Social Media – Bringing Sports Stars and Sports Fans Closer Together

http://www.cnn.com/2011/SPORT/tennis/05/04/tennis.sharapova.federer.nadal/index.html?section=cnn_latest 

 I liked this article because it presented yet another facet of the growing importance and influence of social media. Thus far in class we’ve talked about how social media has impacted they way we communicate with those in our network (Family  &  Friends), how it affects the way we get our news (The Royal Wedding, Osama Killed) and how it revolutionize campaigning in the United States (Obama Case). The Sports industry is also benefiting from the use of social media according to this article, it highlights the fact that Maria Sharapova, the world’s highest-paid female athlete, has embraced social media not only as a tool to give fans unprecedented access but also as a way to market products and services she sponsors.

My immediate thought after reading this article was: “How long before we start to see companies placing mandatory ‘Social Media Quotas’ in their contracts with athletes and celebrities they hire as spokespersons for their brands?”

If I were a marketing executive for Nikon for example, I would require that Aston Kutcher Twitt about Nikon at least once a week as part of any contract renewal deal. As a marketer this strategy is a home run, but if you’re a follower of Kutcher the advertising may turn you off and cause you to jump ship. Sharapova, thus far seems to be doing it tastfully, I did a quick search to see if she had any major critics over her use of Social Media and I was surprised to find very little chatter.

Where should marketers draw the line when it comes to using Social Media to promote their products/Services?  

 

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9 thoughts on “Social Media – Bringing Sports Stars and Sports Fans Closer Together

  1. Interesting observations, Carl. I had never thought about the possibility of contractual obligations to use social media for spokespeople. On one hand, I could see that happening, however I feel that’s a fine line that could easily be crossed. Many people follow celebrities and pro athletes on Twitter because they feel they’re getting a candid and authentic look into the celebrities’ lives. If product placements become the focus of most of their social media interactions then the person could appear less authentic. Ever since celebrities started using Twitter there has been a lot of skepticism whether or not they’re actually the ones tweeting (versus their publicist or an impersonator). Promotional tweets might increase this skepticism.

    One arena where I could see social media contracts becoming the norm would be in Hollywood. I believe most actors are already contractually obligated to attend PR events and do interviews to promote their films so extending those obligations into social media seems very plausible to me.

    • I should elaborate on my last comment…it seems plausible that movie studios would require actors to promote the movie via social media because the actors would be talking about what they’re doing for a living. Their followers connect with them online because the fans admire/are entertained by the celebrity’s acting. I think their followers expect to hear those sorts of things. But when the social media promotions are about things the actor isn’t famous for then followers might get turned off.

      • Thank you for the clarification Martin, I completely agree. I believe promotions will kill the credibility of Actors, Athletes and anyone else who uses Social Media tools simply to promote products.

        The workaround might be some sort of tie-in with the studio/company’s own account. For example if paramount pictures, notified its Twitter followers that at a given date and time Chris Hemsworth (Leade Actor in the upcoming Thor movie) would be in the drivers seat of the Paramount Twitter account to answer questions and post spoilers. They could also have the web footage available of Youtube and Facebook to cover all their bases and to authenticate that it was indeed Chris and not someone else responding to fans. Just a thought…

  2. There was an article I saw on ESPN.com that talked about action sports stars and how there is a social media aspect in their contracts already. When drawing up the contracts companies are already looking to see how many followers does the celebrity have on twitter, how many fans on facebook. Tony Hawk uses his twitter and facebook to promote his video games, and Travis Pastrana says he leverages his fans across three different sports. This is profitable for sports stars, and I believe we will see this become an overwhelmingly popular trend among both sports stars and celebrities overall . Twitter is an easy and quick way for them to shout out a product and they probably hire someone to do it. Its easy money for anyone with any influence in social media.

  3. After last class I actually signed up for a twitter account mainly because I was curious to understand its draw and if I’m in a social media class I need to understand what’s out there. I have been a little turned off by the marketing aspect of some of the people I’ve begun to follow. I haven’t seen direct marketing that says something like “Drink Pepsi and you can be like me (or something less subtle),” but there are a lot of links to sites where you can read more about the subject in the tweet and see that advertisements that they want you to see (or that someone paying them wants you to see). Twitter is being used as a gateway to a website, which then attempts to sell you. I’m sure celebrities are already being used to market products over twitter.
    I think the poster of this article is asking an important question about if twitter is going to become this marketing tool where companies use a celebrity or sports figure to sell their product. I think the celebrity and company has to be careful not to turnoff the follower. I’ve already unsubscribed to some people’s tweets that either weren’t what I expected so I felt fooled or they sent out too many tweets. Twitter is a powerful tool, but I think if a celebrity abuses it to push products it will turn some people off. I think there’s a blurry line that celebrities have to be careful not to cross. It might be better to just use it as a relationship tool to bring in more fans or strengthen that relationship with the celebrities followers. With that relationship the celebrity can push products outside of twitter because that relationship is already there.
    I view my new twitter account kind of like an email account in the early days of spam. When i sign up for a new tweet I seem to get more than what I signed up for. I don’t know if anyone would agree with that analogy, but it’s my initial feeling and it might be my maturity level with using this service. If you have any good recomendations of people to follow on twitter please let me know. My favorites so far are Bill Simmons (Sports/Comedy) and Daniel Tosh (Comedy).

  4. I think that by employing social media, athletes are automatically conducting marketing for the organizations that they represent. For instance, when the NBA season began, and the highly anticipated Miami Heat trio of Wade, James and Bosh fell short of initial expectations by dropping two early season games to the Boston Celtics, Celtics forward Paul Pierce tweeted “It was a pleasure taking my talents to South Beach.” This was a blatant knock on Lebron James for having made that statement during his free agency press event when he informed the public he would be leaving Cleveland to go play in Miami.

    When Paul Pierce made that tweet, he gave the average fan a frnt row seat to the trash talking that exists in sports that are rarely heard on TV due to the ambience of the arenas. Giving fans this opportunity to be involved, thus raised the stakes for these teams, now facing each other in the playoffs. With the Celtics in a 0-2 hole in a best of seven series, its looking more and more like Paul Pierce should have put more thought into publishing such a demeaning tweet.

  5. Adding a celebrity sponsorship to a brand’s social media plan certainly adds an extra layer of strategy. Similarly to when a brand itself makes the decision of whether to incorporate social media into it’s communications, I think a celebrity must go through the process of deciding whether using social media for themselves is advantageous or detrimental to promoting their public image. Ideally, a brand that uses social media effectively and organically will have chosen a celebrity who can or does use social media in the same manner. The celebrity would still need to be savvy enough to determine if a product mention is appropriate or not, and I think that may be where conflict could occur in future celebrity sponsorships that incorporate social media into their agreements. Unlike a print campaign or TV commercial where the celebrity’s message about the product is controlled and scripted, social media gives the celebrity control over how they speak about the product and when. This kind of endorsement for a product could be wildly successful based on the celebrity’s following. But just as when social media communication is coming directly from a brand, if the message is forced or does not seem natural, it will still fall flat.

    • Megan,

      I see your point, however we do know that most people tend to rationalize their decisions in favor of bad choices when a monetary incentive is involved.

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