The ever-changing social media ideals have altered the way in which sports stars, clubs, and fans are interacting with each other. From live-tweeting games to spectators getting news and insights straight from the source. Singaporean commentator Walter Lim has a strong feeling about the relationship between social media and sports saying it is a match made in heaven.
“The instantaneous, intimate and interactive nature of social and mobile technologies make them perfect platforms to fuel our sporting desires.”– Walter Lim
However, as stated by Deloitte, the rise of smartphones may have contributed to an erosion in live game attendances. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to strategically leverage these digital platforms. The main goal of each franchise’s social media is to promote and bring fans closer to the players and the teams they support, I wanted to engage five experts within the marketing and sports field to give their insights on how the digital landscape has altered the way sports ensures the financial stability of franchises, and how it aids them in branding and communication in crisis management.
Sabrina Gomez, a Sports Psychologist and Founder of The Elemental Performance stresses the fact that digital marketing is the way forward for athletes as it connects the athlete to the organization and brands along with consumers. Ms. Gomez believes that this connection through digital media may be intimidating for companies that are not at ease with using social media platforms.
The key to the puzzle for Ms. Gomez is the introduction of marketing experts, such as Social Media Managers, a career that didn’t exist before the drastic growth of digital marketing.
“I believe that in sports, digital marketing creates more accessibility to the consumers. They’re able to market and target the audience through their email or their phones which is more direct and effective than more traditional advertisements such as newspapers or magazines.”– Sabrina Gomez
Ms. Gomez is spot on with her interpretation that franchises must use their social media expertise to connect the communities.
Another notable expert is Heidi Dent, an Alumni at Florida International University and currently, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Western Carolina University, who emphasized that Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) is dramatically changing sports marketing for collegiate athletes.
Furthermore, she reminds us that new NIL rules offer implications for brands that make college sports part of their marketing mix along with professional sports teams also jumping into the mix.
Heidi’s take on crisis management is that we must understand how to access, analyze and leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning are key for branding, communication, and crisis management. Heidi stresses that tracking brand reputation by mining social media data and leveraging image recognition is essential as these are two examples that assist sports marketers to listen to consumers and monitor player and team reputations.
“Automatic, AI-based text analysis can help marketers monitor real-time activity to stay ahead of any potential crisis. Leveraging new technologies and accessing available data will help foster financial stability for sports franchises.”– Heidi Dent
Caridad Cruz, a current Master of Marketing student at Florida International University, had her unique take on the topic. She begins by emphasizing the fact that social media is a powerful tool that is used by brands and companies every day. Furthermore, Caridad stresses that being able to post and share your brand or new products allows you to instantly receive feedback, increase brand visibility, and incite sales.
“In using social media as a marketing tool this creates an easy streamline of communication for buyers, sellers, and/or potential new customers to your business/brand. Social media is one of the most impactful ways to help market and expand your business.”– Caridad Cruz
The fourth expert who gave her insight was Thais Araujo, a Co-founder of The Fresh Kings and Marketing Manager at Atman Capital, who had brilliant thoughts on the topic. She explains that the digital marketing realm has to be dissected by franchisees to understand how they can optimize their reach to consumers. Using strategies from other companies/franchises is perfectly fine, however, the situations for each franchise differ. Communication strategies differ based on how well or poorly the club is doing. This comes into play when it comes to crisis management.
“Having a crisis management plan in place is crucial for any social media team within a franchise. Being able to anticipate through clear guidelines will benefit athletes, sponsors, brands, and consumers.”– Thais Araujo
Our last industry expert is Professor Kyrsten Alvarez who has a unique take on the topic at hand.
“The digital landscape enables sports to expand their forms of communication, which in turn aids in the financial stability of franchises. When considering branding and crisis communication, it allows them to both monitor and listens to the sentiment and conversations taking place with their audience.”– Kyrsten Alvarez
Financial stability for franchises is mainly down to consumers wanting to be a part of the community, sponsor deals, brand, and merchandising. Every one of these is now being dealt with some sort of social media presence. A crisis can alienate sponsors, brands, and athletes, therefore as Thais Araujo mentioned, having a crisis management plan is essential. Social media managers must thoroughly analyze what it means to connect with the athletes, fans, brands, and sponsors as Ms. Gomez states.
Integrating a multitude of an idea such as cloud computing, which offers seamless upload of information on platforms, and PPC which helps franchising improve their sales of merchandise, the future of digital marketing within the sports industry is only going to keep growing. Sports organizations must have a vision for the future along with the proper structures and technology in place to become closer with fans.
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