As Twitter celebrates its 5th birthday, it’s interesting to think about how social technologies have given rise to new opportunities for brands, organisations, athletes and individuals. In the relatively new field of sports marketing, social technologies capitalise on the loyalty of fans to deliver incremental revenue and to communicate with audiences that are ignored by mainstream media.
I’m using the phrase social technologies rather than social networking or social media because we believe that social networking is a very old process, ubiquitous in human civilization, but the technology accelerates and magnifies the tendency for humans to want to share stories.
The current darlings of the social technology world are platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkdedin (for the B2B market) and emerging location based services like Foursquare. While the penetration of broadband speed internet has fuelled growth, increasing access to mobile devices is the underlying trend that has really pushed social. Mobile devices with access to data solve the ‘problem’ of ‘How does anyone have time to do this?’
Sporting Clubs, though often conservative in approach, are well placed to take advantage of social technologies. In fact, sporting clubs like golf clubs and yacht clubs are long running social networks. The old technology that used to spread stories amongst the community was a mahogany bar and a couple of drinks, now the wisdom of the crowd can be disseminated electronically to a much larger, geographically dispersed audience.
By extension, sponsors of sporting clubs, whether amateur or professional, can use social technologies to develop a more frequent communication channel with a community and also benefit from highly targeted advertising mechanisms. Having used Facebook and Linkdedin to target specific communities in recent months, we’ve found the capabilities to be a marketer’s dream, but there is also a place for organic recommendation through such platforms.
For a sports club, whose revenue is a mixture of membership subscriptions, food and beverage sales, events and sponsorship – social technologies can create incremental income from each of these streams by increasing the frequency of contact with existing and new customers.
At Pilote, we specialise in helping sporting organisations and sponsors get the most out of the most relevant marketing technology. To those who ask us, “Is Social Media a fad?” the answer we give is – perhaps. But it is a fad that millions of people are embracing and there are opportunistic ways to engage with those millions of people. It would be a mistake to invest all your marketing budget into a single channel, and Social Media is no exception.
If we told you that we could target individuals who liked a certain sports team or marketing directors who had expressed an interest in America’s Cup sponsorship, wouldn’t you be prepared to devote a percentage of your marketing budget to engaging with those people?