5 Awesome Sports Social Media Examples to Learn From
Sports social media is the next-level athletic frontier where fans can participate and engage with their favorite teams.
According to Umbel, 175.5 million people interacted with Super Bowl 51 alone. When fans commit, they commit.
Professional teams know that the game doesn’t stop when the buzzer sounds. There’s lots to do when the spotlights aren’t on to engage fans and get them pumped and excited for the next round.
In this post, I’ll share several sports teams that are utilizing social media in fun and effective ways as well as how you can implement their strategies.
Championship-Level Sports Social Media
It’s not just a fad: social media is where the majority of consumers want to interact with a brand, according to the Sprout Social Index.
Whether your content is text-based or visual, there’s a social media platform for you with some trackable data and analytics available.
However, just like sports performance, social media performance can be measured in a variety of different ways. Below are a couple different key measuring points to keep in mind.
One of the major buzzwords of social media marketing is engagement rate: the number of people who viewed your content and actually interacted with it.
In 2018, Rival IQ found that professional sports team engagement rates are around 0.038% on Twitter all the way up to 2.28% on Instagram.
But having the most “likes” doesn’t mean you’re the GOAT. Anyone can click on or retweet a post, but getting a fan to comment or engage with the team shows a deeper connection.
Shares and comments are engagements that hold higher value because of their personal nature. A fan wants to connect and interact with the team directly.
Many teams make it a point to respond to fans on sports social media, which is a great way to develop community among a single organization.
Quality of Posts
You could just post scores of games or pictures of players, but why not kick it up a notch? The memorable teams on social media are those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Live-tweeting during a game is a great way to get fans engaged, but even more unforgettable are the dance videos, the polls and the unexpected elements that keep fans entertained.
Olympics fans loved Leslie Jones as a commentator for the 2018 Olympics because she was able to bring a level of humor and authenticity that they connected with.
Polls are a great way to get fans involved, especially when they’re humorous such as the example above.
For more great sports marketing ideas, take a look at 9 Awesome Sports Marketing Examples to Learn From and How to Use Twitter to Market and Promote Your Sports Team.
Teams Rocking Their Sports Social Media
There’s an incredible amount of innovation across all social media platforms, but these teams are really in a league of their own. Here are just a few ways they’re dominating the sports social media playing field as detailed below.
It must be that hardy Minnesota spirit: The Vikings have their sports social media strategy down pat, with engaging photos, videos, cartoons and even the #VikingQuest stop-animation videos that preface and follow each game.
Below is one example of those videos in a humorous series of continuous content.
After an exciting win early this year, Vikings fans started posting their own Viking calls to support the team: now that’s good engagement!
They also have the Vikings Instagram Group where photographers from each of the cities the team travels to take a picture of a Vikings helmet somewhere in the city.
It’s a great way to provide a creative outlet for team supporters while also boosting and diversifying their visual content.
The Houston Astros have some really excellent video content on their social media with on-brand animations that give you a baseball-park feel. It’s like you’re sitting right in the stands.
They’re also not afraid to have a little fun when tactics go awry, as seen with the response to their 11th inning walk-off win.
Change up your social media visuals with creative video animations for a quick win such as in the tweet below.
When the Astros were gunning for the World Series, their “Earn History” campaign certainly made its mark on social media across all platforms. The well-planned hashtag paid off after the win when they were able to twist it into #EarnedHistory.
The Astros also host a Social Media Night every year where fans can purchase tickets and receive autographs, t-shirts, participate in a Q&A and more all before the big game.
New York Red Bulls
In this reality TV age where everyone craves behind the scenes coverage, the New York Red Bulls MLS Team are showing fans a whole other side to the game. Their All-Access video series is an extraordinarily comprehensive way to shows fans what the team goes through with trainings, signings and match day.
They also take off-field routes into players’ lives with documentary-esque series like the five part “Going Home with Luis Robles” that followed goalkeeper Robles to their hometown in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Fans love getting to see players off the field and the Astros nailed this with their content.
Talk about thorough: The Red Bulls not only have their own Twitter account — @NewYorkRedBulls — but also accounts for their arena and their Member Services team to assist fans who want to keep up to date with their special-access Red Membership.
The Rockies use an exceptional real time photo-workflow that allows the team to get pictures from the game onto the platforms extremely quickly.
They’re not afraid to use humor or emojis in their posts. If you haven’t checked out their tribute to the solar eclipse, it’s worth a peek.
Their tweet demonstrates that content can be fun and silly and still related to the team and players.
According to the Rockies’ Assistant Director of Digital Media and Publications, Julian Valentin:
“One-to-one fan engagement is a pillar of our social media strategy. We ‘like’ everything on Twitter and consistently reply to fans on all platforms. ‘Social listening’ is big for us and we want social media to be a dialogue, not a broadcast.”
Check out this in practice with the snowball-fight “dialogue” that enthralled fans one wintry January afternoon, which garnered a lot of engagement for this Rocky Mountain team.
The NBA issued new sports social media rules in 2017 that forbade mocking or ridiculing other teams, players or officials. The Sacramento Kings took this to heart and engaged in a hilarious love-fest with the Atlanta Hawks via Twitter.
For the Sacramento Kings, humor and connection are two elements of Twitter that go hand in hand.
The Kings were also named one of the Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company for “creating the modern day fan experience.” Their edited video content is well-crafted to tug at those heartstrings and the innovative Facebook Live 360 technology let fans literally put themselves in the middle of the court.
Chase that Pigskin
When crafting your own social media strategy, below are some tips to remember from the playbook of the pros.
Keep it Authentic
Fans can tell the difference between a real moment and a crafted one. Make sure you are aiming for real connection and not just a higher engagement rate.
This can be a team effort. Communicate with your team photographer and let them know the kind of shot you’re looking for with social media pictures.
The more candid and real you get, the more connection you can achieve.
Also, take advantage of whatever’s going on in the world. Celebrate fun random holidays or players’ birthdays with a custom hashtag or a team video.
For example, commemorate National Ice Cream Day or National Puppy Day across your city with a team video or outing.
Care About Your Fans
Your fans want to be a part of the action—let them join the fun! Responding to comments and retweeting shout-outs are a great way to help individuals feel heard in a sea of stands.
Make sure to also use social media to send love and thank yous to all your supporters. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. If you can do this, you’re more likely to keep a fan’s loyalty and they’ll follow you anywhere.
Also, think about what your fans would actually want to see. Put yourself in their shoes or ask around at the next match to get solid ideas to try out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun
In the end: it’s just a game. Things can get tense and stressful in key moments so use sports social media to lighten the mood a little bit. Silly content can lift spirits in the off-season and a little self-deprecation goes a long way after a loss.
Running jokes are almost always a crowd-pleaser, especially when you involve the surrounding community or city.
Also, get to know the lives and history of your players — high school pictures are always a fun throwback for fans to see how the team has grown.
Back to the Dugout
Who says sports can’t be creative? There are a variety of artistic opportunities on all platforms to expand a team’s reach and connect with more fans. Don’t be afraid to rework something from another team’s playbook or draw inspiration from another sport entirely.
What teams are your favorite examples of great sports social media? What moments or posts really caught your attention? We’d love to hear about your successful campaign or content stories! Share your experience with us on Twitter or Facebook.