Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sports and Social Media: How a Spanish Facebook and Twitter Presence is Changing the Games

July 01, 2011 | by Maria Burns Ortiz | Fox News Latino

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo topped 30 million Facebook “likes” this week.The Los Angeles Lakers have 7 million more fans/followers on Facebook and Twitter combined (11 million) than the city of Los Angeles has residents (4 million). Earlier this year, Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was named the second-most influential person on Twitter, beating out Oprah and the President of the United States.

There’s no question that social media has had a global impact on media and marketing, but in few arenas does it seem a more natural fit than sports, an industry based on fans.Teams, leagues and athletes have capitalized on the social media boom as a way to reach fans more directly than ever before.

When the Red Sox launched their new Spanish-language website last week, in partnership with MLB Advanced Media, the team also opened up Facebook and Twitter accounts in Spanish. With 300,000 Spanish-speaking fans on the team’s Facebook page, the rollout seemed a natural progression.

“We had a group that had indicated a level of interest there, and it seemed like it was the right time to evolve our social media outreach into this next phase,” Red Sox senior vice president of public affairs and marketing Susan Goodenow said. “We have put a lot of emphasis as a team on social media over the last 12 to 18 months because we realize it’s a way for us to engage in an ongoing conversation with our fans.”

Going bilingual opens up the opportunity to reach even more fans. So it’s surprising more teams haven’t made this move, especially given professional baseball’s reach into Latin America and the dominance of social media. But the Red Sox are just the seventh major league baseball club to have both Spanish-language Facebook and Twitter accounts. (A few clubs have just one or the other.)

Considering the prevalence of social media use among both U.S. Hispanics and users in Latin America, appealing to this audience through these networks would be an easy and effective way to engage fans. A recent report shows that Latin American users are more active on social media than European users.

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