5 Tools Every Sports Social Marketer Needs in 2016

January 4, 2016

Written by NewsWhip
A new year is here, and with it, new technologies. Check out the latest apps to make your social content score big.

In 2015, we began to dive into sports marketing and how to create viral content that makes fans go wild. We discovered the teams that lead the social media charge for basketball, hockey, football, baseball, and soccer
As attention spans continue to plummet, and more sports viewers move away from the television as their primary screen, it’s vital to find the social media tools that will keep fans buzzing. Social media is an evolving frontier. New platforms and technologies are constantly emerging.
Read on for our tools that sports social media teams should have in their arsenal in 2016.


Snapchat is coming into its own. The media app is being heralded as ‘the one to watch in 2016’, as it opens up more and more avenues for audience targeting and video advertisements. This year, major sports leagues used Snapchat’s “Live Stories” feature to build buzz during game time.
In October, the NFL’s Snapchat content was averaging 10 million views, and ESPN’s content averaged about 14 million viewers for its opening “Monday Night Football” games in September.

broncos bengals snap story

Highlights from the Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Snapchat story during their December 28th game

Acknowledging fans is a tactic that drives enormous engagement. Fans are impassioned when their own videos and photos are chosen and featured in their team’s Snapchat curation. Plus, the informal nature of the app makes it easy for social media managers to use quick snapshots that don’t need much preparation or editing.
Sports teams and athletes can continue to build a rapport with fans on Snapchat by showing off their personalities. In 2015, DJ Khaled became an internet sensation for his positivity-focused snaps. By showing off what a team’s players are like, sport teams can do the same. 

Extreme-Action Videography

Put down the selfie-sticks. Social media breaks down barriers between sports and their audiences. Fans expect total access to the ongoings of their team. Locker room celebrations and tweets from athletes are great propellers of engagement, but now we can go further than ever.
What better way to experience a game than from the eyes of your favorite athlete? GoPro is the leader of first-person action videography. The NHL is already using GoPro to bring fans right into the rink. In fast-paced sports like hockey, first-person video can enhance a fan’s viewing even beyond watching live.

What else can GoPro do? Their video compilation of 2015’s best moments show the possibilities. We’ve established that video content is huge for sports, especially in-the-game action. Using first-person video can create compelling clips for a team’s social platforms, something more exciting and fresh than just what fans can see on TV.

Live-Streaming Platforms

With Twitter’s purchase of Periscope, and Facebook pushing their own streaming platform, Facebook Live, it’s clear that live video is not just for television. Teams can strengthen their fan’s loyalty by bringing them real-time access to their sports.
Periscope has 1.85 million active daily users, and those people watch 40 years-worth of live video every day. And if that’s not enough, Apple named Periscope as the top app of 2015.
How does this perform so well on social? Periscope creates a sense of urgency in users, who only have 24 hours to catch a stream. Pair this with exclusive content, live interviews with athletes, behind-the-scenes peeks, and you have compelling material that users can’t find elsewhere.
With content being live, there’s pressure to produce good content. Twitter and other social channels can boost viewings by alerting fans that a stream is in progress and sharing tantalizing excerpts. 
Major sports franchises are already on Periscope, including MLS, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA Tour, and publishers like SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo Sports.

Facebook Live only recently expanded to allow any verified page to stream content on the iOS Facebook app. The NBA has been already on Facebook Live for some time, hosting live interviews between players and questions submitted by watching Facebook users. Going beyond interviews, the NBA had their first live game on Facebook this past fall.
However, unofficial social teams may need to be wary. The major franchises have cracked down on reporters and bloggers trying to use Periscope and live streams for their own content. For now, the sports are okay with Periscope, but just if you’re watching their accounts.

Virtual Reality

Why stop at first-person video or live-streaming when we have the ability to bring fans fully immersive experiences? Virtual reality is catching the eye of social giants like Facebook and Google.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/LeBron/videos/10153669500753944/” bottom=”30″]
Facebook bought virtual reality company Oculus in 2014 for a pretty penny and already has begun to incorporate the technology into 360 Video. The videos allow users to experience scenes from every angle—up, down, left, right, and all around. 360 Video provides users with an immersive experience on both desktop and mobile.
Facebook’s not the only VR candidate. A new Apple TV app is bringing immersive experiences to living rooms, and Google Cardboard is expanding their VR game. In November, The New York Times sent a Google Cardboard viewer to their home newspaper deliveries so that readers could experience journalism-focused VR scenes. And last month, Google gave away free Star Wars-themed Cardboard viewers through the app as a part of a promotion for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
As if GoPro wasn’t close enough, VR can bring fans into interactive scenes with their favorite teams, whether it’s in-the-game action, celebrating a victory, or a peek into a training session. With apps and the affordable Google Cardboard, VR can be accessible to all fans in 2016.


Bet you thought this was going to be another video tool. The powerful messaging app Slack is already making waves with publishers—The New York Times built a slackbot (internal app robot) to help editors to determine what to post to social channels. For sports social managers, similar bots could help them decide what to post during off-seasons.
Slack’s on board with it. They’re investing $80 million in startups that will build software that integrates with Slack. With over two million active daily users, Slack’s slated to become the workplace social channel.

A Twitter feed in Slack that automatically posts tweets from and directed to @MLB

A Twitter feed in Slack that automatically posts tweets from and directed to @MLB

Until more bots are developed, there is a DIY-method to have sports updates to automatically post to Slack from Twitter, even the specific, granular moments such as home runs. Nuzzel also integrates to post personalized news alerts into Slack channels.
Creating a bot to post sports team’s social updates for all Slack users could lead to more engagement and traffic to the social channels, as well. IFTTT has an integration for Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, keeping fantasy fans in-the-know, even at work.

Where To be in 2016

Video became huge on social media this past year, and it will only continue to get bigger in 2016. Every major social channel has adapted for video (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr), or revolves around video (Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, Meerkat).
Sports brands are at an advantage over other brands because video is already in their wheelhouse. Games can be recapped and highlighted, while behind-the-scenes moments can be quickly snapped even on a phone.
[bctt tweet=”‘Video is the medium to master in 2016 for sports marketers!'”]
As fans expect more and more access to their favorite teams, immersive experiences will gain traction. First-person videos and virtual reality are suited for the fast-paced action and excitement of sports.
Not only do fans expect more access, but they also want instantaneous updates. Platforms like Slack can deliver updates to rabid sports fans who want to know everything about their team even at the workplace. It can also be used by social media teams who are monitoring fans’ tweets and posts.
Of course, if you want to track social performance of your sports content in real-time, there’s also NewsWhip Spike.

carolina panthers twitter spike

A look in Spike at the Carolina Panthers’ best tweets in December 2015

Spike lets social media managers track the social engagement activity around content, across over two billion people daily. With a variety of content captured, including what’s published by domains, Facebook pages, Twitter handles, Instagram profiles, and more, sports social teams can stay ahead of what content is trending, and engage their audience more smartly with the most interesting content and conversations.
Want to try it out? Take a free trial of Spike to see the stories trending about your sports teams. Or,
That’s it until next time, when we’ll be divulging even more need-to-knows to win your social game in 2016.

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