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Social media a boost for Olympic sports

Social media a boost for Olympic sports

A Massey University researcher has found that social media is helping athletes and organisations from minor sports connect with fans between major events.

Dr Andrea Eagleman says social media, which is cheap and accessible, provides a
platform for sports that may usually only gain mainstream media coverage during the Olympic Games or other major events.

The School of Sport and Exercise researcher interviewed staff at a number of sports organisations as part of her study. She found many were using social media and most believed it provided a lasting connection with fans.

“Olympic sports and athletes are only in the spotlight every four years, but social media offers them a way to stay relevant and develop stronger fan bases in off years,” Dr Eagleman says, “They are still competing; the events are just not as high profile as the Olympic Games.”

Participants were surveyed on what they were trying to achieve with social media and how successful they thought they had been.

“What I found was that most of them feel very comfortable with the idea. However some don’t have the expertise or staff to do it properly, so they are really swimming blindly. But those surveyed say they do feel successful in reaching their fans – in a way they have become their own media outlet.”

Dr Eagleman says these smaller sporting organisations don’t have the marketing budgets of the larger professional sports, but they can really take advantage of social and online media as an inexpensive way to market themselves.

Her research is in line with her personal experience as a communications assistant for USA Gymnastics.

“I worked there before doing my PhD, so I know how they struggle in the off years trying to get mainstream media coverage.”

She says they leveraged social media well. “They constantly find ways to make their content relevant to a variety of audiences and have grown their community to nearly 400,000 Facebook followers, 96,000

Twitter followers, and 65,000 YouTube subscribers,” she says.

Dr Eagleman presented her research at a major sports science conference in Mexico last month. She also carried out workshops on how to get the best results from social media in terms of marketing and brand recognition. Her research is published in the journal Sport Management Review and is available

online here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1441352313000120

ends

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