Why Should Fans Care?

Whilst looking for some inspiration yesterday I saw a tweet about Jason Peck’s new post on ‘Sports and Social Media – why should fans care?’ which includes the views of UKSN’s very own Ash Read.

Its an interesting topic and one which is one that everyone involved from a club/league’s point of view wants to understand.  I don’t think this is a black-and-white subject with a straight forward answer; there are, as with many things, various shades of grey.

For one, each fan is not going to care the same amount about the sport/person/team and will have different reasons as to why they are a follower/fan/like.  From my own point of view when I ‘like’ something on Facebook they are not all for the same reason.

I am a Manchester United fan (though live in the South of England) and have not been to a match for a while, what you may call an armchair fan.  I am happy to advertise my allegiance but am not actively involved on the page. 

I’m also a fan of Richmond FC (because a friend of mine works there), Animal Kingdom (2 friends play in the band), 1000 Heads (I like their work), The UK Sports Network (I run it), Lotus Racing (they spoke at an event of mine) and in total about 20 given ‘likes’.  They are a mix of companies, athletes, football team, causes, friends pages and other sports.  Some are true passions whilst others are pages I have an interest in through my work.

What can you read from that?  You can make a guess about what I like and why but only I’m going to know the reasons behind it and to what level I really feel about the company/athlete/team/cause.

People pick and choose where they are active and where they are passive.  I am not very active on Facebook but more so on LinkedIn and Twitter.  We all have our favourites for what we feel most comfortable using and is of most benefit to us.

So when we talk about social media and sport, and more specifically why fans should care, what do we know? 

Sport is a very emotional subject that has at its heart a very tribal approach.  But what remains a fact is that only a small percentage are active on any one platform.  For example, on the Manchester United Facebook Page there are over 1.8m fans who have joined but for an update there are only up to a max of 14,000 comments (most less than) and many will involve more than one comment from each person.

This begs the question with social media, is it actually only a small audience you are speaking to and calling to action?

Many people on Facebook I feel use the Manchester United ‘like’ as a badge for their profile rather than something they are active on and want to become involved with.

On Twitter most people will use the updates as another source of information to go alongside the club website, main news channels and newspapers.  Basically most are what we would call a ‘passive’ audience.

Getting back to the question ‘why should fans care’ when it comes to using social media in sport, many of them don’t.  It is another source of information for some, a badge for more and a few will become very involved with you on that platform. 

This is why it is important for the club/brand to be clear about why they are using social media and have done their research before choosing which platform to use. 

If clubs can give them a reason to come to your site with behind-the-scenes info, breaking news, interviews with players and competitions then great. 

I am huge advocate of sport using social media to better connect with fans and bring all sides closer together.  But if it just about getting lots of followers then clubs are missing the point.

The massive advantage sport has above other sectors is that passion, tribal following and masses of content they own.  What clubs need to do is work out how best they can add to the experience for fans outside of the event.  Keep fans interested in what is going on and use that continued buzz to help sell match tickets, create awareness and keep people coming back for more.

This is a massive topic that Jason has tapped into and gained a few insights into but there are so many grey areas to it.  So I will ask the same question to you….

 Why should fans care??

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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