In 2023, the fusion of sports and social media is undeniable. Athletes and teams dominate social platforms, offering fans unprecedented access and engagement, from game highlights to behind-the-scenes glimpses of an athlete's daily grind.
But it's not accidental; it's a deliberate strategy that adapts to the social landscape. As athletes return to action and stadiums fill up, the social media playbook for sports is evolving.
In this guide, we'll help you gauge the usability of social media in sports and the 10 best ways to let you leverage the platform and harness this powerful combo.
Current State of Social Media In Sports
Amid the challenges posed by COVID-19, sports took a hit with suspended seasons and uncertain futures. However, the fervor for sports on social media remained unwavering. Some instances to prove that are the following:
- Michael Jordan's miniseries "The Last Dance" generated over 1.5 million tweets during its finale.
- WWE's Wrestlemania smashed records with a staggering 13.8 million engagements across social platforms.
- Liverpool's Premier League victory tweet garnered 464.5k likes and 229.8k retweets.
- The Super Bowl LVI event generated 1.8 billion impressions on social media and 618 million video views with 78 million engagements.
Besides, with Sports viewership on YouTube expected to reach 90 million by 2025 and Sports Teams seeing the highest engagement rate of 0.27%, understanding the role of social media for sports is quite simple.
Pandemic or not, sports fans discussing their favorite teams and athletes on social media is evergreen. Thus teams wanting a similar impact can utilize this platform to:
- Keep fans updated on team news, including player signings and league updates.
- Providing interactive opportunities for fans to engage with teams, like caption contests and Q&A sessions.
- Spotlighting team-related community events and news.
- Highlighting social causes.
As sports enthusiasts, we've witnessed how social media keeps the game alive, connects fans, and fuels the passion for sports in an ever-evolving digital world.
10 Best Ways To Use Social Media For Sports In 2023
Give Consistent Sports Real-Time Updates Throughout
Sports is a fast game! It's buzzworthy, making it a perfect content niche for social media. Its USP lies in the fact that everything happens in real time and, if consistently presented, can hook your followers to the core.
Since the beauty of social media is its immediacy, you can use it to your advantage by providing real-time updates during games. For fans who couldn't make it to the stadium or watch live, share scores, highlights, and pivotal moments as they happen. Capture the swoon-worthy moments and share them on your social handles for maximum engagement. This could be a great way to remain top of mind and keep the conversations current, as die-hard fans crave this instant connection and are looking for an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions throughout the event.
For instance, check out how Tottenham Hotspur uses their Twitter handle to build hype during a match.
That strike from Sandro, though 🚀— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 22, 2023
What a way to score your first goal for Spurs 🤍
Our latest Off The Shelf podcast is now available on SPURSPLAY! 🎧
Excite Fans With Pre-Game Teasers (Photos/Videos)
Social media in sports allows you to explore new avenues and opportunities and engage fans in different ways. For instance, if your goal is to drive revenue by selling the maximum number of tickets before the event, then start off-season.
Build anticipation by sharing sneak peeks of your team's preparation with the help of social media to peak audience excitement during the lead-up to the event. It is that effective channel that lets you share pre-game teasers, both photos and video, that could entice fans to tune into the event.
- Share warm-up sessions
- Prep work at the venue
- Glimpses of locker room moments
- Live Tweeting press conference events
- Generate game-specific hashtags for fans
- Using polls on Instagram or Facebook Live
- Giving tickets at a discounted price
For instance, see how Misfits Boxing regularly shares Instagram Reels on vigorous training sessions for YouTube star KSI as he preps for his next fight. This Reel has managed to bag 278K views with 353 comments just after it was posted. These numbers speak volumes about the impact of social media on driving engagement before any sports event.
Collaborate With Sports Influencers For Better Promotion
While using social media for sports, we can never forget to leverage influencer marketing as a powerful tool for sports promotion. It is one of the easiest yet effective ways to engage a huge audience and indulge in cross-promotion, sharing, and selling of tickets in the least time possible. This is where giveaways and contests come in, but we will discuss that later in the blog.
To leverage influencer marketing, find out influential people from the sports industry and collaborate with them. For your ease, you can take the help of event listing platforms like AllEvents and reach out to some big or micro-influencers from the sports niche. They are your best bets, as micro-influencers have a dedicated and engaged audience to help you generate better brand awareness.
For instance, Nike is absolutely nailing it by partnering with sports influencers for better endorsement and the highest visibility on social media.
Post At The Right Time During The Game
Timing is crucial when it comes to posting your content at the right time during a sports event. This is because the right time greatly affects the engagement rate, as most viewers are active before and after the game. It can be during pivotal moments in a game, halftime, or key plays. Posting your content at the wrong times of the day will neither fetch you engagement nor help your fans get the proper exposure to the valuable content you have curated for them.
Hence, it is absolutely important that you find the best time to post on social media for maximum exposure and interaction. While you can always manually chart out the best times according to different platforms and then post accordingly, we recommend switching to social media scheduling tools to simplify and maximize marketing efforts.
Statusbrew is one such tool that lets you easily create, plan, customize, and schedule posts on multiple social media accounts from one dashboard. With this Hootsuite alternative, you can also access a planner, engagement features, analytics, listening capabilities, and a unified social inbox to assess your entire social media performance.
