Why is social media important to Scottish sport?

Right now people are talking about your sport online. They’re chatting about your staff, blogging about your events, searching for your clubs and deciding whether to choose your sport.

Your reputation is being built online—outside your control.

Social media represents a unique opportunity to join the conversation about your sport.  But, while many organisations are asking “what can social media do for us?”, the more pressing questions is “what can social media do to us?”

Through websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, sports clubs and governing bodies have the power to take their message to their communities and start a dialogue.

Social media initiatives will allow your most loyal customers/fans to spread messages about you more easily. But social media is not just about getting your message across, it’s also about listening – monitoring the buzz and chat between your customers.

It’s also about engaging and supporting – joining the discussions, answering questions and asking for the ideas and opinions of the connectors in your sport community.

Sport is competing in a crammed marketplace for the affection of consumers and social media is playing a primary role.

So, what is social media exactly?

Social media is a groundswell movement –  “A social trend in which people use technology to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations”

Sport carries the unique advantage of stirring our emotions and creating lasting social connections. These social connections make sport an ideal candidate for the use of social media. After all, the purpose of social media is to connect people with a common interest.

How does it work?

Social media activity is likely to engage existing fans of your sport and pull them closer together in a community of common interest via online tools. Social media is less likely to directly replace the traditional methods of generating wide public awareness of your sport, although it will have an indirect impact on awareness through the creation of positive word of mouth that comes from engaging your hard-core fans and turning them into advocates of your sport.

The prevailing wisdom is that social media can have a significant impact towards the lower end of the marketing funnel (see insert).

As one important element of the marketing mix, social media can play a key role in engaging participants more fully in the lifestyle associated with high involvement in your sport and in influencing decisions over competing sport and leisure opportunities.

What’s the bottom line?

Cutting through the hype, Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs) and clubs are now challenged to make the decision over whether social media investment is really worth it.

Although social media has the appeal of low monetary cost, it does require a significant investment of time. Time-poor SGB staff and volunteers should be wary of the promise of something for nothing, or they could find themselves with a profile that they can’t effectively maintain or grow and therefore lose credibility with the very people they are trying to engage.

If an internal self-assessment reveals a dedicated team with personal social media experience and a willingness to produce engaging content on a weekly or daily basis, then social media can prove effective. If this energy is coupled with clear objectives that link key messages to targeted groups, then social media can prove itself and provide significant return on investment for Scottish sport.