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Facebook & Co.: Only interim solution for sport brands?

Is Facebook the pinnacle of social media for sport brands? Does every club need his own social network? These questions are riddling marketing managers in the entire sport business and no one surely knows the next destinations of the digital journey. But, as the Medienlotse argues, Facebook is no longer serving the needs of big sport brands and the tipping point for clubs to leave the platform is always lurking in the background.

It is true that clubs like Barcelona, Madrid or Milan have enjoyed a tremendous growth over the last 24 months in social networks. Without the need to cajole media gatekeepers anymore, hundreds of thousands of fans can be directly reached. But with Facebook’s ever recent algorithm changes and Page Rank visibility sport marketers like Peter Stringer (Senior Director for Interactive Media at Boston Celtics, NBA) started their thinking (of leaving the platform?). On the other hand, Zuckerberg’s network has been declared to become uncool over the last two years, but still one billion people worldwide are on Facebook.

Although Facebook announced a new Google+-like Newsfeed last week, coding speed of new features is still slow. Yes, clubs can share their content and still manage to reach good interaction rates, but from Medienlotse’s view the big party is over. True, Bayern Munich’s own social network “MyFCB” is still struggling, but most clubs are regional/local giantsand  are content with finding  new sponsors and fans. Platforms like “Fanpower” offer a huge potential instead. Each club/sport/federation can design its own page and make sponsors happy.

It is also unclear, how Facebook will react to the ongoing gamification trend. Facebook Credits have been around for two years now, but the big breakthrough still hasn’t come. On another level, sport brands like adidas and Nike have already shown how Online/Offline can be merged. In the near future the results from Nike Fuel or adidas mi might be used in games or traded-in for real goods. Gamification isn’t only a marketing opportunity for sport clubs/brands, but could also put their CSR efforts on a whole new level. Imagine the favourite player of your overweight kid to encourage him/her via digital media to live a healthier lifestyle or lose weight.

More and more clubs and federations will try to find their own digital solutions/platforms beyond Facebook. With the ever-growing number of digital engagement tools like Instagram, Pinterest or Vine the possibilities for clubs have grown significantly. Marketing managers know need to do their homework and think about the club’s ideal digital ecosphere.


“Der Medienlotse” (Media Pilot) Jan C. Rode is an expert for digital engagement marketing and has a proven project record in leading industries, including the sport business. He is helping his clients to develop digital communication strategies and fully grasp the potential of new media platforms.

Author: Jan C. Rode

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