6 Critical Social Media Elements in Sports

The recent Ted Leonsis article is an exciting read, and points to the all but obvious fact that social media in sports has a real ROI and deserves our time and attention. The article speaks to a few important concepts that sports teams are starting to embrace:

1) Your most valuable demographic is online, speaking passionately about your franchise.  More needs to be done to harness that conversation.

2) Franchises that engage on social media (and encourage their athletes to engage as well) are increasing visibility and garnering social capital amongst fans.

3) It's easy to forget that sports fans on social media are real people, and have real money to spend and a real interest to understand what's going on with your team.  This means, if you treat them well, they'll show up to your special events and ultimately spend more money.

And while social media is cheap, it's definitely not free (as some will try to tell you).  It takes time and exhaustive research to understand the sentiment and opinions of your desired demographic.

3 suggestions for how to get started after the jump, as well as the percentage of avid sports fans are getting their sports information online.

The graphic above is part of a study from last month that shows that 34.9% of avid sports fans say their primary source for sports information is online.  Read the whole study here.

Franchises, here's how you can attack this:

1) Use what you've got

Learn carefully about your consumers you already have by performing a reverse-email lookup (shoot us an email, we'll send you a case study) to understand where your fans are already across social media, as well as their age and demographic.  It's a quick, painless process and provides extraordinary insight.

Target Your Resources

2) There is absolutely no point in joining every social network imaginable and trying to be a ubiquitous presence all at once.  Based on what you learn about your fans, begin engaging on the networks that make the most sense.

Monitor and Incentivize

3) The first step in understanding your impact in the space is to listen to how opinions and demographics evolve online since you've joined the conversation.  But just listening isn't enough - grab the reigns and let your fans know about promotions, special events, and where they can buy tickets.  And don't sound like a corporate robot, social media is about sharing and complete personalization, so the more interactions the better.

The Wizards are up and coming, the Lakers are the 'team' to beat, and there's a slew of athletes (Dwight Howard and Lebron James among them) who are trying and succeeding at being a leader in the space.

Who are your favorite franchises/athletes on social media?  What do you like most about being friends with them?