Social media is the new medium of this age. Actors, politicians, and even the random guy down street are all trying to maximize social media in order to better their brand and public-image. However, not everyone is able to truly maximize the potential social media offers. A prime example of this is in the realm of professional sports. Almost all of the different sports have their own social media policy that can either be very restricting, such as Major League Baseball and the Olympic games, or a wide open field, such as that of World Wrestling Entertainment’s.
The WWE shows how successful an unfettered social media policy can be. The WWE has amassed over seven-hundred thousand followers on Twitter and over seven million fans on Facebook and encourages all the fighters to have their own social media presence. In fact, the WWE promotes the players’ social media presence whenever they are at a fight. They don’t place any restrictions on their players and it pays off. The fans are able to interact with the fighters like never before and this gives them a feeling of connection; WWE memes have trended multiple times on twitter. It pays off for the WWE as well, as they get an opportunity to drive traffic to their site and promote less popular content. They have struck social media gold with their policy of unregulation.
Not everyone has been so accepting. The Olympics have been anything but accepting of social media by putting in place harsh restrictions such as: not allowing the contestants to comment on anything other then the events that they took part in, or not being able to interview other players, and perhaps the most ridiculous thing is that they can’t post any pictures of the games themselves. The list goes on and on with more rules that completely kill the hope for athletes to develop a social connection with their fans, and ultimately all this hurts the Olympics as well. The Olympics is having to struggle with making the games more relevant, and it is quickly becoming the token of dying media.
Other leagues are also falling behind. MLB has recently implemented a new social media policy that is failing them. MLB has 1.6 millon Twitter followers about half of both the NBA and NFL. The MLB is also falling behind in new media forms of publication, specifically their presence on YouTube. Frequently MLB takes down fan-made videos with MLB content, not allowing the fans to interact and express their passions for the game. All this, while having a practically non-existent presence on the site, occasionally uploading videos not catching more than a thousand views. Compare this to the NBA who happily post game excerpts driving people to get interested in the game and watch it on tv, greatly increasing the revenue flow.
There is no doubt that social media can be very influential in sports, but the people in charge are still slow to embrace it. The WWE should be a model for other sports to look to for their social media policies. The WWE shows how being open can win you everything.