Social Media: The Future of the Sport Media Ecology?

In previous blogs of mine I have focused on the transformation of the relationship between media and sport and the theories surrounding this process, but, in this blog, I wanted to change perspectives and predict what the future of the sports media ecology will look like with social media being ever present in the lives of the majority of consumers around the world and the impact of football stars as social media influencers can have on the commercial side of football.

Lindgren explains how the internet and its platforms have evolved during the last 20 years into increasingly social directions as the arrival of Web 2.0 has changed the notion of the static, one-way communication based Web 1.0 version of the internet. Web 2.0 should be seen as an extension of Web 1.0, rather than a complete transformation if what it once was, by media channels becoming more creative, interactive and involving a framework for participation, the term social media is a term that is loosely based on the active participation of consumers, whereas in reality, all media is social, a more accurate name for this process is ‘telemediatisation‘, a term coined by John Tomlinson to describe the “proliferation of communication technologies and media systems within the quotidian rhythms of social life”.

Predicting the future of the sport media ecology is difficult, as we have seen the rapid development of technologies over the past 20 years, it would be foolish not to consider further technological advancements in the next couple of decades. Social media already presents huge opportunities in the current relationship, we have seen influencer power becoming increasingly notable with sports stars taking on the role of influencers on social media platforms, seen below is an instagram post from Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest football players of all time and the most followed individual on the platform with 265.5m followers, showing his personalised Nike trainers, this one post received over 12m likes and 117,000 comments, by sponsoring such a marketable athlete, Nike can utilise his mass audience in order to promote their brand through Ronaldo’s social media accounts, this provides a cheaper, more effective communications tool that can reach audiences that other tools are unable reach.

The notion of football stars as social media influencers can also provide lucrative commercial benefits to a football club, one particular example, Heung-min Son of Tottenham Hotspur, it has been reported that, due to Son’s marketability and popularity in South Korea, that 21%, roughly 11 million, of the population of South Korea support Spurs, so there are clear commercial benefits to bringing in a marketable figure, the question is where does one’s marketability rank in importance in comparison to cost, skill level and several other dynamics that are to be considered in bringing in a player to a football club.

South Korean Tottenham fans taking pictures with Heung-min Son.

The idea of football stars as social media influencers can also bring negative issues. Questions may be asked whether a player’s marketability may be a reason why a football club looks to purchase a football player over the skill level of the player, however, I believe that marketability should certainly be a factor in the scouting of transfer targets, as football clubs are massive, global organisations that commercially benefit from not only a player’s skill level, but a player’s marketability.

As always, feel free to get in touch via Twitter, and also let me know in the comments what you think the future of the sports media ecology will look like and if social media will play as much of a part as I believe.

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