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Study: Athletes Drive Social Media Consumer Influence

North America

Holmes Report 04 Jul 2011

NEW YORK-- Sports fans who follow their favorite athletes on social media are 55 percent more likely to purchase a brand if an athlete mentions it on Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, athlete mentions of brands on social media can have an even bigger impact on young (18-34), non-white fans (75 percent more likely to purchase) and those with kids at home (62 percent).

These are findings of the Catalyst Fan Engagement Study. Catalyst Public Relations commissioned Vision Critical to develop its second annual edition of the report, exploring the growing convergence of sports and social media. Conducted in May 2011, more than 2,000 fans nationwide participated in the survey, which focused on the social media attitudes and usage habits of NFL, NBA, MLB, and college football and basketball fans.

“Social media is an increasingly powerful tool for marketers to reach sports fans in a very authentic way,” said Bret Werner, managing partner, Catalyst Public Relations. “Fans who use social media are more passionate and engaged with their favorite sports, teams and especially athletes. The strategic alignment of attributes between brands and athletes – ensuring relevancy and authenticity – will have a greater impact on driving purchase.”

The study further revealed that, young, non-white fans engage with their favorite athletes, teams, sports – and fellow fans – through mobile devices and social media channels more than any other demographic group. They are more likely to use social media to meet people with similar interests, and to share information and pictures with other fans. Within this group, 81 percent (compared to 51 percent of all fans) have experienced at least one of the following in the past six months: watched sports live on a laptop, tablet, mobile or smart phone and used any location based services to enhance the viewing experience.

“With the growth of social media channels like location-based services and mobile devices, fans can connect, share, create content and build communities with each other, more than ever before,” said Shripal Shah, Senior Vice President, Digital, Catalyst Public Relations. “It creates a richer experience for the sports fan, and, when done properly, brands can add to it.”

Other key insights from the 2011 Catalyst Fan Engagement Study include:

· NCAA Basketball fans are the most digitally connected, followed by NBA fans

- More likely to use Twitter, YouTube, and mobile solutions

· Facebook is by far the dominant social media source but not necessarily the most impactful

- 80 percent of fans use Facebook whereas 30 percent use YouTube and 23 percent use Twitter

· Fans who use location based services participate in more engaging behaviors with leagues, players, and brands

- More likely to participate in fantasy leagues, purchase brands mentioned by athletes, and say they are bigger fans since they started using social media to follow or discuss their favorite sports

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