Master of Science in Sport Management Online

Social Media and Sport Management

In 2007, when Twitter was about a year old, the Sacramento Kings became the first U.S. sports team to sign up; by 2009, nearly 75 percent of all the major sports teams (football, basketball, baseball, and hockey) had Twitter accounts. Today, the average football team drives over 140,000 daily discussions during its season, making it the sports world’s top social performer in terms of engagement. The sport of basketball ranks highest in terms of followers, with its 650,000 discussion average dwarfing other sports.

At the individual level, athletes are huge social media stars, taking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine to connect with their fans. Social media has become one of the most successful marketing tools sport management teams have to promote their brand. Even the leagues themselves get in on the action; the NFL and NBA have active social media accounts.

Looking at the field of social media and sports, here are a few stellar performers who master the art of engagement:

LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant

Image via Flickr by Keith Allison

Without a doubt, this all-star shooting guard has one of the largest social media presences in the world of sports. His Facebook following of 17 million is huge; he’s got over three million followers each on Twitter and Instagram, too. Bryant is open and outspoken on social media and he drives engagement by owning his own accounts. A typical Facebook post generates well over 100,000 engagements. Bryant doesn’t limit himself to an American audience, either. He’s also active on Sina Weibo, China’s giant social media platform.

Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson

Wilson is the powerhouse quarterback for the team and he’s also a champion supporter of many charitable initiatives. He uses Facebook (two million page likes per week on average), Twitter (1.5 million followers), and Instagram (1.2 million followers) to cultivate a deep relationship with his fans. He posts honestly about what it’s like to be a professional athlete, the trials of being on the road, the glory of a revitalized Seahawks team, and real-time updates about his favorite charities, the Russell Wilson Passing Academy and the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers embrace all social platforms, but they get a lot of mileage out of their photo-sharing platforms, Instagram and Tumblr. The team won the 2015 Shorty Award for best performance in social media by a sports team. The team hit home runs on Instagram, accumulating over 30 million likes over the year. In addition, Dodger Stadium is the most checked-in sports venue in the country, and the fourth-most checked-in location overall. The team also destroyed its MLB competition in attracting new followers, beating all teams in Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. The Dodgers won the MLB Network award for team promotion, due in part to a viral Vine featuring Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax.

Today’s athletes and sports teams need to stay on top of their social media game to build their brand and grow their fan base. Social media is an intimate and immediate way to connect.