People have always watched sports, talked about the best and worst plays, and listened to experts comment on the game. Now, social media has enabled teams to take a new in role in the dialogue with fans. Instead of press conferences and emails, teams like the San Francisco Giants use seven different social media platforms to interact with their fans. The Giants have succeed at using non-traditional methods in a traditional sport, such as opening a social media cafe at AT&T Park where fans can view their own tweets, posts, and pictures. Efforts like this have made the Giants the most engaged team in the MLB.
Companies such as Blinkfire Analytics help teams like the Giants measure, manage, and eventually monatize their social media campaigns. Blinkfire enables teams to skip the media outlets and go directly to fans. It takes advantage of the shift from text to visual media by using its own computer vision technology to tie together the offline and online worlds. Teams have a dashboard that allows them to track all their social media channels in one place as well as a visual web which tracks brand logos and measures brand life. Also, the software allows for Twitter collections to engage those who are using the team’s handle and player’s handles as well as connect with people who are tweeting around the stadium itself.
Doug Meffley, the Director of Digital and Social Communications at Northwestern University, uses Blinkfire’s daily email to engage fans by looking at their tagged Instagram photos. He is able to interact with photos by liking them and then share them via Twitter and other social media outlets. Tools like this are essential for teams to make fans feel involved, especially since attendance is an issue across sports.
Sports teams are fortunate because their fans are built-in social media followers, however this advantage can be lost if it is not managed effectively. Tools like Blinkfire enable teams get feedback on their marketing campaigns as well as explore new and foreign markets with little risk. It also allows fans to feel rewarded by having their photos, likes, and comments seen and valued by their favorite teams and players. The Giants have excelled at this by finding out what the fans want and giving that value. For example, Bryan Srabian, Social Media Consigliere of the San Francisco Giants, found that fans received their team information from sites other than the team’s official outlets. Srabian reached out to the Giant’s most popular fan channels to find out how the team could improve its social media presence. Now, tools like Blinkfire take this further by creating unparalleled social media campaigns, and exciting in-game and at-home experiences for fans.