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Sport and social media in 2012

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January 20 2012
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This is a post I originally wrote for the excellent UK Sports Network site a couple of weeks ago, but as we’re looking ahead to the RFU’s upcoming projects, here’s a broad sweep of what 2012 may hold for sport and social media:

Let’s start with a safe bet, while the planet’s finest are setting records in east London this summer, the social sphere will generate a record amount of noise around a single sporting event. Sports fans will get unprecedented Olympic access from athletes, journalists and volunteers alike (sorry BOA, but you can’t control 70k of them!). It will be one of those events that throws so much into the social sphere that what works will quickly find its way into other sports.

More broadly, there are a handful of significant trends set to hit in 2012, but the two that will have most visible impact for fans are Social TV and online Stadium-Based Services.

New devices and software will start to put social media at the heart of the home-viewing experience. I think we can expect broadcasters to roll match specific hash tags at the start of all games and events, instantly creating a way for brands to engage with very focussed groups of sports fans for the duration of an event.

As wifi and 3G coverage improves in stadiums, the sharing of live match experiences through social media will become easier and sponsors and organisers will focus more on harnessing these opportunities. The eager ones will troop off to live events with tablets and promo staff to capture data and social sign-ups. The integration of offline content, like programmes, with social media and online commerce should also make a step change.

Finally, a couple of personal thoughts around social and sport for me in 2012: firstly how, as a Governing Body, the RFU can best use social media to increase participation; and secondly what would an organised F1 assault on social media look like? The sport is ripe for it and 2012 may finally be the year they nail it.

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