Social Media & Sports, the fans get a look on the inside

by John on July 14, 2010

Last night I had the privilege of attending the monthly meeting of the Social Media Club of South Florida. Hosted at the Bank Atlantic Center, representatives from the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers and the NASL were all panelists sharing what they’ve done in the space and how they’re engaging with the fans. In short, the event was well planned, executed and had a great turnout.

I got the distinct impression that some of the clubs are heavily regulated by the parent organizations, and others have more leeway when promoting events (i.e. Major League Baseball & the NBA respectively). What was really refreshing to see and hear is that the clubs are all trying to do their best to figure out how to leverage the social space in an effort to engage their fan base.

It was neat to see that these clubs are starting to leverage this space, but I got the distinct impression that the clubs were using an out of touch strategy, relegating the fans who want more to the sidelines. The orgs were clearly stuck in the community building phase of the proverbial social media equation and couldn’t seem to see the bigger picture. Case in point, when an audience member asked for specifics about how the clubs might leverage geo-location based applications a representative just stared at her with a blank look until she rephrased the question. While the crowd understood the question the first time, the representative absolutely looked stunned.

So what in the hell does this have to do with HR I hear you ask? Well it’s simple. These clubs are legitimate global brands or have players who are global brands in their own rights. They are also struggling with how to regulate and compose policies that will have an impact on the players and clubs. For instance, should the league or the club regulate the tweeting of draft picks? Should clubs tweet their draft picks to their fans before announcing to the commissioner? What about the Michael Beasley twit pic situation?

I have a feeling that if these clubs look at some of the other global brands in business they might be able to find the answers to their policy concerns. However, I feel that they shouldn’t stop there. The organizations should also try to find some new strategies for engagement in the space there as well.
I’m curious if these clubs (and other businesses while we’re at it) will eventually get to the strategic execution phase a la Coach Pat Riley? Imagine the foresight to implement a cool new strategy while leveraging your current superstars? Whoever comes up with the “Lebron James” of social media is going to make some major coin. And just like the Heat, it’s going to be awesome to watch.

If you’re interested in further reading, here’s another take on the event by a local social media enthusiast

This posts musical inspiration: BLK JKS, Estelle, Neon Trees, BuckCherry and Humble Pie.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

akaBruno July 14, 2010 at 10:47 pm


Sounds like a cool event. Wish I could have attended.

Our College just hosted a Sport & Society Conference, and this would have fit in well:


Patrick Barbanes July 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

John, thanks for the shout-out t0 my take on the event. Appreciate that.

You must have arrived late. Social Media Club is just like going to church for services: you have to arrive early enough to snag a good seat in the back, which is where I was sitting. (Otherwise you’re forced to sit in the remaining seats up front, where you were.) So I didn’t get to see the stunned reaction of the panelist to the geolocation question. Heard the deafening silence, though. And the other panelist say that he had only recently heard of foursquare.

But it sure was interesting that fan engagement online seemed to almost scare them: how do I follow and manage interaction with 28,000 fans (the approximate number of people currently following the Miami Heat on Twitter)? Easier to use social media to promote an event (player scavenger hunt; fan party) or broadcast insider information (draft choices before anyone else “knows”, behind-the-scenes details). It was good to hear the representative from the Miami Dolphins talking about giving the fans a VOICE, and would be good to learn more about how that really works in the social networking spaces.

In some ways, Twitter could quickly devolve into a “digital ValPak” – full of coupons for crap I don’t really want to buy at the time I get the notice. It could also become just another commenting/venting space for fans (in this case) – which would be unfortunate. Online social networking spaces are and have the potential to be SO much more than just me-too-advertising or thought-dumpsters, as many organizations and individuals are showing us!

See you around, I hope!

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