The State of Sport on Social Media – how the SFA & Scottish Athletics use social

Guest Post: Mark Stuart is Insight Executive at specialist social media agency Yomego, based in Glasgow. Their clients include Tesco, British Airways and AQA and are part of Communisis Plc.

The moment my Celtic supporting colleague Jp and I were put together to host an event for Social Media Week, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Even though our interests span an array of topics, the one meeting point is sports.

In the past, we’ve both written sporting blogs for Yomego, Jp focusing on the football side of things, capturing innovative campaigns from Marseille, Valencia and Manchester City. He’s also highlighted times when things have turned sour with the likes of Bayern Munich, or from a player standpoint, here’s looking at you Joey Barton. While I tend to focus on a wider approach, recently looking at Olympic sponsorships, the NBA playoffs and the social chatter around Euro 2012. We’ve got the world of sport sewn up.

#SportAndSocial was the culmination of three months planning, as we brought together speakers from Scottish Athletics, The Scottish Football Association and Supporters Direct. The event, Yomego’s last of Social Media Week, took place in Glasgow’s design centre, The Lighthouse and saw attendees from all walks of life, including sports pundits and a scout from a little third division club known as Rangers.

First to the podium, after a brief preview from myself, was Sue Gyford, the Social Media and Digital Communications Officer at Scottish Athletics and the grassroots recreational running programme Jog Scotland. Sue’s presentation beautifully outlined the differing approaches required for each platform and she was able to relay her learnings from managing both accounts on social channels. Interacting with famous athletes was a no brainer for generating engagement, but drilling down to personal successes and local events also helped drive conversation, reaching real grassroots fans.

“If you’re looking out of the window, wondering if you’ve got the energy to go for a run after work today: Woo hoo – go on! You can do it :)”

Sue’s presentation also brought to light a unique case of engagement with a Twitter user named @TheRace4MyLife. The user, who was tweeting and blogging anonymously, reached out to Jog Scotland after the above tweet pushed her to get out for some fresh air. Concerned about joining her local Jog Scotland group, Sue’s personal contact helped her overcome her worries. Since then, she joined her local group and popped in to meet Sue in person at the event. A fantastic example of how Scottish Athletics really understands social, and a proud moment for Sue.

Next up was Kayleigh Grieve, the Digital Media Manager for the Scottish FA. Kayleigh’s talk came at a controversial time here, with calls for Craig Levein to stand down as Scotland manager. She briefly discussed this, noting that controversy is something all teams will endure on social, but that a lot of this conversation doesn’t require a direct response. Instead she focused on the positives, mentioning how Scotland’s use of Facebook to launch the first Scotland adidas kit attracted an additional 35,000 fans in two weeks. The mobile nature of social also presents the perfect opportunity to engage with fans during the matches, and this is something they are experimenting with. However it was also noted that the greatest rewards can be gained in the evening and weekend as this is when the debates really kick-off. Her role certainly isn’t 9-5.

Finishing off the day was Andrew Jenkin, Support Network Manager at Supporters Direct and part of the newly launched Scottish Fans site. Supporters Direct was formed with the goal of ‘promoting sustainable spectator sports clubs based on supporters involvement and community ownership’. Referencing Jock Stein, he crucially noted that fans are the lifeblood of football, and as I opened with, he noted that social is the perfect platform to extend the friendly sporting banter. While Twitter plays a key part in Scottish Fans’ approach, it has also ventured to Spotify and Pinterest, experimenting to see what works with its followers.

All in all it was a great morning in Glasgow, with a healthy debate brewing afterwards. Fittingly enough, the live Twitter stream proved popular, with attendees sharing discussion to their followers. Some of these, including your esteemed site editor Dan, picked up on the presentation, which can be found below.

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 693 posts

Dan McLaren launched Digital Sport (formerly UK Sports Network) back in January 2010 and has worked in the digisport industry with adidas, We Are Social, Copa90 and Pulse amongst others. He's now a freelance social media guy living in the East Midlands and podcast host with the Digital Sport podcast on Audioboom, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

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