Digital and social media is changing the sports industry in radical ways.
For one, it’s calling for more creative minds in some of the best sports jobs, such as marketing and PR. It’s also giving athletes unique ways to manage their brands and changing the fan and consumer experience as we know it.
We spoke to Allison Tucker and Shripal Shah, lecturers in the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies Sports Industry Management program, to get some expert insights on how digital and social media is changing the sports industry and how it impacts the sports jobs you’re looking for:
Marketers and athletes are leveraging technology to build their audiences and fan bases.
“Digital media and social media have evolved into ‘must have’ marketing tools in sports,” Tucker said.
Shah echoed this sentiment: “I would argue that digital and social media has gone from being an afterthought or an addition to being something brands think about first when it comes to activation and how they can amplify awareness of their sponsorship in sports.”
Even companies that have been established for decades are evolving with the changes in media and technology.
The WWE, for example, continues to expand their reach through social media. In 2016, Wrestlemania 32 became the most social event, with 2.5 million mentions on Twitter throughout the day and 1.3 million mentions during the broadcast.
These numbers aren’t surprising when you consider how many younger fans rely on social media for content. MediaPost’s June 2016 report found that 87 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds use social media to regularly consume sports-related content.
GoPro capitalizes on their product to create shareable, fun social content. They build social media into their customer experience. Their call-to-action is more focused on encouraging people to share their adventures. Ultimately, this is what people buy — an opportunity to share their fun experiences.
The GoPro Channel serves as a host for video and photos captured by their cameras. Professionals and amateurs alike can submit their content to share with an engaged community.
The Fan and Consumer Experience
The reason GoPro’s social media strategy is so effective is because it invites participation from their consumers and allows them to tell their stories. To target women, for example, they host a Pinterest board celebrating female athletes and adventurers, which they call #GoProGirl.
Companies and athletes are actually bringing their fans and followers into their world, providing the ultimate immersive experience.
“Consumers and sports fans have access to content they don’t have wait for. They used to get their content through print media and news programming,” Tucker said. “In many cases, when a fan wants to learn something about a sports brand they like, they can just scroll through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and other apps and websites.”
Teams like the UCLA football team shared their pre-season training through Adobe Spark to build excitement during the off-season and keep fans engaged with their favorite athletes and teams.
“Sports teams and brands can now connect with their audience on a daily basis year-round,” Shah said.
This is why sports marketing is one of the coolest sports jobs — it demands creativity and innovation to stand out from the competition. Most importantly, marketers learn how to have fun with it.
The Cleveland Indians are known for approaching fan criticism with humor. In May 2015, a vocal fan shared his critique of the organization’s starting lineup. They responded by making him a certificate for being the First Lineup Second Guesser of the Day.
The Portland Trail Blazers poke fun and brag in humorous, relevant ways. They use topical memes and gifs to celebrate their successes, like posting a Shia LaBeouf picture to illustrate their excitement about their lead during a game.
As companies and marketers get more savvy, many athletes and brands are making social media mistakes. One of the biggest stories involved Pittsburgh Steelers’ player Antonio Brown. After they defeated the Kansas Chiefs, the Steelers gathered in the locker room for a pep talk.
Brown shared a Facebook Live video with coach Mike Tomlin using derogatory terms for their next opponents, the New England Patriots. Brown was later fined $10,000 because his actions violated the NFL’s social media policy.
Athletes are learning the importance of boundaries when it comes to social media. It can be enticing for professionals to share exciting moments. However, they need to understand what policies they agreed to in their contract.
How to Enter the Field
Finding sports jobs is challenging when there’s so much competition. The good news is that you can stand out. Employers want to know if you understand digital and social media, and you can prove you do by creating unique, awesome content.
Continue to strengthen important skills that employers want. For example, as an April 2016 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found, employers consider written and oral communication skills essential in candidates.
Highlight your understanding of digital and social media by creating and sharing great content. For example, create campaigns for your favorite sports teams and share them on a professional blog. You can direct potential employers to it so they can see your skills put into action.
Another key ingredient to your job search is networking.
“Look for people in the industry who are willing to speak to you about their background and experience,” Tucker said. “Don’t just approach them for jobs. Approach them for insight and guidance. Be confident, and get connected to the sports marketing world by keeping up with sports business publications and, of course, through social media.”
Shah echoed the importance of networking, especially for the long-term: “Do not just make a connection looking for a job in two to three months. Sometimes you need to build authentic relationships that could pay off in a big way one or two years down the road. It could be as a referral, introduction to new business, or an introduction to someone else who could be extremely influential in you taking the next step in your career.”
By proving your skills through digital and social media, you’re establishing yourself as a credible candidate who can succeed in sports jobs that fall under marketing, media, communications, and other related fields. Get your name out there by shaking hands and building substantial professional relationships.
How are you proving your understanding of digital and social media during your search for sports jobs?