Hopefully 2010 will see social media as much less of a ‘phenomenon’ in the world of sport, instead it will be the birth of more athletes, teams and sponsors redefining their approach to ultilising it better as a fan engagement medium.
Here are some ideas that I predict could help foster this in 2010:
1. A rise in online video and photo sharing directly to fans through YouTube, Daily Motion, Ustream TV, Twitter and Facebook. The mobile phone will become more of a content producer and receiving tool that will increase immediacy.
2. More athletes and clubs will start employing social media operations managers to help social networking platforms reach their full potential to the benefit of the producer (athlete/club) and receiver (fan).
3. In addition to more traditional forms of media training for the athlete, such as TV and radio, social network training will become a more common feature to help build the brand. For those athletes at clubs there will be a rise in their paymasters using them as a vehicle to monitor fan reaction and commentary.
4. On top of enhancing fan interactivity, more clubs will integrate social media in activating marketing and sponsorship campaigns, driving ticket sales and delivering exclusive content.
I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to add to the list on what directions sport in social media will take this year.
John Terry takes a real kick in the teeth after failing to get a his media gagging order upheld.
Last week England football captain John Terry and his band of legal suits failed to uphold a gagging order in an effort to prevent the media publishing revelations over his private life. It is being viewed by many as a victory for free speech and freedom of the press – bolstering the common thought that the media really are the fourth estate. Terry had initially used human rights laws to obtain the gagging order against the press, claiming his right to a ‘private and family life’. However, the claim was thrown out as the judge felt JT was more concerned about the threat to his lucrative sponsorship deals rather than the damage the scandal would do to his family life. I question whether athletes and celebrities should have the right to hide behind such a law in the first place. Is it not hypocritical to boast hero status on the pitch that earns multi-million pound sponorship deals only for us to find out that in reality they’re actually a bit of a bad egg?
Fundamentally the ruling is a heavy blow against the growth of the privacy law used by celebrity athletes to silence their critics and keep questionable etiquette under wraps. This could potentially open the floodgates for more skeletons to come pouring out the closet in the realm of professional sport and beyond. Some people would argue that the press shouldn’t be poking its nose into the private matters of celebrity sports stars at all. I reckon though you have to be prepared to accept that your life is going to be under the scrutiny of the media lense when you’re a high-calibare athlete and the removal of the privacy law will hopefully prompt a bit more sensible behaviour.
The parallels between this story and the Tiger Woods case are obvious although the news broke in very contrasting circumstances. As per Woods, Terry’s recently acquired family man image could lose him millions in commercial sponsorships as he faces the public embarrassment his playing away from home has caused. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the situation in the coming weeks. One thing he hasn’t done so far, unlike Woods, is shy away from the commitment to his professional career. However, if he’s dropped as England captain later this month, he may just take that ‘holiday’ permitted by his Chelsea coach.
Federer defeats challenger Murray at the 2008 US Open
As Roger Federer and Andy Murray prepare to do battle for the coveted prize of men’s singles champion at the 2010 Australian Open, I wanted to have a nosy to see how they match-up in terms fan interaction and brand building through social media. In non-team sports such as singles tennis, golf and snooker it’s likely you have to work a tad harder to build and maintain your brand. You are, in essence, the team. So let’s see how these two tennis aces compare.
Federer – 3.3 Million Fans – Regular updates on his wall from him along with responding to personal requests from fans such as uploading pictures of his twins. Federer lets us into his life beyond tennis and is open to direct fan interaction as well as giving commercial updates on associations with Nike and Credit Suisse in particular. Very active and lively fan discussion board.
Murray – 80, 000 Fans – Bags of activity and daily entries, mainly pictures from matches – namely the 2010 Aussie open although messages are uploaded by a third person. His Facebook platform is used to as a portal to direct traffic to his personal website. Very active and lively fan discussion board.
Play: Federer smashes Murray’s backhand slice into the open right side of the court.
