What is social media? Yes, it’s a medium for posting pictures of your food, letting me know you're waiting at the DMV to get a new driver's license, building your professional network, or having conversations about what you thought of the How I Met your Mother Series finale. But, in recent years, it has also become almost an extension of a brand. A perfect example of this lies in professional sports.

Social media in professional sports is a two way street. Not only does it allow for fans to engage with a game, specific player, or team, but it also allows for those teams and players to reach out right back. Professional sports leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for marketing to their consumer.

For the sports marketer, social media can be a powerful tool. With blogs replacing newspapers and sideline reporters making their way onto Twitter, the integration of sporting events and social media is evident. Social media provides users with real-time updates, scores, and statistics for every team, 24 hours a day.

Social media has changed the way teams interact with their fans and how players can build their personal brand. Fans are talking about teams and players throughout multiple forms of social media, and those teams and players have finally taken notice and have jumped into the discussion. Teams are now using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to leverage game engagement with both fans and consumers.

Using social media for teams and players does not just allow for them to persuade the fan into behaving in a certain manner, but it is a tool to humanize their brand and create a more efficient brand image. 

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Social Media by League

The NFL is the professional sports league that is most socially active. The Philadelphia Eagles are the most social of the NFL teams, having the largest Twitter network of all. MLB is the second most active socially, where the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees have the most followers.

The NBA is the third most social league, where its no surprise that the Los Angeles Lakers have the most social network. The NHL is the fourth most social league -- where the New Jersey Devils are the most social team, and the Montreal Canadians have the most followers. 

What the Future Holds

By the day and the week, professional sports leagues, and their teams are learning new ways to take advantage of social media-- not only are they promote initiatives, but also to strengthen fan engagement and loyalty. It is interesting to see what new directions will occur in the next couple of months and years regarding sports and their use of social media.

What are your thoughts on sports teams using social media? In what ways do you think this field will continue to evolve? Let us know with a comment below!

Originally published March 12, 2015, updated February 28, 2017
Tags: Marketing Social Media Marketing Sports Marketing