SBJ/20090406/IMG World Congress Of Sports

Social Media: New tools help reach fans, also hear what they’re saying

Twitter, the popular social-messaging service, can serve sports brands and properties as a customer-service tool that offers a real-time perspective on how people react to a game, a deal or a critical decision, new media experts said.

“You get a quick understanding of what people are talking about in that moment, so the data in macro is extraordinarily interesting,” said Jim Bankoff, chairman and CEO of SB Nation. “If we did a search right now on IMG World Congress, you would see a big green arrow because people are going to be tweeting about it in this room, so I encourage you to go and type in your brand names and keep it consistent on your desktop and use it as a customer-service tool.”

Jim Bankoff (left) of SB Nation
and Jeff Ma of Citizen Sports
Jim Bankoff
chairman and CEO,
SB Nation
Heather Fullerton
Mike Levy
chairman and CEO,
OPEN Sports
David Katz
Dave Panos
Jeff Ma
Citizen Sports

Pluck CEO Dave Panos recommended that teams, properties and brands use Twitter to communicate with fans about what they’re doing as an organization and also rely on fans who are using the service as “distribution points.” He said that every time someone at the team, property or brand posts something on the site, or on Facebook, it should spread it to all the other users. For example, Panos said he posted a comment he made in USA Today on Facebook and spread it to other users, who started commenting on his comment.

“You can do that with Facebook, you can do that with MySpace and you can do that with Twitter,” Panos said. “So if someone is on your fan site and they’re making a contribution, give them the option of spreading that automatically. That’s the beauty of the Web.”

Citizen Sports co-founder Jeff Ma added, “This new Twitter-type news feed or Facebook-style profile update is the new way people are going to find information on the Web because they’re no longer going to have to Google things anymore. They will just see what their friends are posting.”

Panelists encouraged properties to move away from chat rooms and forums and migrate to authentic platforms like Facebook or other new, community mediums.

“Where a lot of community-oriented sports sites have fallen flat is they build a sandbox and say, ‘All right, everyone, you’re a sports fans. Talk sports. Debate. Discuss. Here’s the place to do it,’” said David Katz, founder of “And you end up having to go someplace else to do it.”

Stories by staff writers Tripp Mickle, Jon Show, Eric Fisher and John Ourand. Photos by Alex Gort Sr. / Gort Productions.

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