversations are endless.