If you told me last year that I’d be writing a blog post about how cool I think Facebook is, I wouldn’t have believed you. My favorite social media platform at the time was (and still is) Twitter, and my Facebook activity consists mostly of mindless scrolling through my newsfeed when I’m extremely bored or desperate to procrastinate. I hardly ever post and am, quite frankly, not too concerned about what my friends are up to, and that’s probably a good thing.
Last spring, I was taking another course at BC that also maintains its own hashtag, #BCNMI, and the general consensus among my classmates was that Facebook was super uncool. Parents were signing up, so kids where logging off. Moreover, concerns about privacy tainted many users’ trust of the most widely used social media platform. Ironically, everyone was flocking to Instagram, which is basically still Facebook.
And here we are, still talking about Facebook.
Reactions recently launched to help users express themselves. Weber Shandwick became the first global marketing agency to test out Facebook at Work. Team Frames were introduced to allow users to apply sports-themed image filters to their profile pictures to support their favorite team. Facebook gave Live Video a big push and shared a reference design for a 360-degree video camera. We learned that most Americans spend two full workdays a month on Facebook, and soon it might be a serious threat to LinkedIn making it “one of the world’s most influential technology giants.”
So when I found out about the innovative ways Facebook was helping sports teams and leagues engage with fans, I was intrigued.
For example, Comcast SportsNet wanted to increase its reach and create greater awareness around its broadcast and digital content, so the network leveraged the social media presence of its on-air talent by selecting six journalists to focus on real-time fan engagement on Facebook. These individuals increased their post frequency and used Facebook Mentions to actively respond to fans and keep up with the topics they cared about. This campaign reached a total of 6.5 million fans during the first half of the MLB season and 62% growth on the pages of the individual journalists who were involved.
Additionally, Premier Boxing Champions fight series was able to double its audience, achieving an aggregate of 44.5 million viewers over 45 fight nights and 245 individual bouts, the highest ratings for boxing on cable in the United States in over 17 years, as a result of its Facebook campaigns. PBC posted highlights from every fight, testing different styles, formats, and lengths of videos in order to see what worked best. They then tailored their content to effectively resonate with their audience and boosted the best posts to reach specific groups of boxing fans.
Finally, I found out about Facebook Sports Stadium, and I was sold on the future of Facebook.
In January of 2016, Facebook launched Sports Stadium to cater to the 650 million sports fans, who regularly use the social media platform. This virtual stadium aggregates all game related content in one place, where it appears chronologically in real-time. Posts from friends and commentary from experts appear next to live scores and stats. Additionally, fans can check the virtual stadium to find out where to view the game on TV.
This development is encouraging for the users who enjoy posting about their favorite sports teams during a game, and there are a lot of them. Over 60 million people posted on Facebook during Super Bowl 50, generating more than 200 million posts, comments, and likes. Users have always been creating content around sporting events. Facebook just had to figure out how to effectively display it while it was still relevant instead of pushing it onto someone’s newsfeed hours after the game has already ended.
This development even more encouraging for sports marketers looking to better engage with fans. A Nielsen study found each additional post on Facebook within the 15 minutes before an NFL game correlated to approximately 250 more viewers in the first minute, while an additional share translated to 1,000 viewers. Thus, the additional incentive for users to join in the social media conversation about a game on Facebook Sports Stadium will likely further increase TV viewership.
Above all, this product proves that Facebook is willing to adapt to address its deficiencies and better meet the needs of its users and partners. Before the development of Sports Stadium, I never would have considered Facebook a viable platform for following a live events. Now its possible to see how its sports model could conceivably be scaled up to support a wider range or sports and then various types of events across industries. Eventually, I might have to start using Facebook more.