Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Investing in Social Media

I admittedly am completely obsessed with Twitter.  My girlfriend, who introduced it to me about a year and a half ago now, says I’m addicted and is probably regretting showing it to me in the first place.  I very well may be an addict.  Twitter is how I get most of my sports news; it’s the first site I check each and every morning without fail.  I love it because it goes beyond the box score.  I love it because I get up to the second news.  I love it because it leads me to articles and writers that I never before would have ever found.  If lead into a room with my family and an interventionist surrounding a table, all in tears, I would be that addict who runs out of the room.  There’s no need for an intervention.  There are millions of others out there just like me, a comforting thought.  For some it’s Facebook.  For others it may be Google+ or Pinterest or Instagram.  You could be the last person on Myspace for all I know.


Professional sport teams, though getting better, are dropping the ball.  Since social media is always growing and always evolving, it does not provide the tangible dollars of ROI when teams invest into it.  For that reason, I think teams not only resist social media, they fear it. 

From my experiences in the market research field I can tell you that there is a survey for just about everything an organization offers.  Season ticket holders, single game buyers, club box purchasers, suite goers; and those are all just for ticket sales!  Teams send these surveys out, receive them, and analyze them.  They spend millions of dollars each year to get answers and turn those answers into some tangible, actionable approach to the future.  Many times, the metrics that they use to make the multi-million dollar decisions are grossly unsatisfactory and underdeveloped. 

Surveys are too formal for this day and age of immediate reaction.  By the time somebody even receives a survey, they have already expressed their candid emotions and thoughts to their friends and family.  Is it truly useful to ask a season ticket holder if they would recommend buying season tickets to a friend or family member a month after they have already actually done so?  Even if it can be effective, how do you know if their actions match their answers on the survey?

This all leads exactly to why teams need to invest in social media and the monitoring of their social media accounts.  Social media provides customers the platform to speak their mind usually under the impression that somebody is listening (or at least hoping someone is listening).  Social media can provide organizations the answers to their survey questions without actually having to probe their customers after the fact with their corporate mumbo-jumbo. 

When you read about how teams were run in the past, you will quickly find that there was much more transparency and visibility.  Season ticket holders knew the team president by name and the team president knew the season ticket holders by name.  Somewhere over the course of time, the personal approach was phased out.  It became the fans in the stands and the team executives up in the fancy club boxes.  I don’t know about you, but that seems a little inefficient when it comes to knowing your fans.  I strongly believe that a meet and greet with the team president should not be some special privilege for the fans.  The team executives should want to know who their fans are.  This dynamic is exactly why sports have become too impersonal and perceived as being all about the money. 

Social media brings us back to a simpler time, if you will. A time where team presidents roamed the stadiums and talked to fans as equals, not their deep-pocketed money-giving inferiors.  Social media allows teams to communicate with fans, interact with them, reward the loyal, and fix problems. 
Most importantly, social media provides candid responses and real-time emotions.  That is what teams need to be looking for.  Those are the answers to their questions right there in front of them.


The Dollars

Software for social media monitoring programs can range quite a bit.  Programs range from free to thousands of dollars.  However, with the wide range there is something out there for everybody and every sized company.  There is no excuse having nothing at all.  In my opinion, sport organizations should be spending top dollar on this type of software.  Fans are emotional.  Emotions get posted on social media sites.  Emotions on social media sites give teams valuable insight about their fans.  Emotions on social media sites give teams valuable insight about their fans without the corporate feel of a survey.


The Sense

Investing in social media makes more sense than anything I will ever write about in the future for I-95 SportsBiz.  The reason is that the prices are more or less a la carte.  Organizations pick and choose what they need and what they want.  There is something out there for everybody.  I would venture to guess that most organizations are underutilizing their resources and have an underdeveloped feel of social media.  Social media is the perfect way to get out there, interact with a passionate fan bases, and get the questions answered.  The answers are out there, teams just need to look harder.


  1. I agree that more teams need to become more involved with Twitter to reach fans and get their opinions. One person that does this very well is the 76ers CEO Adam Aron. He is very involved on twitter with talking to fans, giving out tickets, and releasing information about players. More front office people in all sports should follow his lead and be more interactive with the fans.

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  3. There is a disconnect between the fans and the execs, as you mention. But all and all, I do not think the general mass of fans even WANT to be buddy buddy with the owners. I think the fans would rather see a winning team than have a personal connection with the execs and the higher-ups tend to treat the fans as a broad group of "fans" rather than trying to connect to each person individually, which is nearly impossible.

    To me, Twitter is barely a connecting tool to use with celebrities because they cannot possibly respond to each and every tweet from a fan. It is great to see execs communicating with fans on Twitter and other means of social media, but I still do not call it a true form of back and forth.

    This day and age, there is always going to be a disconnect between the two to some degree. There will probably never be a personal connection, but at least social media is at least a good start. I definitely agree with you that every team should have some kind of social media department and/or campaign and any team that is not using it effectively is light years behind the others.

  4. I must say, I am quite the tweeter. I love twitter. Best sports news source around if you kno the right follows.

    Good post Kev. Twitter might not be the best way to connect with players, execs, teams, celebs...but it is far easier/better than options fans have had in the past. At

    Twitter > Facebook