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Published October 7th 2013

Sports Fans & Social Media (Infographic)

When it comes to great months for American sports, October has to be our favorite time of the year.

NFL and college football’s regular seasons are both in full swing. The NHL and NBA kick off their regular seasons. The MLB playoffs have arrived and a World Series champion is usually crowned.

Even racing fans must love autumn as NASCAR is in the middle of its race for the Championship.

All four major sports are playing this month, and being fans of sport and being fans of social media, this could only result in one thing: how do sports fans engage on social media?american-sports-580x275

To answer that question, we had a look at the fourth annual Fan Engagement Study, released this month by Catalyst PR.

The IMG consulting agency collected data from over 2,100 fans of the NFL, MLB, NBA, soccer, college football and basketball, aged 16 to 64.

Vice President, Michelle Gordon said that “The data came from avid fans based in the US, although soccer fans in Brazil and the UK are part of the study for the first time.”

While this is only a small sample size of the population, it is interesting food for thought, as it measures where passionate sports fans hangout online and how they can be reached best.

Here are a few of Catalyst’s key findings:

  • Nearly 7 out of 10 of sports fans who Like or follow brands on social media say they’re willing to take additional action during sports events, such as purchases, commenting on social posts or sharing brand content.
  • While Facebook remains the most commonly used social networking site, Google+ (+94%) and YouTube (+35%) witnessed 1the biggest year-over-year growth of fans who wanted to obtain and broadcast sports information.
  • More than half of all polled sports fans engage on social channels while watching their favorite’s teams play. It’s the first time in-game engagement surpassed the level of 50%.
  • Almost 25% of all NBA and soccer fans say they are likely to view or comment on content of nonsports brands if it’s related to their favorite sports. However, fans will turn away if the contact is too frequent or irrelevant.
  • The impact of social media as a source for sports information continues  to grow among avid sports fans, especially on game day.
  • Nearly twice as many fans use Facebook compared to Twitter, at 73% to 37% respectively. However, they check Twitter about 1.5 times as often as they check Facebook on game day.
  • US soccer fans are the most likely to use social media as a primary source of information.
  • The most engaging social content is based on pre-game excitement (72%), historic video (68%), bloopers (66%), Q&A with coaches and players (66%) and game debate/banter (63%).

“Sports fans are willing to take an action that has business impact, such as making purchases or recommendations ,“ said Bret Werner, senior vice president and managing director at Catalyst. “Brands need to earn their right to be part of their community, by having the right dialogue, offerings and content to engage them, or fans are more likely to disengage.”

For more findings, check out the infographic below or have a look at the full SportsBusiness Journal study.

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