Since the beginning of organized sports and the creation of a fan base, we have lived and died by the success of our favorite teams. There is an inexplicable connection we feel to their outcomes on a daily basis, and yet as a fan, we have been forever disconnected to the individual athletes. Until now.
The rise of social media has ushered in a new era of fan loyalty that has expanded beyond the team to the individual athlete more than ever. Moreover, research shows that 80% of sports fans peruse social media sites while watching TV and 60% do it during live event seeking a more interactive experience.
Twitter and Facebook, in particular, have allowed fans to follow an athlete in their daily life creating a lasting off the field connection. Social media enables athlete’s to become more accessible and this connection has made fans feel apart of an athletes life. Some athletes understand the intrinsic value of giving back to their fans through social media.
In fact, our #LooseBall scavenger hunt featuring Rajon Rondo (referenced in the infographic below) was the first Foursquare promotion ever by a professional athlete and brought fans closer to the Boston Celtics’ franchise point guard during the 2010 NBA Finals.
Social media’s role in the rise of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and NBA Point Guard Jeremy Lin cannot be forgotten. During Tebow’s surprising touchdown pass (a completion – Gasp!) in the Denver Bronco’s playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Twitter recorded 9,000 tweets per second. Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin gained more than 550,000 followers in a single month after he earned the starting point guard role with the New York Knicks.
The following infographic, courtesy of KT Tape, visualizes social media’s role in sports and how it has positively and negatively affected the career of an athlete. Here’s are some highlights (and “lowlights”):
- MLB saw a 36% surge in All Star voting when it launched a Twitter # campaign
- Soccer star Kaka has 9,862,492 twitter followers – most of all athletes globally
- Arizona Cardinals reciever Larry Fitzgerald offered a 10 cent donation to Breast Cancer Research for every new Twitter Follower and generated $15,000
- NFL running back Larry Johnson insulted his Kansas City Chiefs coach on Twitter after a bad game and after some bad interaction between Johnson and Twitter followers, 32,000 fans petitioned for him to be released of his contract and the Chiefs agreed