Top 5 Trends in Sports Social Media

I am not sure why, but people love lists.  They don’t even have to make sense, but if you tell someone you have the TOP 5 reasons why…they listen.  Well I am no different….  I like a good hook so here are my top 5 trends to watch this year for Social Media in sports –

1)      Sports teams are getting more ‘Social’ – I’ve recently seen three MLB teams post new jobs specifically for social media positions and countless others reach out to me regularly to ask my thoughts on their social media efforts.  For many 2010 served as a year where social media finally became part of the mix, but in 2011 teams are starting to fully embrace and more importantly invest in social media.  An interesting aspect to watch is who is hiring?  Is it the PR department?  Is it Marketing?  Is it a combination of both?  What type of experience do you need to get this job?  All interesting questions and difficult to answer.  In either case, if you are someone looking for a position or a team hiring you should continue to stay up to date with trends in social media and be as social savvy as possible.  Teams are looking for someone who understands their brand and the social space who can also communicate clearly to both fans and internal management at the same time (I’m not joking, this is pure multitasking).  It’s a very exciting time to be in this space and there seems to be great signs of growth in 2011.  I’d also suggest you follow @Srabe (Shameless plug #1)

2)      Teams are listening!  The 1st rule of social media should always be to listen first.  In fact, if you only do one thing, at the very least set up a Google alert and learn how to use search.twitter.com.   A great example is what the New Jersey Devils are doing.  They set up a ‘Mission Control Center’ and are using Devils fans to monitor what their fans are saying about the team.  Listening will help you learn about your brand, marketing efforts and events.  Utilize social media as a way to harness your fans as a real time focus group.  Remember, they are talking about you whether you listen or not, so why not take advantage of this critical data.  

3)      But just don’t listen…engage!  More teams are hiring social media generals and more teams are listening, so the next step is to actually engage.  To talk with your fans.  I know, scary isn’t it?  This is why it is so important to put someone you fully trust to speak on behalf of your team/brand at the helm of your social media channels.  It is critical to have someone who not only understands what your brand is, but is passionate about the brand and even more passionate about the fans.  Someone who doesn’t turn their computer off at 5pm on Friday and back on Monday morning at 9am.  Social Media is a 24/7 job.  Yes there are a few short cuts and ways to manage your time, but there are no cutting corners when it comes to engaging with fans and keeping tabs on what is being said.  And talking with your fans is more than giving them scoring updates and ticket deals of the week.  All of which are important, but don’t use Twitter and Facebook as a way to just push the same messages you are conveying inside the arena.  Your PA announcer is not your voice inside Social Media.  Listen…and then talk…Have a conversation, answer questions, ask questions and thank fans for supporting you.  If they ask a tough question, answer them honestly.  Show you care and be transparent.  If you can’t answer, tell them or possibly take it offline.  This is a huge opportunity for teams to fully embrace the passion of fans and take their social media to a new level.  This is the beauty of social media.  The power is now with the consumer, but you can harness this energy and strengthen your relationships.  Fans are smart, so treat them as such. 

4)      Measure Results - I am currently reviewing various software platforms to help measure results of the Giant’s social media efforts.  I have my own method of measurement, but as our social media fan base grows and the organization’s use of social media expands, I am looking to grow as well.  If you use social media for marketing purposes, you probably have been using various metrics to measure what is working and what is not.  This is vital for growth in this area.  As teams begin to take inventory of their social media channels and perhaps place value for sponsorships, this will be the next big thing.  Radian6, a social media monitoring company was just sold to SalesForce for over $300 Million.  This is a strong sign of where the industry is going.  Sports teams typically don’t have big budgets for social media so it is important to take the time to learn about measuring tools to help maximize and efficiently manage your efforts.  If your organization is ready to fully embrace social media, then it will only benefit you to learn about the companies who are out there who may be able to help.

5)      It all comes down to the fans – I want to close with this, as I received a letter from a fan this week.  This particular fan goes to college in Tennessee.  She used to casually follow the Giants because her dad is a Giants fan.  However, she became active on Twitter and out of curiosity began following the Giants Tweets.  She loved getting photos from the games, updates from the team and even asked a few questions from time to time, which she received answers on.  The fact she could communicate with a team across the country and they answered her Tweets really grabbed her attention.  Through this experience she became a stronger fan.  Just like we hear stories of people growing up listening to baseball via transistor radio, now people can follow their favorite team and actually COMMUNICATE with them using tools like Facebook and Twitter.  This is truly amazing to me.  This person is now a diehard loyal fan simply because the Giants communicated with her.  How powerful is this?  Hopefully you will get a chance to see for yourself.

Bryan Srabian is a Social Media/Marketing consultant for the SF Giants.  He also is available for consulting, projects or an engaging conversation.  Follow Bryan on Twitter @Srabe or email him at