Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: "All Pro-Panel", What's Next for Social Media and Sports

By Zach Baru

What would the common fan's reaction be to seeing the phrase "@Celtics" painted on the court at the TD Garden?  This was one of many questions being raised, and ideas being brought up at last weeks "All-Pro Panel" at Game On outside Fenway Park.  Although the many high definition television sets inside the bar had games being played, the only discussion from the 125 attendees was the role of social media in professional sports.  

As social media continues to revolutionize the way businesses market their products, social media is making the very same impact on professional sports franchises.  As one of the representatives from four of Boston's professional teams put it, social media is the new form of a press release.  The public relations department of a franchise is no longer the only form of communication or announcement from the team.  News and other information is now instantly released using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The Red Sox are just one example of a Boston team using social media as a way to connect with fans, and promote themselves at the same time.  Their "Tweet Your Seat" promotion has become very popular, having fans Tweet their seat location at Fenway for a chance to win prizes.  "It's a great way to get people involved when they're in the park," says All-Pro Panel attendee Liz Sklar, an Emerging Technology Strategist at allen & gerritsen, an advertising agency in Watertown, MA. As the dependence of traditional media such as newspaper and television starts to decline, the connection between social media and sports continues to grow.

Other highlights from the panel of representatives from the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins:

  • The use of hasthags on television broadcasts of games will continue to grow.
  • Twitter and Facebook are used as a way for teams to get feedback from fans, formerly lead by sports radio. 
  • Leagues have strict regulations for the use of social media by its franchises.
  • Google+ is not a major player for social media marketing by franchises. 
  • Only 25% of Facebook users who "like" the Red Sox live in New England.

Interesting quotes from the panel:

"If you don't engage and leverage your social media followers, the platform is absolutely worthless." - Peter Stringer, Director, Interactive Media, Boston Celtics

"We're not looking for direct ROI from Twitter from a Bruins perspective, we want to really connect." - Chris DiPierro, Director of Marketing, Boston Bruins

"We treat social media responses as one big focus group" - Colin Burch, Director, Marketing and Broadcast Services, Boston Red Sox

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

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