January 28, 2020 | SPORTS | By Olivia Xerras | Photo by Anil Jergens
Although there are many great comebacks in the realm of sports, one of the greatest come-backs of all-time seems to be a mobile app many doubted or were unwilling to use for fear of be-ing uncool. Yes, we’re talking about TikTok. This popular and powerful social media network has changed the shape of what a content creator’s platform can be due to the boundless video styles embedded in the software.
As of 2021, Backlingo Statistics reported TikTok having over 1 billion active users worldwide. 22% of the world’s 4.48 billion social media users are on TikTok. This type of usage would seem unimaginable to some, but it undoubtedly has given way to many productive opportunities for sports franchises to increase their revenue and fan base.
My half block class entitled, “Don’t Stick to Sports: Digital Storytelling and Sports Journalism” taught by USA Today’s Henry Mckenna, toured the Colorado Springs Switchbacks stadium on Jan. 13 culminating with a press conference consisting of players and coaches of this United Soccer League (USL) franchise. It was evident, given the energy in the room, that hopes were very high for the upcoming season, and throughout the press conference I was able to ascertain what a successful season looks like not only for the players but also for the organization.
The core values of the Switchbacks begin with the promise to deliver steady entertainment to fans, and the team’s social media presence is a vital part of that goal. I wanted to know what the team could do to promote their uniqueness, such as their young team and brand-new stadium.
What I was most impressed with was how this franchise has quickly adopted and utilized their TikTok platform to their advantage. With over 900 followers, including myself, the Switchbacks are steadily growing their presence on the app.
As the season kicks off again, much content growth is anticipated to expand in this space for fans to support the organization. Considering how relatively new this organization is combined with the hot, new stadium, this is a great time for athlete profiling, walk-throughs, and tour video postings that will ultimately elevate the enthusiasm and excitement for their crucial fan base.
Inspiration will be found across other professional leagues like the NHL, NBA and NFL which highlight all of these topics along with more unique angles for enhancing entertainment. The most viewed NHL TikToks, for example, typically surround young fans and their interaction with the players.
One TikTok that had a massively positive response by fans included the Winnipeg Jets franchise and a nine-year-old fan. The fan presented a poster to one of their forwards asking for a puck in exchange for some candy. It resulted in a throw over the glass barrier which solidified the agreement as the fan walked away with a puck and the player skated back to his bench with some candy.
Capturing such a great moment like this must have been accomplished by the parents who more than likely sent in the video to the Jets thus making the public relations team’s job a bit easier. A heartwarming story like this may not always be accessible for teams to post because often families do not send videos in. This leads to why relying on controllable factors is found more often across sport organizations than sharing random happenstance situations at live games.
The public relations team for the NBA does a great job in curating this personal experience between fans and players. Using not only TikTok but also consistently posting content via popular platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, enabling instant communication with fans. Showcasing GIFs, recent team and player highlights and digital content that strengthens com-munity ties within each given team location has enabled stronger fan loyalty and the best indoor sports experience for the money.
Finally, the public relations teams across the NFL do an outstanding job highlighting the best moments during NFL games, practices, and press conferences. This content hones in on funny, quirky commentary by players as well as fan or staff moments that are worth watching.
I personally enjoy the reels that are frequently posted on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Face-book that begin with banter and end in successful highlights of a team that leads to a win accom-panied by a song that would excite anyone blasting in the background that is choreographed with the footage. Teams, players and fans thoroughly enjoy these compilations as shown by views on these platforms and the continuous influx of red hearts on these posts every day.
It seems that unique and ever-flowing content on a variety of talents and personalities is in and typical videos of players making a good stick movement, pass, or throw is outdated. After listen-ing to the Switchbacks public relations team, it appears that they are eager to instill this line of thinking into their posting habits leading into and during this season. The opportunities are truly endless for this upcoming Switchbacks season, and I am personally very excited to see all this magic unfold across social media, most especially, TikTok.