Social Networking Resonates with Sports Fans
In 2007, George Tomeski was watching cricket and soccer. While he watched, he sent text messages to friends who were sitting on their own sofas and barstools. As he typed, he realized that he could invent a way to leverage the sports fan’s need to interact with other fans. He founded an app called ‘PlayUp’ that allows sports fans to debate and discuss games publicly or to host their own private chats with friends.
PlayUp also recently landed a contract with Fordham Athletics. The contract allows the company to sponsor meetups at important rivalry games and to pull in public chat feeds on the Jumbo Tron at the game. “The leagues and the schools are trying to figure this stuff out,” says Dennis Lee, PlayUp’s U.S. head of product. “They want to leverage their content socially, but they haven’t been able to quite get there on their own.” In view of this, Lee anticipates many upcoming partnerships with university athletic programs, and an iPad app is in development.
PlayUp isn’t the only social media outlet for sports on the web. Chomp (News - Alert), an app search engine, returns 66 results when users search for “Super Bowl” alone. Athletes are also garnering a large Twitter following. Lebron James, Lance Armstrong and Shaquille O’Neal are some of the most followed celebrities on Twitter (News - Alert).
“Rather than simply reading about players online, collecting cards, or wearing their jerseys, fans can follow their favorite players on Twitter, subscribe to their Facebook feed, or even see where they check-in on Foursquare (News - Alert),” says Dr. Alex Braunstein, Chomp’s head of search quality. “I see this trend not only continuing, but accelerating in the coming year as social media continued to become moreubiquitous.”
Will Overstreet, a broadcaster and former NFL player, developed a company called Voices Heard Media, which recently conducted a poll on how to improve the fan experience at Washington Wizards games. For each of 30 fan suggestions, Wizards management created video responses. This kind of interaction is just one example of the ways that teams and sponsors are reaching out to fans via social media.
During the Super Bowl, companies like Kia, Coca Cola and Toyota will not only buy television ads but also cross-promote with dedicated hashtags on Twitter. Other companies will target those second screens by offering live streaming of the game and complimentary content complete with ad spots. Braunstein says that the natural relationship between sports and social media will only grow. “It’s natural that something which creates such a deep emotional reaction yields so much conversation both in person and in social networks and social apps.”
Jacqueline Lee is a TMCnet contributor who produces web content, blogs and articles for numerous websites including wikiHow.com. Her background is in business and education.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi