Every sport has enthusiasts. Whether it's a Manchester United fanatic or an Oakland Raiders diehard, many live and breathe with their team.
So what does this mean for the networks that air sporting events? Nielsen estimates that 28% of all sports programming is positively affected by high Twitter activity. A "spike in tweets can increase tune-in," and vice versa, according to a company executive.
But hashtagged topics and broadcasted tweets aren't the only ways companies are cashing in on passionate, tweeting fans. Promotional contests are also a popular way for many sports organizations to generate hype, from mud runs like Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder, to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The future may be even brighter. Until this point, the Twitter sports craze hasn't been fully harnessed by the pro teams themselves. Wayin, whose software links ads with tweets, is seeking to change that. The social media start-up partnered with the Denver Broncos last year, and here's what I wrote about it a few weeks ago:
Through the arrangement, fans' in-game tweets are displayed on the stadium's scoreboard and TVs with ads, and in its first trial...over 87,000 tweets were submitted. These efforts can make teams thousands of dollars in ad revenue each home game...Depending on the value of each Twitter ad impression [most range between $0.75 and $2.50]...this strategy could make football teams over $1 million per season.
Wayin's technology is only in its infancy, but the company's clients include four NFL teams in addition to the Broncos: the St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Falcons and Wayin, for example, are currently experimenting with a "social media hub" that gathers and organizes tweets from fans, staff members, and players. It is sponsored by Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface, and although the value of the endorsement hasn't been made public, I'd estimate it's worth at least $500,000 a year, considering the Falcons have a little over 250,000 Twitter followers.
Wayin is also connected with the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, and the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators of the NHL.
By partnering with companies like this, sports teams can capitalize on their fans' love of Twitter. The potential revenue isn't enormous, but at the very least, these strategies can boost fan retention. I'm more likely to follow my team during the offseason, and cheer for it during a down season, if it's involved in my social media world.
Many non-sports organizations, like Quicken Loans, are also using this phenomenon to create contests that boost their exposure, and it's something networks are fans of as well. The next time you see a #SCtop10 hashtag on ESPN's SportsCenter, remember the business implications behind it.
The more fans tweet about a sporting event, the more likely they are to watch it -- the dopamine response is too powerful to ignore.