For one of the largest and most visual industries in Australia, the sporting industry’s social media presence can at times seem pretty quiet. I’m not talking about the profiles of individual athletes who have thousands of followers, but meaningful engagement between clubs and associations with fans and followers.

One conversation that cropped up in our office today is why there are so many ‘Marketing & Commercial Managers’ in sport. Why the combined role? In my opinion it’s because sports organisations still consider marketing as a sales mechanism.

In an ideal world, every team would love to boast loyal fans that consistently turn up to games, buy merchandise and stick by their team through thick-and-thin. In reality though, it is easy for fans to become disengaged or disinterested if their team’s performances drop or if other leisure pursuits are available. With sporting teams not only competing with a multitude of other sport teams for fans and with other entertainment options, why isn’t this powerful and ubiquitous marketing tool taken better advantage of and can clubs actually profit from social media?

I’d argue that selling sport is no longer about flogging off tickets for home matches and selling shirts when the team is performing well but much, much more. By using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and others, sporting clubs and associations can not only provide greater buzz and experience for their fans but also boost their revenue streams. From a marketing perspective, gone are the days when putting up a banner at a stadium is enough. For me, social media allows organisations to tap into a real emotional connection with fans; each follower is a direct line of communication to a current or potential customer.

Good use of social media can:

  • Increase brand awareness and traffic flow to their website that will increase merchandise sales
  • Promote their events to a wider audience, boosting ticket sales
  • Activate brand messages that will enhance fundraising opportunities
  • Build business partnerships and sponsorship deals

This is true for the biggest clubs and codes, down to the grassroots. What successful social media has in common however, is commitment, meaning and direction.