Why Access Is Important for Social Media Teams in Sports

Stop and pause for a minute. Think about all the content out there that’s related to sports on social media, from the media to the teams and even the fans. There is no such thing as the off-season anymore as the news / content cycle churns at all hours of the day and throughout the entire year. Just like every industry, the sports industry has a lot of noise.

Now take a step back and think about what you see on Twitter when you are watching your favorite game. If your timeline is anything like mine, it’s filled with score updates, color commentary, reaction GIFS and on-the-field photos. This content does not just come from teams, but also broadcast partners, media members, bloggers and even fans.

So how can teams stand out from all the noise on social media? What type of content can they share that is useful, engaging and different? More importantly: What is their story to tell?

I believe the story for a sports team is their people. It’s the journey to and from the wins and losses and everything between. It’s the behind-the-scenes and intimate moments. The personalities. The emotion. The passion. That’s the story for teams. That’s the story they can own.

And, this year we’ve seen great examples of teams capitalizing on their access to capture behind-the-scenes content:


These teams leveraged their access and captured everything from a victory ride home to awesome post-game locker room dances. And, they nailed it. Capturing moments like this are important for several different reasons:

  • It’s content (that’s different) teams can own. No one else has access to it, unless of course it’s given.
  • It tends to be emotional, which resonates with fans.
  • It makes fans feel like they are a part of the journey.

While we have seen some great examples of behind-the-scenes content, it’s still not the norm. There are probably a lot of different reasons for this, but the other day I tweeted about the access Carolina has and said that behind-the-scenes content was easy. I was quickly reminded from the Twittersphere (which I appreciate) that behind-the-scenes content is easy in theory, but that it’s not necessarily easy because it requires access. I’ve been thinking a lot about this.

I have never worked for a sports team, but I have worked for a governing body and covered championships. While the battles are a little different, we still faced similar hurdles: Getting access, digital rights, fear of intrusion, etc. We didn’t always have access to everything we wanted, but we took baby steps to get there. Steps like:

  • Integrate with the operations team.
  • Educate throughout the year on why social media is important.
  • Align social media with organizational goals.
  • Develop relationships year-round.
  • Setup a process / guidelines everyone is comfortable with.

My point is simply this: If the goal in social is to tell the team story, strengthen the brand, connect with fans and drive engagement, then getting access to tell the behind-the-scenes story should be a priority. I know access is earned and not given, but it’s time to take the steps and have the hard conversations needed to get there. Start building trust and getting buy-in.

In 2015, it’s time that social media teams get the access they need (in reason of course) so they can tell the important and emotional stories that emerge. A social media team is a valuable part of every organization. If a franchise team or athletic department invests in a social media team, then they need to invest in helping them do their job.

And yes, access is a key to that.

 Do you think access is important for social media teams? Share your thoughts below.

As always, thanks for reading! 

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