How sport is using data in a digital world: Websites and social media (Blog 5)

28 November 2022 | Written by Andy Nutting

Blog 5 from our series by Information Governance Manager Andy Nutting

As we’ve seen in Andy’s previous blogs, a key aspect of sports organisations using digital is for engagement with fans, customers, and clients.

This article explores the use of digital across two of the biggest tools: websites and social media.


Since the turn of the century, a common tool used to help sports clubs, teams and associations promote and market themselves is a website.

Websites enable sales of commercial products and allow fans, participants, and visitors alike to find:

  • Latest news about their club or association
  • Behind the scene insights
  • Statistical data
  • Upcoming fixtures and events
  • Profiles of players, coaches, managers and backroom staff

Over the last 25 years websites have become an integral part of a sports organisation’s connectivity with its fans and customers and will continue to remain so.

A website makes a team or club more discoverable which opens a whole new world of possibilities.

They can attract new fans, followers, and patrons, make extra money, promote the organisation, and get better press coverage.

Social media

Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook (and more) provide sports teams and organisations with new avenues for distributing information to their players, employees, fans, and customers.

Consider this: 46% of the population look at social media before going to sleep and almost an identical percentage scroll through their smartphones when getting up in the morning, many immediately when the alarm goes off, before getting out of bed.

Some 32% are entertained on the way to work reading news, news commentaries, tweets, and retweets.

Sports organisations cannot afford to ignore social media. You can engage with fans quickly and in real time as games are being played, to inform them quickly about changes to match days (such as a match postponement), and to reach new audiences around the world.

Veritau uses LinkedIn to engage with its clients and the wider professional world.

Social media is used to help boost sales by appealing directly to fans.

Sometimes it can be too effective. How many times have you been watching your favourite team on TV and a notification buzzes on your phone indicating a goal has been scored before the live TV stream catches up?

There are other down sides to using social media too. The fact that information travels at incredible speed magnifies the damage that someone can cause for the club or organisation.

Social media channels, are changing the nature of sport reporting too. Traditionally journalists reported sports fixtures through the medium of newspapers, radio, and television.

Increasingly, journalists are also using social media across multiple platforms to not only report on sport, but to comment and engage with fans and the wider public.

Sports clubs’ and organisations’ association with social media is set to become stronger.

Newspapers no longer need kiosks to reach us, the radio is not necessarily heard via a transistor, and the TV is still in a box but getting smaller and smaller and now also portable.

Generation Z sports fans are making their voices and interests heard loud and clear on digital platforms. Right behind them are even younger fans who may never even live in households with a TV). For all these digital-first followers, the trending demand for short-term videos and photos will be the future of sports.

At the same time sports professionals around the globe are coming into their own as true marketing influencers with personal brands and jumping to directly engage with fans.

Because of this, sports organisations realise that the digital media they share with their athletes to engage fans is incredibly valuable to their broadcast sponsor partners too.

And they don’t even need to produce all the content themselves, as fans are willing to create their own original content to partake in the action! This is known as UGC (user-generated content) and is a growing marketing tool.

There is a view that brands will spend more of their advertising budgets on social media over television as this will deliver a bigger return on investment.

If you’d like support with data protection and information governance, our team can help.

Read our case studies with Basketball England and British Taekwondo for more information about how we work with sports governing bodies.

You can keep up to date with Andy’s blogs on his LinkedIn profile.

Previous blog: Marketing sports in the digital age | Next blog: What’s in the future for the use of data in sport?