Social media sites win

The use of social media, especially social broadcasting, represents the largest shift in leverage in today’s media world.

And, certainly, this is affecting the business of sports.

In the sports arena, the power is shifting into the hands of celebrity athletes, who now have an opportunity to build their own personal media properties, where viewers and profits shift from content aggregators such as ESPN directly to the individual.

How will this happen?

It’s all about the younger generation of fans and how they view content.

Younger sports fans aren’t your traditional content consumers. More than 80 percent own smart phones; they are watching less and less TV; rarely listen to traditional radio; and enjoy getting most of their content off mobile video or Web video sites such as YouTube or Facebook.

They want to view what they want, when they want to, and they are choosing their viewing platform.

Younger consumers are just as likely to watch a video posted by Shaquille O’Neal on Facebook about his 60-point night than go to to read a commentator’s take.

These younger viewers represent eyeballs, and eyeballs represent profits that were once monopolized by the traditional content aggregators.

Those days are changing. Local social media consulting firm Vitrue recently valued Facebook fans at $3.60 per fan per year. Take an athlete such as LeBron James, who has close to 5 million Facebook fans, and the revenue potential this provides is staggering.

But while James does a good job managing his social media with multiple personal posts each day, it seems a number of those posts are being managed by staff or social media consultants.

Savvy fans can see right through that filter. It’s best if athletes keep it real and personal, or else they risk alienating their followers.

When athletes and celebrities embrace building, or enhancing, their personal media property, they understand that it is a once-in-a-lifetime platform to:

● Connect directly to fans;

● Better understand their fan demographics;

● Funnel endorsement deals their way;

● Build revenue for their philanthropic endeavors;

● Connect advertisers with targeted demographics;

● Provide special offers to their fans and their advertisers;

● Generate a revenue stream that will outlast their professional career.

Social media is forcing the sports business to reinvent itself at some levels.

It’s exciting and time to embrace it. My college tennis coach used to say, “Just win the last point of the match, Molly.”

Well, we all know, you have to win a lot of points and games to position yourself for that ever-important last point. Are the games the athletes’ existing platform? Or is the ever-important last point for athletes today how effectively they optimize their personal media property?

Molly Fletcher is an Atlanta sports agent, sports executive and author.

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