The Impact of Social Media on the Sports Industry

By: Jessica Swarm, Account Supervisor at PRLab 

October 29, 2018

It’s a great time to be a sports fan. Over the last decade, the rise of social media has revolutionized the sports industry. One of the most powerful uses of social media is the ability to quickly and efficiently communicate with people all over the world. In this respect, social media platforms present new and unique opportunities for engagement throughout the sports industry. Teams and players are engaging with fans in unprecedented ways. Social media has also transformed the culture of sports consumption, changing from an individual activity to a group or community-building activity.

Twitter has positioned itself as an invaluable resource to all of the major participants within the sports industry: leagues, teams, players, fans, and sports journalists alike. Twitter allows for easy and immediate access to sports news on a streamlined platform. It has become a common practice for team accounts to post real-time game updates on Twitter. With the inclusion of hashtags, gifs, and audio/visual content, information and entertainment are becoming more of the same. Employing social media platforms has allowed for the sports industry to become ingrained into people’s everyday lives.

It is common for athletes to have their own social media sites independent from their team’s accounts. Fans are able to ‘follow’ their favorite athletes and interact with them in ways like never before. This can also help humanize athletes, who are sometimes glorified as perfect beings, and make them more relatable to the common man.

Not only does Twitter foster engagement between a team and it’s fans, but it also enables fan-to-fan interaction, creating a sense of community within a fan base. The use of hashtags and similar tools make it easy for fans to find one another and communicate. It is also easy for fans to curate their social media feeds to their specific preferences, i.e. following only their favorite teams. Sports news has become more accessible and widespread in today’s digital age.

At a fundamental level, social media has changed the way sports news is reported. Popular sports media outlets, including ESPN, and Barstool Sports, are able to share content with mass audiences constantly throughout the day using social platforms. Bleacher Report, for example, has almost 7 million followers on Twitter and just over 100K tweets.

Furthermore, while sports journalism is still a prominent field, leagues, teams, and players are now equipped with an open line of communication directly to their publics. This presents a unique dilemma for public relations and communication specialists within the industry. It is more difficult to present a controlled and cohesive message when there are multiple disseminators to monitor.