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Future of sports depends on how we use social media

Sports communication provides a vital role in the sports industry and takes on many different forms with varying stakeholders.

Sports organizations utilize numerous mediums to reach their stakeholders including television, radio, publications, and online efforts.

With more than 65 per cent of online adults using social networking sites, social media has drastically grown in usage across numerous industries, and has become an especially popular medium in the sports industry.

Sports organisations are now utilising a number of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, blogs, and live chats.

Social media are efficient in reaching many stakeholders with speed, carrying enough information, and with increased interaction. 

These elements directly apply to uses in sports communication to connect with the public, build a brand, conduct customer relationship management, and manage reputations.

But do Kenyan sports managers use these media to communicate with their fans? 

Kenya Rugby Union has embraced this mode of communication to pass their message. International Rugby Board recently named The Michael Kwambo-led team the best in use of social media in Africa. 

In football, we have seen little or no uptake of the new media in communication. FKF has used the media to further a personal agenda rather than communicate the federation’s policy.

AFC Leopards has a lacklustre presence and their official page has had comical and error-ridden updates. Gor Mahia has been persistent and consistent but has got yards to cover to realize full benefits of the social networks.

Ideally, sports teams should have a working and well updated websites (again KRU and Gor Mahia are a step ahead) with links to their respective social media sites.

These digital media outlets provide efficient means for sports organisations to facilitate fan interaction and commentary of their brand due to low entry costs and large fan populations present.

Social media have transformed sports media and its consumption. Fans, athletes, and teams now have the ability to easily connect with one another.

These networks have teams and athletes to have more control over the release of sports news. Sports journalists also utilise these mediums to reach audiences.

Teams and athletes now have the ability to bypass traditional media outlets through social media platforms. 

Fan following

The future of sports will heavily adapt and rely on social media. Any sports team depends on a fan following and engagement. 

The KRU leads the way among Kenya’s professional and amateur sports on social media uptake. Its high time teams took these avenues seriously and deliberately allocate funds to manage these networks.

Teams and associations should move away from acting like local youth groups and behave like professional bodies that they aspire to be.

Figures show that Kenya is one of the most active country online and ever growing mobile internet connectivity should be a pointer to the managers that there lies the next frontier.

If teams partner with clubs to offer stable cellular connectivity during games and definitely its engagement and brand will be boosted heavily.

Kenya has globally recognised tech hubs and teams can team up to develop apps that can help in boosting the organisations digital play.

Many teams in the developed world have gone this way and are seeing great ROI in this sector.