At one point, one eighth of the NFL’s teams official websites were created, managed and hosted by me (and a few other skilled guys and gals). During this time only one half of team sites had a fan forum or message board. The teams I worked with all had boards and they for the most part had little or no interest in engaging the fans on those boards in any direct way. At the time I thought it would be great for fan building to have a player/coach/team insider take questions on the boards or inject info directly into this user base. Oddly, the opposite approach was taken.
At the same time a client in sporting goods manufacturing had several sites that also had forums. Their product managers would have the message boards up all day collecting feedback and offering individual support to all comers.
Not being a sports fan, I was surprised to hear on NPR that the sporting establishment is finally communicating directly with its fan base, though not at the team level…seems that everything is happening at the “social media command centers” in centralized cities.
So the huge specter of sports marketing is finally learning what smaller (and small) businesses have lived and breathed on a daily basis forever: real loyalty comes from personal service and connection. Just a little more to learn: all sports are local…and from there comes perspective, insight and connection.