Sport is one of the biggest elements in millions of peoples lives the world over. They live and breathe sport consuming and communicating it whenever possible with many news bulletins being dominated by athletes and the sporting organizations they represent. It is often a very intimate relationship and people will seek any way in which to connect with their favourite team or player. “As of January 2009, the online social networking application Facebook registered more than 175 million active users” (Kaplan & Haenlein 2010).
This shows the introduction of Digital Media has greatly impacted and enhanced consumers already very strong attachment with sport as people are desperate to share their point of view on the largest sporting event as they grip the world. During Super Bowl 49 there were 28.4 million tweets sent (CNBC).
Many businesses now aim to use ‘relationship marketing’ as a means to hold on too customers and make them loyal to the brand. Relationship marketing according to Payne (1993) is “a strategy that entails seeking and establishing ongoing partnerships with customers”. It is imperative that businesses do this to stay on top in their market, otherwise consumers will be drawn to brands with stronger social media platforms. The relationship sports teams have with consumers should not be taken for granted. Sustainability for a sports organisation is about “creating, maintaining and enhancing strong, value-laden relationship with customers and other stakeholders.” (Kotler et al 1999) Something we can see adversely at Aston Villa Football Club currently where they have a poor relationship with fans which has been made worse by comments on social media, such as the Joleon Lescott Car tweet recently.
Sports teams wish to enhance fan engagement and enjoyment to make them more loyal and thus improving revenue and brand image for the sports organization. It’s a way for sports teams to communicate with fans like never before- “Given the availability and usage of social network sites (SNS), professional sport teams are drawn to this medium as a way to reach new and foster existing fan relationships”. (Pronschinske, Groza, Walker 2012). This can be seen through communication with fans on a number of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more recently Snapchat. This is utilized brilliantly by teams such as Arsenal who use an interactive Snapchat update to give fans an insight to life as an Arsenal player regularly. It is thought that the more sports organizations interact with customers the more loyal a consumer they will become, thus, climbing higher up the relationship marketing ladder of customer loyalty.
The ladder represents where many sports organizations wish too be with their fan base at the top end with fans endorsing the club and being proud to be associated with them. With time as the organization communication improves and they demonstrate an interest with their fans the fans will appreciate this and give back to the club through sales, revenue and positive word of mouth as well as enhancing the clubs image on social media. Sports teams and industries throughout should use digital media as a tool to help them with fan interaction and make them a better supported brand.
Super Bowl Statistics http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/02/super-bowl-xlix-and-social-media-most-tweeted-nfl-game-ever.html
(Acessed 17th April 2016)
Kaplan, A, & Haenlein, M 2010, ‘Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media’, Business Horizons, 53, pp. 59-68, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 April 2016.
Pronschinske, M, Groza, M, & Walker, M 2012, ‘Attracting Facebook Tans’: The Importance of Authenticity and Engagement as a Social Networking Strategy for Professional Sport Teams’, Sport Marketing Quarterly, 21, 4, pp. 221-231, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 April 2016.
Payne (1993) Relationship Marketing The Six Markets Framework, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University.
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