Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager and guest blogger.
Last summer’s much anticipated released of Google + introduced another social media platform to the masses. According to ZDnet, G+ amassed 5 million users within the first month after launch. While G+ does not yet compare to the 1 billion users on Facebook and 500 million users on Twitter, the platform does boast 400 million registered users (as of November 2012), making it the 4th largest social network in the world (these statistics derived from expanded ramblings). This helps support the fact that G+ still maintains a significant number of global users and offers another great opportunity for sports brands to connect with fans.
Google has, for the most part, been a leader in innovation. With “Project Glass” and a driver-less car project on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that Google’s commitment to creating an unparalleled user experience is unwavering. That commitment only reinforces the untapped potential of their social networking platforms. To underscore this point, consider the unique features G+ offers, such as the “hangout” feature, a tool enabling multiple users to live video chat, creating a new and unique way for face-to-face communication to occur. From a sports business perspective, what better way for teams to promote their athletes and connect with fans or for athletes to promote brands in which they represent? G+ also offers an easy for news and updates to be posted as well so that fans no longer need to look up a “page” in order to get their information about favorite teams or athletes. Considering the potential of G+ to help brands connect with fans, how have those in the sports industry integrated G+ with their overall digital strategies?
A recent post on Forbes online highlights the most profitable brands in the sports market. Heavyweight Nike reigns above the competition and has long been a leader in the digital space, but has been largely dismissive of G+. Nike currently stands at +337,660, with 338,243 in their circle. Considering the millions of consumers that consider themselves fans of the swoosh, Nike has done little via G+. The last posted was in May of 2012, ironically promoting Nike Golf using the face of one of their top athletes in Tiger Woods. Nike’s rival, Adidas, has a smaller presence with +9,317 and 7,328 in their circle. While Adidas doesn’t post to G+ every day, they have frequently promoted commercials and encouraged fan interaction. In addition to commercials, Adidas has posted a ton of content, including interviews with sponsors, and product release dates. Another Nike competitor, Under Armour, is also active on their G+ page, but has yet to reach a wide audience. Under Armour currently stands at a +487 with only 184 fans in their circle. While this is relatively low, Under Armour continues to take the time to provide promotional content within their page, with the hope that more consumers will take note. On the flip side, Gatorade, another premier sports brand, has not posted to their G+ page since June. Subsequently, they currently sit at +695.
Meanwhile, in the Forbes list of most valuable sports brands, ESPN ranked second behind Nike. While they are more than just an apparel industry, ESPN is highly active within G+. Their page caters an amazing 2,214,671 followers with a +2,243,674. ESPN doesn’t let their fan base down, consistently posting on their page every single day. ESPN not only posts highlights on their page, but also creates points of fan engagement through polls and hangouts, while promoting commercials as well. They are a leading example of how using G+ can be an extremely valuable medium for connecting with and engaging fans online.