5 Ways to Integrate Social into Sporting Events

You didn't have to be a sports analyst to know that Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos did something big on Sunday January 8th - the Twitter volume was evidence enough. According to Twitter, the overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers hit a sports-related record of 9,420 tweets-per-second.



It’s not surprising. No other form of entertainment engages audiences the way sporting events do. The competitive nature of team sports combined with fan loyalty creates levels of engagement that advertisers crave. Not to mention sports are often the top topic of conversation in social circles.

Sports broadcasters, teams and leagues are increasingly looking for ways to foster, capture and own that conversation. Here are five ways to integrate social content into sporting events:

1. In Venue Displays

Tens of thousands of people in a stadium arena create a captive audience ripe for social content experiences. In fact, a more linear version of this already takes place in venues across the country – the “Fan Cam.” Cameras around the venue randomly show fans on the jumbo-tron, eliciting excitement for five seconds of fame. Now it’s time for “Fan Cam 2.0.”

Photos, videos and tweets from attendees at the game can be captured, moderated and then displayed within the sporting venue in real-time. This modern version of the “Fan Cam” gives the same excitement for fans, but with the added value of increasing social buzz for the team outside of the venue.

2. On Screen Graphics

Television audiences now have the opportunity to watch a game with commentary from more than just a couple talking heads in a studio. Curated tweets from athletes, coaches, celebrities and other influencers can be curated and displayed in on-screen graphics for an added value to the audience. Combine these with viewer tweets and the engagement level among fans skyrockets.

3. Web Experiences

When the social conversation around individual games reaches millions of social mentions, the need for robust curation becomes paramount. It’s impossible to follow a conversation that has a million of voices speaking all at once. A custom micro-site, like the Mass Relevance-powered Super Bowl experience is the ideal solution. Filtered streams give users the ability to see only the best tweets from coaches, players, analysts and fans. They can join the conversation right from the site and even participate in Twitter polls and view the leaderboard of trends within the game.

4. Twitter Polls

Polling is not new. In fact, polls can sometimes be boring. You vote and see the current results, but it’s not a very rewarding experience. Twitter polls change that. When a user votes in a Twitter poll, their vote goes out as a tweet. They can amend that tweet with whatever commentary they wish, possibly providing an explanation for why they voted a certain way. Those tweets are then captured in a curated stream below the poll.

For sports teams, Twitter polls provide a simple mechanism to engage fans with a direct call-to-action like “Who was MVP of the game?” with the added bonus of amplification since every vote goes out as a tweet. The NY Giants uses the Mass Relevance platform very effectively for this purpose. They often transform the homepage of Giants.com into a Twitter poll asking fans to vote on the “Extra Effort” player of the game.

5. Twitter Battles

Twitter battles engage fans in a social competition to see which team receives the highest amount of social buzz. We can track specific hashtags assigned to individual teams or a multitude of keywords that encompass the entire conversation happening around the event. The data is cumulated and displayed in a numeric ranking or leaderboard. It’s a fun way to encourage fans to tweet and talk about their team and gives a layer of gamification to the social conversation.

These are just a handful of ways we see our sports-related clients using the Mass Relevance platform to engage audiences. With several big sporting events on the horizon, including the Super Bowl and March Madness, I think it's fair to say we'll continue to see more record-breaking sports moments in the social space. That trend opens up a world of opportunity for teams, leagues and broadcasters to capitalize on the social buzz by shaping the conversation and creating richer viewing experiences for audiences.

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