Published on March 7, 2023
Hashtags are proving to be one of the most effective ways to use social media in sports marketing, both online and during live events.
Sports is a $500 billion industry in the U.S., with companies spending more than $34 billion per year in sports advertising, according to Plunkett Research. But with all this spending, where do the dollars rest when it comes to using social media in sports marketing?
“Through social media, fans not only connect with sport teams and leagues, but the athletes themselves have accounts which allow potentially millions of fans to connect personally to the athletes and their teams,” says Dr. Alyssa Tavormina, a faculty member at the University of Florida’s online Master of Science in Sport Management program. “This direct connection has allowed fans to be a part of the sport organization’s story,” as you can see in the Florida Gators’ highly successful #GatorAlways campaign, which invited fans to share their story of becoming a “Gator” using the hashtag, and what it meant to them. The campaign was wildly successful, and fans used Twitter and Facebook to post, so it created a live feed of people using the hashtag, with which the team and players engaged.
Another example of teams leveraging social media in sports marketing is #WhatsYourGoal, a campaign by the Chicago Blackhawks, who are the leading NHL team on social media. They asked fans to post their biggest goals, using the hashtag. Then the Blackhawks publicly fulfilled some goals, like helping girl scouts hit their cookie goals, or even babysat, or played hockey with a fan. Everything was documented through photos and video, and they were a finalist in the Shorty Awards for the campaign.
Keep fans informed and watch your branding efforts come to life with Everwall. For folks at home, you can even embed the feed on your team’s website. Start building your social wall today!
Keeping fans engaged with social media in sports marketing
Clearly, using social media in sports marketing is not just a trend, but it’s a massive focus for sports teams, arenas, and those in the sports industry. The central theme you see in the two examples above is that they are using a unique hashtag to get fans active on social media. And in cases like the Blackhawks, they are even rewarding them for using the hashtag.
You don’t need a pricey registration or special tools to create a hashtag. The only step you need to take is to make sure someone isn’t already using it. Just search for it in the search bar on Twitter or Facebook and Instagram and see what pops up. If it’s already a popular hashtag, try something else. If only a few people use it, and far inbetween, you can claim it for yourself. Or to make it even easier, you can use our free service, Check My Hashtag, and we’ll compare across several platforms to help you make the best choice.
But make sure it won’t get turned around on you. While the two organizations above had great success using a hashtag for sports marketing, there are stories of flops out there too. McDonald’s and their #McDStories hashtag is a perfect example of a hashtag fail. While they probably expected some bad eggs, it quickly turned into such a negative campaign, with PETA jumping on the naysaying bandwagon, that they stopped the promoted campaign within an hour. It didn’t prevent people from using it, though!
There’s no way to guarantee success with a hashtag campaign, and McDonald’s certainly has a love/hate relationship with PR to begin with, but it shouldn’t stop you from coming up with ideas on how to leverage them.
How to use hashtags at sporting events
One way we’ve seen our clients use hashtags is through our Everwall software. Utilizing digital signage or screens in a large stadium or arena, or on a wall in a college gym, you can use Everwall to define what you want to show on your social wall—by defining hashtags, keywords, phrases or @users.
Our clients also use our customization options to custom design their social wall. Designate a hashtag and ask event goers to participate from their seats, or throughout the event, and display their Tweets or Instagram photos live, in real time.
Moderation is key here, and you can use our features for live moderation, or leverage our team to do the moderation for you during the event.
To elicit even more responses, incentivize activity by leveraging the leaderboard feature and display the top hashtag users ranked by engagement.
Are you ready to display all the social posts from your fans in real-time? Everwall is built to handle large volumes of social posts at stadium events, with filters that help ensure the content shared is family-friendly. Start building your social wall today!
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