More than 50 percent of avid sports fans who use social media to follow sporting events do it while watching their team’s games.
According to this year’s Fan Engagement Study by Catalyst, about 70 percent of sports fans who “follow” or “like” the official social media accounts of brands will take it to the next step – purchasing items, commenting on posts, or sharing content.
Even though it is the fourth year of the study, 2013 marked the first in-game engagement to pass the 50 percent mark.
Sports fans using Facebook and Twitter during the games increased by 10 percent from the 2012 study. In terms of after game usage, Facebook-owned Instagram had the highest increase over the past year. Overall, YouTube activity dropped during game-day during the same period.
Facebook dominated among the major social media platforms, as 73 percent of the respondents own a Facebook account and use it for online activities related to sporting events. Even though the recent figure is 8 percent less than last year, it still is the most-used social network among avid sports fans in the U.S.
While Facebook sits on its perch as the most widely used channel, both Google+ and YouTube had the largest increase in usage from last year, a 94 percent and a 35 percent boost, as more avid sports fans shared and obtained sports information on both channels.
According to the study, sports fans used social media to acquire sports information more frequently than print media and radio – only TV and nonsocial sites were deemed more trustworthy.
Young sports fans had a higher tendency to use social media than other age groups, and Hispanics are more likely to use Google+ than the average U.S. sports fans.
The study found that fans often engage with content that advance storylines or deliver a standpoint. Pregame excitement, historic nostalgia photos and videos, photos and videos of bloopers, and game debate or banter were among the most popular forms of fan engagement.
Overall, game day social network activity increased. Fan engagement reached more than 30 percent higher than in 2012 in some cases.
The Catalyst Fan Engagement Study started in 2010. It provides insight into the ongoing convergence of digital media and sporting events among avid sports fans, in addition to the year-over-year brand engagement trends and opportunities.
The August 2013 survey collected information from 2,101 avid sports fans aged 16 to 64 to measure the digital media habits and behaviors of NFL, NBA, MLB, college football, basketball, and soccer fans. 2013 marked the first time Catalyst included sporting data from soccer fans in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
Brand Engagement and Business Impact
According to the Fan Engagement Study, about 25 percent of NBA and soccer fans said they will view or respond – or do both – to content from a non-sports brand linked to their favorite sport.
In contrast, 20 percent of college basketball fans and 16 percent of MLB, NFL, and college football fans were likely to do the same.
Overall, two-thirds of respondents said they “liked” the Facebook account of a brand, and half said they “followed” the Twitter account of a brand after watching that brand’s promotion during a sporting event.
According to Sports Business Journal, marketers have to realize that one-third of those fans used or purchased the brand’s service after connecting with the brand via the sports platform.
Soccer fans were the most open and receptive to these opportunities, with 72 percent of them saying they used Facebook and 60 percent used Twitter to avail or purchase a particular brand’s service through the social media platforms.
On the other hand, more than half of respondents said they “un-liked” or “un-followed” a brand since the company was sending “irrelevant information” or “posting/tweeting too often.”
Avid sports fans are smart and have sufficient knowledge to know if a brand is not part of the real sports conversation. Thus, brands have to deliver the proper dialogue, content, and even product offering to engage with the fans.
To sum it up, here is an infographic by Catalyst.