Live sports are back, and sports fans couldn’t be more pumped, even if they can’t attend in person. Without packed arenas or sports bars, fans are flocking to social media—in particularly Twitter to provide the roar of the stadium. It’s the go-to place for sports’ most passionate fans to get the latest news, enhance their viewing experience or just stay connected to the game.
This is a historic cultural moment: Action-starved sports fans are talking about every major sport in a once-in-a-lifetime frenzy, and it’s time for brands to join the conversation.
New sports landscape, same passionate fans
With content from every league, there’s a conversation for every moment. On Twitter, fans are part of the action like never before—and they’re tweeting about it a lot.
For marketers looking to be part of the action, opportunities are rampant, and the audiences are primed. To see this in play, check out these numbers from Twitter: When the National Women’s Soccer League returned to the pitch, @NWSL tweets shot up 244 percent. With the return of NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, tweets again increased, up 254 percent for @NASCAR and 272 percent for @UFC.
So why does your brand need to connect with sports now? Here are three key reasons to get back in the game as soon as possible:
1. Celebrate and engage with fans as sports go live:
It’s no surprise that communities across the country are welcoming sports back with open arms, and smart marketers need to take note. For many, the return of sports brings a sense of normalcy—67 percent of U.S. fans see sports as a way to engage in something familiar. Even before live sports returned, fans were keeping leagues, TV and Twitter busy, striving to create that sense of normalcy. Although the NBA season was put on hold, for example, #NBATwitter never stopped the clock. With no live games, the conversation shifted to classic highlights, old rivalries and documentaries such as ESPN and Netflix’s #TheLastDance. Fans and athletes alike couldn’t get enough of the series, tweeting their reactions and reigniting debates about who’s really the GOAT. Twitter was the No. 1 platform for #TheLastDance announcement with 5.9 million daily video views, 4 million more than the second-place platform.
Is it 9:00 Sunday yet?!? 😭😭😭 #TheLastDance— Michael Fishman (@MJFishman) April 29, 2020
2. Stay on top of the game:
The lockdown spurred leagues and broadcasters to adapt, offering a glimpse of the future of sports by reimagining their offerings as digital experiences. The passion and energy of the stadium are now surging online as fans turn to Twitter to be part of the action in real-time. The NFL, for example, did something it’s never done before, broadcasting the NFL Draft as an online-only event—and fans loved it. Again, Twitter was the No. 1 platform for this content, generating 171 million monthly views for draft-related videos, more than any other leading platform.
Absolutely losing my mind watching Goodell slowly get more and more relaxed as he announces picks. Fully expecting him to announce the final pick of this round in a robe and slippers #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/t5N1GUnMAq— Conor the Mick (@TheNJMick) April 25, 2020
Turner Sports also reimagined its live event strategy, bringing together sports legends for a totally unique charity golf challenge, Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity. Athletes live-tweeted from the golf course and wore microphones throughout the match, creating mayhem on Twitter. The event drew global audiences and enormous social media attention: Conversation on Twitter for the charity match was 12 times larger than for the last PGA Tour event before the lockdown in March 2020 as fans raged about every moment, including this mind-blowing shot.
3. Build your brand’s cultural relevance:
Sports are already one of the biggest opportunities for brands to build cultural relevance—and with its historic relaunch, this opportunity is greater than ever as people look to sporting events and social media to connect with others in the moment. Believe us, cultural relevance matters. Brands that are on Twitter are 41 percent more likely to be seen as culturally relevant than those not on Twitter.
So while stadiums might be quiet this opening day, Twitter certainly won’t be. Are you ready to step up to the plate?
Y’all I’m so ready for live sports to be back.— Jake Noah (@j_noah53) June 29, 2020
Twitter's head of U.S. Sports Partnerships, TJ Adeshola, joined Ad Age President and Publisher Josh Golden for the Publisher's Fireside chat "Fueling Fans During the Return of Live Sports."
The article “Are you ready for the return of sports?” first appeared on Marketing.Twitter.com
Sources: Tokyo 2020 Twitter Insights study conducted by Sparkler and commissioned by Twitter, Nov. 2019. Global; Twitter internal data (Semantic Core). Daily tweet volume average comparing May 1, 2020 - May 31, 2020 vs. June 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020. U.S. only. Data retrieved July 8, 2020; Twitter Internal. May 2020 vs. April 2020. Global; The ESPN Coronavirus Lockdown Fan Study. April 2020. U.S.; Tubular Labs. Daily video views from #TheLastDance content. March 31, 2020. U.S.;Tubular Labs. Video views from NFL Draft content. April 2020. Data retrieved July 7, 2020. U.S.; Twitter internal. March-May, 2020. Global; Kantar & Twitter cultural relevance research, total population,100 U.S. brands tested, Dec. 2019; Maru, Twitter Insiders Event Research, U.S., Dec. 2019.