What Is The Most Underutilized Social Platform In Sports?

At Sports Business Chronicle, we’ll be unveiling a few different series throughout the coming weeks and months, one of which will be titled ‘#OneQuestion.’ Essentially, we’ll ask a group of sports business professionals one question that will hopefully shed some light on a particular area of the industry.

Given the variety of platforms at social media managers’ disposal in 2017, SBC polled eight digital folks with NFL clubs. We asked them … What is the most underutilized social media platform in sports and/or the NFL and why? Participants could answer in whatever length they saw fitBelow are their thoughts in their entirety.

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We would consider Instagram Stories as one of the most underutilized social media platforms. We’ve watched this platform pretty quickly eclipse both Twitter and Snapchat in several ways. We already see three to four times more clickthroughs via swipe ups to our website compared to Twitter, which has helped us develop platform specific content to support coverage on our website. The audience and impression numbers exceed what we see on Snapchat. Instagram Stories have been a focal point of our game day strategy as we can tell the story of the game with rich photography and video, including highlights. Overall, Instagram is underutilized in branded content opportunities especially when you look at the number of interactions compared to Facebook and Twitter. Instagram Stories has been the next evolution of giving us more powerful opportunities for monetization through partnerships and driving ticket and merchandise sales.

James Royer, Director of Digital Media and Strategy, Kansas City Chiefs

To me, YouTube is clearly the most underutilized social media platform by sports teams. It has the second-most active users among social media platforms behind Facebook, yet it doesn’t get anywhere near the level of attention from teams that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram get. Although some sports leagues do a great job with their YouTube presence (WWE, NBA come to mind), here are some reasons why I think sports teams don’t put as much focus on YouTube.

When you have a really strong piece of social content, you want the most eyes on it to increase engagement numbers. Since YouTube doesn’t have the emphasis on shareability as the others do (share, retweet, repost), it doesn’t get the trigger-happy amplification of people sharing it. Also, YouTube’s avid users are much younger. You don’t have the older fanbase and/or media outlets regularly monitoring teams’ YouTube channels. Think about it: if you broke major team news in a video on YouTube — how long would it take for it go viral? If you post the same video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even Snapchat, it’s viral in minutes, if not seconds because of the shareability and older audiences those platform attracts. There’s also the stealing of content factor, which is a major issue in social media. Let’s say you post a really unique, creative piece of content only to YouTube. Once it’s noticed, other outlets will strip it and post on their Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram channels and may or may not properly credit you. So, you don’t want to lose those engagement opportunities.

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Also, certain leagues have restrictions on what type of content you can post on YouTube. Example: Some leagues don’t allow teams to post game highlights to YouTube. It’s funny how it seems every other day there is a story about how video is the new main focus across all digital platforms, yet the biggest video social media channel, YouTube, doesn’t receive the same attention from sports teams because of these concerns.

Alex Restrepo, Director of Social Media, New Orleans Saints

I believe Instagram Stories is the most underutilized. It should not just be a link blaster or a mimic of Snapchat content. I find that shoe brands like Nike, Jordan Brand and adidas are really killing it on highly produced content specific for Instagram Stories.

Amie Kiehn, Social Media Content Coordinator, Carolina Panthers

For Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, they’ve all been spinning off their own version of very similar features. They all have some similar functionalities at this point. The thing for social media managers is to understand and utilize the new features as they roll out. Last year, our Instagram Stories looked very similar to our Snapchat Stories. So, we really weren’t creating content specifically for that platform. This year, we’ve taken a totally different approach on the Stories we’ve done. Now we’re trying to build a Story that is very unique for an Instagram audience. It’s become even more visual and still a very high-end platform. You have to have unique content for each platform and for each audience. A lot of times you see teams and leagues putting the same content everywhere. I think that’s where the missed opportunities are, so yeah I’d say Instagram Stories is something for us in particular we’re trying to leverage more.

Scott Kegley, Executive Director of Digital Media and Innovation, Minnesota Vikings

My response would be Pinterest. I think it’s often overlooked by social teams in sports, especially the NFL. Overall, in my opinion, the platform has tremendous power to build brand affinity. Additionally, it is a network that skews female in terms of its core user base — a demographic NFL teams are almost certainly all trying to reach and grow. From retail opportunities to partnership integration, I think there are a lot of possibilities with Pinterest. It is not a broadcast channel, so I think that’s one of the major reasons it is underutilized, but given the right strategy and nurturing techniques, it could yield positive returns.

Meghan Ryan, Director of Digital and Social Marketing, San Francisco 49ers

Messaging apps. Some teams have put effort into communicating with fans through messaging apps, but as a whole many of these platforms are a new space for teams to leverage. I think they’re not being taken advantage of primarily because so many resources are put into developing and sharing content for the more traditional social channels.

Ben Hunt, Director of Digital Media, Denver Broncos

This is a difficult question to answer because things change in the social world so rapidly. With our approach, we try to provide fans with high quality content across all social platforms without neglecting any of them. If we feel like we’ve been underutilizing a platform, then we work to rectify that so we don’t lose our audience in that space.

With that said, I think an overriding theme in the social world right now is deciding how to best use live video. Basically every social platform has its own live video capability, and teams have to decide which one makes the most sense to use. We also must decide how that live video complements on-demand content as well as Stories on Instagram or Snapchat. I think that the best use of live video is when you’re capturing content that has a clear timeliness element to it, and it also brings users where they can’t go elsewhere. One example for us is that we’ve used live video to give our fans an up-close perspective of pre-game warmups that they can only get from us, and we’ve had some good success with it. As the social world continues to become more and more video focused, I think the conversation around live video will only continue to increase. And it will become particularly interesting as companies like Twitter or Amazon get more involved in acquiring sports broadcast rights.

Garrett Downing, Social Media Manager/Digital Host, Baltimore Ravens

I believe that Snapchat and Instagram Stories are the most underutilized platforms in sports and entertainment, predominantly because they offer the user the chance to demonstrate the excitement and uniqueness of attending live events, creating a lens that lets their base of fans and friends see their enjoyment in a way that may create FOMO, which will ultimately help drive our business long-term. With the notion that younger fans no longer have the desire to attend games with the fervor that previous generations did, the only way to create the desire that drives attendance is to provide the visual showcase of the fun that can only be had by being at a live sporting event.

Steven Ziff, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Media, Jacksonville Jaguars

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About Mark J. Burns

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