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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Sports take full advantage of social principles

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

A relevant study on the benefits for sporting codes to really adopt social media principles.

The study was completed by Catalyst Public Relations.  For more information from them contact here.

The study revealed additional key insights about NFL and MLB fans, including:

* Facebook is the leading social media site used by NFL and MLB fans, but it isn’t the only place to be

* Fans primarily use social media tools after the game, particularly those fans who are 46 and older

* Increasingly, social media is being seen as an information resource for fans, who leverage tools for scores, news, and as a means to stay “in-the-know”

* Mobile is becoming an increasingly more important medium to leverage, especially with younger fans

* Promotional offers and special deals enhance the fan experience, especially those that can help fans get closer to the game

To read the full transcript see below.

MLB and NFL fans who connect with the leagues through social-media sites say they are more avid fans of the leagues now than they were prior to the advent of such sites, according to a survey recently conducted by Catalyst Public Relations in conjunction with SportsBusiness Journal.

The results show that 61 percent of MLB fans and 55 percent of NFL fans consider themselves bigger fans of the respective leagues since they started following their favorite teams on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites. In addition, more than half of MLB fans (and 43 percent of NFL fans) said they spend more time watching and following the league now than they did prior to their social-media engagement.

More than 500 fans from each of the leagues were asked about their use of social media (see methodology, right) in what is believed to be the first large-scale study of how social media affects fan avidity.


Catalyst Public Relations conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of members of the Greenfield Online Omnibus panel who were at least 18 years old. Results are based on completed surveys from 516 MLB fans and 510 NFL fans who are considered avid fans of those leagues.

The survey was conducted April 17-24, a period that coincided with the NFL draft and was shortly after MLBs Opening Day.

Questions targeted only MLB and NFL fans. Fans of other leagues were not featured in this survey effort.

Respondents were screened and analyzed based on their avidity levels. Fans categorized as avid were those who responded 4 or 5 to the question How big a fan are you of the MLB/NFL? and claimed to look up news, scores and standings several times a week or more often, watch/listen/attend at least 10 games per season and have a favorite team.

The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 5 percent.

“What these numbers show is that social media is an extremely effective vehicle for engaging passionate fans, especially the younger and the more affluent fans,” said Bret Werner, Catalyst’s managing partner. “Increasing the enjoyment factor of fans increases the likelihood that fans will engage leagues and their sponsors through multiple touch points.”

A deeper dive into specific demographics shows even greater positive trending. Two-thirds of NFL and MLB fans in two separate demographic categories — fans earning more than $75,000 a year, and fans ages 18 to 33 — agree that using social media has made them either a somewhat or much bigger fan.

Yet harnessing that impact continues to be a primary challenge for properties and brands.

“Monetizing this is a balancing act for all sides involved,” said Jason Yeh, director of new media for MLB Advanced Media. “It’s fertile ground for marketing, but it’s very easy to turn people off.”

Fewer than half of fans ages 18 to 33 claimed to have responded to brand promotions or other offers “every time” or “most of the time.” The number is even lower, 22 percent, for fans ages 46 to 64.

“We don’t necessarily think that marketing messages or brand promotions detract from a fan’s social- media experience as long as the brand that is actually posting that message is integrated into the team,” Yeh said. “If Chevy is a Cubs partner and happens to be running a Best Cubs Fan promotion through Facebook, both parties are still trying to take care of the fan. It’s no different than being at the stadium and seeing an ad on the wall.”

Yeh said MLB works with Facebook to monitor traffic that leaves team pages and goes to social-media outlets.

To access social-media sites from most individual MLB team pages, fans can reach a “Social Media Clubhouse” from a “Fans” dropdown box. From there, most clubs have links to official Facebook and Twitter pages.


Survey respondents said they became greater fans of the leagues they follow because of their use of social media.

In the NFL, references to Twitter and Facebook appear on the home pages of most team sites in a way that’s unique to each site.

Despite the different avenues of access, the leagues boast nearly identical overall numbers: 9 million social-media followers on the team sites for each league, 90 percent of which are via Facebook.

The Philadelphia Eagles could provide a good case study for the Catalyst survey. This week, the club is scheduled to aggregate several popular unofficial fan sites under the franchise umbrella, ending its standing as one of the last big league teams with no such official social-media presence.

Tim McDermott, Eagles senior vice president and CMO, expects the marketing impact to be immediate and broad.

“Our first goal is to humanize the organization beyond the team landscape by connecting consumers with Eagles employees and with each other,” McDermott said. “From a marketing standpoint, almost overnight we can now go to our partners with a database of 300,000 fans.”

McDermott said the team’s marketing department is undergoing a major restructuring this month, including hiring a director of social media who has been charged with integrating social media into the team’s broadcasts, in-stadium media and marketing efforts.

McDermott cited the social-marketing strategy for Ford’s 2011 Fiesta as well as customer-service companies Zappos and Amazon as models for their new structure.

Catalyst are a great compnay based in the USA.  They can be contacted here.

The Mailman group supports all companies that provide relevant content specific to sports and social media.

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