Social media are the golden children of the digital world. They have proven to be an irreplaceable part of our lives. From the days of simple MySpace messages to Snapchat videos, they have shown to be undefeated.
Today, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have received extensive usage all around the world. Major events across the globe often trend on Twitter and sporting events are not exempted.
Social media disrupt the landscape of sports positively. With them, interaction between sports heroes, fans, and clubs are at an all time high. According to statistics from a Navigate research, sports fans are 67% more likely to use Twitter to improve the viewing experience as opposed to non-sports fans. In essence, Twitter has become the online sports bar that fans of different sports visit before, during, and after the games.
The Growing Influence of Social Media
The influence of social media, especially Twitter, has been increasing in momentum in the past few years. In 2013, 50% of tweets were about television in the United States, out of which 50% (a total of 492 million tweets) were about sports events.
Sporting events accounted for 12 of the top 20 most-tweeted-about television broadcasts during that same year, according to Nielsen.
Every sporting event is accompanied by live posts on Instagram or Twitter, funny memes, cheerleading on the web, and commentary on social media.
For instance, the last NBA finals ended in a blowout win for the Golden State Warriors, but that wasn’t all. It trended on Twitter for the entirety of the four game final as snarky memes dominated the internet. There was a period where Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith trended on Twitter after a huge mistake he made at the end of Game 2.
The Positive Influence of Social Media
Social media is improving the love of sports in all ramifications. These days, it is improbable that you would be a sports fan without using social media in one way or the other. A staggering percentage of sports organization use them to connect with fans. This is the new standard for clubs and teams on the global stage.
For instance, Real Madrid is practically the most followed club on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Its Instagram page is populated with helpful match previews, highlights, training videos, and exclusive behind the scenes content for fans.
Apart from being a hub for communication and interaction between fans and players, social media have a vast commercial role in sports. From livestreaming to advertising to digital marketing, the potential to make vast amounts of money via sports is endless for clubs, athletes, and even startups.
On the startup end, a new company called Snaptivity is emerging and making profits. It uses the cameras in stadiums to take pictures of fans during emotionally charged games. Fans input their seat numbers into the app making it easy for large groups to have beautiful pictures of themselves enjoying the atmosphere of the game.
The innovative app has been successfully used at 18 major sporting events since it was launched, with hundreds of thousands of photos taken. The company already has plans in place to expand it across different sports as it develops its technology.
Popular athletes use social media with great commercial gain. On social media channels, followers are a pathway to making money and sports stars have a whole lot of them.
People from Bettingsites.me.uk report that Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has the highest number of followers on Instagram among athletes. His Instagram page is littered with pictures of his best on-field moments. In 2016, a picture of Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating with the Euro 2016 trophy went viral on Instagram. Ronaldo makes a lot of money posting photos of his many sponsors on his Instagram page.
On Twitter, the sports star has more than 75 million followers. To put this in contrast, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has 20 million fewer followers. Every Ronaldo’s tweet regarding one of his many sponsors is worth $500,000.
In the same vein, social media have made it possible for sporting professionals to be held accountable for their comments and actions. With social media, athletes and sports heroes can engage and influence the thoughts of millions of people across the globe.
It is therefore essential that players watch themselves. Slips and words that would have gone unnoticed in previous years are noticed in the social media age. Social media posts that can be described as “dangerous” are leading to reprimands and penalizations for such athletes.
In as much as social media have a whole lot of advantages for athletes and officials, it has proven to be a double-edged sword for many. Stephanie Rice is an athlete who has suffered as a result of her misuse of social media. The three-time Olympic gold medallist lost a big time sponsorship with Jaguar after she used a gay slur in a tweet back in 2012.
Social Media Introduces a Change
Greek triple jumper, Voula Papachristou, was ejected from the Olympic Games in the same year for posting a tweet with racist undertones.
Social media platforms such as blogs and vlogs are changing the very nature of sports journalism. All across the globe, it is now a requisite skill for journalists to scour social media apps such as Twitter and Instagram before writing a new story. Trends on social media as regards sporting events and news are now a part of sports stories and news.
Conclusively, social media and sports can only be described as a match made in heaven. The spontaneity, intimacy, and interaction that social media in conjunction with mobile tech holds makes them the perfect platform to fuel the attraction of sporting.
Today, sports figures are sharing everything with fans on social media. It is now the norm to see candid pictures of your favorite superstars’ weddings, birthdays, wardrobes, and retirement parties. At almost no personal cost, we are now privileged to crack a window into the everyday life of our sporting heroes while increasing our love for the game.