in Sports

Sports and the cold embrace of social media

Who’s advising sports teams on social media policy? Voldemort?

First, the behemoth Southeastern Conference (SEC) originally wanted to ban Twitter updates by fans, before mock outraged caused them to push back a bit.
Now, you have the notorious National Football League (nicknamed the “No Fun League” based on its opposition to touchdown dances, fines for not tucking your uniform shirt in and other foibles) deciding that players shouldn’t tweet during games, by banning phones on the sidelines during games.

Once an industrious player tried to create an elaborate scheme to get around the ban
, the league amended its policy to “no updates are permitted to be posted by the individual himself or anyone representing him during this prohibited time.”

Then the US Open tennis tournament posted warnings to players that tweeting could be a violation of the sport’s anti-corruption rules:

“Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport — and this is great,” the notices read. “However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules.”

So again, I ask, who is advising these teams, leagues and organizations on social media policy and strategy?

National Football League
Image via Wikipedia

In an era where scripted TV has lost its edge to reality shows and where traditional media takes its cues from blogs that cost a fraction to develop, sports organizations need to realize that access is the key to increasing revenue. In the old days, you ran promotions to give fans access to players. These days, the players give their own access. This helps them improve their notoriety, as even the most obscure players can raise their profile through connections they create with fans.

But we’re just scratching the surface. Players and their representatives are still going to fumble through the best ways to do this, while teams and leagues will continue to miss the revenue opportunities that exist when you leverage the communication tools of the day to improve, expand and grow your offerings. Protecting the existing contracts you have with old media might seem like an effective defensive tactic. After all, they’re the ones bringing home the bacon.

What they’re missing is the opportunities involved in developing a strategy that embraces the passion of fans and uses that as a way to expand beyond traditional markets. Some leagues — mostly second tier ones — have embraced social media and allowed players to involve themselves heavily in pursuits such as tweeting on the bench and giving bloggers press credentials. This is a good start, but teams and organizations (whether it’s revenue generating college sports or the professional ranks) have to realize there’s money to be made when you invest your energy and time into developing cohesive strategies that meld what you’re doing on the field, with the people talking about you off of it.

  1. We’re not supposed to talk about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named…

    This reminds me of the grab your torches and pitchforks conversations that used to occur with regularity in higher education regarding Facebook.

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