Federer – 18, 000 Followers– I couldn’t find an official Twitter page. There is an account page that follows Federer’s every move but hasn’t been updated since before Christmas, 2009.
Murray – 123, 000 Followers – Andy is an avid tweeter and keeps fans in touch with the latest tennis news and really uses this platform to humanise himself. There is even a recent photo of him in an ice-bath post match. He gives us updates on his day-to-day routine and makes fun of his mates as well as himself.
Play: Federer’s poor second service allows Murray to pass him with the ball touching the base line to level things up.
Federer – 300,000 registered members – The news sections is updated sporadically. There are links to his profile, his foundation and most notably an excellent fan zone section, part of which you get to ask Roger questions on tennis and personal issues. He responds to each question personally. However, there are no links to his other social networking sites.
Murray – no registration option– Andy’s site is updated almost on a daily basis in terms of news. There are links to all his social networking platforms. There is a nice section on the team that helps him to be the player that he is. Andy also has a nice photo training blog in which fans can interact with him through the community fan page.
Score: 15-30 Murray
Play: Federer makes a rare double-fault allowing Murray to nose in front.
Federer – With the domination of Facebook as the two-way communication social networking tool, Federer’s MySpace is used somewhat as a platform to promote his sponsors.
Murray – A lot of fake MySpace accounts but nothing official.
Play: Federer serves an ace to which Murray doesn’t even bother moving for.
Federer – No official account although he does a lot of promotional work for his racquet producer Wilson.
Murray – Many promotional videos of Andy warming up, doing fitness training and interacting with fans. Andy even does knock-up and drill sessions with competition winners.
Play: A magnificent 37 shot rally shows both players true quality with Murray managing to clinch the point with an exquisite lob.
Score: 30-40 Murray
With Murray about to break Federer, I think this is a good place to leave things. Hopefully this is an omen for things to come in the final tomorrow.
Murray has the edge is terms of being more social media savvy, not simply through using more social networking platforms, but rather the way in which he utilises them. Overall though it is good to see such huge stars of the tennis world embracing social media and using it to such good effect. Long may it continue.
Will Wenger & Fergie both take advantage of the January window?
With just days left in the short winter transfer window, arguably the busiest few days, the tabloids along with Sky Sports are in full swing fanning the flames of rumour and hearsay. Many of us are hoping our team might get the player they’ve been allegedly chasing or offload a troublemaker unsettling the dressing room. To be honest though, I don’t get the point of it all. January is the time teams often pay over the odds for average players and if you actually analyse the effect the winter window has had on teams, it’s hard to see the point. Take my team West Ham, currently in desparate need of striking options, we will have to pay a considerable amount for a run-of-the-mill striker or be completey priced out of the market for anything better.
Panic Buying – In 2007 the team was third from bottom when it spent around £17 million in the January transfer window, including £5 million on Boa Morte £3.5 million on Davenport. Neither of these signings ended up performing particularly well even though wemanaged to escape the dreaded drop thanks to Carlos Tevez. At the time this saved us around £30 million although due to Carlos’ dodgy paperwork and West Ham’s shady administrative methods, it cost just about as much in subsequent fines in the infamous Sheffield United case.
So why does the 31 day window exist? The official word from ‘those in charge’ is to simplify the transfer process and bring most of the major European leagues in line with each other while constructing a so called level playing field among the Davids and Goliaths . If anything though, it’s only bigger teams that have the capacity to strengthen with real quality and others have to make do and mend in the brief window that is January.
So readers, what do you reckon? I’m interested to get some feedback from you through voting on the poll below.
I was never a huge fan of the idea of video technology, but after this incident I think it would help solve a lot of future controversy. It would serve two major functions, 1. take pressure off the match officials without them losing too much autonomy 2. fundamentally help prevent football’s governing body picking and choosing who it decides to sanction in such ad-hoc fashion and hiding behind gray technical regulations when it suits.