Building a sports brand through social media

Athena Constantinou, managing director, APC Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

The use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, is revolutionising the marketing and promotion of sports events and sportspersons around the world.

This is particularly important in communicating and building a sportsperson’s valuable brand and thereby raising awareness and increasing its marketability.

These platforms facilitate communication between sportspersons and their fans as well as interaction between them.

Through social media:

  • people can engage in sports;
  • follow their favourite sportspersons and teams;
  • obtain the most up-to-date sports information instantaneously;
  • interact and share information; and
  • build up a virtual community.

Social media, compared with traditional media, such as TV advertising, is less expensive and more immediate. A single post per day by a sportsperson will bring the sportsperson to the attention of fans and thereby result in more economic benefits for the sportsperson concerned. Engagement between sportspersons and their fans is the name of the game.

However, there are some disadvantages of social media.

For example:

  • unfavourable content may be disseminated more quickly;
  • sportspersons may not have the particular skill(s) for using social media appropriately and effectively;
  • negative comments from fans could affect the performance of sportspersons; and
  • one bad post may have a dramatic effect on sportspersons.

But, it may be said, that, on balance, the advantages of using social media far outweigh any of the disadvantages. Not to take advantage of social media in a digital age, in which around 5 billion people in the world use mobile phones with access to social media channels, would be unthinkable.

As mentioned above, to use social media effectively requires that sportspersons are trained accordingly, which is something that we, at APC Sports Consulting, are constantly aware of when encouraging our clients to participate in and take full advantage of the benefits offered by social media as a marketing tool.

However, it is not a matter of ‘one size fits all’: social media programmes and campaigns need to be customised to leverage the particular circumstances and needs of each individual sportsperson. In particular, a consistent line and approach needs to be taken in each case and ‘mixed messages’ avoided like the plague.

In many respects, social media platforms are evolving but, based on the results so far, social media are expected to continue to grow and open up new marketing and promotional opportunities – not least in the lucrative sports sector!

Athena Constantinou may be contacted by e-mail at ‘athena@apc-sport.com’