Intrigued? Give it a drill and book a FREE demo today 👇
Encourage Athletes Going Behind-The-Scenes Via Stories
There’s no hiding here! Fans want to know the personalities behind their favorite athletes. They want to see more about and from people they get inspiration from, especially in the field of sports. That can include the player’s day-to-day life activities, prep-up sessions, locker room stories, or even chilling scenes after a big victory.
If you want to tap into that audience’s sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and humanize the fan-athlete connection, encourage athletes to share Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, or Snapchat to take their fans behind the scenes and remove the corporate feeling of sports from social media. This will help athletes stay fresh in the minds of fans and followers as they share their daily routines, hobbies, and personal moments via their social handles.
For instance, this is how Simona Halep shares her behind-the-scenes prep sessions for the U.S. Open 2022.
Leverage Humorous Sports Memes While The Game Is On
Humor is a universal language, and sports fans love a good meme. And what's better than curating posts infused with bizarre and surreal sports-related humor that lets those smile lines crinkle? In fact, posts that can generate love and laughter among the audience do best in terms of engagement, be it likes, comments, and shares. As humor is both powerful and infectious, leverage it in the best way to boost your social media engagement and online visibility.
Creating or sharing good sports-related memes that resonate with your audience during games lightens the atmosphere and encourages sharing, expanding your reach. For instance, check this funny meme out below.
Indulge In A Sporting Contest Or Giveaway
One of the most thrilling ways to use social media for sports is to engage your audience with interactive contests or giveaways during a live game or before the game. It's a fun way to create buzz around the event or even sell your tickets as a part of the contest or reward. Remember, fans are absolutely crazy about prizes. So naturally, if you organize something interesting as much as a sports contest or giveaway, it is bound to turn around some heads. Since sports fans like the thrill of winning, it's always the best idea to offer them that through contests and giveaways, and social media is the best platform for that.
To build up excitement around the game, you can:
- Ask fans to predict game outcomes, participate in trivia, or share their game-day experiences.
- Offer attractive prizes to incentivize participation.
- Share a post with their followers with your trending hashtag.
- Ask followers to comment and tag their friends on the giveaway post.
For instance, check out this giveaway tweet from @Gene Vester's Twitter handle that announces an interesting giveaway that engages sports fans in the best way possible.
Giveaway Time!!!!! Like, Follow and Retweet this tweet to be entered in a drawing to win a custom painted hat of your choice. #giveaway #Orioles #mlbbfanart #Birdland contest ends Friday at 10am pic.twitter.com/uV5VxDRoim— Gene Vester (@VesterSportsArt) August 16, 2023
Show Support To Local Communities
Social media isn't just about self-promotion; it's also about community building. Besides, activism and support for various local and global causes are part and parcel of the sports industry. You will be surprised to gauge the popularity of the sports persons who are actively associated with these welfare activities among their fans.
Every club has their own hashtag on social media. To demonstrate what kind of local support initiative they are undertaking, social media is an ideal platform to share that support initiative for local sports clubs, teams, and communities. The number of likes, shares, and comments these support posts usually have is insane. This small yet great initiative helps impact the sports fans, enhances the team's reputation, and helps connect with local fans.
For example, check out this support initiative by Manchester United, where Finlay Fisher found confidence through disability football with the help of his hero @JackGrealish, which sparked a special friendship and bond.
A story of inclusion, friendship and community. 💙— Laureus (@LaureusSport) August 24, 2023
Finlay Fisher found confidence through disability football at @citcmancity and then, a letter to his @ManCity hero @JackGrealish sparked a special friendship and bond. A true Laureus Sporting Moment. #LaureusMoment | #ManCity
Recognize Your Biggest Fans
Acknowledging and celebrating the most dedicated fans is absolutely crucial for any sportsperson. Without fan loyalty and dedication, it's impossible to drive engagement or revenue for a sports team. Fans make a sportsperson who they are today, so it's important that they get equal respect and recognition for their efforts and love towards the sports team. With social media, doing this is an absolute no-brainer. Sportspersons can do a lot and experiment with different ways to engage with their fans regularly.
This can be through featuring fan stories, interviews, or even offering exclusive experiences to reward their loyalty or recognize their tweet or posts on social media to make them feel closer to their idol. This recognition keeps the revenue and engagement driven and strengthens fan loyalty.
Help And Support Social Causes
Sports have a unique ability to bring people together for a common cause. Besides, a survey by Nielsen shows that fans expect sports leagues and athletes to lead the way in supporting social causes. So, whether it’s about calling out racial discrimination or taking a stand on basic human rights, fans expect athletes and sports teams to help and support social causes for a greater purpose.
Considering this, sportspersons or teams should consider taking to social media to promote or support social causes that align with your team's values and earn the trust of fans. Share stories of athletes involved in charitable work, or run campaigns to support important social issues like equal opportunity, food availability, renewable energy, and access to education. Check the instance below.
In the wake of the Maui wildfires, Los Angeles is teaming up to support those in need. The Clippers are proud to join L.A. sports teams in committing $450,000 to aid those affected.— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) August 17, 2023
Playing to Win: Social Media Style
While there is no right, wrong, or perfect way to use the socials for sports in 2023, these ways might just serve your purpose if you are willing to start out. The above-listed factors are absolutely essential for fan building and reputation. If you are willing to keep the buzz and momentum going via social media and achieve engagement and visibility, these are the ways that you can harp on. So, get out there, stay in the game, and keep that social media buzz alive - your fans are waiting to cheer you on!